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[Page 143]

My Mother, Where Are You?

By Y. Atler

(In Memory of my mother Michala)

Alas, My Mother the beautiful amongst the women
Tell, tell me where you are – tell please:
I searched, I asked every one and every acquaintance,
Until now I've not found a thing.

How will I know how to continue searching – how?
How will I know where you are buried?
The holy land where you are buried without name
I would thaw with my muted cries.

I would kiss and caress it always,
I would place my bed on it;
I would embrace her to my heart with warmth
And place fresh flowers day to day.

A white willow I would plant there
And under its shade in sorrow I would dance
Days and nights I would linger there
And the rest of my life I would spend in this place.

I would at least place a headstone there.
So that the dispersed sons in the world
Would be able, once on a troubled day,
To shed a tear –- a child's bitter tear.

How to help? How to redeem?
No one says; No one acknowledges.
I will search endlessly, nights and days
Your grave, there you've been taken for eternal rest.


[Page 144]

My Experience From The Days Of The War

I'm Returning To The Burnt Zabludow

By Nechama Yachnok-Loshitzky

The eruption of the war and the invasion of Hitler's Germany to Poland on the first of September, 1939 brought sadness on Poland's citizens as well as on our town- our house- Zabludow. Immediately all the men were drafted, the government of Moshchechski, Baak, Riides- Shmigli didn't differentiate any more between Jews and non-Jews, as it did before. Everyone was sent to the war, to the frontlines that were organized quickly, without pre planning.

Sons were uprooted from their parents, men from their wives. Everyone was sent to be cannon meat. After a few weeks, the Red army invaded the town and Zabludow was revived. In the days of the Fascist Poland, young Jews were unable to get jobs, now they easily found jobs in big merchandise warehouses, cultural institutes, and in sports organizations. Everyone had the opportunity to study without taking into consideration his background or his economic situation; the worker's could make the decisions.

But the celebration didn't last for long. On the 22nd of June 1941, on Sunday, 4 am, at the time that people were soundly asleep Hitler's Germany attacked the Soviet Russians. The sound of bombs exploding startled the people of Zabludow from their sleep. There was great panic, from that day started the account of our suffering.

Since there ws chaos and an atmosphere of lawlessness the Jewish youngsters organized self-defense and prevented violence against the Jewish citizens.

In the first days of the war I continued working in my job at Yoshki''s store. On the 23rd of June the Polish still acted with respect and politeness toward us, but not for a long time were they able to withhold the hatred that they got from the anti-Semitic government. They were eager to plunder. On the third day when fire was all around and the market turned into a heap of ruins from the bombings. Polish gangs were spread among the stores and started to rob. I didn't abandon my job in the store; I was scared and helpless. Suddenly a tall Soviet clerk accompanied by a group of youngsters appeared and the robbers ran away. We came to a decision that we have to run away; in our car was my family members and Yosele Zabludovsky.

There was blood on every piece of land… flame was on every corner; we didn't know where to run. We drove to Shedna. Flames all around, in front and back… there are no ways.

In Volcovisk our car shattered from being hit by a bomb, to our fortune we didn't get hurt. We were able to run and hide ahead of time, but we were left with nothing. All of our belongings were burnt along with the car. We started to wander from town to town, tired broken and hungry. Again we had to go back form where we came because the Germans were approaching; we came to Baranowicze, and near Minsk we were trapped in a battle zone; we all scattered. I was left alone, lonely as a rock… without my beloved loved ones, and worst of all I didn't know where to look for them. There was no hope to find them. I was afraid that I would fall in the Germans' hands.

I continued walking by myself, I passed 600 kilometers by foot in dangerous ways; my feet couldn't carry me anymore… but after a week of wandering, exhausted I arrived to the Soviet Russia, I worked in all kind of different field work, in hospitals and in preschools. In my heart I had a strong urge to revenge the damn Germans, I thought in my heart: I can't be weak.

In my mind I had the repeated thought “why did I survive, what makes me better than others, from hundred of thousands of other people who were killed?” In April 1942, when all the youngsters volunteered to help the men in the war for the country and for human pride I joined them and was drafted to the Red army in order to revenge our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, our innocent children, and all the people that were murdered by the Nazi animals.

During my 3 years service in the army I had many difficulties. I stood in them with pride and honor. I was in different fronts, we didn't get supplies for weeks and weeks, but the desire to fight and get revenge didn't weaken. I suffered with love because I felt no difference than the others; I was not put down because of my Judaism.

I have a sharp memory of one of the experiences during inspection. The officer who was notified that the unit has a Jewish woman from Poland came to me and started talking with me in Yiddish.

We marched through villages and cities, there were terrible ruins everywhere, the Jews were killed and the Jewish towns vanished. I doubted if I'd see anyone from my family. In spite of that there was still a glimmer of hope- maybe? Maybe the cruel fate passed over our town Zabludow. Maybe it was saved from the horrible destruction that the Nazi Satan plotted. After Poland was released I wrote letters to all my acquaintances and neighbors in Zabludow, I couldn't deal with the thought that everyone had vanished in such a horrible

The unforgettable day arrived, the Red army, crowned with victory entered Berlin, on the 9th of May, 1945 the Soviet forces and the allies finally destroyed the Nazi's headquarters. That day will be kept in my memory forever! The victory day on the Nazism, the murderers of mankind…

When the war was over they immediately released the women from the army and sent them home, I was among those who were released. They asked me if I had family, home? …If I have where to go? And what I was thinking of doing now?

The day of parting arrived; for one it brought happiness, and to the other it brought sadness. In my mind I saw the experiences I went through in the last few years; what should I expect now?

I was called to the officers' office. He asked me where do I want to go? Do I want to stay in the Soviet Russia or go to Poland? I stood mesmerized, stone faced, without knowing what to do, and in the end I decided to travel to Zabludow. Perhaps someone, in spite of everything, survived; that thought did not give me peace of mind.

I took my army suitcase and inside I put 10 kilograms of white flour and some other stuff, supplies for my family so that they wont be hungry in the first few days. In addition to this a food coupon for an entire month. I started my journey wearing an army uniform. The train traveled to Bialystok, we passed Vilna, Gerodno, Sokolky, I hope to meet someone in Zabludow… to share with them all my experiences… however that was just a false hope, an illusion, since I did not find a soul, everyone perished.


[Page 146]

The Destruction of Our Dear Home

By Ephraim Rubbins

The event occurred on the night between the 21st and the 22nd of June 1941. We were three people from Zabludow in a Russian work camp near Bilsk. Me, my younger brother Yankel, and Yosef Dirdok. We worked on the night shift. Saturday night all the soldiers in all the camps were given free time. We stayed to work in the construction of the airfield.

Around one o'clock we heard an explosion; we looked around but we didn't see a thing and we continued working. Half an hour later we suddenly heard the sound of airplanes; we saw immediately above our heads a huge cloud of planes. We ran to all directions, we had not advanced even 100 meters when a reign of bombs burst on us nonstop. The attack continued for one hour, but in our eyes it felt like an eternity. At the end of the attack it was morning, and then it was revealed to us a terrible sight, dozens killed and hundreds wounded… but who ever remained alive continued to live and to work… we immediately started to search for our relatives and acquaintances, I found Yosef Dirbach [Dirdok] immediately. I could not find my brother, but I had been told that he had been seen after the bombardment. We decided to go to Bilsk, that was two kilometers from this place. We went to Yosef's uncle, we rested at night and from there we started on our way home to Zabludow.

Zabludow was very quiet, though the atmosphere of war was felt. The Russian army retreated while keeping as much order as possible. We stayed at home. The next day we even thought of following the retreating army though the army didn't know where to retreat, so we decided to stay. On Monday morning a German air squadron arrived and bombed the Zabludow, several houses were set aflame and the first victims fell, and again it was quiet. On Wednesday night, the 25th of June, within one hour the town was filled with Germans and they immediately took hostages. They held them in one house, they put guards and warned that if anything happened to the Germans the hostages would be taken out and would be shot. After a few hours the German guards left and the hostages returned to their homes, a quiet night passed.

