« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Pages 116-118]


Translated by Joseph Schatzker


About Memories and an Unusual Book

In order for the Third World War not to break out, the Second must not be forgotten.
Eli Wiesel

When a newborn leaves the womb, it screams that it is alive. Babies cry because the Angel of Oblivion hits them on the upper lip. Mrs. Liebesman a popular midwife in Boryslaw, maintains that this is true: “And how else can you explain why there is a vertical groove in the lip, just under the nose?” Eti Ryvke, di bube [the granny], as she was commonly called, claimed that the Angel's painful procedure is nothing more than a kind of injection so that the child has to forget everything that he has seen, heard, and felt so far.

Legend … fairy tale … You can believe or not; it's up to you.

And then life begins, with its good and bad experiences.

There are cells in our brain that specialize in remembering. Some remember more, some less. Some fight with themselves to forget, because remembering can bring unpleasant, sad, or painful memories …

In 1966, a 43-year-old engineer from Saratoga, a town in the USA near San Francisco, came to Bremen in the Federal Republic of Germany to testify in the trial of Hildebrand,[1] the executioner of Drohobycz and Borysław during the Nazi occupation.

In an extraordinary book (because it is not an ordinary book) Antworte Mensch! written by Renate Reinke, we become acquainted with an exact account of this trial, including the strange phenomenon of not-remembering those four years, during which over 10,000 Jews died, that is 75 percent of the town's Jewish community. In an interview with the author, the aforementioned engineer from Saratoga declared, “In Israel, large groups of Jews still talk about the past; therefore it continues uninterrupted. In the United States, there is no place for such ruminations, and that is how things should be.”

The opinion of the American, born in Borysław, (Renate Reinke does not name the witnesses), is all the more surprising, since he was eighteen when – as he testified in court – he was in the Jewish cemetery helping his uncle exhume the bodies of Jews massacred in the pogrom organized by the Ukrainians immediately after the arrival of Germans in Borysław. The witness recalled friends and relatives who were transported to concentration camps and remembered, in particular, Wednesday, 19 June 1944 at noon, when in an extraordinary gathering, Hildebrand declared that because of occasional escapes from the camp, he wanted to be sure that the inhabitants of the camp saw with their own eyes the fate of such Jews. On his command they witnessed, during roll call, the execution of their friends, the engineer Mendzio Derfler and Haberman his father.

Only someone without a drop of sympathy could say that too much is spoken about the dark night which lasted four years in Borysław. The Israeli holiday Azkara is dedicated to the rekindling of the memories of this extermination.[2] And it is not true that in the USA there is no time for such things. In May 1985, an association of people from Drohobycz-Borysław published A Short History of the Jews of Drohobycz and Borysław in English, in which it states that there are annual gatherings, like Azkara, held in front of a memorial monument erected there. Thus, there is room in America for these things …

Leaving your hometown does not mean that you want to forget about it. On the contrary, we still cherish memories, of the people of those days, the Jewish library, which had a rich collection of books that would put any university to shame, the sports club AKS Kadimah whose educational role (not only in sport) was recognized by the city's Jewish community, the bridge over the Tyśmienica River, where you found the łebaks, the only ones in the world who made their living gathering the pools of black gold. We remember … we remember …

Anna Dichter wrote in a letter from New York, “Oh Borysław, so close to our hearts.”

Azkara means: Remember the dead, rekindle their memories. We will now honour the memories of those criminally torn from us, whose inhuman murder we cannot forget … we will not forget. We will also honour the memory of our compatriots who left us after the war, scattered throughout the globe, who are not buried in the Jewish cemetery in Borysław, which would celebrate its hundredth anniversary if its existence had not been interrupted in 1959, when only a small number of indigenous Jews could be found in Borysław.

Poem by Alice Patey Grabowska (Literatura, 4, 1978)

Odpadamy po kolei
jak liście
coraz więcej wyrw
na zieleń żałobna chusta
We drop out one by one
like leaves
more and more tears
a mourning scarf on the green
Telefony przyjaciół milkną
kilkucyfrowe liczby w zero
pokrywa się śniegiem
Friends' phones go silent
Multi-digit numbers into zero
The sheet of paper
is covered with snow
na które nie odpiszesz
Odpadamy po kolei jak liście
z drzewa niewiecznego
which you will not reply to
We fall off one by one, like leaves
from the eternal tree.


  1. Friedrich Hildebrand was an SS officer who became commandant of the Jewish forced labor camps in the towns of Drohobycz and Borysław on August 1, 1943. Captured by British troops, he was released from captivity in 1945, but in October 1950, a former inmate of the Drohobycz forced labour camp accidentally recognized him on the street as his former camp commandant and reported him. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced by the Bremen Regional Court to eight years in prison for being an accessory to murder in four cases and manslaughter in one case. He served this sentence until December 1955. In 1953, he was released from prison. In March, 1965 he was arrested again and sentenced on May 12, 1967 to life imprisonment by the Bremen Regional Court for one count of murder and three counts of being an accessory to murder. Back
  2. Azkara is a religious memorial service held on the seventh day and the thirtieth day after a Jewish person's death. It is likely that Leopold Held refers to Holocaust Remembrance Day as Azkara. It was established in 1951in Israel as a national day of commemoration for the victims of the Holocaust. It is celebrated in Israel on the 27th day of Nisan, which usually falls in April or May. Back

[Pages 119-124]

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Forget

In his testimonial, the engineer from Saratoga said: “In Israel, where there is a large concentration of Jews, they constantly speak of the past, and this keeps the past alive. In America things are totally different. There, there is no room for such discussions and that is how it should be.”

I quote from Mundzio Krochmal's letter from New York, 30 November 1980, “Today my thoughts are in Borysław because today is the anniversary of the second roundup (akcja) in which I lost my father, mother, sister, and brother. I vividly remember the day we emerged from our hiding place and the Ukrainians said: – “Look! So many Jews survived!

They thought that only one Jew would survive and he would be shown in a circus.

Professor Horbulewicz showered me with kisses; he looked at me as if I had arrived from a different planet.

This created its own literature. Those in hiding transferred to scraps of paper their hours of fear, the rare moments of hope and of changing emotions. To remember … and not to forget … in order to pass on ….

In that mood, Engineer Isaac Stiefel, wrote the following poem in Yiddish. Here is an excerpt (translated by L.H.)

Siedem mogił na polu dalekim,
Siedem mogił na polu na wieki,
W nich katowani, bici, mordowani
Tylko dlatego, że byli Żydami.
Seven graves in the distant field,
Seven graves in the field of ages,
In them are those tortured, beaten, murdered
only because they were Jews.

The fight to survive … is the same as the fight not to die? We were not prepared. This subject was never taught in school.

