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[Pages 397-405]


(Modern spelling: Kozyany)

The Destruction of Kazan

Latitude: 55º18' Longitude: 26º52'

Translation supplied by Eilat Gordin Levitan

Geographical Position

The shtetl Kazan (Kaziany) was situated on high ground surrounded by forests. It was twenty kilometrs from Postovy and fifty from Szarkoviszizna, on the little Disenka River, which flowed into the huge Dvine river. The river was the source of livelihood for the Jews of the shtetl. During the summer, the logs of the surrounded forests were floated on this river to Riga. The Jewish population consisted of three hundred souls. Since there were about five thousand Christians, the Jewish population was barely noticed. The main Jewish occupations consisted of business in flax, wood, grain, and hides. They were also storekeepers. Some stores, where you could buy almost everything, were quite affluent and profitable. The only laborers in the shtetl were the tailor, shoemaker, and blacksmith.

After World War I, the shtetl experienced a cultural revival. A Folkshule ( school), based on Yiddish traditions, and a more modern Hebrew Tarbut School were established. A Drama Circle was also organized and it performed the well-known plays of the Yiddish theatre repertoire, such as Gordin's Slaughter, Kobrin's Village Boy, Sale of Joseph, and others. The main performer was Shlomo Blacharovitsh, who also was the director. He had acted in the Moscow State Theatre. A second performer, who was also well-known, was Moshe Beigel. He had played in troupes together with Marevsky, Bulov, Kaminski, and others. The Drama Circle had a library which also served as a gathering place for the youth to engage in discussions.

In this way, the shtetl lived under the September of 1939, when the Russians arrived. The new regime instituted the order mentioned in the stories of previous shtetls. The only difference was that the rich Jews of Kazan were sent deep into the Soviet Union. Meir-Aaron Reichel was in this way saved from the destruction and now lives in Israel. The misfortune struck Kazan just like all other shtetls, with the coming of the Germans in the June of 1941. The first victims were the Feigel family. In the middle of the day, they took Chono Feigel, his son Hishke, and his daughter Rivke to Shlomo Hochman's garden, where they were all shot. In Kazan itself, no ghetto was set up. Most Kazan Jews fled into the forests, where many hid and fought with partisan movements until the end of the war. Some Jews fled to the Sz. ghetto and shared the fate of the Sz. Jews. The Jews that hid in the forests saved themselves from destruction. They were helped by the fact that Kazan was surrounded by large and thick forests. The high-command of the partisans was actually in that area and also the famous Tshapaiev-Otriad.

The Kazan Jews avenged themselves on the murderers – the Germans as well as the local Lithuanians and White Russians, taking them from their homes, “repaying” them, and then setting fire to their houses. The Germans got their repayment in another way. Bridges, warehouses, and railway lines were blown up and German-occupied villages were encircled, bombarded, or put to the torch. In these operations, the youth of Kazan were especially distinguished. Gutman Feigel and Leib Reichel were decorated more than once for their courage by the Russian partisan high-command. The German regime even put a high price on their heads. Guman Feigel survived and he now lives in Vilna. After the liberation of Kazan, Leib Reichel voluntarily enlisted in the Russian Army. Unfortunately, he didn't live to see the murderers' final collapse since he fell in battle near Berlin.

Baile Reichel

Also of great help to the partisans in the Kazan forests was the mother of Leib Reichel. When the Germans entered Kazan, she was sixty-two years of age. She refused to wear the yellow Star of David and she dressed herself as a peasant in order to travel to surrounding villages in search of food for her family. As mentioned, many Kazan Jews had fled into the surrounding forests. At the time, there weren't any partisan groups yet. By themselves, they had to obtain provisions to live, as well as arms to defend themselves against the bloody enemy who lurked on every side. Baile Reichel displayed unusual heroism. She devoted herself completely to helping the Jews hiding in the forests. With her disguise as a peasant, she brought food, arms, and important news to the most dangerous places. In this way, she maintained communication between the Jews of the forests and those in the ghettos. In those trying times, a simple message that someone was still alive was very happy news. However, this was not her only task. She would also take Jews out of the Sz. and Glubok ghettoes and show them where to find the partisans. Many Jews were saved in this way.