On the 26th of June 1941 on Thursday, 7 o'clock in the morning three or four Germans entered the town and started to set it afire. The first conflagration broke out on Bilske Street. All the townspeople, Jews and Christians scattered to the fields. The Germans shot from the four corners of the town. The fires and the shootings continued until 4 o'clock. Those that escaped decided then to return to the town, to our great sorrow there was nowhere to return. The town was consumed by fire; only a few remaining houses stood in the town surroundings, where Christians lived. To my luck my house and the shoemakers house was not affected, that's where many people came to stay and everyone got along as much as they could. We sat there hungry until Monday, the 30th of June; on this day the Christian citizens got drunk together with the Germans, and together with them they expelled the Jews. Everyone fled, some to the small towns and some to Bialystok, the Germans had not yet attacked the small towns.

I escaped with my family to Bialystok, the journey was not easy, and it was impossible to go on the road, because the Polish would attack the refugees and hit them. I was forced to go through forest roads with my wife and three children in our arms. Others were in a similar situation. We dragged along to Bialystok for three days. We did not stay there a long time, we felt hunger, in spite of the great dangers we continued on our way to find food, and in this we returned many times to Zabludow. In the end, after many wanderings we settled at the ‘Beit Midrash' at Bilsk street. This was the only building that was not taken by the Christians. Within three weeks about six hundred gathered there, and lived there in crowded and dirty conditions. One day the city governor ordered to build a ghetto, since most of the houses were destroyed, the foundation of the ghetto was established in the leather factories that were concentrated in one place.

Now we were facing new problems, they took the men to work. While working the men were beaten brutally. Once, the Jews were sent away to the big market. There stood a statue of Lenin that the Soviets constructed. The Germans ordered to destroy the statue, to make a Jewish burial, and to bring the pieces to the cemetery. At the same time they beat the Jews cruelly with clubs, pitchforks, and axes; they shattered heads and broke legs; in those riots the Polish city men also took part. From the cemetery they made us run back to the big market and ordered us to pray for our G-d to save us, and that also was an opportunity for beatings.

No pen is able to describe what we went through during fifteen or sixteen months, until Zabludow was ‘pure” from Jews. In spite of that, if they let us stay there many of us could have survived. We suffered a great deal of torture in the leather factories, until the first of November 1942. On the night between the 1st and 2nd of November wagons of Polish farmers from the nearby villages were brought, and in the morning came the SS people, armed from head to toe, and with the help of the Polish police forced the Jews to climb onto the wagons. They were taken under heavy guard to the tenth cavalry camp behind Bialystok. They threw us into horse stables, and there we found some other Zabludow people who were brought from the surrounding towns that were ‘purified' from Jews.

It is impossible the horrible sufferings that we suffered for three weeks, until we were expelled to Treblinka. I can't remember the exact date, I am all confused about the time; I think it was on the 20th, or 21st of November. On that day, the bitter and horrible day, the Jews were brought to the gas chambers and were burned by the murderer Germans, may their names and memories be erased! That is how our dear town and dear Jews of Zabludow were erased from earth.

May their memory be blessed!


[Page 148]

Our Big Tragedy

By Jacob Rogovski

… I will tell shortly about our big tragedy. On the first of September 1939 when the Second World War broke out I was a soldier in the Polish Army. Our brigade was sent to the front line, between Tsinstochov and Peutrecov. The Germans broke through all the fronts forcefully and invaded Poland with tremendous speed, our front was also broken through quickly, and already on the 6th of September 1939 I was captured as a German prisoner of war, in the city Redomsk. After a few days I managed to escape and I arrived to Warsaw. There all the Polish soldiers that retreated were reorganized and sent to the Lublin front hastily. Our resistance there was very short. Meanwhile, on the 17th of March the Polish army passed the Polish border and released the Polish White Russia and Ukraine. The resistance of the broken up Polish forces to the German army was very weak. Whoever fought against him would become a Russian prisoner of war. Among the prisoners of war were many Polish soldiers who were caught on their way to the front, I was captured in the city of Lutsk. With me there was a fellow from Zabludow, his name is Saria Fishbein. We were sent immediately to a far away place inside the Soviet Russia. In 1942 I was drafted to the new Polish army that was established in Russia and was transferred to the Near East. I deserted it in 1943 and after wanderings I got to “Eretz Israel”. The people who came with me are: Abishi [Avishai] Dolinsky, Moshe Avramitsky, Rivka Binder, Shimon Robbins and his mother. I'm unable to write about our dear Zabludow, about her beautiful youth that was suffocated and killed in gas, and burnt in Treblinka by the Nazi's, may their name and memory be erased, because the tears in the eyes are still not dry and in the heart the oath is carved never to forget, and in the blood sparks of revenge are steaming! But it would be appropriate to give some details about the annihilation of Zabludow Jews. When the war broke out a terrible panic broke out in the towns people; many were drafted, whole families were left without livelihood, and no one to help; that was in the first days of September, 1939, and on the 13th of September Zabludow was already in German hands; the Jews were not hurt yet- they were there only a few days- and on the 18th of September the town was captured by the Red Army. Before leaving White Russia and Zabludow the Nazis regretted that they had to hand over the city to the ‘dirty Russians' and threatened, that if they'll return they'll slaughter all the “Jews”, and they pointed to their necks.

As I mentioned, the Soviets invaded Zabludow on the eighteenth of September 1939, and life went back to normal. The Jews felt that they were free men, just like all other human beings. In all trades and occupations there were Jews; you could think that this was a Jewish republic. But this situation did not last long. On the 22nd of June 1941, Hitler (may his memory be erased) attacked Russia. The Nazis conquered Bialystok and the environs in a flash; Zabludow was set aflame by the Germans from all four directions- and was burned totally. Zabludow was also destroyed by other military means. There were only a few remaining houses outside of the town, adjoining the leather factories. Before long the Nazis banished the Jews that were left to the leather factories; there they erected a ghetto. The Jews were tightly enclosed in horrible conditions of filth and hunger. They were later transferred to Bialystok and from there to Treblinka where they were exterminated in gas chambers. My father, my uncle David and their families fled to my uncle Leible, who lived in Ribelen village, however the farmers exposed them to the Nazis. My father Zalman was killed by the Germans before my mother and my sisters' eyes; may they rest in peace, and they went on their last journey with the other innocent martyrs.

Such was the fate of our dear Zabludow Jews. Honor to their memory!


[Page 149]

Horrors, Death and Destruction

(Experiences of a Holocaust Survivor)

David Zabludovsky

The train with Jews and Poles returning to their homeland crossed the Urals mountain range, middle Russia and the Ukraine, and after three weeks of travel arrived at the end of [April?] 1946 to Lublin [sic]. The train, with 60 cars, started on the first of April. It was outfitted with bunk beds and iron ovens. They prepared and arranged for such a long journey. The returnees received food rations, and in the bigger stations warm food was served.

When we left the Urals the winter was still harsh, the snow heaps reached to the tops of houses. We arrived in Lublin in the beginning spring; we felt the pleasant warmness of the sun. It was Chol Ha'moed Passover [the days between the first, and the last days of Passover]. The town representatives were awaiting us, dressed in holiday summery clothes. Our appearance- the boots, the wool coats, and fur hats- was very different from what we saw around us. They provided us with Passover food, matzo and wine.

It is almost two years that Lublin has been liberated. There are many Zionist organizations and groups in Lublin. Many families and young men and women expressed their desire to join these Kibbutzim [seed groups]. They departed the train and joined groups of pioneers and later immigrated to Eretz Israel.

In the Lublin train station one Jew, by the name of Borrick, from Brinsk, recognized me. I stayed with him a few times when I visited that town. His family perished; he hid in a village at a Christian house and was saved. The man tried to convince the town representatives to convince me to stay in Lublin.