Gina Wieser (Auschwitz number A-24920, document No. 1052'55/ in Yad Vashem) testified,

”The Germans arrived in Borysław on the 2nd or 3rd of June 1941 and the very next day began one of the most heinous pogroms of Jews, carried out by Ukrainians armed with the hammers that are used to break up hard ground. Many of them had guns. They massacred the Jews in the most bestial manner. They broke bones, tore out eyes, and scattered teeth. Within the first twenty-four hours of this pogrom, 180 people lost their lives. The next day Ukrainians armed with scythes came from neighbouring villages. It was a terrible sight. Despite many horrors since then, I will never forget this day. Imagine a wild, unruly horde versus the unarmed Jewish men, women, and children (…).

Winter arrived and there was terrible hunger in the town. Occasionally one would come upon someone swollen from hunger or dead from typhus clutching paper money or gold coins in his hands. The hunger was so terrible that people resorted to scavenging food from garbage containers. A typhus epidemic was raging. Some 2,000 died that winter from disease or hunger. This lasted through the spring into the next summer of 1942. It was not until the summer of 1942 that some commerce started up.”


In an abbreviated version of the memoirs of RH there is mention of the twenty-year-old woman on false Aryan papers with 300 złoty in her pocket who was escaping from Borysław to Krosno in order to bring her family and settle there.

”Borysław, 24 November 1942

We are travelling together with Lunia S. to Krosno. She is travelling as Paulina Zawadzka and I am Bożena Knebloch. Too bad that my name does not have a more Polish ring. I must not – I must not forget my new name.

We arrived in Przemyśl at night. All had to disembark. The hall was full and completely dark. I put my small suitcase on the floor, squatted next to it, and fell asleep.

I was awakened by a sudden bright light. Above me towered a German in uniform, the station master, and next to him the blackmailer (szmalcownik) who was pointing to a bundle on the floor. It took a moment for the small mass to become visible, and as it took shape, we could see that it was an exhausted forty-year-old woman with a hooked nose and blondish, dyed hair. The station master pointed at the door and followed the woman. As he left he turned out the light. As the light came on again I could see that the stationmaster was lifting from the floor another plump woman with dyed hair.

“Get up!” This command suddenly reached my ear like an explosion. It was the same blackmailer who previously fished out the other two. The stationmaster, in a polite gesture, allowed me go ahead and took me into his office. He sat behind his desk and with his jaw pointed to a spot under the window. The two previous victims were already sitting there. Next to the stove stood the Bahnschutz (railway policeman)[1] warming his back.

“Peter, jetzt fangen wir an.” (Peter, let's begin).

And so it started. Peter, the railway policeman tore himself away from the warm tiles of the stove and stood next to his boss and pointed at the oldest of us.

“Name and address.” This command was uttered in a normal tone, but suddenly he yelled: “Give us money, give us money, give us your heavy, smelly, Jewish money.”

The woman handed him her wallet, her purse, and finally her handbag. With a move of disdain the stationmaster dropped everything onto the floor.

“Give, now. Give already!”

The woman sat motionless. The German looked at his assistant who then came close to the woman; he passed his hand over her neck, reached a ribbon, pulled it. And with it tore out a small, linen bag. He shook out its contents, a ring with a blue stone, male and female wedding rings, and a small locket. The Bahnschutz opened up the locket and showed the station master a photograph of a black-haired, black eyed boy.

With a sudden move, the woman grabbed the locket and closed it. The German tore it out of her fingers.

‘What? You want to take the master's gold?’

The stationmaster told the woman to return to her place under the window. He yawned and turned to the plump woman with dyed hair.

“Now you.”

He emptied the contents of her purse. She had little money and no jewellery. He began to feel around in the purse and then took a pocket knife from his pocket and tore out the lining. As he did this a stuffed envelope fell out onto the desk.

Photographs of Jewish women in wigs, boys with earlocks, and bearded men in their garb and fox hats spilled out from the envelope.

“Come, come (this was to me). First name, last name, address.”

My name is Bożena (Oh God, is it Knebloch or Nebloch?) I murmured indistinctly and quickly gave my address. In my haste I gave my real Jewish address.


From my purse I took out the extract from the parish records that the priest in Wolanka gave me and the service card arranged for me by Krzysia in her office in Stryj. When he saw the service card, the German reached for it.

“Phone the office in Borysław and check it,” he said to his assistant.

Oh God, I hope that I don't endanger Krzysia and Engineer Cz.

A station policeman appeared and indicated that the first morning train would be ready to leave in ten minutes.

The German stood up.

“We leave you here, ladies. Please be obedient and wait.”

With this, all three left the room leaving the door open.

It happened very quickly. The woman and the plump girl ran out together. Suddenly two shots rang out. Then a third, and silence.

When the station master and his assistant returned, I was just finishing powdering my nose.

“Put all your stuff and documents away and let's go!”

This was a very difficult moment; not to grab my things and run out as quickly as possible.”


There is no point looking for traces of previous Jewish inhabitants in Borysław. We have been scattered over the whole globe. The Bremen trials, which ran from 20 June 1966 to 12 May 1967, invited 360 Jews from Borysław to testify. Two hundred and thirteen came to the trials. Some of them travelled only a few kilometres; others thousands of kilometres. Jews came to Bremen from Israel, Poland, NRD [German Democratic Republic, i.e. East Germany], Australia, Austria, Mexico, Ceylon, Canada, RFN [Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. West Germany], Argentina, New Zealand, France, the United States.

The trial of Hildebrand for the murder of three Jews, Fischl Haberman, his son, and Mendzio Derfler proceeded. Fifty-one witnesses testified, sixteen of whom had seen things with their own eyes.

Tunda, the sister of murdered Mendzio, arrived from Haifa. She made the impression of someone turned to stone. She testified in an intelligent manner, very much to the point. She noticed no one. In any murder trial, the main witness cannot testify because he or she is dead. In this trial, such a witness seemed to be speaking through the voice of his sister. All those in the courtroom appeared to be enveloped by freezing cold. The witness was giving an account of her experiences and those of her large family.

“The only survivors were Mendzio and me (….) We managed to escape during the first roundup[2] in the spring of 1944 (…) We hid in a bunker in the forest. Mendzio brought us food which he stole from the camp. He was almost captured there during the next roundup and managed to escape by jumping into the cesspool (…) Afterward, his friends managed to clean him up, more or less. When he returned to me, he still stank (…) I was happy that Mendzio was hiding in the forest. One day, when I returned to the camp from work, I heard shooting. I had a terrible foreboding. I saw people dragging the body of my murdered brother.”

As she continued to testify her voice became sharp and accusing. As she sobbed, she screamed out the last sentence: “He left me a letter written when he was in the cell of the condemned. He loved life and feared death … He was just short of his twenty-second birthday. His only wish was that I should survive to tell the world.”

