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[Pages 252-256]

Memories of By-Gone Days

Yitzhak Gordon

Translated by Sarah Mendelson Axelrod z”l

I look for memories long lost and far away.
I look in every corner
and I grovel with my hands.
Maybe my fingers will find a sign in the ruins of the walls.
But time has covered everything with earth
where thistles and weeds now grow on a barren field

So I step lightly in the emptiness
and I wish to see a person
And I ask of every hill of grass
maybe it can tell me
how this could have happened.
I roll over a heap of stones,
silent witnesses which were there
maybe they can tell me
how it all happened
how all is gone and is no more?

Then I go on to the little woods
where grow blueberries
and mushrooms abundantly
where the tall proud trees
surely know all the secrets-
But they also hide them from me.

Then a little wind comes up
and I clench my fists
and my blood seethes
full of pain and anger.
And I shout my pain:
Have you not seen any Jews?

So I was running
and I came to the Market Place
And looked everywhere
as far as my eyes could see -
And here also I saw no one
and found no one.

Then they came into my mind,
Each one with his work and trade.
As though in line,
come first those who deal in leather,
yard goods, iron (hardware)
and all kinds of goods,
And the dealers in eggs
and pig bristles -
Jews who work hard to earn Zlotys.
And after them the workmen,
tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, teamsters,
bagel-bakers, butchers,
carpenters, with calloused hands.

Then I go and look in the Shul -
maybe today is Yom Kippur
when everyone is at Kol Nidre
asking forgiveness for their sins.
Or maybe it is Simchas Torah
when Jews drink wine
without fear
and celebrate dancing.

Then I don't think much
and I go to Midler Street
where my father's small house,
roofed with straw
used to be.
But then also I found no one,
neither father
nor mother,
nor my brother,
nor neighbors -

So as though from a fire,
I begin to run away from Kobylnik,
back through Vilner Street,
past the cloisters,
the bridge,
till I come to the tekovic.

And suddenly
from the little woods,
flies a gift -
crows -
toward me -
kra, kra, kra
they call to me.
As though they would say:
Why do you root around here,
have you lost something?
If you really want to know,
Come, we will show you.

Here
nearly in the woods
is the mass grave
covered with cement and iron.
Here lie your brothers,
big and small,
young and old.
They were killed together,
in terror.

Here the Germans,
cannibals,
befell them with guns,
like wild animals,
also Poles and Lithuanians, Letts and Ukraines, Goyim Catholics,
they chased them and tortured them.
Robbers, murderers, hooligans, parasites spilled the blood of
Jews and stole their goods.

Hearing the tragedy,
the trees in the woods near the grave
trembled and the leaves fall.
Also the birds are sad
about what was done to the Jews.
And they surround me
as though they would tell me
about the barbarians
and also the goyim -
how they burned everything:
the Shul, the Holy books, the Torahs.

Exhausted from pain and tears,
the eternal ones wait
through long generations
and through years -
Ash and coal is become of everyone.

Suddenly over me there came
a dark cloud which obscured the sun,
like an eclipse.
I begin to tremble and fear
and I can no longer listen
to the tragic drama
and I get excited
and send up a curse into the air,
to myself and to the moon,
also to the stars -
Let them hear my pain.

I will spit in their faces,
curse them and hate them.
I will shout to the fields the woods,
over the seas.
Let everyone know and remember.
Also the dirt and snow and rain.
Will I never forget the shame.
Forever, I will carry the feeling of revenge.

And Kobylnik,
a small shtetl in White Russia,
your landsleit in Israel
will forever remember you with deep pain.


[Page 257]

Yosef Tunkievich

Asher Krukoff

Translated by E. E. Jaffe

 

kob257.jpg
Yosef Tunkievich

 

ln the menacing sea of hatred and persecution there were a few individuals of genuine kindness, honesty and pure compassion. One such extraordinary individual in the dark sea of Jew-hatred and persecution was the simple Kobylnik Christian farmer Yosef Tunkievich, who during the most difficult times under threat of death did not sell his soul to the devil and took a chance with his life to save Jews. Almost all surviving Jews of Kobylnik at one time or another found temporary sanctuary in his home and consequently survived the war. At one time he sheltered a large group of Kobylnik Jews, including Yehudit Friedman with her husband and son, Khone and Hershel Dimenstein, Khia-Liebe and ltzhak Tsernotski, Sholem Yavnovich, and the writer of this article (Asher Krukoff). Tunkievich received us initially and continued to help us when the whole town was occupied by the German military forces.

We had contact with the Vilna ghetto via Yosef Tunkievich. He was supposed to bring Yehudit Todres with her husband and her sister Sheinke. They were already under way, not far from Kobylnik, when they encountered German soldiers and turned back. Only Yehudit's husband made it to Tunkievich's farm.