According to the plan, the final destination for the train was Verotslav and lower Chelziheh. But I remained in Lublin. The remaining refugees of Lublin and its surrounding were housed in a large house called “Peretz” that was erected before the war and still had not been completed. I was placed in a residence that housed a chemical factory; A Holocaust survivor and her husband lived there. For six weeks of my stay in Lublin I stayed in a warm and loving household that made me forget the wandering and suffering years and restored my spirit.

I recovered from the long journey and walked to see the city. At first I went to visit Majdanek. I wanted to go up to the ancestral graveyard – the mass factory for murder; there perished in gas chambers and were cremated in ovens more than three million people from all the nations; the number of Jews who perished was of course the largest of all.

The town representatives took me for a tour of the city that I did not know. She was destroyed from 1939, when the Nazis bombed her. In the days that Lublin was the seat of government after the Polish government fled Warsaw. They showed me an empty lot and ruins in a place where there was a ghetto, in between rocks stood a wall that reminds one of the Western Wall. On the wall there was a sign smeared in tar: “The Historic Synagogue in memory of Mhr'm”. Usually the streets and houses in the city were not damaged, the theaters and movie houses were untouched. Only the strategic places were destroyed.

As I said I arrived at Lublin on Chol Ha'moed Passover. Exactly then Easter commenced. The Polish citizens decorated and dressed fill the streets. From the churches big crowds swarmed. Lublin, the residence of the Archbishop was filled with thousands of pilgrims and there were many parades from the neighboring towns and villages. Slowly, slowly I start to feel the pervading atmosphere of the neighboring Polish citizens having lived together many generations – not only did they not feel a need to express even the slightest sorrow. They looked upon us, the Holocaust survivors, as if we were strange creatures who came from the land of the dead. “They were not killed nor were they burned” they call in astonishment. Among them there are those that express their thoughts in simple words “Wait! Wait! We will finish the work the Nazis did not complete”.

I gaze at the bright sunny skies. The same sky was covered nonstop, during three years, in clouds of smoke and charred flesh that emanated from the smokestacks of adjoining Majdanek. The smell of charred flesh blurred and poisoned the Polish minds- from this they have a heart of stone, emotionless.

A similar hate they showed toward the Red Army, an army that lost thousands of soldiers when they sacrificed their lives to liberate Poland; many are buried in the city, and among them many Jewish names. The marble monuments that was erected to the memory of the liberators of the city was violated daily.

I meet with remnants of the survivors of our nation. They are mostly partisans who hid in the forests or Jews who hid in the bunkers. I hear the story of an emaciated boy who hid for years in a chimney. I speak with a few sisters that wandered in the forests and the priest of the village provided them in secret food and clothing; he consoled them and foresaw for them “God tells me that you'll remain among the living”.

Everyone has the miracle of their staying alive and their experiences: A Jew in mid-life, hidden in an attic in a house outside the city by a priest. On the day of liberation when the Russian forces entered the city, he wanted to greet the liberators; full of happiness and enthusiasm. To his misfortune, the priest removed the ladder from which he would descend on the same day. The Jew fell and broke his spine and limbs. Two years have passed and he is still in a cast and his back is in an orthopedic splint.

The kitchen manager of the Jewish town representatives in the branch where I got my meals, was a Jewish woman with Aryan features. Her husband, a well-known surgeon, was cremated with all the Jews. She wandered as a Christian; they said that only recently she left a cloister but still wears a crucifix on her neck. It's impossible to convince her that there is no reason to fear that as Jew nothing bad will happen to her. But no reason would help. She has a fear complex and cannot escape it.

I talk with a young intelligent girl with a high level of education. “How did you survive?”. “Very simple” she answers. “During the entire Nazi occupation, I was on the Aryan side dressed as a beggar. I was dressed with dirty ragged clothes; I would walk around as a crazy and deaf person begging alms.” This is how she played her role until liberation. There are other stories of unusual rescue. Those who returned from Russia have innumerable stories of such miracles.

On the last day of Pesach I had my debut in the “Peretz Hall”. The program consisted of stories of Shalom Aleichem, stories of Peretz – the trust of a Jew in his G-d and creations by other Jewish writer from Russia. The production made a big impression on many refugees and provided me with such strong experiences that I would never forget. By the way, that was my first artistic evening after the Holocaust. I had several more presentations. I was asked to go to Chelm and appear before about one hundred Jews who survived the Holocaust. I appeared there twice.

I must tell on the atmosphere of the blood libel that spread in Chelm. I felt it when I visited the town committee. At 3'Oclock in the afternoon, I came to the town representatives to part before my return to Lublin. Suddenly, two Polish men in green army uniforms entered; one of them a lieutenant, armed with a machine gun went inside the room with the other soldier accompanied by the head of the committee and some other people; I hear loud voices and warnings. When they emerged from the room, the committee member faces were pale as limestone. The guest announced in a threatening voice: “If the boy is not found today, you will pay dearly.” The committee chairman informed that they came to look for a lost Christian boy that the Jews, they assume, killed him. A few of the committee members ran to the police to ask for help. A young lady that hid during the Holocaust and was saved entered and relates that the same army men “calmed” her and said: “It's too bad she saved herself from the Germans.” They promised they would “take care of her” in due time. They attempt to reach Lublin by phone but the telephone line is busy for unknown reasons. In great depression I set out to the train accompanied by an emissary from the committee – a young man from Pinsk named Fuchs. We encounter groups of Christians in the street that are discussing the lost boy. We feel the atmosphere of a pogrom.

And as for “desert” to those events there is to add my experiences. When the train was stopped at night by a gang of Polish soldiers that emerged from the forest; there were the ‘white' soldiers that opposed the current regime. Floodlights lighted the train and the soldiers wearing uniforms of the Polish army before the war and armed with machine guns gave an order: “Jews! Soviets and policemen! Outside! Out of the cars!” I felt a trembling in my bones; a deep fear of death passed me. A few Holocaust survivors were shot [like this] nearby the cars! Fuchs tells me: “Pretend you are sleeping.” Darkness in the cars. At the entrance of our cars stood two soldiers. They lit the car and repeat the same orders. A Christian woman answered: “There are none like these here.” Suddenly there was commotion. And again darkness. The gang leaves quickly without taking anybody from the train. A miracle happened. The noticed an approaching train and fled. With the dawn we arrive in Lublin. Refugees are already waiting for us. They ask what has happened in Chelm. Some have relatives there. What could we say to them? We were later informed that Chelm succeeded in connecting by phone to Lublin and immediately a security unit was dispatched. And in this way a slaughter of the remnant survivors was averted.

The Lublin committee asked that I remain in the city and requested that I conduct drama classes. But the heart was pulling toward Bialystok and Zabludow. I leave Lublin and depart for Warsaw, even though the journey is laden with dangers and risk. But first I ascend to the ancestral graveyard at Majdanek.

 

Majdanek

As we were leaving the city the Polish man on the cart showed us from far away the barbed wire fence and the crematoria chimney that rose in the distance. We are approaching a quite large fenced-in field. Many building stood there – a whole city. Near the gate, a Polish army guard station. The camp remains the same. Today it is a national museum. Near the gate we meet waiting visitors. There are many Polish and few tourists, French, Swedish and English among them. They allow an entire group enter. The guides, a man and a woman explain in Polish. They are conversant in five languages and can answer in all of these languages. They show us the mountain of shoes spread out in a large warehouse. A large sign indicates “Don't touch”. The shoes were removed from people before the victims' death. I am reminded of the words of the poet M. Sholstein! “I saw a mountain – higher than Mount Blanc, holier than Mount Sinai; not in a dream, in reality; it stood on the ground”.And it continues! “I hear mixed steps of sword boots, of plain boots, ordinary, of children's knitted shoes, tiny, shoes of small children just beginning to walk”.

We are brought to a building that had the name “Department of Disinfection”. In the first room, they cut the victims' hair. The spokeswoman explains to us that the hair was sent to Germany and from them they made thousands of mattresses. A door is opened and we enter a large hall; it seems as if this is a large military bathhouse. On the deck long pipes from which steam comes out. From the left and the right a square wall made from concrete; before the shower, they've been told – they should exercise; the intention that if anyone hid any valuables they would drop and fall to the ground. The Nazi animals would deceive the victims; till the last minute the victims would not know what their fate would be. After they cut their hair, they even gave them a towel and soap.