This is the account of Renate Reinke , the author of the shocking book Antworte, Mensch! A German journalist wrote: “We never got to know one another but I cannot forget her voice.”


Bina Haberman recalled, “The only remnant in Borysław of the thousands of Jews who lived there is a monument near the river bank where there are the mass graves of those murdered or buried alive by the Germans. This monument was erected in1945 before we emigrated (…) While we were still there, there were those who did not like it. At night they worked hard at breaking the concrete just to destroy this last remnant of us … “


  1. Bahnschutz: a railway guard during the Nazi occupation. Germans hired Poles to do this work, (Author's note).
    Bahnschutzpolizei (Railway Protection Police) were established in Germany under the National Socialist government. Back
  2. Roundup: the Polish word akcja (action) refers to the periodic roundups of Jews conducted by the German occupiers. The Jews might then be shot or transported to work camps or death camps. Back

[Pages 125-126]

At Night Come Long-Departed Shadows

Is it good – bad? The picture of our family home is now frequently enveloped in the fog of forgetfulness. Fog – as in a camera's poorly focused lens. The familiar faces of friends – and of our parents as well. All that remains in our memories are the poorly defined contours. There is no way of putting a halt to this process.

“Here take this watch. You will find it useful … and don't forget to take this photograph as well …”

I took the watch, the likeness of our parents, and the burning tears. They moistened my face for a long time.

Oh God, it's almost fifty years … half a century of separation. The photograph, taken by an amateur, has wandered with me in my wallet through much of the world. It has managed to fade. It is my only remaining memento. My Azkara. My personal anniversary of that June day, the day of our goodbyes. My kadish. I am attempting to define the outline of my parents in this faded picture.

Sometimes at night I have dreams. They are like the mirror formed on the surface of water. Their faces constantly change … “but – no – it is their faces,” I want to scream out. I wake up soaked with sweat. I open my eyes wide. Darkness. Oh, just stay awake .. it's a nightmare.

I belong to the generation which fears the night. I am afraid to fall asleep.

A fragment from a poem by Jael Shalitt

… nocą
tętnem odmierzam godziny
przychodzą cienie awno minione
zwracają słowa gesty
tętnem odmierzam godziny
robię rachunek niedorzeczny życia
robię rachunek niepojętych lat …
… nights
I measure out my heartbeat with my pulse
long gone shadows come
gestures return
my words
at night
I measure out my heartbeat with my pulse
I'm making a ridiculous reckoning of life
I am doing an account of inconceivable years

Frequently we have different dreams. They take us to the dim past of roundups, the selection process, concentration camps, armories, transports – dreams filled with words which had not yet come into daily use. Dreams – of the town where we went to school, where we began to learn about life …

Where the morning hours were filled with the cries of Mayer Holoch: “ropes … wired pots[1] …ropes … pots … “ where Kaufberg (the confectioner) laughed rudely: ha ha ha! fasting and praying all day … this is certainly not a Jewish invention …

– Where a Bumka Strauss's choir of revellers performed in Adria: Izio Wegner, Mendzio Freilich, Hesio Tal, and Oskar Feigler …

– Where the grandmother warned her grandson who was going to school, “Child, come out with the right foot, lest you get a two[2] …”

– Where day and night was punctuated by the rhythm of the work of the oil mines.

Visions in dreams - the former reality … gone forever.

Borysław of today is nothing, absolutely nothing; it no longer resembles our birthplace. And yet whether we admit it or not, when it is mentioned – there is at least a tiny amount of nostalgia.


  1. Wired pots: Ceramic pots that cracked or broke were wired together in a time when effective glue was not available. Back
  2. Two: in the marking system, “two” was a low grade. Back

[Pages 127-130]

Without Obituaries

Nekrologi są dla tych, którzy umarli
W łóżkach.
A dla tych z komór gazowych,
Ze śniegów pod kołem polarnym
A rowów przydrożnych, gdzie kurz
zasypywał im oczy,
Z piwnic, gdzie odpadało pól czaszki
Jak wieko z blachy

Dla nich nie pisze się nekrologów …
Obituaries are for those who have died
in beds
And for those in the gas chambers,
From the snows under the Arctic circle,
Out of roadside ditches, where dust
covered their eyes,
In the cellars, where half of the skull fell off
like a tin lid

There are no obituaries for them …

----------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------

Dla nich nie pisze się nekrologów
Fragment of the poem Obituary by Kazimierz Wierzyński

It is the last day of March 1941. The home of my parents is unusually lively. Even their neighbours Mrs Siegmanowa and Mrs Wilf have come and are very hard at work helping in the preparation of the festivities. My father's sister has also arrived from Drohobycz. The kitchen is my mother's domain. She is taking particular care to make sure that the cream-filled pastry, my father's favourite, will come out just right. My mother receives a compliment, “Your pastries are better than those from Buchband's and Linhard's bakeries.”

The birthday boy has just come home. He stops at the door, as is his custom, smiling, and as always, touched. He greets all the guests. The glasses are filled with wine. It is my father's jubilee, his SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY. Betka (my sister) raises her glass to make a toast. Everyone stands up. Sto lat sto lat niech żyje, żyje nam (For hundred years may he live, may he live) ….


Three months later. They hit the door with a battering ram … They burst into the apartment with a scream. There were three of them. A uniformed Nazi and two Ukrainians in civies.

“Where are your son and daughter…Damn communists.
“I don't know …. they are not here, “ answered my sobbing mother . One of the Ukrainians struck her head with his baton.
“Where are they?” The German, who wears a yellowish uniform, does not wait for an answer … he quickly opens the holster … with the grip of his revolver he strikes my father in his face … His false teeth fall to the floor and blood bursts from his mouth. The drunken Ukrainian lunges furiously and shatters both prostheses with his heel.
“You lousy Jew, we will meet again. “

This is how the Nazi overlords began. The first roundup of Jews began in Borysław. They rounded up about two hundred Jews, mostly the elderly, women, and children. The “patriotic” work began with a vengeance. The Germans never anticipated such numbers. The Ukrainians worked with great zeal. More and more … Free and independent Ukraine is within our grasp. Those were the promises of Hitler himself.


We said good bye to our parents on the 26 Jun 1941. The Germans had not arrived as yet in Borysław. There was no rule of law. We knew of the bestial and cruel behaviour of the Germans from parts that they had already occupied. We had a lot of time to reflect on our journey ….We left our parents to unknown fate. We loved our parents and we continue to love our parents….How could we …Where was our conscience?

After long days and weeks we arrived finally in Asia, more precisely – in Kazakhstan.

We were met by – surprisingly by someone from Borysław, Shmilko Fink and … 48 degrees Celsius …. and only ….