Once, after she had led a young lad into the forest, she returned to find missing her husband Velvel and son Berke. The Jewish police had taken them to Glubok for liquidation. There, the local regime demanded Jewish victims on a daily basis. She immediately went to Glubok and came to the head of the Judenraat, Liderman. She begged that her husband and child be allowed to leave the ghetto. She promised him gold, but he wouldn't hear of it. They died in the Glubok ghetto. She returned to the forest and this was understandably risky. She continued dressing as a peasant and acting as the contact between the partisans and the ghetto. When she arrived at Poligon Station near Sventzian, she was once more to experience tragedy in her life. The Germans had set up a ghetto in Poligon, into which they had driven the Jews from the surrounding small shtetls and villages. In this ghetto were her daughter Malka with her husband Meyer Gedud and their four children. Baile had arrived at the ghetto just before the eve of the slaughter. The Germans hired her to wash pots because they thought that she was a Christian. She wanted to take the son-in-law and a couple of the children out of the ghetto, but her daughter was tired and sick and didn't want to remain alone. A few days later, the slaughter took place and nine thousand Jews were butchered in one day. A huge pit was dug. They would put the victims on a board over the pit, shoot them with machine guns, and dump them into the pit. Many were buried alive in this fashion. Baile Reichel, together with other peasants, witnessed this slaughter. She saw how her daughter Malka and her family were put on the board. . .

Returning the forests, she continued her work with the partisans. She eventually found one of her grandchildren who now lives in Kovno. To this day, many surviving partisans of the area speak with amazement about this wonderful and heroic woman. Fate brought her to Israel and she lives there with her son Abraham, who arrived during the Third Aliyah. Her daughter Rivke also lives there and she spent the war in Russia. Baile is now seventy-five years old and she still helps her daughter with household chores. Jews come to her as to a saint. Unfortunately, until now, no one has undertaken the writing of her biography.

Former Kazan Partisans in Israel

As we mentioned, a good number of Kazan Jews, mostly the young, survived. They now live in Israel. Together with the Chalutzim who had arrived before the war, they are quite a group! They are: Tzvi Sversky, Sonia Chatzkels, Yentke Groisdorf, Abraham Reichel, Miriam Boim, Yosef Lipshitz, Baruch Lipshin, Shlomo Notels, Yisroelke Notkowitsh, and Fradke Sversky. In Argentina, one can find Hertz Reichel (Baile's son), Genye Feigel-Modlin and Yisroel Reichel.

Yentl Reichel de Povodsky
May she rest in peace

She was a daughter of Yitzhok Reichel and her mother was Leah-Reizl. She was born in 1897 in Postov. At a young age, she was orphaned and brought up by relatives. As a young woman, she went to Vilna, where she worked in a bakery. Later, after World War I, she returned to Michalesek. In Postov, she married Yedidia Povodovsky, who was from Ozorkov near Lodz. He served in the Polish Army. At the end of the war, he remained in Postov. Yentl came to Argentina in 1929 and she settled in the Jewish neighborhood of Vizsha Krespo. Here she became the mother of all the landsleit who were from the shtetls around Postov. Her home was the meeting place and there they could feel the warmth of their old homes. Her death on November 24, 1955 brought sadness to all who had benefited from her friendship. A large crowd came to her funeral and Reuven Levine gave the eulogy on the consecrated ground.

Landsleit Association of Sz., Dun., Postov, Glubok and the Surrounding Area
Its Founding and Activities

On December 14, 1946, fifteen landsleit gathered in the home of Reuven Veiunsky and Reuven told us the terrible news of the Holocaust that had engulfed our former home. We tried to console each other by saying that maybe the news as wrong and would be denied. After the truth was confirmed, we decided to found an organization with the purpose of finding and helping all Jews who had survived from Sz., Dun., Postov and the surround area. Also, landsleit from other shtetls could be accepted as members. An executive committee was elected and they decided the name of the organization would be “Landsleit Association of Sz., Dun., Postov, and the Surrounding Area.” At a later gathering, it was decided to include Glubok in the name of the association.