A door is opened for us from the wall in front of us. We see the gas chambers. They told the victims that after the shower everyone would go through disinfection. The square wooden chimney, from which poisonous gas was released, was not very large. The door closed hermetically. On the side – a small hole glazed with glass – the executioner would watch to see if all the victims had been suffocated and were quiet.

We enter the gas chamber. I touch the smooth walls and a fear pours over me. On these walls where I stand, quivering hands of thousands of martyrs groped, the beautiful and modest Jewish girls, the cheerful and dear children, Yosselech, Shlemelech, Rivkalech and Saralech; they pleaded for rescue near these walls and breathed their last innocent breath.

In a moment I will collapse – and now a door is opened in the opposite wall. This is also a sealed door. And we see a train track and cars. On the cars they would heap the bodies that were gassed and were taken to the crematorium. We are walking on the train tracks toward the crematorium. The crematorium is a large building, built of large red bricks. The impression is of a factory. The chimney is squared and wide. From left and right two mass graves of people who were gassed. The Nazis did not have time to burn them. On the graveyards -- fresh bouquet of flowers. The visitors add more flowers. Near one wall a mountain of human bones, near it there is a sign: “Do not touch: These are bones that were taken from the ovens that burned until the last minute before the liberation”. We came closer, and saw five oven's openings, and big dustpans with wheeled handles, it looks like an iron plow. With this dustpan the body was thrown to the furnace. In the side- a room in which stood a unique cement table, on it they used to extract from the bodies the gold teeth or they cut the bodies, in order to search their inner organs, out of the suspicion that they swallowed valuable stones [jewels]. From the boiler that stood in the crematorium, came out pipes that through them dripped the fat in which they later on made Jewish soap with. They show us a barrel full of brown fat that they caught in the crematorium at the time of liberation.

They showed us a can with the deadly gas “Zyklon” with which they killed the people. It looks like a white lime that you cannot suspect it to be dangerous. They explained to us that the amount of the gas “Zyklon” that was found at the time of liberation was enough to kill about 7 million people.

   The death camp was divided into 7 “fields” each “field” had a unique role and bunks of their own. We looked at the different bunks that have bunk beds. “Slaves” “lived” there; that the rest of their life was taken away and then they were “thrown” to the ovens. We see the hospital in which the most horrible experiments took place. The last “field”, is where prisoners who were unlawful were killed by hanging. The hangings were done in front of the “slaves” so they'll see. In this camp the camp officers and his helpers were finally hung after they were caught during the camp liberation. They were hung for three days, and the survivors went to watch them, rejoicing in their suffering.

Finally we were looking at a big building- the museum. Right at the entrance we are overcome with fear. The wax figures look as if they are alive; the clothing, the shoes, the natural colors- that was how the slaves looked like in the camp. The Jew with a patch and a Star of David; the French with the letter “F” on his chest; the Polish with the letter “P”; for each nation- a special sign. Underneath the glass: different diagrams, statistics, pictures, torture tools, etc- until the last pictures from the liberation; pictures of the animal Nazis that were active in the camps and in the end were caught and hung.

Deeply shocked I'm leaving the death factory, our century's disgrace. The world saw and remained silent. For a long time I was under the shocking impression, and even now, at the time of writing these words the nightmare is relived.

 

Warsaw

The city of Warsaw was bombed three times and suffered a great damage; in 1939, when the war broke out; in the Polish uprising against the Nazi occupation; and at the time of the ghetto Warsaw uprising, in which the Jews fought heroically with guns against the German animals, and wrote a great chapter in the history of the suffering Jews.

Praga- the suburb of Warsaw- almost complete, except for a few parts that got destroyed. The Jewish City and regional committee was located in Praga. I arrived on Sunday to the committee; this is a resting day. The clerk, a young woman, is writing information about me- “refugee, born in Zabludow… ” she is asking who am I from Zabludow. It so happens that she is the daughter of Teible Bialistotski, she was saved and is living with her family in Praga.

I get some helping money and a place to sleep in beautiful bunks in Praga; there I meet many acquaintances, survivors from Bialystok. I'd like to bring up a picture that shook my soul and doesn't leave my memory until this day: on the second day of the holiday of Shavuot a group of refugees, myself among them traveled to Warsaw for a memorial commemoration. The beautiful, long streets of Warsaw- were turned into ruins. Ruins all over. The Nusick famous synagogue was saved by a miracle, although a big part of it was destroyed. The synagogue is full of survivors, and Jewish and Russian soldiers with many achievement metals on their chests. On the bima and on the tables stood many lit memorial candles, for the memory of all the martyrs, and the dearest. When the cantor, also a Holocaust survivor conducts the memorial service in memory of the burnt, the killed, and the suffocated ones the air is filled with cries and sobbing. I see, next to me, a few young girls with crucifixes on their necks; who knows with which circumstances they survived. They came to the memorial service for their dearest ones, and still are afraid to remove the crucifixes. They are standing there, crying, and tears are washing their eyes.

We are going to see the old ghetto, the places that until recently were filled with active Jewish life, Nalbaki, Gensha, Telomatska, etc., now there is stillness. They even cleared the area from the ruins; they are about to turn it into a big clearing. Among the people that are with us is a woman that lived in 2 Gensha St., she is looking for the place, picking out from the ashes a bent, and burnt spoon, and a biblical paper, half burnt, while sobbing.

 

Bialystok

In Laudge I met my friend Greenhois, may he rest in peace, that I had been in his company until we separated in Paris. We decided to travel to Bialystok, in spite of the dangers that awaited us.

First impressions from the city were horrible. It is impossible to recognize the city. Everything is ruined. There is no sign to family members, I couldn't find anyone.

   Avraham Bachrach and his wife Raiseleh that were expelled to Russia, and survived are living on Surasa St., in a house that was not damaged, across from the synagogue yard. I stayed in their warm and friendly house until I left the city.

The most horrible experience I had in Bialystok was the murder of four pioneers that were taken off a train and were killed when they traveled to Warsaw to take care of the formal papers regarding their aliyah to Israel. They left at two o'clock; the Polish gangs shot them near Melkin. The next day three boxes containing the dead bodies were brought to Bialystok and were put in the ‘Beit Midrash' of Ztitron. One of the pioneers was badly wounded and was taken to Warsaw, and there he passed away. The journey of the funeral service to the cemetery, in Zhavia St. turned into a huge strike of those few survivors that brought bouquets of flowers and they said the eulogy. The cries reached the sky.

In the winter the bones of 72 people, who fought against the Nazis, were brought to a mass burial in Zhavia's cemetery. The crumbled bodies were taken out of holes, where the Nazis buried them. Chlorine was spilt on them, and then they were put in bags and were taken to the cemetery. From their rotten, torn clothes fell rifles and ammunition that they used against the Nazi animals.

In the fight against the Nazis ghetto Bialystok takes second place after the Warsaw uprising. We can learn that the uprising in Bialystok was the second largest, by its three hundred or more bodies that were murdered in the ghetto's hospital, and were thrown into a huge lime hole, not far from the ghetto cemetery. On of the Christians that lived near the place told that he saw everything from the roof of his house, although it was forbidden to look through the windows. He knew Fritz Friedel, the Nazi animal that sat on a chair that sat on a chair and shot with his gun in the patients' heads that were brought out from the hospital and were thrown into the hole. The pictures, of taking the bodies and transferring them, were shocking; a body of a mother whose baby was attached to her breast. Of course, it was impossible to recognize the identity of the buried ones. Who knows how many close and dear people were taken out from those graves?

I want to tell about the Action that started on Friday, February 5th, 1943. It's a story about a heroic action of ‘Malmed', that was an acquaintance of my Uncle Motke Zabludovsky, may he rest in peace.