Around the middle of 1945 I found myself again in Borysław. It took months of laborious efforts to obtain finally permission to return to our birthplace from the Ministry for the Naphtha Industry ZSRR. We had spent four years working in Kazakhstan.

I wandered lost, looking for traces. I wandered through the city from one end to another … one day … two days …. finally I found the place where not so long ago the home of my parents stood. A potato field…The wind picked up a paper I was running after. No, that's not it, not what I was looking for.

I would come back late in the evening to the rented flat. In the eyes of my wife I could read the hopelessness of the situation.

It was nightfall. People were returning home from work, to their homes, to their farms, to their children to their families to …

I stopped. It seemed that someone was calling me … This delusion kept repeating itself quite often. But this time it was real. Someone was actually calling out my name. He called again. I turned around. From across the street a man with a cane came towards me.

“Good evening. I have a feeling that you do not recognize me.”
“No, indeed, I do not.”
“I'm Wołoszyn. Sławek Wołoszyn. Please, try to remember … It is because of you that I learned to speak some French.”
“Ah well. I remember now. But you have changed …”
“Well yes. I have this scar on my cheek, a memento of my former friend Olesiuk, Stefan Olesiuk. Maybe you knew him. He lived in Wolanka. Please do not hold it against me, but you should know that name. He is an animal, a bandit. Please listen to my story. … Oh sorry, perhaps we could have tea, it's quite close …

We sat down at a table.

“As soon as the Nazis entered Borysław, without a single shot, this beast gave himself over to the service of the Germans … He was as loyal as a dog. We met by chance, and he started to try to convert me to become a Ukrainian policeman. ‘You will have a golden life.’ He was quite drunk and showed off his blue and yellow arm band with great pride. ‘Listen – he said – yesterday evening a German ordered me to take him to a Jewish home. We went to this Jew who had a son who was an engineer and a daughter Betka, whom I fancied when we went to high school and nothing. … Oh it was a good piece of work. The German immediately knocked out all the teeth of the Jew. It was great to see that. The German told me to take the Kodak camera… He said Sławek come and work with us.” I tried to shake loose of him and he pulled out a pocket knife … This scar is my memento.
“This Olesiuk _ is he …?”
“People say that he tried to escape with the Germans. People say that they hung him from a tree in the forest close to the road.”
“Do you know the fate of my parents?”
“I think they shared the fate of the rest of the Jews a year later. I saw the slowly moving column herded by the Germans with their dogs. One victim could not keep up… he was lying in the field. He had a large beard and had no teeth. That was the roundup for Bełżec.”

He was one of those “for whom there are no obituaries.”

[Pages 131-132]

All that Remains are Places and Graves

From Joanna's letter: “I often think about Borysław, even dream about it …”

Joanna had never been to Borysław. She was born in Poland after the war when the town, famous for its oil story, belonged to the Soviet Union.

Kaya is the author of Krajobraz rodzinny [The Panorama of a Family]. The book was published by Wydawnictwie Literackim Krakowie in 1981. The author sent us a copy with a personal dedication. “My dear H. and P. – I am almost from Borysław. She had never been to Borysław.

Kaya and Joanna are identical twins. Their grandmother Fenka, who survived the occupation in Borysław with her daughter and her daughter's children, taught her granddaughters all about Borysław. They loved the tales spun by their grandmother, who had a very colourful imagination which grew with the years. And so … a river filled with the greasy, flammable wealth of the foothills ran through the town …” (From Kaya's story Xylander).

Her grandmother's tales were filled with people from Borysław: she talked about the famous rich people and about the poor, simple workers. She talked about those who stuck out because they were different. It made one smile through the tears.

Her grandmother talked about the town on the shores of Tyśmienica, which for us was the navel of the world. For those of us, who learned to say for the first time – to the delight of our parents – the words Mom and Dad, for us who grew up there, Borysław became one great cemetery where thousands of murdered people close to us are buried, a cemetery of feelings for the town. Our recollections are becoming dimmer and dimmer.

The granddaughters listened with fascination to the tales of Grandmother Fenka.

Years have passed since that cataclysm, when a black night of unparalleled genocide, unheard of in the days of barbarism, enveloped the world There are remnants of the old inhabitants of Borysław – Jews dispersed throughout the world.

Currently the Borysław that we know and remember no longer exists. The oil wells which characterized the city are gone. Today, Borysław has green parks, squares, and high rise buildings.

As we continue to recollect the town where we were born we keep asking: Is this nostalgia?

[Pages 133-134]

One More St John's Bread Tree

I stand as if unconscious … Something is going on around me … something is going on behind me … The flame of a torch casts a dim light. The torch seems to swirl along with the names of the death camps that densely cover the surface of the enormous stone floor.

The chirping of a flock of birds flying high in the dusk and the voice of the cantor clad in a large white scarf with black stripes – they merge into a heavenly melody.

There is a large gathering of people and … I … I am here …I , Michalina Tuśkiewicz …Is this a dream? I am the centre of attention of all those gathered. It is difficult to believe. Someone is speaking to me in Hebrew …. The psalms sung by the cantor are for me. For me, because forty years ago when the world was transforming into this nightmarish brutal night ….[1]


Helen recalled how in 1942 there was a relatively peaceful period – even though we were constantly threatened with extermination. Around 200 Jews died during the roundup organized by the Ukrainians upon the arrival of the Nazi forces in Borysław. The next massacre took place on 28 November 1941. Around 600 Jews, the victims of this roundup, were bestially murdered in the forests of Tustanowicz and Mrażnica. It appeared that our tragic future was sealed.

Jewish children were especially at risk, that is why I was terribly afraid that my two-year-old son Marian would perish.

Helen took from her purse a small notebook and began to read: “Jews must be exterminated one way or another. Please guard against any sentiments of pity. We must exterminate all Jews wherever we find them and whenever possible.”

After a while Helen adds: “These are excerpts from the speech which the governor Hans Frank gave in November 1941.

My fear escalated when on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of August 1942 the Nazis organized a major roundup. During these terrifying three days, they took 5,800 Jews from Borysław to the extermination camp Bełżec.

A week later just by chance, I met Michalina Sudyka (now married, she goes under the name Tuśkiewicz) who came to Borysław. After looking at my son for a long time, this nineteen-year-old girl, Michasia, decided to look after him and try to save him. No terms were discussed. She picked up the child tenderly and hugged him for a long, long time.

The next two years were a nightmare for Michasia, who lived in constant fear of immediate death for herself and the child if he were discovered. I am eternally grateful to her for the survival of my son.


It was a very moving ceremony when Mrs Michalina Tuśkiewicz received the title, Righteous Gentile in the Eyes of the World. It took place at Yad Vashem in April 1982.

