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[Page 76]

(Luchinets, Ukraine)

48°43' / 27°50'

Translation of chapter
“Lucinet” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Hugo Gold

As told by: Benjamin Lehrer (Haifa)

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Jerome Silverbush z”l

This is a translation of the chapter “Lucinet”, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina
{History of the Jews in the Bukovina} Edited by: Dr. Hugo Gold,
As told by: Benjamin Lehrer, Published in Tel Aviv, 1962


As told by: Benjamin Lehrer

Lucinet is a small market town in the Ukraine not far from the district town of Kopaigorod. Approximately 2000 Jews were there, some of whom who were driven there and others who paid their last pennies to be there in order not to be forced closer to the dangerous vicinity of the Nazis who were on the far side of the Bug River. So began in this little village which normally could hardly provide shelter for 200 families the martyrdom of those from Czernowitz, Radauti, Campulung Moldovenesc, Gura Humorului, Suceava and other communities of Bukovina. They suffered from hunger, freezing and lack of shelter. In addition, there was the deadly fear of the gendarmes and still more of the local Ukrainian police. Anyone who still possessed something, a suit or a shirt or some jewelry could buy shelter for a short time from the money hungry villagers. But also this provided very little protection, for every morning we were driven by the gendarmes and the local Ukrainian thugs to the market place for roll call. Those who didn't follow the orders quickly enough were beaten. However, blows were the least of the problems. As a rule, one was driven to forced labor receiving nothing to eat except if you were lucky enough to meet a compassionate farmer who would slip you a slice of bread or a turnip. In the center of the village there was a structure without doors or windows which formerly served as a storeroom that was set up as a camp. There, approximately 300 men, women and children were jammed together. The misery was terrible. The prisoners had lice and they suffered from the cold and starvation. Daily 6-10 corpses were carried from this death camp and taken on sleds requisitioned from the farmers to the cemetery. Since a severe winter with temperatures more than 30 degrees [Celsius] below zero had moved in, the dead couldn't be buried and so the cemetery presented a picture of unforgettable horror. Piles of male and female corpses with dead children in between, all stiff from frost were left as carrion for dogs and vultures. Only later when the frost had subsided volunteers offered to dig mass graves in the frozen ground. With the coming of spring the inhabitants stopped dying at such a great rate. A new committee made efforts to improve conditions. Mr. Meir Ellenbogen from Vatra Domei built a kitchen at his own cost and every needy person could get a bowl of warm soup there. He was assisted by his wife and his noble hearted sister Mrs Pistiner. With permission of those in charge of the post, two horses were purchased for use in bringing firewood from the forest. Anyone who dared to leave the ghetto without official permission was shot without mercy. Later the Joint [Joint Distribution Committee] started to help and the committee received larger quantities of food. Several women and men took the initiative to rescue the orphans who still lived. A deserted house was found to which the orphans were brought. A married couple, former estate owners cared for these poor children supported by the Abramowicz family from Vatra Domei, Rubin Liebersohn from Radauti and the writer of these lines. We went from door to door begging for little gifts and brought them to the orphanage. Our landesmann [fellow countryman] Mr. Dr. Lecker, a grandchild of Meir Itzik Schochet from Czernowitz was responsible for saving the lives of numerous children.

One episode which almost cost my life remains unforgettable to me. My wife and I decided on an autumn day to bake a cake for the orphans. We traded our last sheet for 5 kilograms of cornmeal. With this cake that was divided in 52 equal portions I got on my way to give the gift of love to the children. As bad luck would have it, ran into the chief of the gendarmerie, who was nick-named “the hangman.” He stopped me and asked me what I was smuggling and told me to go to the gendarmerie headquarters. I knew only to well what this meant. Before the orphanage which was on the way I took courage, showed him the cake and told him that it was meant for the children. Then he wanted to shoot me because he thought that I had baked the cake in order to sell it. Finally, he let me talk him into going inside and when he was convinced that I was giving this gift of love to the hungry children out of compassion he was moved and gave me a ten mark note to buy milk for them. From then on, the orphanage received all the gifts of love with the approval of the gendarmerie.

In 1944, the orphan children were supposed to be repatriated. We took our orphans to Moghilev, the collecting station and had the satisfaction of seeing that our children were among the best looking.

After the Russians marched in we were ordered into war service. In the rain of bombs on Briansk over a hundred Jews from Czernowitz and Bessarabia died. I was injured and later rescued and had the luck to reach Israel. Also the Abramowicz and Liebershoh families reached Israel. These are some of the families that found their end in Lucinet: Mr. and Mrs Häuselmann, Mr. C. Zimbler, the former music director of the 8 Vanatori and Mr. Jakob Korber.

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