The streets were filled with SS and special Gestapo units with cooperation with the Jewish police in the ghetto. They went out to hunt Jews according to a list that was made ahead of time. Those who were caught were taken to the train. The smallest resistance resulted in death. The people without working certificates were taken away from the factories and shot on the spot, the Gestapo and the Jewish police looked for the bunkers in which the Jews were hiding, they were taken out from there and were brought to the trains and sent to the death camps.

Unfortunately there were Jewish squealers that gave out the location of the bunkers, for the exchange of a conformation: “this Jew is exempt from the transporting”. The famous author from Bialystok, Pesach Kaplan, may he rest in peace, writes in his memoirs about the ghetto: during a whole week pictures from Dante's hell are taking place here. The butchers slaughtered, and then the ‘Chevra Kadisha' came and moved the bodies to the ghetto's cemetery in Zhavia's Street. Appalling was the picture of hands and legs hanging over the death wagons. The crushed and torn bodies like butchered wagons. The animals shot the people with dum dum bullets that shattered the bodies.

 

The Heroic Action of ‘Malmed'

When, on the first day of the action the ‘kidnaps' started in my uncles house, Motke Zabludovsky, on 29 Kopiatski St., a matter arose that brought a big disaster. Yitzchak Malmed, a youngster from Slonim who worked in Weinbergen's paint store drew out a bottle of vitriol that was prepared ahead of time and sprayed it on the SS man's eyes. The SS guy blinded and crazed from pain, shot from his gun and killed another German. Immediately Fritz Friedel arrived. He gathered a hundred people that were in that very crowded place and ordered to take them to Praga's garden, there they were put against the fence and shot with a machine gun. Among the dead were my uncle Motke, and his family.

Yosef Zabludovsky, that was saved and is now in Israel hid on the roof of one of the houses and saw the horrible scene from the time they were gathered until they were shot.

Friedel told the Judenrat that if Malmed will not show up until the next morning he will shoot five thousand Jews. Malmed knew in his hiding place about the threat and he gave himself up to the murderers. After he was tortured badly he was sentenced to death by hanging. Malmed was hung across my uncle's house, and near the ‘Beit haMidrash' he acted proudly. He spit in the faces of the murderers and before he let his soul out he threw in their faces the words “robbers, murderers, you will pay for this; your end is not far”. For three days his body was hung for others to see and be warned. Kopiatski Street now has the hero's name “Malmed St”.

My uncle's house and the buildings around were not damaged. When I look at the passing door from room to room in my nephew's apartment, Chaim Zabludovsky, may he rest in peace, and also in the place with the stain from the vitriol that was sprayed in the Nazi's eyes. I remember the words of the poet Morris Rosenfeld: “You are telling about blood, suffering, and courage that once were.” Yes! But those weren't once, but not too long ago in my uncles house, Motke.

Not once I went to the Praga garden, the place of the murder, where a big part of my family was killed. I stood there, frozen, and looked quietly to the ground that absorbed the blood of innocent victims, and the world was silent.

I would like to mention here the tragic Friday, immediately with the invasion of the Nazi units; 1,500 Jews from Bialystok and the surrounding areas were put in the big synagogue and were burnt alive; among them was my cousin, Aaron Zabludovsky, that for years was a famous chess master. Among the burnt ones named “people of Shabbat” were many from Zabludow.

My father, Yosef Zabludovsky, that lived in the ghetto in my uncle Motke's attic, died, as I heard, before the first action, I never found his grave.

 

Zabludow

On one sunny afternoon three of us, all Holocaust survivors, left for Zabludow: Chaim Itzick Miller, Avrahamel Bachrach, and this writer. The drive was very dangerous because of the Polish gangs who lay in ambush in the forests, but our eagerness to go to Zabludow rose above the risk, to see the place where we were raised, and spent our childhood and most beautiful youth.

We drove in an army jeep- the only means of transportation that left for Zabludow twice a day. We passed Skorop, and we were on our way- to Corian-Shovrecki; the heart begins to pound. The jeep wobbles along the rough road.

In front of our eyes appears the Polish cemetery, surrounded by an iron fence. Here is the house of Yankle Fanetesh, behind the leather factories; over there, there was the Zabludow ghetto that from which the Jews were taken to their deaths. Now silence fell over the area. We passed by the second cemetery in which there was a church, nearby there was Plavski's leather factory and some other buildings, and one more minute of driving. The jeep stopped. Chaim and Avrahamel, who were already in Zabludow a few times already tell me “well, my son, get out of the jeep, we are already in Zabludow”.

I stand in astonishment, and unable to move… I have difficulties continuing with my writing. The pen does not respond. The emotions and the experiences are ineffable, and what, actually, can I say; we are standing by the church and beyond the church, where we stand, is desolate. The area is covered with wild, high grass; somewhere there a local Christian built a hut. I close my eyes, the old Zabludow appears in my imagination; two markets, its shape, its webbed streets and alleys are intertwined. I open my eyes; it's an illusion, everything was erased, a sediment of a hundred years was wiped out. “Bialystok near Zabludow” is written in the sources. The town is no longer; its inhabitants are gone. In some distance the Pravoslavic church is standing; near it are sitting some city people; they recognize me and said “here is the midwife's son, how did you survive?”…

Near the Pravoslavic church are still standing the houses of Yoel Miller and Mordechai Leib, where the municipal buildings stood. On the other side there was the Bilsk “Beit Midrash” that was converted to a barn.

We continue to the courtyard where the ruins of Shepsl Mordechai Bakers house stood. We passed the big river path and arrived to Chaim Miller's leather factory.All the buildings remained intact, in the big wooden house, near the garden, are living some Christian families. Everyone gathers; the main spokeswoman is Malashka, who, for many years, served Chaya Zlote, and speaks a fluent and rich Yiddish. She lives in the house with her husband and children.

From the eyes of the Christians there was a fear in the Christians eyes that somehow they may be evicted from their houses. Chaim, a goodhearted person, calms them, “nothing bad will happen to you… he just wants a little bit of rent money for a bottle of vodka… ” Malash, the shepherd, is telling me how he was drafted to transport the Jews to the military camp of the tenth cavalry camp. He gives me many details. I exploit the opportunity to return the fields that my grandfather owned that I legally own. A few citizens witnessed and signed that I am his grandson, but the court denied the petition with different excuses.

We are roaming around, among the ruins and arguing near the foundation that separated the two markets talking about which store stood where. We are picking through the weeds; we are trying to find where the old synagogue, which existed for hundreds of years, stood; we were not able to find the place. Time goes by. We are running to the new cemetery, most of the gravestones were uprooted and were stolen. Some of them are still unharmed. Among those was Aharon Hirsch Zesler's gravestone. Meaning, their heart couldn't let them take the gravestone of their doctor and savior.

The two city people are asking for ‘drinks' in exchange for their testimony. We entered to kind of a bunk and ordered a bottle of vodka, and a bite to eat. “Do you know where we are sitting?” Asks Avrahamel- “at Paltiel's, the barley maker” in this place stood his big house… From an inner impulse I ordered another bottle of vodka to at least rid the depressing thoughts, that take over me when I look through the open door to the ruins of our unforgettable houses where we had our cribs.

Only when I returned to Bialystok did I start to feel the deep pain; this is also my feeling now, at the time of writing those lines. I can only wish that my writings and the pictures from the Great Holocaust will be a contribution to the modest memorial that we are establishing for our most beloved and dear ones, so that our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will know how our fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers from Zabludow and Bialystok suffered, were tortured, and fought together with six million martyrs.

I'm writing these lines and the tears are washing my face, I'm enclosing with the words from the great lamenter, Z. Sgalovitz:
From all that was
Only a tear is left
About a nation that was destroyed by fire
May it grow and be holy

 

zab157.jpg
This is the Bialystok Great Synagogue burnt with hundreds of Jews inside including Aharon Zabludovsky the great chess player

 

[Page 158]

Who by Fire

By David Zabludovsky, Mexico

It's crowded in the synagogue- it's impossible to move
And among the Jews is also my dear brother
My G-d, my G-d look from the sky
My brother is burnt, burnt alive

The synagogue is burning- the fire is boiling
In the holy place- Jews are stricken by fear
Listen Israel- crying to the sky
My brother is burnt, burnt alive

The walls are aflame- the roof has already sunken
Alit like a candle the chess artist
With fear and fright the eyes are torn
My brother is burnt, burnt alive


[Page 159]

Our Ruined Zabludow- and It's Martyrs

By Shmuel (Muli) Bernstein

I'm asking forgiveness from you, holy souls… your spirit and memory are lying in the soul of each and every one of the Holocaust survivors. Forgive me, if I'm not going to be able to give strong impressions to your inhumane suffering, and to your heroism! A man is unable to tell all that you went through in those last moments of your life, and what the inhuman animals did to you… honor to your memories!

