Table of Contents

[English Page 3]

My Home Town

By Walter L. Field

Dobrzyn our Shtetl was muddy and dark,
With cobbled stone streets and dogs that bark,
A fast flowing river, but not a park

Houses and shops were built of wood;
Some were sturdy, straight they stood;
Others were leaning, tipping but good!

Winter was cold, the river frozen white;
Summer was hot, with flies to fight;
Spring meant life, a lover's delight.

Horse power was used in place of steam.
Logs from the woods floated down stream.
Traveling was done by coach and team.

Feather covers were used not to freeze;
Teeth were pulled with howl and squeeze.
Snuff – an aid to bring on a sneeze.

Beinkes and herbs, health to restore;
Hot poultice and Shmaltz to heal a sore;
The midwife was first the baby to adore.

[English Page 4]

Constant attention the gossips gave
To every person from cradle to grave;
The slightest rumor and they would rave!

Peasants and merchants on market days
Displayed their wares in stalls and bays:
Produce on wagons, baked goods on trays.

A Kopek a herring, five a bread;
Very few Jews could afford a spread!
But no one went hungry, so people said.

Families were large and mothers were tired;
Fathers worked hard for the little acquired;
Faith in the “hereafter” kept them inspired.

With hardly a look, very little to say,
Daughters found mates the Shadkhan way,
While parents struggled the dowry to pay.

The Badhan as clown came in with a bang;
At every wedding he danced and sang
And told stories using Yiddish slang.

[English Page 5]

A boy's day began with prayer and cap,
in Heder he learned by the Rebes strap;
Many hours were spent the Bible to tap.

Girls and boys went walking for fun;
Behind fences caressing was done;
If ever discovered, oh, did they run.

Life was centered around Mikvah and Shul,
Balabatim chose men, the Kehillah, to rule.
Each Shtetl had a rich man, a wise man, and fool!

Widows were protected and orphans taught;
For the poor, shelter and food were sought;
With tears and prayers, epidemics fought.

The help from the Hevras was always free;
Wherever the need, there they would be;
Their readiness to serve, a Torah decree.

Shabbes in our Shtetl, a joy to describe;
Holiness and peace enveloped the tribe;
The Kiddush wine all eager to imbibe.

[English Page 6]

Winter, summer heat or icy raw,
Everyone in Shul on the Sabbath you saw;
Hallah and Tzulent an unwritten law.

Old and young dressed in style
And on the Sabbath walked for a while,
The pious man and wife in single file.

On Passover, a king was every trader;
For freedom's cause each a serenader;
Matzos and wine graced the poorest Seder.

On Torah and Talmud the pious were reared;
God they loved, Gehinnom they feared;
Some displayed Payot, others the beard.

Yihus claimed those of the Rabbinic line;
The learned were always invited to dine;
To help a bright student, few would decline.

The Hasidim, dressed in unique attire,
Assembled and prayed as one huge choir.
Their devotion to their Rebe one had to admire.

[English Page 7]

In matters of faith the Rov led;
His word was law when Traif he said;
He taught Torah and eulogized the dead.

Life in our Shtetl, though not always serene,
Yet when the peasants weren't drunk or mean,
The place looked peaceful – a pastoral scene.


[English Page 8]

My Mother's Legacy

by Walter L. Field

A woman of valor, where can one find?
To choose my mother, I would be inclined;
Dobrzyn, our town, had few of her kind.

Everyone in our Shtetl knew her by name;
The rich she humbled, none would she shame.
All sought her advice, such was her fame.

Respected and loved by young and old,
She fed the hungry, sheltered the cold;
Ask Sarah V., the perplexed were told.

To father she was like a lighted beam
That lit his way o'er road and stream;
They were Heavenly matched, a blessed team.

A mother of six – helpmate and wife,
She met the demands of family life;
Her presence was peaceful, a stranger to strife.

Sabbath to us was a great delight;
Our home was cheerful, the table bright;
Many candles she lit on Friday night.

[English Page 9]

God she implored to be her guide;
In men of torah she would confide,
Ask their blessing, pray and decide.

