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[Columns 717-718]

The Jewish survivors of Hrubieszów bury the collected, defiled bones of martyrs in a holy place


The Jewish survivors erect a tombstone in this holy place in order to mark the cemetery


Ten Jews Remained in Hrubieszów

by Eliyahu Shanl

Translated by Elena Hoffenberg

Ten Jewish souls in the town.

No Jews, no synagogue, no schools. Dead.

Bones spread on all of the roads and paths. With each step shuddering from memories. What life once pulsated here! The bones should at least be gathered and brought to the grave of Israel!

When we wanted to find something out from our “good,” “dear” Christian neighbors in the town, they demanded a reward for each triviality; for showing us the smallest thing – money [was] paid.

We, eight Jews, collected the bones from our town. Many were laying near the mountain, close to Moshe Varman's textile warehouse. We loaded a crate with bones onto a cart and passed by the church square. It was Tisha B'Av 1946. We followed the funeral procession for the bones from our martyrs, in mourning and in shame.

When we passed the church square, there were many farmers from the villages gathered right there. When they saw us with the cart of bones – they laughed at us. They made fun of our martyrs and of us. They were not uncomfortable at all.

My disgrace and anger was so great, that if there had been a grave right there near me, I would have thrown myself into it with shame, pain, and agony!

My lips murmured then: pour out your wrath on the nations!

In particular, I want to remember Ezriel Gayst, Yosef Fraynd and Royzele Zilbermints for their effort in bringing the bones of our martyrs, may Hashem avenge their blood, to the grave of Israel.

Royzele Zilbermints did the devoted work of tending the fence of the cemetery. The Germans expanded the road, cutting through a part of the cemetery and constructed buildings there. We all helped her with this work, but she deserves separate recognition.

[Columns 717-718]

The Same Signs But Different Families

by Avrom Kvasovitser (Ramat Ha–Sharon, Israel)

Translated by Elena Hoffenberg

In 1946 I went to Hrubieszów. The same signs were on the businesses, but [with] different families. Instead of B. Migdal – Jan, and so on. In the stores – the same tables, the same facilities. But, unfortunately, not the same sellers. Everything was dead, although people were trading, dealing, but something was truly missing.

We happened to pass by a sausage shop that belonged to a Christian, Krasnafalaski. He called us into the shop and cut sausage and bread for us. When we finished eating, we asked him how much we owed, and he began to cry and said:

“I do not want anything. No matter how much I give to Jews, it will not wash away the shame for what my son did during Hitler's times. He killed innocent Jews. I forbid him to carry my family name. If you have the opportunity, you should take revenge on him.”

It is appropriate to remember, that it was not only this Krasnafalski but also our brothers who drew a certain number of Jews, including my mother, from cellars. A Christian told me this.

Hrubieszów became more beautiful in that time [under German occupation]. Sidewalks were laid out. But unfortunately we were unable to use the sidewalks, because they were made from Jewish gravestones and indeed with the names facing up, so one could read them while walking.

I went to R. Yosef Fraynd, who was hidden in a cellar during all of Hitler's occupation and recorded when someone was killed. In his list I found the date when my father was murdered.

Yosef Fraynd showed us one of his shirts, in which he hid in the cellar for two years. When it moved, it fell to pieces.

[Columns 719-720]

The Seven Thousand Jews of Hrubieszów Are No More

by M. Tsanin (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Translated by Elena Hoffenberg

In Hrubieszów there was a market day [in progress]. More than twenty wagons stood in the middle of the market with carriage shafts raised in the art. On one shaft hung a screen, on another wagon a hog cried and the farmers stood by the wagons and chewed straw through their teeth. It looked like they were waiting for a signal to start the fair.

Farmers stood in the open doors of the stores and I did not know, if they were the sellers or the customers, who remained standing on the threshold as they negotiated prices, and perhaps they were waiting for a signal to start trading?

Before the flood seven thousand Jews lived in Hrubieszów. Now, I did not see a single Jewish face. If you look closely at the signs above the stores, you will notice that although the signs are Polish ones, they are actually Jewish ones. It is only that the place where there was [once] the name of a Jewish owner is [now] painted over and a Polish name has been written.

On the side streets, where the Jewish masses lived, children were playing – not any Jewish ones, but you feel that those houses speak to you in Yiddish. And now they are standing orphaned, made pitiful with crooked walls. Are they waiting just like the farmers at the market, like the new sellers in the stores? And perhaps today happened to be a Jewish holiday and Jews are now in the synagogues and in the study houses and today they are not taking part in the fair?

There are no Jewish synagogues in Hrubieszów, they have disappeared somewhere, and flowerpots now sit at the windows of the past Hasidic houses of prayer and the study houses. I look for the cemetery – there is no cemetery, no trace, no sign of the cemetery! Perhaps the only visible sign that there were Jewish graves here, are the goats that wander the hills and graves and graze on the grass?