In May 1941, I was called by the Soviet regime to do six weeks of reserve service. I left our town Zabludow that seemed as it was in generations; the youngsters were happy, loved to sing; new government, new life, new songs; my wife Channah, and my son Elik, accompanied me to the bus.

In our unit there were a few people from Zabludow. In the morning, when the Germans opened their blitz was campaign and attacked unexpectedly, Shmuel Ruppa, Meir Perelgut, and Avrahamel Korovski, among others, died. Kopl Levine survived along with me; he was with me for a few days, I was an officer. Levine, who had a weak character, was lacking initiation, I protected him as much as I could. He was killed in Volkovisk-Baranovisk line, while I, on the other hand, was captured by the Germans, along with thousands of soldiers during the battle around Minsk.

The Germans gave an order that people will gather into groups according with their nation: Jews, Russians, Polish, Ukrainians, etc. I joined a group of Russian officers. They put us in a big barn and I felt the whole time an inner impulse to run, because I had the feeling that they were going to turn me in as a Jew. In the corner, where I lay down in the darkness I dug a hole underneath the fence and made a bunker. Suddenly an unexpected thing happened. A fire broke out. I don't know who started it, the Germans, or someone inside; heavy smoke spread in the barn; we heard shootings from all over, I succeeded in crawling through the bunker, on my stomach until I got to the bushes and then I continued through the fields to the woods. I took advantage of the darkness, I ran until the morning, and I distance myself from that place. During the day I laid in a hole in the woods and once in a while I checked around to see in which direction there was any village.

I ate berries that I found in the forest, and some green from the fields. I wandered at night and tried to go around the villages; that's how I arrived, exhausted to Zittle. On a dark night I knocked on a door of a house that stood in the edge of the town. Coincidentally a Jewish family lived there. They took me in with fear in their eyes, but when I spoke Yiddish it calmed them down. On that night they burned my Army uniform in the oven and gave me civilian clothes. I stayed with my hosts for five days. I lingered in the town for three days, when I saw that the traffic was lessening, and also that civilians were driving in the roads I started on my way in the direction of Slonim-Horodok-Zabludow. The adventures of my trip are very cruel and unique episodes. In Horodok I found a few people from Zabludow and got very sad regards from our town. They told me that Zabludow was burnt to the ground by the Nazis, they also told me about the victims that were killed during the air raid and that part of the citizens were expelled and part ran away and scattered in different places: Bialystok, Narba, Narabaka. I couldn't figure out what happened to my family, I decided to go to Zabludow; I went through Zeshdna forest, when I got closer my heart started to pound heavily. After all it has been only one month since I left my family: mother, father, brothers, my wife that was a companion in my life. Channah Bendetszon, and our blooming son, Elik; I want to know what happened to them.

I stopped by the house of Birche Bartnovski, the smith. Darkness, night. From far away I see a burnt town. The whole area was empty, only the edge of the Catholic church and the round dome of the Pravoslavic church were erected. I knock on the door of my good acquaintance Birche, that his house survived the fire. I waited a minute, from the inside I hear movements and then cries and children's sobbing. I feel a deep sadness. The door is open, in front of me Reba Baker's wife stands, a moment passed until she recognized me. She is telling me, broken and filled with tears; two days ago the Germans took Birche from the house, they took him to the bridge by the river near the house and shot him in front of his wife and their three children.

A few days later I found my family in Bialystok. I will not write about the life in ghetto Bialystok, where I was a witness to its eradication. Other famous, talented authors like B. Mark, Dr. Detner, Risener, and others already did it. About ten days was the first chapter of the destruction of Bialystok Jews. The second chapter was five months later, and was finished with the elimination of those Jews. Then my whole family was killed, my wife, my son, and my mother. I was saved in the struggle for life, when death was waiting for me around every corner.

After the riots in Bialystok I was sent with a group of craftsmen to East Prussia. I was there for two years; I waited day by day for death to come, as simple as it is. In spite of it all, I stayed alive.

I will not tell about the suffering in the concentration camps, about thousands of people from different nations that were killed, and I will not tell about the bloody field, and about the destruction and tortured basements and all the horrible things that my eyes saw. This is a different story. This doesn't touch Zabludow.

After the liberation when I came back to Bialystok in March 1945, full of pain, I found that the whole ghetto area was erased. Around there was deadly quiet and ruins. I'm walking between the ruins, and I got to a place that once used to be 10 Yurovitski St. I lived there before the Holocaust, with my dear wife Channahle and my blond haired son, that didn't even live to see five springs. Nothing was left from these dear people. Were killed: my mother, my brother Leible, the carpenter who was the librarian in Zabludow's library, and my twin brother Moshele the tailor. Now I'm standing on a pile of weeds, on sand and bricks… the heart is shrinking, tears are washing my face- there is no memory for their existence…

left are green fields, weeds: in the edge of the field there were some scattered huts, and also a few huts near the Pravoslavic church. I meet a few ‘Goy' [gentile] acquaintances. They are looking at my as though I came from another world. One of them hugged and kissed me. They told me that there are two Jews in the town who hid and got out of their hiding place. I found them in a small dark room behind the church, Yosele Levine and Shimon Levine.

At night we slept in the small room, we are three Jews and the survivors of the Jewish community of a whole town. Before we went to sleep we closed the door and the shutters very carefully and each one of us checked it's gun because there were still some white soldiers in Poland that were looking after individual Jews who survived the Holocaust. We stayed for two days in Zabludow, then we moved to Bialystok. In Zabludow there is not one Jew left. It is ‘Judenrein', pure from Jews. The wind blew the ashes of the Zabludow Jews who burned in Treblinka. Hundreds of thousands were killed in different ways, and there was no trace to their existence. We, who survived have to keep in our heart forever their holy memory.

…Shmuel Bernstein moved to Israel, blended nicely with his job, and socially. Until the end of his life he was the pillar of the small Zabludow community in Israel, and also was a liaison between them and Zabludow's expatriates abroad. May their memory be blessed.


[Page 162]

I Saw my Ruined House

By Reizel Wagman Bachrach

When I came from Russia to Bialystok, immediately when the terrible war was over, I decided to visit my hometown Zabludow where I was born. Though people warned me about traveling to small towns, because there was still no quiet and gangs roamed the roads – I couldn't resist the experience [temptation]. And I convinced Rosa Bialystotski, Pearl Bialystotski and my sister-in-law Teibl Wagman to go to our hometown to see what had remained.

Shocked and astonished we stood in front of the gloomy scene that lay before our eyes. The town was desolate… from far away we could see the two church steeples that were not damaged -- the Catholic and the Pravoslavic churches. Here and there were houses. Among the few houses the Bilsk Bet Midrash and the house of Rabbi Jochanan Mirsky (may the memory of a righteous man be blessed) – a miracle indeed; I'm looking for the place where my house was. I'm looking and am unable to find it. There was no sign whatsoever.

Tears are choking my throat… the blood in my veins is pounding in ever-increasing rhythm. Pictures from the past are chasing each other in my burning mind… I am searching with my eyes and with my hands… for this is the place where I was born and educated… the place where I spent my childhood, both happy and sad… there I sat all my precious days… I was married there and there they stood the Chupah in my house near my father's bed (may he rest in peace) before his death.

I wake from my nightmare and drag my feet through Mukevitz alley to the new cemetery. The Christian street where the old cemetery is untouched. However in the cemetery area, in the place where there gravestones the cows and sheep of the goyim are grazing and wandering.