On March 29, 1947, on Rochas 2026, the first affair took place. It was a tea and gathered were almost all of the landsleit and their families who were in Buenos Aires. Never had the landsleit had such a festive occasion to gather in such numbers. Shalom Asch's book The Thorn that Burns was reviewed and a nice amount of money was contributed. The success of heightened morale was even greater. All the landsleit felt as if they belonged to one family. The Association sent packages to our refugees, who were then in Germany, Austria, France, and Italy. They also sent immigration papers for six landsleit who were in Italy at the time. The papers had been obtained from the Paraguayan government, but not even one of them wanted to settle in Paraguay.

Every year, the Association conducts a memorial service for our beloved and dearest who have passed away. During the early years, these services were conducted in a synagogue and took place during the Mincha (afternoon) service. Many landsleit attended. In 1950, two bronze tablets were dedicated at the monument for the martyrs, which is located at the Tablada Cemetery. Since then, the memorial services are held at the monument. The service is held in the month of November on a Sunday morning. Almost all of the landsleit gather there. A cantor recites psalms, chants the “El Molay” (God, full of mercy) and everyone recites the Kaddish. The tablets on the monument are one in memory of Sz., Dun., Postov and Glubok and the second in memory of Druye, Kazan, Svir, Kabilnik, Pohost, Opse, and Dokshitz.

Every year the Association carries out a project. Besides this, they have activities in honor of guests or landsleit who are leaving or arriving. Such an affair took place for Reuven Veinunsky when he returned from North America, where he had visited. On that occasion, he read out a list of our surviving lands. Another affair took place in honor of the Vice-President of the Association, Noah Katzovitsh and his wife, when they left for a visit to Israel. He is subsidizing fifty percent of the expenses of this Yizkor book. Other affairs were held for Rivka Rivkind de Greenberg, who returned from Israel; for Minye Cohen, who returned from North America; fro Miss Shpunt, the sister of Reuven Shpunt of Glubok, who came for a short visit from North America; for Zelik Modlin, on his trip to North America; for Hertz Reichel, on his trip to Israel. A moving farewell-evening was carried out by the Association for Leib Shulkin of Sz., when he left for North America. He was one of the most active in the Association. The Association had a dinner in honor of Chairman Shlomo Suskovitsh, for his editing the philosophical journal “Davka.” There was also a farewell-evening in honor of the young Chalutz, Mendl Reichel, who went on Aliyah to Israel. We also greeted the landsleit from America, Benye and Etel Brezg. They are the brother and sister-in law of Koppel Itzler.

The Association carried out a welcome for the refugees from the old home. The first welcome took place on April 9, 1949, in honor of Shachna and Chana Shteinman of Sz. and Chana, Yitzhok and Abraham Mushakt of Dun. They all had endured the entire Nazi occupation and the liquidation of their shtetls' ghettos. For a few hours, the refugees described the life, battles, and destruction of our beloved and dearest. This was the first direct regards from our destroyed home. A second welcome like this, was held on November 7, 1951, for the refugee Bailke Chodosh from Sz. Her adventures in the ghettos and forests are described in this Yizkor Book. From the few words said that evening, we could hear the terrible experiences that she had survived. A special joy for the Association was the welcome held in honor of Abraham Reichel, when he came for a short visit from Israel. He has been in Israel for more than twenty-five years and is among the most active chalutzim who came from our area. On that evening, he conveyed to us regards from our landsleit who live in Israel.

The Present Administration of the Landsleit Association

Chairman: Shlomo Suskovitsh

Vice Chairmen: Noah Katzovitsh and Hertz Reichel

Secretary: Berek Vainyunsky

Treasurers: Nachke Svirsky and Ruvke Shpunt

Executive Committee: Alter Shulkin, Zelik Modlin, Meir Svirsky, Shlomke Feigelson, Reuven Levine, Tanhum Pintov, Chaim Tiles and Moshe Chazan

Comptrollers: Koppel Itzler and Yehoshua Shmushkovitsh

Womens' Commission: Malka Steinberg, Yente Tiles, Sonia Katzovitsh, Roza Reichel, Itke Svirsky, Gese Modlin, Chana Shteinman, Itke Gurvitsh, Rochke Shpeir, Shaindl Shpunt, and Chana Shulkin.

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