When I return to the market, the farmers are still waiting for something that will give life a push, that will rip the straw from between their teeth and start a noisy, active fair. In a corner of the market several farmers are standing around a calf, they stand very still and wait exactly as if the strength of the Hrubieszów fair were magically contained in the calf and they wait for that calf to bleat with life.

At the street stall two farmers stand with earthen pots and strike the pots with boney fingers. They beat out all of the pots and it seems to me, that not a single one makes a sound. Even the earthen pots are deaf and mute, as mute as the calf, as mute as the farmers by their wagons and the merchants at the open doors of the shops.

The seven thousand Jews of Hrubieszów are no more – it is the death of the Hrubieszów fair. You can only see the small screen on the raised carriage shaft, like a sign that you do not have anything more to search for here. When I sit myself down on the autobus, I only hear the cries of the tied–up hog on the wagon.

The poor, tied–up hog on the wagon does not have any idea how wonderfully he characterized with his cries not only this Hrubieszów, but all of the Hrubieszóws in Poland, in Ukraine, in Lithuania, where the murderous boot of Germans tread. In our era of contempt for man, we truly hear this bellow from totalitarian, fascist pigs. They reminded me of the recent speeches from German bloodhounds, that when one opened the radio, the hog cries echoed like from a great market fair.

[Columns 719-720]

My Home, Hrubieszów, is Destroyed

by Dr. Shmuel Ayl (New York)

Translated by Elena Hoffenberg

I left Hrubieszów almost as a child, when I was fourteen years old. It was in the time between the first and last days of Passover 1939, five months before the outbreak of the war. And the 14 years of childhood were enough for me to absorb the atmosphere of a Jewish town in Poland. My dream was to return home again, to see the dear things I left behind.

In my first years in America I always thought about seeing my father's Kuzmirer Hasidic house of prayer again, seeing the great study house, walking on Panske street and swimming across the “shlizshe,” going into the new cinema, and even getting lost in the old cemetery. It is interesting, that shortly after my arrival in America, I began to collect a penny a day and calculated that in twenty years I would have enough money to return home to Hrubieszów. Twenty years later I did indeed return to Hrubieszów, but there was nothing more of the Hrubieszów that I left behind.

Soon after the war broke out, and one began to hear about the Khurbn [Destruction] that befell our brothers in Poland, the desire went away for a time, but bit by bit the drive grew stronger, the drive to see the house where I was born, the streets on which I played as a child, the pump from which I used to take a cold drink when I was sweaty and the trees from which I took apples.

When I was in Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1958, I decided on a certain day to travel to Hrubieszów in my automobile. I wanted very much for my American–born wife and my three children to see the town from which their breadwinner came.

From Lublin I took a Christian friend so as not to arrive in Hrubieszów alone. We traveled for four hours. The roads were very good, but no automobiles were seen. We arrived on Saturday, September 13.

I could understand how large the Khurbn was from the brickyards and the barracks. Hrubieszów shrunk and became small, so it was difficult for me to recognize it. Our house near the city hall was occupied.

Many, many of our Jewish homes stood like tombstones broken and bruised from the twenty sad years. They stand as witnesses for the great Jewish Khurbn. The synagogue is destroyed and horses graze exactly where the holy ark stood. The Kuzmirer Hasidic house stands, but a garbage dump surrounds it. The streets are destroyed, the shops are closed.

Hrubieszów is only a shadow of a city, without spirit and without a life.

My dream of my town, my home Hrubieszów, is destroyed and shattered.

[Columns 721-722]

The Survivors Organize Themselves

by Avrom Tsimerman (Givatayim, Israel)

Translated by Elena Hoffenberg

After the war, in May 1945, the survivors from Hrubieszów began to return in the hope of finding any surviving relatives.

At the end of 1945 the number of concentration camp survivors, those who hid in the forests, and those who returned from Russia to Hrubieszów stood above 100. Many of those who returned traveled to Lower Silesia, Lublin, and other cities.

That created a need to form a cooperative body, which could provide material help to the survivors from Hrubieszów in each city.

I will try to characterize each committee in each city and also its activities.


In Hrubieszów

In Hrubieszów the committee consisted of: Shimeon Glik, Motl Reys, Moshe Valdman, Pinkhas Graf, Moshe Shtekher, Efraim Bergerzon, Rozshe Brand, Binyomen Pachter, Leyb Blinder and Chaim Katsenhendler.

At that time, more than 100 Jews lived in Hrubieszów. Their first task was to gather the Jews who had been shot, whose bodies were scattered in different parts of the city and to bring them to be buried in the Jewish cemetery. For that purpose they received the first $2,000 from Hrubieszówer Relief [Society] in America.