The new cemetery is totally ruined. All the gravestones are shattered. Pieces of my father's gravestones, Nachum Wagman (may he rest in peace), are scattered all about. I pick up some pieces and read his name…

In a heart wrenching and indescribable sadness we are whispering the holy Yizkor for our dear ones that were cut off from life. We leave the cemetery and graves, our beautiful town Zabludow that just previously had blossomed and was full of life.


[Page 163]

We Will Never Forget

By Avishai Dolinsky

Yizkor!

To the six million Jews that perished, burned and gassed; fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, grandmothers and grandfathers; rabbis, authors, artists, merchants and craftsmen; teachers and educators. Whole communities, whole sects were thrown into fires and into the gas chambers and among them our unforgettable community Zabludow…

Yizkor!…

-- To our home and birthplace Zabludow; each and every one of us will forever remember his acquaintances and all those we loved. Their countenances will be forever engraved deep in our hearts… yet they are no longer!… disappeared with the smoke!… the Nazis (may their memory be erased) burned them alive!… There is a common saying: “all that the earth covers -- is forgotten”… We are forbidden according to this saying… Our martyrs did not die a natural death and were not brought for burial!… They were uprooted in the prime of their lives by the Nazi animals, that masqueraded as humans. They were murdered in the cruelest manner.

The Nazis murdered them in the gas chambers and burned them in the crematoria; old and young, men and women, children and tots – they were murdered in Majdanek, Treblinka and Auschwitz. Even graves did not remain… no graves, no gravestones, no stones!…

We bear a heavy burden of rocks of sadness deep in our hearts; we will carry in our hearts the grief forever – until the end of our lives…

The ashes of our martyrs was scattered by the wind upon the face of the earth, on rivers and seas…   And every place that a son of Zabludow lives, he will mourn the fate of our town's sons and will not forget. He will also know that it is not enough to cry over the loss. We must unite with our martyrs and we must obey the commandment: “May the memory of Amalek be erased.” We must never forget! At least this we owe our martyrs – we shall not forgive and we shall not forget! They command us to avenge their death!!!


[Page 164]

The Last Notebook of Zabludow

Michael Lifshitz, Tel Aviv

In Zabludow there were many notebooks that are historically valuable: a notebook of the four countries committee, different notebooks of old companies that were operated in the town, a notebook of the old Chevra Kadisha etc. The important events that took place in the old community of Zabludow were written in each notebook. Every generation added some pages to the tales of the city. Everyone added to the intricate web, constantly building the history- until the German Nazis arrived, and in one sad morning cut the web.

This Yizkor book is the last notebook- a monument to an old rooted, Jewish community that existed according to the tradition for seven hundred years and was destroyed and ruined to its foundations by the Nazi Germans.

Jewish Zabludow was burned, the Jews of Zabludow were burned, and they were the first miserable victims that the Hitler Germany threw to the gas chambers.

How shall we mourn you, dear Zabludow Jews? How do we mourn a father and a mother, a brother and a sister, a friend? With human tears, with human cries, with sighs… ? No! That is not the way to mourn you; it's not enough to weep for you… ! It is possible to express human feelings only when a person dies of natural causes… then comes the justice of the verdict after the cries and the sighs, but there is no justice of the verdict of your death, the burnt, as long as the Holocaust survivors are still alive, they will not accept the justice of the verdict…

When we look at the pictures and reading the list of the perished- they are standing in front of our eyes… and it seems to us that only yesterday they were all with us; they lived, hoped, and couldn't imagine to themselves that their end will be so bitter…

We are paralyzed and hopeless… how did it happen, that so fast you were uprooted from us?

We must not forget the “Amalek”; the hatred to the Nazi nation to Germany shall not diminish. The fire of revenge for the murderers shall not burn out- these are the last words in the will of each Jew that was burnt, therefore, the job of this notebook is not only to build a will to the community and its martyrs, it has to evoke hatred, anger, and disgrace toward the murderers of our nation!

Our wounds are still fresh. They have no cure; we have no consolation. Our only comfort is that the G-d of revenge will pay them back.


[Page 165]

Memorial Days For our Martyrs

 

Saturday, the 17th of Tammuz 5701 – the 12th of July 1941.

This Saturday was written in our history of ruins as the Black Shabbat. Among 5000 Jews from Bialystok that were caught and murdered in Patrasha Fields and then in the death camps outside of the city, many from Zabludow perished. We know these names: Melech Isaruk (the tailor), his brother Mamme (Avrahamel), Feivl Zesler and his older son; Avrahamel Bazruk, Velvel Glatshtein, his son and son-in-law; Shlomo and Leib Gorosh; Moshe Binyamin Sindrovsky and his son Leible; Heidle Shaitsheek's husband, her two sons and son-in-law; the famous educator from Bialystok Moshe Zabludovsky and the teacher Binyamin Kapustein (principal of the Tachkemonie school in Zabludow). Those who perished in this cruel fire are known by the name “People of Shabbat”.

 

Wednesday, the 1st of Kislev 5703 – the 10th of November 1942

(General Memorial Day for the Zabludow community that perished in the Holocaust). On November 1st, 1942 the Nazis transported by wagons all the Jews from Zabludow imprisoned in the ghetto near the leather factories to Bialystok. First they were tortured in the army camp of the 10th Cavalry Unit. From there they were expelled to Treblinka where they were killed by gas on November 10th 1942. On that day most of the Jews of Zabludow died a cruel death.

 

January 1943

In January 1943 many Jews of Zabludow that had previously been expelled to the Proshna ghetto and later with the destruction of this ghetto were transferred to Auschwitz together with the Jews from Proshna -- perished. Among those who perished were Rabbi Jochanan Mirsky (may his righteous memory be blessed), his daughter and grandson, Rabbi Yaakov Zesler and others.

 

30th Shevat – 5th of February 1943

The first stage of the destruction of the Bialystok ghetto from where 12,000 Jews were expelled to Treblinka – many were from Zabludow.

On that day the Nazi murderer Fritz Friedel killed more than 100 Jews as a revenge for the daring rebellion of Malmed. Among those shot were all the family of Motka Zabludow and his sister Beila Zesler and her two daughters, Lila and Solya.

 

15th of Av 5703 – from the 16th to the 23rd of August.

This is the week the ghetto Bialystok was destroyed completely. Then the last people from Zabludow that were in the ghetto were killed.


[Page 166]

Man's Foundation In Soil

By Shmuel Zesler

From soil man was created
and to the soil he will return
In his soul he will bring his bread
In tears and sadness.

And man is a metaphor
For the vessel, to a broken vessel;
To the grass in the field
That will grow - become green - then die.

And to the flower in the garden
That will blossom - wilt, then wither.
To the silent shadow
That will pass and be gone.

To the cloud in the sky
Which quickly disappears in the horizon
And to the whistling wind that sways
That blows and quickly wanes.

To the dust that wanders in the air
Without purpose, without taste, causeless
To the dream that suddenly appears
And vanishes quickly, departs and ceases


[Page 167]

Expatriates of Zabludow in Israel

Akiva Gellerstein – Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, 1986

In every typical Jewish town in eastern Europe that the tradition, the Halacha (the law), and the faith were a base for existence, and the community organization- the vision and the ambition to make an aliyah to Eretz Israel never ceased, and was an eternal dream.

Zabludow, as a very old town with a strong Jewish tradition, there also was that dream of making an aliyah to Eretz Israel. In reality, everything stays as a dream that doesn't get fulfilled, though, in the beginning of the century (1880-1914) few families and some individuals dared to go to Israel in all kinds of ways. Most of them came back after wandering, and because of absorption problems in difficult conditions that they found in the small, and poor settlements in Israel.

With this dream a considerable part of the part of the people left Zabludow. They immigrated to America and Argentina, which then offered a better and brighter future. After the first world war when the Zionist movement spread in Jewish communities and Zionist organizations, youth movements and the ‘Chalutz' were established, there were temptations for youth and families to make an aliyah.