This distinction was initiated by Hela Górecka-Gersten and her son, the forty-two year old Professor Marian Górecki, a learned scholar at the Weizman Institute of Rehovot, who was also responsible for arranging the travel of Michalina to Yad Vashem from the USA where she now resides.


Michalina looked at the tall man and with a smile said: “Oh, how he has changed! I was his mother even though I did not give birth to him.


  1. Michalina Tuśkiewicz is recalling the monet when she was at Yad Vashem to receive the title of Righteous Among Nations. Back

[Pages 135-139]


When the trains, consisting of dozens of cattle wagons stuffed with us, left the main railway station of Drohobycz, fleeing from danger, we lost count of time. We were rushing into the unknown. Further … further …

We were aware of this, but those who ran the train did not know it. We passed fields, meadows, forests, and small stations. The railway stations had large designations in Cyrillic – kipiatok.

One of the women passenger who did not know any Russian cried out, “Does every station have the same name Kipiatok?”[1]

This naïve question was enough to shatter the deadly mood of complete resignation. Those of us were escaping had no idea what fate awaited us.

A day passed and a sleepless night. Our thoughts were filled with those who were left in the town, with their families and their children, with friends and relatives. Our thoughts were measured by the monotonous repeating clang of the steel wheels on the rails. Suddenly this repeating clang was shattered by a much stronger noise. In the background of the cloudless night we could see dots of light, suddenly moving, growing larger and larger. The train came to a sudden halt.

“Get off get off quickly, quickly; hide in the bushes!”

Crying … voices … lamentations. The Messerschmidt planes ignored us. They flew over terrified eyes, over the desperately beating hearts of thousands of unfortunate people. Apparently the bombs carried by the squadron were not intended for us, but for more interesting objects.

About seventeen thousand Jewish inhabitants of Borysław were evacuated towards the end of June 1941. This was barely one seventh of the Jewish population, perhaps even less.

Just before the break out of the war between Germany and Russia, about 1,200 Jews were mobilized into the Russian army. However, by far the greater majority remained. Most of these were young people. There were many reasons why they stayed. Most found it impossible to leave their parents, especially if they were infirm or elderly. Some wondered, “What will happen when they take us to Siberia?” There were also those who did not want to leave their belongings. These decisions doomed them.

On 26 June 1941 the last transports left from Drohobycz. And then …


Of all the things that happened during the three years of the occupation, the thing that stands out most are the roundups. Not years, not months, not weeks, not days … Roundups … Roundups … These actions, undertaken according to the slogan Endlösung, [final solution], which the Germans, well known for their organizational abilities, had planned so meticulously, serve as a calendar of those times for those who survived the occupation.

Some say, only three years … and others say, “Oh God, how did we survive more than 1,100 days! Others translated the days into hours, not hours for a normal day, but hours and minutes of suffering, of terrible fear. Minutes – eternity.

Time dragged on through each tragic action, from the first so-called Ukrainian pogrom, through ten or twelve, until the last one. The last one occurred in June of 1944. This was an infamous transport because the bombing of the Allied forces prolonged it. It took sixteen days reach Oświęcim [Auschwitz], where it arrived on 7 August. The arrivals, condemned to torturous death, were greeted at the gate by the famous sign Arbeit macht frei [work makes you free]. On this very same day, those who survived in Borysław –only a few hundred individuals – who could not believe that they actually survived – were welcoming the arrival of the Soviet army.

To this very day, after forty years, one can answer only more or less the question of how many Jews actually died in Borysław during the Nazi occupation:

- How many as a result of the roundups
- How many perished individually because of the particular zeal of a barbaric member of the Sonderdienst [Special Services][2] or a Ukrainian in the street, in their home, or in the forest.
- How many died because of hunger or the typhus epidemic
- How many committed suicide

As we can see the causes of death were varied.

Tragically, the unofficial count of survivors suggests that during the Nazi occupation around eleven or twelve thousand Jews, men, women, and children perished, thus 80 percent of the inhabitants who had been alive at the outbreak of the Russian-German war.

In order to memorialize this slaughter, people seized their pens and wrote in the daily press, in memoirs, and even in novels.

K wrote in one of his letters to me, “Poems written during the occupation – a form without artistic value – were written mostly as cries that could not be left unanswered.

The books of Koppel Holzman, Ziemia bez Boga [The World without God][3] and Jeśli ciebie zapomnę [If I Should Forget][4] – are riveting testimonials and descriptions of the occupation. In the second, the author writes, “This book is not a collection of fairy tales nor a song where everything ends happily, but a sad, unbelievable tale of Jews, who during these long five years lost more than during the thousand years of Jewish dispersal. Thus I decided to record this truth …”

On 7 August 1944, among the surviving Jews of Borysław, who now emerged from hiding in cellars, attics, and bunkers in the forest, were those who survived because of a Polish neighbour. We salute those who despite endangering their own lives and the lives of their families hid Jews and helped them to survive. Here are some names which stand out: Jadwiga Markowska, Michalina Sudyka-Tuskiewicz, Stefan Górniak (the watchman of the stadium ŻKS Kadima).

Occasionally there were some from Borysław who looked death in the eye during their final minutes. More than 100 people (and there are rumours that there were more than 200) – pressed into cattle wagons intended for deportation to death camps, or imprisoned in the slaughterhouse of their own graves, or caught in a street roundup – will not forget - even if it seems absurd - that they were saved by a German. Yes, a German. His name was Berhold Beitz. We read in the Munzinger International Biographical archive, “… during the war he was not mobilized but was made director of the former Polish naphtha industry in Borysław. In this position he managed to help many Jews and Poles survive in the concentration camp.” (translated from German by L.H.)

We will now hear the testimony of a few who owe their lives to Berthold Beitz.

Artur Berman (Raman Gan) was fifteen years old at the time, “During the third roundup in August 1942, I was caught by the Reiterzug [cavalry platoon] and locked up in the warehouse of the railway station… I was there with my mother … for two days without food or water. On the second day Beitz arrived; he came to get those who worked in Beskiden[5] … Suddenly Beitz saw me and immediately told the Gestapo that he needed me. As I went over to the side of those rescued, I pleaded to Beitz for my mother who was left behind. He immediately went over and took my mother to the side of the rescued, maintaining that she was needed in the naphtha industry.

Josef Hirsch (from Jerusalem), “During the night a big roundup started. Men, women, and children were loaded on the cattle train destined for their destruction. Beitz arrived at the railway station in great hurry and took around 150 people away with him. It was common knowledge that Mr Beitz had a friendly relationship with the Gestapo only so that he could help Jews.

Gustaw Russ (Warsaw) wrote in the Folkstime (Voice of the People), “People whom he saved were most grateful. My personal contact with Beitz continues to the present day. I always remember his humanitarian actions during the occupation; He helped with food, with work, and once managed free me from the hands of the Gestapo during one of the roundups.”