Several Kobylnik Jews, Shoul Kaplan, Yehudit Todres' husband ltzhak Tsernotski and I - were hidden by Tunkievich in his pig sty for 10 months in a dugout hole measuring three by three meters in size. On top of the dugout grew in summer potatoes and in winter rye. The entrance to the dugout was in the pig sty through a hidden door, covered with garbage. From the door followed a tunnel about two meters long and through another small door made of thin metal designed, in case of a fire, to prevent its spread to the dugout. ln midday some light penetrated into the hole, but most of the time we sat in darkness. Only the good food provided by Tunkievich sustained everybody's health.

ln spring, Passover time, the dugout was full of water. We were forced to dig another hole and at night remove the water from both holes. That way we were steeped several weeks in wetness causing our deterioration while still staying alive. When Tunkievich would descend into the hideout he cried like a small child and failed to understand how we could survive in this environment.

Yosef Tunkievich was the only ray of hope in the great darkness that surrounded us. His name is mentioned by the survivors with holy trembling of their lips. He served as the only symbol of human dignity and clear consciousness. Kobylnik Jews will forever honor and remember his name.

Before we were able to publish this story which was devoted to the beloved and esteemed Jewish friend Yosef Tunkievich, and his extraordinary relations with Jews during World War ll, at the start of 1967 we received the sad news about his death at an advanced age, in his farm home not far from Kobylnik.

With his demise, the Kobylnik Jews lost a dear friend and human defender whom they will forever appreciate and remember. Let his memory be blessed and his soul be found among the righteous of all nations.*

* lt is noteworthy that Ann Jaffe has seen to it that the name Yosef Tunkievich be properly inscribed in the garden of the righteous gentiles in front of the Bernard and Ruth Siegel Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware. His name has also been entered in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, as one of the Righteous Gentiles.


[Page 260]

With the People of Kobylnik in Sorrow and Pain

kob260.jpg

Leon (Leybl) Solomon, Detroit

Translated by E. E. Jaffe

Edited by Toby Bird

I Become a Kobylniker

My first “acquaintanceship” with the Hitlerite animals took place already in 1939 in Makov Mazovyetsky, 85 kilometres from Warsaw. I lived there with my parents and sisters.

My older brother Boruch ran away as soon as the Germans entered eastern Poland, which at the time was occupied by the Russians. Seeing what he did, we also ran to the Russian side and together with my two sisters, Chava and Rivka, settled in Bialystok, where there were many refugees that were coming from German occupied Western Poland. A little later my brother Boruch found us and brought us to Kobylnik, where he had settled earlier.

In Kobylnik our life was more or less normalized (relative to the times). The Jews of Kobylnik were friendly and welcomed the new refugees in town. We were not the only ones. The children in town laughed at our Polish Yiddish but it didn't take long for us to start speaking the Lithuanian Yiddish dialect, which I speak until today. My brother was the director of the school in Kobylnik, and me and my sisters went there with all the other children in town.

 

The Outbreak of the German – Soviet War in 1941

In June 1941 war broke out between Russia and Germany. In only a few days we were once again face to face with the German criminals. My brother tried again to run away but there was nowhere to go. The Germans with their troops blocked all the roads and there was nowhere to run; Boruch had to return to town.

Two days later my brother was arrested and, together with 15 other men the local White Russian police identified as communists, was shot.

His former students from the town carried out this horrible verdict on their teacher, who was so loved and talented. The young Jewish scientist, mathematician and educator fell as a martyr in the midst of his blossoming activity.

 

The Last Slaughter

Orphaned and broken after my brother's death, Shepsl Berger took us in with his family. Together with all the other Jews in town we endured difficult months of slave labour, pain and dejection. Being without parents, perhaps more than others, I was thinking of escaping to the forest where in 1942 Partisans had appeared.

On the eve of Yom Kippur 1942 we received news in town that a few Jews from Myadel together with some Jews from Kobylnik who worked there, escaped to the forest. Everyone in town admired this heroic act. This was the last way out, but no one could imagine how people with small children, women and the elderly could manage to live in the forest throughout the winter with snow and frost. And how would they be nourished when the non–Jewish population hated us so much?

Maybe that is why none of us ran, and like every other day I went to work on Yom Kippur; we already felt the oncoming destruction in the air. And so it was.

Very quickly I found myself with all the other Jews in the middle of the marketplace. From there they brought us under heavy guard to Dam–Ludavi, the Folk –House in town near the church. Here we were confined. In Dam–Ludavi I found my two sisters, who the bandits captured. With tearful eyes we now saw our tragic end. We thought they were going to burn us.