We know about some families that succeeded to make roots and stay in Israel. On the other hand some of those temptations were failures and many youth came back disappointed and frustrated. During the years of 1920-1939 there were signs of organizational youth to make an aliyah, these youth are motivated by an inner impulse and ideology carrying in their heart a vision of changing the harsh reality that filled the town, and that is how students and some families arrived to Eretz Israel as pioneers, and they were lucky enough to be saved from the Holocaust and from the destruction.

Only after the second world war when most of Zabludow's community perished in the death camps and only a few were saved they started to arrive in Israel, in the framework of the second aliyah, and the absorption of the Holocaust survivors. These were the first ones that brought the bitter news about the destruction of Zabludow.

The veteran immigrants and the survivors got organized in the framework of ‘the organization of the expatriates of Zabludow' that took care of them, and helped them and also kept in touch with our people around the world. The organization, since then, has an annual memorial gathering for the memory of the town in which the expatriates of Zabludow gather. The initiator and the active person in the first years was Shmuel ‘Muli' Bernshtein, Z.L. As a Holocaust survivor that got to be in Zabludow after the destruction, Shmuel Bernshtein devoted himself to search out for every citizen of Zabludow. Took care of every new immigrant, and hosted every Zabludow expatriate tourist who came to visit. He was the one who initiated meetings and warm receptions. Muli, may his memory be blessed, also wrote poems and stories that once in a while we were privileged to hear, on Memorial days, and friendly meetings.

With the immigration of the family of Sara and Eliyahu Gellerstein, may their memories be blessed, from Chile in 1953 the organization experienced a boost and renewal. The home of the Gellerstein family, first at Varmisa St, then at Tarsat St, in Tel Aviv, became an address for every Zabludowian in Israel and abroad. Eliyahu Gellerstein, may his memory be blessed, became a point of contact for every Zabludow expatriate, wherever they are, but especially from America and Argentina. The first mission was to establish a memorial for the martyrs of Zabludow in the Holocaust foundation [basement] at Mount Zion in Jerusalem where the list of all citizens of Zabludow who had perished in the Holocaust resided.

The next mission was to establish a Kupat Gmilat Hassidim [a charitable foundation] from a donation fund in the United States. The fund made available years of help and services and loans without interest.

The important mission was to publish the “Yizkor” book on Zabludow in Argentina. This goal was met with big success after a 10-year effort, and in 1961 this “Yizkor” book was published and distributed among all Zabludowian expatriates in the world.Eliyahu Gellerstein, Z”L, who edited the book invested much effort and money to this goal. He was in constant contact with the exiles of Zabludow and took an active role in balancing the interests of the USA and Argentina expatriate communities regarding who would publish the book. The book consists of 500 pages, is considered today one of the highly regarded books among many books dedicated to hundreds of Jewish communities. The book contains original material and deep historical research on the generations of Zabludow and surrounding towns and much accurate information on the Holocaust period.

As times passes the population of the Zabludow expatriate community is shrinking in a natural biological way. Dear and committed people passed away and a few active young people from the town are taking their place. The memorial gathering that takes place annually was and still is a meeting of friends from the same town who gather from all over the country. The sadness in the memorial ceremony of the town that no longer exists blends somehow with the joy of the gathering and discussion among friends.

The meeting and the religious memorial ceremony was not a sufficient force to attract most of the Zabludow expatriates and there were some meetings that had poor attendance. This situation needs a new initiative.

Muli Bernshtein (Z”L) first, together with Nechama Shmush–Shmueli and the

Gellerstein family; Mina, Batya and Akiva, tried to change and give a new face to

the memorial gatherings; - that the contents of the memorial service becomes, not just an expression of mourning for a perished town, but a meeting place to bring up memories and stories about people, places and special events of which the town was blessed and which characterized it.

The meetings took place consistently in a respected place in “Bnai Brit”. The first part of the meeting was dedicated to the memorial ceremony and included: lighting of six candles and mentioning of the names of Zabludow expatriates who had passed away in Israel. For a few years, we had the pleasure of having the cantor Samech (Z”L) as the host of the ceremony, himself a Holocaust survivor. With his beautiful voice he recited a special “Yizkor” embellished with psalms and poetry that added honor to the event. With the passing of cantor Samech (Z”L), Avishai Dolinsky, a fellow from our town, accompanies us always in those ceremonies. Despite his ill health he makes great efforts and year by year he keeps the traditions of the ceremony.

After the religious ceremony, tea is served with some desert that the women prepare for this evening. This period is used for friendly talking and changing of addresses. The grandmothers show pictures of their successful, beautiful children.

The second part is mainly folklore and is dedicated to memories, stories and descriptions. In this section, it is worthwhile to mention the original descriptions of Eli Zesler from Haifa who would sometimes walks us through the streets and alleys of Zabludow, passing and peeking at every house, bringing up stories of each and every resident and describing their character with charm and emotion. Also, Nechama Shmueli, the living spirit of these meetings, contributed to the success of the get-togethers by describing the different types and personalities of Zabludow. Her excellent memory helped her describe in juicy Yiddish characters from the town that had been forgotten.

In these memorials we also had receptions for guests who came to visit in Israel. I should mention Yitzchak Zesler, the editor of the ‘Yizkor book' in Argentina, Shmuel Zesler and his wife, the great teacher that we all remember from Tachkemonie School, that always provided us with poems that he wrote. We had the pleasure of hosting Batsheva Goldvasses, Shmuel Zesler's daughter, that together with her family settled in Israel, and many times we had the taste of her reciting her father's poems in Yiddish. We also hosted Pinia Korovski, Norton (Norsitz) family, and the Shmus family. They all contributed nicely to finance the publishing of the Zabludow book in Hebrew.

In the last few years we were blessed with the presence of ‘Dooda', David Zabludovsky, that came to Israel from Argentina, the actor and the famous announcer from Zabludow-Bialystok. We had the pleasure of unforgettable nights of listening to Jewish folklore in reading and acting, especially parts from Shalom Aleichem that are always fresh and actual, and we hope to enjoy ‘Dooda' for many more years.

We are trying to look for different forms and content in order to bring the young generation closer to its roots. Zabludow can be an origin of pride and honor to all of us. ‘The pages of Zabludow ' in the Hebrew translation are one of the steps to fulfill this goal.

The Holocaust generation conceals in each and everyone's heart a cemetery, and each one of us has to battle with this inheritance according to its emotions and memories. We need to be able to separate from the cemetery that is in the heart- the sadness and the pain of a world that was ruined and doesn't exist anymore- with the beauty, the happiness, and the unique culture that characterized our town, that will never be forgotten.


[Page 170]

In Memory of My Father
Avishai Ben-Shlomo Dolinsky,
May His Memory Be Blessed

Shlomo Dolinsky, Bnei' Brak

It saddens me that you are unable to see this book about Zabludow Jews, the town of your birth. You left this town, when all your family was left there, and were destroyed by the Nazi enemies, may their name be erased. You came to Israel on your own and here you established a new family. In the memories of the expatriates of Zabludow in which you were one of the active members, you brought up memories from Zabludow's life in past years. You always emphasized to me the saying “All of Israel should care for each other”; a saying that I saw in the united spirit and comradeship that always existed among the people of Zabludow and their willingness to help each other. You also mentioned the institution of ‘leenat ha'Tzedek' [sleeplessness of righteousness] that was known in its many actions of helping the poor. You made sure to always remind me that our children that were born in Israel have to know their origin.

Even in your difficult days when you fought your terrible illness you always made sure to be present in the memorial services for the Zabludow expatriates. You were the one to say the eulogies in the prayer ‘El Ma'ale Rachamim' and ‘Kaddish', in your splendid voice, the memory of Zabludow martyrs. With deep pain I'll finish with a part of that prayer: “for the memory of mentioning the soul of my father, Avishai Ben-Shlomo ha'Levi, may his soul be bound up in the bonds of everlasting life in the Garden of Eden, may he rest, and shall we say Amen. “Died on the ninth of Tevet, 1987, may his memory be blessed.

 

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