To seek knowledge the young she inspired;
Men of learning she greatly admire;
Of helping students, she never tired.

For the tired and sick her help knew no end;
Troubled souls she would try to mend;
Neighbors for guidance on her would depend.

Heaven claimed her – early indeed;
Serving the poor had been her creed;
Her legacy – love for the good deed.

[English Page 10]

 

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Walter F. Field is the author of More Truth Than Poetry, published in 1954, and A People's Epic, published in 1963. A People's Epic is the first complete history written in rhymed verse. The book has been acclaimed by Zalman Shazar, President, and David Ben Gurion, former Premier of the State of Israel, Professor Salo W. Baron, historian, the late Rabbi Morris Adler, spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Detroit, Michigan, and many others. Mr. Field's main aspiration is to make the Jewish youth aware of their great heritage and to that end he devotes his time, energy and means. A civic leader for over a quarter century, Mr. Field in private life is a paint manufacturer and President of the Mac–O–Lac Paints Inc., Detroit, Michigan.

 


[English Page 11]

Those Terrible Days…

by Pozmanter H.

Terrible times have come upon us. In Sept. of 1939, when Hitler's forces reached us, I lived in a small town named Dobrzyn. I lived there with my parents, two brothers and three sisters. My mother, Malka, a native of Dobrzyn, a woman of deep understanding and charm. Her pallid features were illumined by typically sad Jewish eyes. My father, Moshe Pozmanter, inherited many of his finer attributes. He was always smiling, always full of life. He created and radiated happiness wherever he appeared, and was the life and soul of any company in which he formed himself. He was a devoted husband, father, and in the bosom of his family, he radiated warmth and glow.

A harsh and bitter period of persecution began. Decrees were issued at lightning speed, one after the other, stupefying the Jews. After three months the town began an absolute liquidation. All the Jews of the town, including us, were cruelly murdered, in cold blood. We got transferred. My father and two brothers went together with Jews from Dobrzyn, they were assembled and shot, their bodies burned.

My mother and sisters and I were in Ghetto Minsk M. On July 24, 1942, the ghetto was liquidated. Hundreds of Jews were sent by the railway wagons to Treblinka where they were murdered. I was the only one who succeeded in escaping, and I found myself in Warsaw Ghetto. On Sept. 6, 1942, I was sent, among many others, to Maidanek death camp: a number were murdered and a number were sent to Aushwitz death camp.

[English Page 12]

 

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Lajb Ryz

 

Lajb Ryz (Leo) of 96–98 Oxford Road, Reading Berks, England, passed suddenly away on September 6, 1968 in San Francisco, being on a visit to the U.S.A.

He was born on January 18, 1902 in Dobrzyn, the son of the late Kalman and Lejna Ryz. In the year 1920, he left for Germany and married in 1933 Ilse Ascher, whom he became to know, since he arrived in this country.

Like thousands of other Jewish friends, he was sent to a Concentration camp in 1938, and only through the help of his former neighbros from Dobrzyn, the late Mr. and Mrs. J. Lichtenfeld and Mr. and Mrs. Ch. Lichtenfeld, an affidavit was granted for the whole family. They left in June 1939 for England with very little money and bare essentials. During the war he volunteered for warwork and afterwards worked his way up as a tailor and a successful businessman.

Many friends will remember him as a very kind, quiet man. He left a widow, a daughter, and two sons. The business is carried on by his wife and married son.

His whole life was dedicated always first to his wife and family and then to himself.

May his dear soul rest in peace.

The funeral took place September 11, 1969 at Bushy Cemetery, London, England.


[English Page 13]

The Kristal–Brown Family

by Samuel Abraham Meiri

Jewish tradition and a devotion to Zion were deep rooted in our family and have inspired us to this day. There, in our shtetl Dobrzyn, which was “muddy and dark with cobbled stone streets…and fast flowing river…” my father and relatives used to dream of a better life and of a happier future in their Old Country – Eretz Israel….