Allow me quote from the book of Koppel Holzman, The World Without God, “With brutal force the Gestapo were loading their victims into the cattle cars; those who were not cooperative were brutally beaten with batons. They did not spare mothers breast feeding their infants, nor pregnant women, nor invalids, nor elderly. One could hear the voices cry out from the wagons, ‘Water! … I am suffocating… Szalku! Shmil!” … pleading fell on deaf ears. Here Hell reached its nadir. In the last minutes, Jewish men tried to save themselves.

“Director Beitz” – came voices from many directions – “I work for you!”.

“Anyone with a document proving they are employees of Karpatenöl,[6] ordered Director Beitz.

Maurycy Ringler (Aszkelon) wrote in his daily paper, “Quite frequently Director Beitz would intervene with the Schutzpolicei [security guards] or with the Reiterzug and succeeded in gaining the release of his Jewish employees.”

Moshe and Mina Horowitz (Bat Jam), “I ran like crazy to the office of Director Beitz and begged him to save my wife and child! They have been caught and are destined for extermination” – I sobbed like crazy. Suddenly I heard the engine of a starting car. I later learned that my wife was only minutes from death. She was standing in despair, naked, next to our daughter's corpse.”

Mina recalled, “Beitz must have shouted my name several times,” I was in a trance.

I automatically obeyed the order of Beitz and I took the hand of the eight-year-old boy his who stood next to me. I was saved in tears, but my dear child perished.”

That was Berthold Beitz, who currently occupies the top position in the Krupp concern in Western Germany. We salute him!


  1. Kipiatok: the Russian word for the free hot water dispenser at the Soviet railway stations. Back
  2. Sonderdienst: (German: Special Services) were the Nazi German paramilitary formations created in the General Government during the occupation of Poland in the Second World War. Back
  3. Holzman, Koppel. Ziemia bez Boga. Wroclaw: Drukarnia „Wiedzy”, 1947. Back
  4. Holzman, Koppel Jeśli Cię zapomnę. Wroclaw: 1947. Back
  5. Beskiden: the camp for those who worked as slave labourers in the petroleum industry in Borysław under the German occupation. Back
  6. Karpatenöl, the name of the petroleum company in Borysław. Back

[Pages 140-143]

The First Day and … Later

In August 1944, the days were very hot. In simple terms, the temperature reached fifty degrees. We were in the desert in Kazakhstan where such temperatures were not unusual, but at that time they were especially hard on us. To cool off, we hung wet sheets in our flat; one could see the vapour rise as the water was evaporating. Since the air was very dry, they provided some relief. However, this did not give the desired respite. We also had to be careful not to waste water. It came via viaducts from the Ural River, 120 kilometres away. Water was delivered in wooden barrels on wagons pulled by camels. It was so scarce that one had to fight for every pail.

At night, the stars, high in the sky, winked at us as we sought coolness in the dark. In front of the apartments rows of iron beds, put out to cool from the day-long heat, were now our bedrooms at this time of the year.

The weather was hot and we were impatient. A handful of folks gathered with us in the first days of August. Herman expressed what we all thought, “Oh that we might experience the day of liberation together.”

Every day the Red Army liberated villages closer and closer to our hometown. And day after day our hearts awaited the message from the front in the evening. The crystal set receiver was in our home. Although the signal was weak, it was strong enough for us to hear and understand the news. We listened with bated breath as they named town after town that had been freed. All this was thousands of miles from where we lived in Kazakhstan. The names were so much more familiar than the towns in Kazakhstan where we had laboured now for over three years. The sound of these names evoked the smell of crude oil that permeated Borysław.

Three years – three eternities in this terrible heat – so far from snow drifts of winter.

“Do not complain,” many people from Borysław who were dispersed throughout the Soviet Union wrote to us. “You are working in a strategically important industry and have enough to eat. Those in other Soviet republics suffer disease and hunger. Have you heard any tragic news about others from Borysław? From the group of our schoolfriends, we have lost Dr Lipa Schubert (the bookkeeper) and the high school teacher Kuba Freund … The fate of those families who did not escape the Nazis – was worse. There are many stories circulating about the horrible atrocities committed against Jews in particular …”

This was the kind of mail we received …

In this particularly hot August of 1944, we were overwhelmed more and more by nostalgia, longing for home, family, friends … Despite the news we received about all that was done under the occupation by the mass murderers of the twentieth century … despite all of that, a spark of hope was ignited in the depths of our subconscious.

We waited to hear that our town had been liberated and at the same time we feared what we might hear. One evening the tension reached new heights. Suddenly we heard … the repeating sound of the song of Isaak Dunayezsky's song,[1] “Wide Country, My Native Land” (Russian: Shiroka Strana Maja Rodnaya) … and:

“The troops of the second Ukrainian front liberated the naphtha centre Borysław.”

It was the 7 August 1944.

Our eyes wandered from one to another. All asked the same question. What's going on. Why are we not rejoicing? No one had a smile on his face. Where was the joy? … A silence overwhelmed us, unbearable, even difficult to understand. And only tears fell – it seemed with a bang – on the sand shining in the moonlight. “Mother –cried Betka suddenly. She echoed all our sentiments. Szmilo Fink was the first to stand up as if held back by a heavy weight in his lap.

After a while Herman Glaser left with his sister Małka and Fryderyk Waldhorn. The last to leave was Mundek Weitz with the help of his cane.


At the same time in Borysław….

“Every day – is eternity. We have so much time for thinking and waiting. Often we hear the thunder of guns and the sound of airplanes flying overhead. The Nazis are destroying railways and dynamiting bridges. That is a good sign. From a small gap in our hiding place in the attic we see them, the remnants of the Herrenvolk [master race] retreating in great fear. On 7 August, the Red Army marched in. They came from the direction of Truskawiec. Around 5:00 in the morning, a Soviet reconnaissance unit appeared in Wolanka and stopped in the Januszki field. And then – tired and dusty – they were greeted like saviors – all over the city. People, thin like shadows poured out onto the hot streets filled with soldiers. We looked for familiar faces, faces of survivors … and yes, there are. Bronio Feuring, Hela Wagman, Szymek Nadler, Cesia Backenroth. Many acquaintances from Stryj, Sambor, Drohobycz. They survived hidden in bunkers in the forests which surround Borysław: (excerpts from recollections of Wikta Dichter) .


In the burning heat of the August days we wait, controlling our impatience with difficulty, for news from our birthplace Borysław. Our hopes are playing games with us: the Nazis did not manage to kill all the Jews … Perhaps, perhaps … there are survivors and perhaps even a relative …

The local paper Nieftanik of 19 September 1944 notified that previous inhabitants of western Ukraine and Belarus are asked to donate to a fund for the building of an airplane “Nawciarz from Borysław.” We made a contribution to the compulsory state loan for this purpose.