Night fell quickly. In the dark, like herring in a barrel, our hearts were crying and sighing, helpless without a spark of hope to be saved – parting from one another with tears flowing for our sad fate. Everyone puts their hands up toward God and asks, “Why?” Everything is now clear; they are already digging our graves. Some are trying to break the shutters on the windows and jump out; they are immediately shot. The patrol outside is dense.

Together with my 2 sisters and 20 others, we hid under the stage (where we used to perform) hoping they would not look there. In the morning we saw how they were leading everyone out of the building. When it was empty the bandits began to search in all possible places – and they found us! They pulled out my sisters before me. Chava managed to tell me: “See, Leybele, run away. At least one should remain from our family.” I, together with Yehoshua Chernatsky, Yitzchak Chernatsky and Reuven Shteyngart (Gedalia's son –in–law), were pulled out last. Two murderers led us to the graves. Yehoshua called out to one of the murderers who was leading us: “Kolya, we grew up together and went to the same school. Let me go. I want to live.” His bandit's answer was: “Move forward!” and cursed all the Jews in Russian. Yehoshua managed to escape. The bandit, Kolya, chased after him and shot him.

Remaining with one policeman at the bridge, not far from the church, Chaim and I also tried to run away in the direction of the nobleman's estate. The murderer began to shoot. I ran zig zag and the bullets rang by me. My sister's last words gave me the strength and desire to live, and this is how I managed to escape! Chaim fell wounded and was later shot by the police.

With my last bit of strength I ran to the forest. From the other side of the road I heard the shots. Every shot tore another muscle in my body. This was the murder of the last Jews of our town, including my sisters.

 

To the Partisans

I wandered in the forest for 2 days. I was hungry, torn cold and wet. Without much choice I entered the village Konstantinova. Luckily I found a few Jews working there and stayed with them for a few days. From there I went to Svir where there was still a Ghetto. There I met Herzke Gordon who also escaped, like me, from under the gun.

Together with the Jews from Svir, we move to Mikhalishok Ghetto, and from there I was sent to work in Konstantinova. With me was a guy from Kobylnik – Kivke Krivitsky. Working together with a few Jews near the forest we felt hopeful that the time would pass. But after 4–5 months, Spring 1943, we received German orders to go to the Vilna Ghetto where the Germans were gathering all remaining Jews from the surrounding towns that the Germans had liquidated.

But I decided I will not go to another Ghetto! I had nothing more to lose and decided to go to the forest and look for Partisans. I tried to convince others to come with me, but unfortunately they did not want to leave their parents, sisters and brothers. The Jews from the surrounding towns never went to the Vilna Ghetto; they were all murdered in Ponar.

Unfamiliar with the area, I wandered through fields and forests looking for Partisans. From time to time I would receive a piece of bread from a Gentile (at night), risking his life. At the same time, I managed occasionally to spend a night with a farmer under a roof. One night, I came to sleep at a Gentile's home in a small village, and there were Partisans there. I went to them and told them my sad fate. I told them I was Shepsl's son from Kobylnik (It would have been difficult for them to accept I was a Jew from Warsaw.) and I won their trust.

The same night, the Partisans brought me to a small house in the middle of a swamp and told me to wait until someone would come to get me. The Non–Jews who lived there told me to leave the next morning; they were afraid to have a Jew in their home.

Trudging through the mud, I came to another similar small house. The Gentile named Tolayke questioned me and was particularly interested in which Kobylnilk Jews were still alive. He had his doubts, but then took me deep into the swamps to an underground bunker that was hidden between the trees.

When I entered I saw forms that were similar to pre–historic people: hairy dirty faces, glaring eyes which hadn't seen daylight in a long time. It was hard to recognize the Kobylnik Jews among them, my good friends: Leyb Friedman, Yehoshua Gordon, Hirshl Dimentshyn, Feivl Chernatsky and Chamke from Zanarach.

Despite the joy of seeing them, it was clear to me that I could not be a burden to them. Tolayke was a friend to the Jews, but he himself didn't have more than a few peas to eat. It was also very crowded in the bunker. Leybe Friedman said, however, “We will share from our very last,” and I remained with them.

At night, I would go through the villages trying to collect a bit of food. I was putting my life in danger, but I wanted, as much as possible to improve our existence and to a certain extent, I was successful.

Once every couple of weeks we would take the risk and bring water from the swamp to warm up food and to wash a bit.

In the same area there were more saved Jews who built underground bunkers and existed like us. At this time, in the area, a Jewish Partisan detachment was founded under the name “Mestitel” (revenge). I immediately joined this detachment as a fighter.