Only few of our dear relatives turned the dream into reality – leaving Dobrzyn in order to begin a new life in Israel. Others left for the U.S.A., where they succeeded in building for themselves a safe and wealthy home. But many of our dear relatives remained in the Shtetl and were brutally persecuted, among the Six Millions, during the terrible Holocaust. Great is the loss and deep is the sorrow of which only a prophet could have given vent to…. Therefore we feel a greater need of belonging, a deeper need of family ties…which is by no means less important in our technological world. The need of identification and self–concept becomes much more urgent in or modern world, especially for Jews in the Western World and in the U.S.A., where they enjoy prosperity and safety.

We can, therefore, hardly over appreciate the important work done, for many years, by Telly Spurling and Ira M. Kay – publishing a Family News Circle for the purpose of preserving and promoting family identity. We all join in their hopes “that the accomplishments of past and present generations may serve as an inspiration to those yet to come…”

Being a shoot of the same deep rooted Kristall–Brown tree, I am deeply moved by their devotion to the family. It makes me remember my mother and grandfather in the Shtetl Dobrzyn, their pious ways of life, their unshaking belief in God and in their People….

[English Page 14]

 

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Jennie (Sheina) Kristal–Danzinger

 

And I am happy to feel that the same characteristics are symbolized in many of our large family, of which Sidney Danzinger and his wife Gloria are very prominent personalities. His devotion to Israel was shown, once again, by rising to her help during and after the Six Day War. Not only did he raise a very great sum of money of his own, but urged his fellow industrialists of the metal branch to come to the help of Israel. “Once more” – he old them in his moving appeal – “The valiant fight of the people of Israel has proven that a man desperately fighting for his own piece of land, his own home, his own live stock, and

[English Page 15]

his own chosen way of life can withstand seemingly impossible odds… However, this small country of Israel cannot exist under the economic strain placed on it by the drains of mobilization … unless we Americans – of all denominations – come to their immediate help.”

This love for Israel and its people he inherited, undoubtedly, from his mother Jennie (Sheina) Kristal–Danzinger of Dobrzyn, God bless her soul, who did not cease hoping, till her last day, to visit the Holy Land of which she used to dream from the days of her childhood.

She brought up her four children in an orthodox way of life, trying to make them merciful and faithful Jews. A true daughter of the Kristal–Brown family, of whom we may rightly say, “Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.”


[English Page 16]

Isaac Ryz

by Yehuda Rozenwax

Trying to describe Isaac Ryz, I come to remember my cousin's family, the large family of Kalman Ryz. Kalman, the head of the family, had died before the Second World War, but his wife Lejna and their eleven children – Shmuel Hersh, Beila, Esther Frieda, Leib, Yeta, Hendel, Abraham Moshe, Beina Jacob, Isaac and Meir, lived in Dobrzyn till the War. One son only – Abraham Moshe, immigrated to the U.S.A., where he is still living. All the others were terribly persecuted, with all the Jews of Poland, only three of them survived.

Kalman's family was a typical liberal Jewish family. The head of the family possessed a hat shop, where he worked together with some of his elder children. It was a prospering business. The energetic children helped their father. They also took part in all youth activities, being members of Youth Movements.

I left Dobrzyn 45 years ago, when Isaac was only nine–ten years old, a very happy and animated boy. I came to know him better only five years ago, when he visited Israel with his family. He toured all parts of the country, happy to find it built up and prospering. I can hardly describe his happiness in meeting his relatives and many friends here.

Being familiar with all those hard and terrible years he passed during the war: the escape to Russia where he was detained and sent to Siberia, till the day he was freed and immigrated to the U.S.A. – I was indeed happy to see him so very energetic and full of life.

He invited his relatives and all his friends to a party in a hotel, where he and all those present there recalled memories of Dobrzyn, remembering the Shtetl, its happiness and sorrow.

It was an evening to remember. He was so happy. His eyes glittered. He started to sing remembering, undoubtedly, himself as a member of the synagogue's choir in the shtetl.

That evening had a very deep impression on him. He promised us to visit Israel again. In his letters to me he expressed his longing for his old friends.


[English Page 17]

The Jewish Partisans
– Objective and Subjective Difficulties

by Shalom Cholawski

Introductory Remarks

In the time at my disposal it will be difficult to bring support by way of quotation to what I have to say or even to indicate the sources. This is because of the great volume and also duplication in the Holocaust literature and in the testimonies that have not yet been published.