The second task was to gather those who arrived from Russia and from the concentration camps, provide them with material [aid] and counsel them where to travel further.

I will note, that the survivors lived in the town for a short time, and after several weeks they left it and went out into the world.


Survivors from Hrubieszów meet in 1947 in Lublin


In Lublin

Also, in Lublin a committee of survivors from Hrubieszów was created, which concerned itself with helping those from the town who arrived. The chair of the committee was Pinkhas Mer, committee members: Miryem Zaydman and Mordekhai Koyfman. The number of people from Hrubieszów in Lublin was 26.

On May 11 in Lublin a conference took place for the committee representatives from Lublin, Szczecin, Lodz, Reichenbach and its surroundings. It concerned the question of ending the exhumation of the Hrubieszów martyrs, and the question of repairing the cemetery and the shul.


In Szczecin

In Szczecin in June 1946 a large number of people from Hrubieszów were living. The committee and its chair, Pinches Saler, carried out extensive help initiatives to benefit the 197 people from Hrubieszów who received support and counsel on all matters.

In 1947 a monument for the martyrs of Hrubieszów was erected.


In Lodz

In Lodz in May 1947 there were 65 people recorded as receiving support from the committee.

The committee consisted of five people with the chair Yankev Spektor at its head.


In Lower Silesia

Many people from Hrubieszów settled in the liberated parts of Poland.

In Wrocław the committee consisted of five people with the chair Zelig Luksenburg. The number of people from Hrubieszów was over 100.

In Dzierżoniów 111 people were registered and the committee consisted of five people with the chair Y. Trast at the head.


In Germany and Austria

At the end of 1946 and beginning of 1947, when crossing the border from Poland to Czechoslovakia was legalized and then through Germany to the land of Israel, similar committees started to be created in Austria, Germany, and Italy. Their tasks were: help the immigrants to Israel through Aliyah Bet and give a Zionist direction to the masses.


Survivors from Hrubieszów bury the bones of the martyrs

[Columns 723-724]

In Rome 22 people from Hrubieszów were registered with the chair Yekhiel Shtrayter.

In Wegscheid (Austria) – 26 people from Hrubieszów with the chair Avraham Aynhorn.

In Ebelsberg (Austria) – 20 people from Hrubieszów with the chair Dovid Tsimerman at the head.

In Mariendorf (Berlin) 66 people from Hrubieszów were registered with the chair Avraham Tsimet at the head.

In Windesheim (Germany) – 20 people from Hrubieszów with the chair Avraham Tsimerman at the head.

In Cyprus – 35 people from Hrubieszów with the chair Chaim Gliksberg at the head.


Thanks to Hrubieszówer Relief

It should be noted, that the activities of the aforementioned committees is thanks to the relief provided by people from Hrubieszów in New York under the chairmanship of Charles Pachter, which made it possible to help our compatriots. As can be seen from the financial report from relief in America from December 17, 1944 to December 30, 1947, the following sums of money were sent to Europe, outside of the land of Israel.

7,110 dollars in cash
7,410 dollars in 1350 food and clothing packages
1,020 dollars in individual support

15,540 dollars in total

As can be seen from the correspondence between the American relief and the committees of survivors, their reciprocal relationship was warm, full of empathy, and concern for compatriots.

The aforementioned facts and events should be a memorial to the sad time when our compatriots from Hrubieszów lived in the nightmare of difficult war years, concentration camps, and hunger. It should be noted, that a great number of the survivors found their home in Israel, rooted themselves in the country, created families, acquired trades and happily lived their new lives.


The First Memorial Service in Zeilsheim

At a reunion of various survivors from Hrubieszów in the camps it was decided to call a convention for all of the people from Hrubieszów who were located in UNRRA camps in the American zone. At that reunion the first memorial service in memory of the martyrs from Hrubieszów and the surrounding area would take place.

More than 500 people, women and men from the survivors of Hrubieszów came to the memorial service gathering, the first meeting after an interruption of 8 terrifying years of war. At the memorial service gathering, sad details were remembered from the ghetto and the concentration camps. The heart–wrenching scene, the cries, and the pain from the hurt, unhappy compatriots shocked all participants.

The culmination was the prayer, which recalled the souls of the martyrs. The cries reached the seventh heaven.

The reunion of compatriots from Hrubieszów lasted two days. Representatives from all of the political and communal groups gave speeches, and in everyone's speech the hopeless situation of the diaspora home was emphasized, and the aspiration to settle in a new, Jewish home in the land of Israel. Previous distinguished Bundist and communist party leaders were among them, who called on their compatriots to immigrate to the land of Israel.


The Hrubieszów survivors in Windesheim celebrated the proclamation of the State of Israel with the participation of Beba Idelson. Chair of the gathering – A. Tzimerman

People from Hrubieszów!
Remember the holy martyrs, do not forget the survivors!


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