Two days later – the first swallow arrived from Borysław – a telegram. “Alive and healthy, letter follows, Fenka Róża”

Almost immediately logical consequences arose, ignited by the news: No other survivors from the family.

Towards the end of the month a letter arrived: “It's a miracle that we managed to get your address. It is marvelous that you are alive! And likely, you already know from my telegram that I survived.

We are no longer in hiding. We are free to walk the streets, but we find it strange as we are not used to freedom. We search for people we know. We find very few. Before yesterday, not far from the Carpathian Gate, I met my old teacher from high school, Bola Klinghoffer. I recognized some people, but no longer remember their names.

I will never forget the first day. On the curb of Kościuszko Street, I saw a woman with black, curly hair lying on a straw mattress which she could no longer carry. She sat on it to rest. She was in rags.

A woman passing by spat and uttered, “ You – Jewess! Too bad Hitler failed to exterminate such vermin!

Towards evening, Marek returned from town with this wonderful news that you are alive. What I experienced was more than joy.


Little by little, people returned from concentration camps and from the Soviet Union. Very few. Among the earliest to arrive was Tonka Lantner, who immediately returned to her old job at the post office, and Jakub Egit, a left-wing activist known in the city, who was a co-founder of the AJAP (Algemayne yidishe arbayter partay) [General Jewish Workers' Party].


We returned home in the middle of 1945. We found a potato field where the home of my parents had been. There were still some parts of the town that reminded one of the occupation. Some sections of the destroyed sidewalk had been repaired using the stones from the Jewish cemetery. They had been laid there by Borysław Jews forced work under the command of the German Übermenschen [superhumans].


  1. Isaak Dunayevsky (1900-1955) was a Soviet film conductor and composer in the 1930s and 1940s. He was born in the Poltava Oblast in Ukraine to a Jewish family. Back

[Pages 144-146]

Neither this Street nor this House

We were in Moscow's huge railway station. It was June and the heat was oppressive. The waiting room was crowded with people awaiting their trains. Some were still in uniform but no longer carrying weapons. A Russian song drifted out from the loudspeakers, “We love our city, it smiles at a friend, the familiar house, the green garden, the cheerful glance…”

Afterwards, the melody and words of this song accompanied us for several days on the journey to our beloved home …

We left our homeland after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war.

On the 7 August 1944, our home town was liberated and the Nazis were driven out. We listened to this joyful news from the loudspeaker of a crystal set. Oddly enough, we didn't go crazy with joy as we had promised ourselves. We plunged more into reflection, sadness; we thought about the fate of our loved ones. It took almost a full month for the news from home to arrive in the oil town of Dossor in Kazakhstan.

For another whole year, we relied on meagre radio information and more specific messages in letters.

Finally, after overcoming many difficulties, we were on our way home. We were a small group: Herman, his sister Malka, and her husband Frydek, my wife, and I. It was just fate that allowed a small group of compatriots to survive the difficult years of the war. We kept asking each other rhetorical questions, will this city – which we longed for, which appeared in our dreams – disappoint us? Not long ago, we received a letter which had the following sentence: “parents always die before their children …” This kind of news did not cheer us up.

And then at “home” we listened to horrible stories about the roundups. We heard that during the first, right after the arrival of the Nazis, 180 Jews perished, and during the second, along with those who died from the typhus epidemic, 2,000, then 5,000 during the third.

Do we love our city? Neither the people here, nor the characteristic grace. The forest of the oil derricks in Horodyszcze and Ratoczyn, in Potok and Tustanowice still create the old landscape, but only in appearance. We recognized the thumping noise of the oil derricks. but it is not the same as before. It appears to have a foreign rhythm. In place of many of the former Jewish homes we find potato fields. The bricks taken from these homes served as material for the building of mainly Ukrainian farms. It took about a year for all the Jews to leave Borysław.

We are reminded of the observations of the unforgettable K, “There are scenes and pictures that are remembered not because they are extremely interesting or important, but because they are extremely average” (from a letter to me). We see now that this simple and apt observation is true, when after our arrival in Borysław, we find it empty of the average, everyday life that was part of the town's folklore.

We keep asking, “Who perished in the first round up.”

Moses Schwarz “mit di papiren” [Yiddish: with his papers], wrapped in a wide cloak with many ancient pockets that hid thousands of papers …

The eternally poor beggars Mayer Cucak and Ryvka Łaje, who were the obligatory guests at all weddings …

Josef Itzik Singer, the leader without whom one could not imagine a festivity …

Mendzie Drała (whose family name was actually Schwalbendorf), the famous fiddler at all festivities, who with his brother and friend who played the drums, formed the group the Mendzie Drała band …

Ałter Tap, also referred to as Ałter, the ladies' man. His nickname came from the fact that he could not stop himself from reaching for the armpit of passing women. That gave him all the sexual charge he needed …

More? I have to stop … my pulse is already racing. I keep wandering about town looking for vanished traces .

The wind carried a faded, yellowish piece of paper. I managed to stop it with the heel of my shoe. It is a part of a newspaper, Głos Drohobycko – Borysławski [The Voice of Drohobycz and Borysław]. It carried the following notice: “The management of the vacationing group from Drohobycz and Borysław wish to thank Mr Langstein, director of forest organization and exploitation at the J.J.Ph. Glesinger company in Broszniów, for so graciously providing lodging for the vacationing group in Darów, and we also thank Mr Zimmerman, Mr Glaser, Mr Mager, and Mr Puretzow for their efforts …”

Oh God we were in Darów with that group. It was … it was in 1926.

One more recollection.

Compatriots met in Israel at the annual gathering of Azkara to commemorate the cherished image of the town we left forty years before. In February of 1985, a former inhabitant of Świdnica, Mrs Gena described how the town looks today:

”Many homes have been destroyed and have been replaced with blocks of four-storey apartments. There are a number of green spaces. The passenger railway station no longer exists. There is only commercial traffic. The towns are linked with buses. In Schodnica they discovered healing waters, “Naftusia,” apparently similar to the waters of Truskawiec. Schodnica, which was so famous for its light naphtha has been converted into a holiday place. Borysław still has some naphtha, but only the old wells are active. The pumps (the author called them horses' heads) pump automatically. There are no derricks, meaning that there is no longer new exploration. The town itself is now filled with a variety of warehouses, paint factories, and a factory making porcelain. The churches of Wolanka and Mrażnica are now furniture stores. The place has very little crime. A criminal has his head shaven and is given a broom and shovel and forced to clean the streets …”

Tough… Someone said “Each of us is tied to his or her past like a dog to his chain. “

If that is true I think each of us will remember the town as we would like to remember it. Our grandchildren will then have only the poems of Juliusz Wita describing the naphtha region:

…. I have never learned love by heart
But I keep repeating
derricks, derricks
Hooks and lines
cisterns, earth
The juicy, ancient earthy
Man more beautiful than an eruption.
…nie uczyłem się nigdy miłości na pamięć
jednak bez przerwy powtarzam
szyby, szyby, szyby Derricks,
hasple I liny
świdry , cysterny, maszyny Drills,
soczysta anyczna ziemio
człowieku piękniehszy niż wybuch.