Every underground movement springs up in the nation concerned like a plant in its natural soil. The Jewish partisan movement was deprived of the basic conditions necessary for fighting underground movement.

I shall describe the conditions briefly.

 

The objective difficulties: [English Page 18]

Jewish undergrounds was extremely limited. In a few places help was given in hiding Jews on the “Aryan” side, but almost never were they brought to the partisan units.

Understanding and assistance for the Jews on the part of weak Armia Ludowa did show itself in a number of cases, but this came late and was not very effective. The Armia Krajowa underground movement in Poland was strong, but the great majority of its members were hostile to Jews and part of them were no less brutal in their conduct than the Germans, and only a few of them gave help to Jews.

[English Page 19]

The Subjective Difficulties:

[English Page 20]

Summing Up:

The Jewish partisan movement in Europe was deprived of the basic conditions required for military struggle. Round their necks hung the heavy millstones of Jewish difficulties which were the sequelae of the Holocaust –

None of the Jewish fighters in Europe had the advantage of area – even the smallest – where they could wage a struggle in normal condition of warfare–conditions which the others had.

In spite of the handicaps that we have enumerated, the partisan movement endured thanks in the main to the remarkable spiritual strength with which the Jewish fighter in those days was imbued.


The Relationship Between the Jewish
and the Polish Underground in Nazi–Occupied Poland

by Michael Borwicz, Paris

[English Page 21]

The vacuum left behind as a result:


The Yishuv's Traditional Help
to Jews in the Time of Holocaust

by Yehuda Slutsky

  1. The British White Paper of May 1939 severely limited the help that the Yishuv could give to the Jewries of the occupied countries. Even before that, the Zionist Movement had lost the great historical
[English Page 22]
    opportunity of “redeeming” the Jews of Europe. This must be blamed on the failure of the British royal Commission's recommended plan of 1937 for the establishment of a Jewish State in part of Palestine.
  1. For the first three years of the war the Yishuv did not realize the dimensions of the Holocaust, though it was realized that the disasters in Europe would destroy Jewish public life and that hundreds of thousands of Jews would perish from hunger, disease and the sword. The Yishuv and its responsible institutions saw their principal duty to take active participation in the war effort. Thirty thousand men and women of the Yishuv volunteered for various formations in the British Army in spite of the refusal of the British authorities to grant them national or political status.
  2. The Yishuv's efforts to assist the refugees by way of immigration, both legal and “illegal” were met by the savage opposition of the British. “Illegal” immigration dropped after the “Patria” and “Struma” disasters. Attempts to make contact with the Jewish refugees in Soviet Central Asia were not successful.
  3. It was when the first clear news of the dimensions of the Holocaust and its real nature (the systematic extermination of the Jewish people) was received in Palestine at the end of 1942 that the Yishuv was aroused to help the Jews of Europe in every possible way. The Magbit Hahitgaysut (Mobilization Fund) for some years already engaged in the collection of money for the Yishuv's security purposes and for assistance to families of soldiers, became the Magbit Lehitgaysut Vehatzalah (Mobilization and Relief Fund). In neutral Istanbul the Vaad Hatzalah (relief committee) which was composed of representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Aliya Foundation, the Histadrut and other bodies, extended its operations. It made contact with Jewish individuals and with youth groups in occupied Europe, sent money and food parcels, made efforts though bribery and other ways to have repressive decrees abrogated or deferred. The Committee's activities helped in halting the expulsion of the Jews from Bulgaria and in saving Jews in various occupied countries by bribery, the provision of forged documents, etc.
[English Page 23]
  1. Towards the end of the war the Vaad Hatzalah and the Aliya Foundation renewed their efforts to transfer Jews from Europe to Palestine. The smuggling of Jews from Occupied Europe to Turkey began in a small way and later in large numbers by ship from Rumania to Turkey. About 5,000 Jews were so saved. A total of 52,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine during the war years, which means to say that not all the 75,000 immigrations certificates permitted under the White Paper were utilized, due to deliberate and sustained efforts by the British to hinder the immigration.
  2. The Jewish soldiers from Palestine were active in all the liberated countries. Apart from the decisive part played by them immediately after the war in connection with the Jewish survivors in Europe (a subject that is not part of this paper), there is their wartime help to the Jews of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Italy. With their help communities were reconstituted; Jewish schools opened; food and clothing provided. They organized the move to Palestine of Jews whom they provided with military uniforms and forged army documents.
  3. The most impressive manifestation of the Yishuv's determination to come to the help of the Jews in the occupied territories is to be seen in the chapter of the parachutists. Thirty–two of them reached Europe, of whom seven met their death on their mission. It has to be said that their actions, like those of the Ghetto uprisings, had symbolic rather than practical significance. In Hungary and especially Rumania, however, they fulfilled a most valuable purpose in their encouragement of the Jewish youth in the final months of the war when those countries had been liberated by the Soviet Army to emigrate to Palestine.
Conclusion: The time has not yet arrived for a full evaluation of the Yishuv's activities in extending help to their brethren in the European exile. It is our task to gather the source material. A first conclusion that the researcher has to draw is that whatever was done was little in relation to the dimensions of the Holocaust. It was too little and it came too late.


[English Page 24]

The Uniqueness of Jewish Martyrdom
During the Holocaust

by J. Gottfarstein

  1. The command of sanctifying the Divine Name, in the light of Halacha.

    According to the Rambam, the words “I will be hallowed the children of Israel” in Chapter 22, Verse 32 of Leviticus indicate a positive command calling for unconditional self–sacrifice. Thus, the Rambam in the 5th Chapter of his rules on the Fundamentals of the Torah, in Rule 1, lays down: “the entire of the Divine Name, as it is said, “I will be hallowed among the children of Israel”.

    This command is applicable everywhere and at all times and should be observed by males and females, and whoever violates it and does not sanctify the Divine Name when necessary has not only made this positive command in–effective, but also infringed on the express prohibition of not profaning the name of the Holiest…and the sin of profaning the name of the Lord is an extremely grave one, for have not our late sages already stated that there can be no forgiveness, not even on the Day of Atonement and not through repentance nor suffering but only through death according to the last chapter of Yoma (“Sefer Hahinuch”, 268,6).

    This positive command, this command to sanctify the Divine Name, according to Jelinek, contains the whole Torah in a nutshell. We may add that it also serves, no doubt, as a foundation, not only for the Jewish people's existence, but also for its destiny, since it appears that the Jewish nation has been created for the sole purpose of sanctifying and thereby glorifying the Divine Name throughout the world, as expressed by the Paitan in his words, “Israel is responsible for His righteousness, Israel is responsible for His holiness, Israel is responsible for His exaltation”. Or, in the words of the blessing contained in the Kedushah, “From generation to generation shall we pronounce Thy greatness, and all eternity shall we sanctify Thy Holiness”.

[English Page 25]
  1. Definition of the concept “Holiness” and “name”, especially as appearing in expressions as; Sacrificing oneself for sanctification of the Name.
  2. Manifestations of Sanctifying the Divine Name, in the history of the Jewish people:
    1. Abraham as the prototype of sacrifice on behalf of the Lord; the “binding” of Isaac;
    2. Hanna and her seven sons;
    3. the Hasmonean revolt;
    4. the Jewish wars against the Romans; Massada;
    5. the Bar–Kochba revolt;
    6. the ten victims killed on orders of the King;
    7. Jewish sanctification of the Divine Name during the Middle Ages;
    8. the Chmelnitzki persecution;
    9. the death of Potocki as an outstanding example of Jewish martyrdom.
  3. Heroism inspired by martyrdom and by the will to prove the holiness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through an act of heroism containing the elements of courage and tremendous devotion to the point of death. (a few examples).
  4. Three commands which the Jew is obliged to observe even at the price of his life.