[Pages 147-150]

The Death of a Cemetery

The dead live eternally
As long as they are remembered…

Wisława Szymborska

The Limanowa depression extended quite far, all the way to Bania Kotowska along the road to Drohobycz. Much of the depression, not visible from the road, was donated by its owner, at that time, David Lindenbaum to the Jewish Athletic Club Kadimah. The first stadium in the naphtha basin was built there, where fans of football [soccer] and other sports experienced strong emotions.

Within the depression stood the neighbouring naphtha refinery Schutzman. Just across the road there was the sign of the competing refinery, Lieberman and Marmelstein. They were almost identical in their technology and in what they produced. In those days, small enterprises of this kind were referred to as small potatoes.

When the Soviet troops arrived in 1939, the two refineries were joined into a single enterprise called Nieftepieregonnyj Zawod Nr 19.

Under the new circumstances, the Lieberman family was represented by a serious expert in the field of transportation of crude oil and its primary products. He was active – which meant that the new Soviet management did not fire him – precisely because of his expertise. So he kept working, despite poor health. In hard times, even his sense of humour did not leave him. One day, he fainted. When he regained consciousness, his eyes wandered from one to the other workers surrounding him; he smiled and said, as he pointed at the window: “I rejoice that even when I die I will not be far from our beloved refinery.”

Through the window one could see the walls of the surrounding cemetery.


People are born and people die

The history of the Jewish cemetery, founded on land donated by David Lindenbaum, who at that time owned most of Borysław, does not go back to ancient times. The cemetery survived only a few decades. It was founded in 1886 when there were likely no more than 7,550 Jews in Borysław, of a total population of around 10,000.

The laws of nature are permanent. People are born and people die. Just before the end of the nineteenth century, the death rate among the Jewish inhabitants of Borysław became quite staggering. The cause was the sudden decline and crisis in the naphtha industry. Suddenly, around 2,500 Jewish workers in the petroleum industry and the earth wax [ozokerite] industry lost their jobs. Hunger and the accompanying diseases crept into homes. Poverty increased in the winter season when there was not enough fuel. There was great danger of a shortage of space in the cemetery.

Around 500 families managed to emigrate in search of food. Towards the end of 1900, Borysław had about 10,650 inhabitants; 5,950 of these were Jews that is 55.9 percent.

It was not until 1913 that the cemetery was enlarged. At that time, the mayor of the town was Lipe Schutzman , a wealthy industrialist and social activist. It was under his pressure that the Drohobycz kahal [Jewish community council] provided a sum to cover this investment. The burial of the dead was the responsibility of the khevra Kadisha society which had its seat in Borysław, although its directorship was in Drohobycz.

This arrangement lasted fifteen years.

The Jews of Borysław were under the authority of the kahal in Drohobycz. As a result of efforts in the provincial office in Lwów, an independent kehila was established in Borysław, on 8 April 1928.

At the time, the president of the town was Elias Klinghoffer, who represented Jewish interests in the regional government. The president of the religious council of the community was Leon Kaufman and the leader of the kahal was Leon Schutzman. After five years elections were called. As a result, the leadership of the religious community was established in August 1934. Leon Schutzman became the chairman and his deputy was Eliasz Klinghoffer. New members of the directorship were Rabbi Dr Jakob Avigdor, Abraham Abraham, Ozias Mordecai Eisenstein, Lipa Feuerberg, Mendel Freund, David Greber, Isaac Holzman, and Josef Schmer.

The members of the community governance were: the president Max Stern, and his deputy Abraham Gurfinkel, and the members were Meilech Backenroth, Samuel Bloch, Engineer Eliezer Lippe, Nahum Yolles, Moses Lerman, Faywel Melzer, Nahum Roth, David Scheinfeld, Abraham Segal, and Markus Sternbach.

Once the Borysław kahal gained its independence, it attended to the upkeep of the cemetery.

The immortal – it seemed – employees of the khevra kadisha were the grave diggers, Moses Aron (few knew his name) and Moses Astman, who had the nickname Moses Melamed. Their function was to gather donations from those visiting the cemetery. To do this they kept shaking a tin box while asking, in a monotonous voice, for generous donations.

And then … and then came the war.

People are born and people are killed

Gina Wieser testified (Yad Vashem file # 1052/55): “Within the first twenty-four hours of the roundup (take note of the chapter “The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Forget!”) 180 people died (…) All mutilated corpses were gathered at the Jewish cemetery and people were forced to bury them; while that was going on a few more were killed…”

There were days - remembered Dunio Wolf in 1942, the year of the great famine - when twenty to thirty died daily – and that number did not include the Jews murdered by the Ukrainian murderers and the Nazi thugs in the forests of Tustanowice and Mrażnica who were buried in mass graves.

Within ten months around 1,000 Jews, who died from so-called “natural causes,” were buried in the Jewish cemetery.

There was a strict order that no burial stone, not even a plaque, should identify the dead. The only thing allowed was a small wooden sign with the number of the dead.

Dunio Wolf screwed up his face as if he was about the break out into tears.

“It was a terrible day on that fateful Monday. Our father Mendele Wolf was on his way to the post office to send a letter to Vienna. We waited an eternity for his return. When he finally returned … Oh God I will never forget… His face was one bleeding wound … his beard was gone … his suit was in tatters . He barely managed to whisper, “Ukrainian police.' The next day. 15 April 1942, we buried our father. He was number 980.


Immortal memory

One day in 1959, the small handful of the remaining Jewish indigenous community in Borysław under the authority of the USSR learned that the gates of the cemetery, where their deceased family members were buried, would be closed.

The cemetery of Borysław came to an end after barely seventy-four years of existence.

Heavy machinery, excavators, and road rollers drove into the cemetery gates. Much soil was removed, mixed with the remains of our relatives and distant relatives, friends and acquaintances. Concrete now covers the ground under which … under which …..


The Limanowski depression reaches almost to the Jewish cemetery and is, of course, much larger in its surface area. Building the main bus station in the depression would take much less work, effort, and money.

It occupies an incomparably larger area than it. Building a central bus station on this crowd would cost much less work, effort, and many fewer rubles.

Hundreds of buses enter the station …

Under their wheels --- ETERNAL REST.


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Boryslav, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 19 Apr 2023 by JH