    The number of the slain during the Jewish wars against the Romans was so great that our sages were compelled to define and restrict the question for the fulfillment of which command a Jew is forced to go as far as giving away his life rather than fail to comply with it, and under what conditions, whether being faced with the alternative of renouncing his faith or not, in public or privately, he is obliged to choose a martyr's death and renounce life, even though the Torah says, “He shall live by them”, meaning “He should not die by them” as it is said, “He should rather be killed than transgress the law”.

    1. serving other Gods and everything thereby involved;
    2. incest (with all its implications);
    3. murder.
  5. [English Page 26]

  6. Definition of the above three grave offenses.
  7. Deadly peril suspending all other commands.
  8. “Deadly peril” does not apply at the time of forced conversion”.
  9. The problem of the Marannos during the Inquisition.
  10. Denial of the possibility to sanctify the Divine name, during the Holocaust period, which found its expression in the following forms:
    1. by the scheming and trickery of the Nazi persecutors and murderers who even deprived the Jews of their historic right to sacrifice their lives on the altar of God by their free choice, and who denied to them the alternative of choosing between abandoning their faith and death;
    2. by the stratagems of the Nazis to subject the Jew to total persecution, not only his body but his soul as well;
    3. by applying ruthless torture against rabbis and Jewish leaders;
    4. by closing down the schools in the ghettos;
    5. by timing deportations and exterminations subsequently taking place in the death camps, so that they fall on Sabbaths, Jewish holidays and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
    Notwithstanding all this, many Jews – often even such Jews as were not traditionally observant – found ways and means for creating conditions enabling them to sacrifice their lives for the Divine Name in the full meaning of the word, in the spirit of the Halacha and the historic purport of the expression. A number of examples and documents corroborate this statement.
  11. Manifestations of Jewish martyrdom in the Jewish partisans units (a few examples).
  12. Rabbis, Rebbes and Yeshiva students calling for armed rebellion (a few examples).
  13. The Hassidic resistance movement (a few examples).
  14. Manifestations of Jewish martyrdom inspired by spiritual heroism both in the Ghettos as well as in the extermination camps and even in the face of the crematoria (a few examples).
[English Page 27]
  1. Jewish women in sacrifice and heroism (a few examples).
  2. Jewish children sanctifying the Divine Name (a few examples).
  3. God, Torah and Israel are One

    This well–known and instructive adage of the Zohar obliging all Jews to love the Lord, the Torah and the People of Israel, found a subconscious echo among the Jewish masses during the Holocaust, and this gave many Jews the strength and courage to rise up in active rebellion against the enemy, or to resist him passively. From time to time, the expressions of this adage manifested themselves, one way or other, as reflected in the saying, “For on account of You, we have been killed all day long”.

    1. by sacrificing one's life for the name of God, in the direct meaning of the expression (a few examples);
    2. by preventing the desecration of the Torah and its commands (a few examples);
    3. by sanctifying the people of Israel (a few examples);
    4. by sanctifying life and disclosing the fervent will for the preservation of life so as to live up to see the day of the horrible enemy's defeat.
  4. The sanctification of the Divine name has seventy faces (a few examples from the Responsa Literature during the Holocaust follow).
  5. Jewish martyrs who died purposefully in order to take vengeance on the persecutors of the Jews (a few examples).
  6. Martyrs among all the categories of the Jewish population (a few examples).
  7. The Halachic rule: every Jew killed in our days for the only reason of being Jewish, is holy.
  8. The process of martyrdom among the survivors of the Holocaust.

    This process is not yet completed and will be concluded only the the day on which Ezechiel's vision of the ingathering of the exiles and a total redemption of our nation and land will come true.

[English Page 28]

 

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Doresh Tou – Dobrzinsk
List of Officers:
 
Alex Alexander President
Sidney Dubin Vice–Pres.
Max Goldfeder Treasurer
Julius Sobel Fin. Sec'y.
Nathan Schaeffer Rec. Sec'y.
Sidney Dubin Cemetery Chairman
Irving Schoenbart Trustee
Sam Plotner Trustee

[English Page 29]

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget her
cunning.

If I do not remember thee,
let my tongue cleave
to the roof of her mouth;

If I prefer not Jerusalem
above my chief Joy!

 

Table of Contents


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