 

The Big Blockade

Just before the High Holidays in 1943 the forests were under a blockade from a German division that was brought from the eastern front to destroy the Partisans. It was resolved by anti–Semitic Partisan leaders that our Jewish Partisan detachment “Mestitel” should have our weapons taken away. This is how we remained against the Germans empty–handed.

The German divisions surrounded the forest. The chances of tearing away from the blockade were small, especially because we were unarmed. We divided into small groups and went in different directions. I went with the guys from Kobylnik: Sholem Yavnovitch, Yakov Feyve Goldzeger, Motle Gilman, Chemke from Zanarach, and two sisters from Ashmene. We relied on Sholem and Chemke as they were very familiar with the area and knew many of the farmers personally.

We decided to break through the German ring in the direction toward Kobylnik. For a few nights we miraculously evaded the German soldiers. During the day we hid deep in the forest. One morning, after completing our night walk, we found ourselves not far from a village. Suddenly we saw the Germans attacking the village. Farmers were running in our direction, to the forest. We had to run wherever our feet would carry us. At this time, we separated, and decided to meet up in the big forest, not far from where we were.

Yakov Feyve and I ran to that forest, but didn't wait for the others. All the others fell into German hands and were shot. We remained alone, wandering through the forests, not knowing where to go. The Germans continued their hunt. At night we saw the flames of the burning villages. That's how we knew where the Germans were. The non–Jews were now suffering properly, and now had more sympathy toward us, and from time to time would give us a piece of bread.

The blockade ended the eve of Yom Kippur. Many Jews were killed. The survivors emerged from the swamps. I joined a Partisan detachment called “Katuzof” where I remained until liberation in 1944.

 

In the Red Army

After liberation I fought the Germans in the ranks of the Red Army. In one of the battles I met Chaim Asher Gilman from Kobylnik. We were both consoled that we were taking revenge on our bitter enemy, but, unfortunately Chaim Asher fell in battle in Konigsberg in the ranks of the Red Army.


[Page 267]

Kobylnik to Bergen–Belsen

kob267.jpg

by Shoshana Pszechodnik (nee Raizel Narotski), Haifa

Translated by Dr. Joe Schuldenrein

Edited by Toby Bird

Yom Kippur eve, 1942. On the heels of large scale escapes to the forest and countryside by many of Mayadel's Jews, among them numerous locally employed Kobylnikers, there was a growing sense of impending doom. My sister and I continued, however, to get up each morning and go to work. I was 15 at the time, my sister Chayka a year younger at 14. We both tended to the courtyard.

The old (gentile) gardener was fond of us. When the word got out that the Jews were being herded to the Mayadel's ghetto, this righteous Christian proceeded to hide myself and Chaya in an attic. My sister Chaya, the olive skinned charmer and beauty, with her shaggy locks, then decided to return to town with everyone else.

Those were gruesome days. Periods of intermittent terror overcame us: that we would be found and that our kin and the entire town would be murderously slaughtered. Subsequently, we learned that a few families were taken to Mayadel, largely tradespeople and artisans whom the murderers found useful.

We worked our way back across the forest and countryside towards Mayadel, hoping, that amongst the tradespeople we'd find surviving family members. Once in town, we ran into Saraleh Toronchik wandering, as it were, away from town with her two children. She told us that there was really no point in staying in Mayadel…we then decided to head directly to the town of Svir….there were still Jews there.

Broken-hearted and physically worn out, we wandered aimlessly, not knowing if we were on the road to Svir at all. Sarahleh's two kids were with us; the trek was hard and strenuous. We thought we'd look around the village, the Goyim making it clear that they were doing us a favor by not turning us over to the Germans…..even in Slutsk, my father's hometown, we found neither sympathy nor support. No one offered as much as a drop of water to drink.

In utter despair, and anticipating death, from hunger, cold, and dampness (if not at the hands of the Germans) our luck suddenly turned when we ran into a Goy, friendly to Jews, who welcomed, fed us, and then pointed us in the direction of Svir. With raw bruises on my feet, I could barely walk. I had been completely bed-ridden for a week and just when I was able to stand on my feet, I took off for Michaliszky, my mother's hometown. This time I was on my own.

I was mid-route when the evening came. And then another stroke of luck, when a Gentile family from a desolate corner of town, allowed me to spend the night. They also let me stay longer in exchange for helping out. This was salvation.

[Page 268]

Good fortune did not last long, however, as the local Gentiles grew suspicious, following me around, shadowing me, essentially insinuating that I was a Jewish kid. Those Good Samaritans, who had come to my aid, were now in some danger and, having no other choice, they led me to the Michaliszky Ghetto. Once there, my mother's uncle Laffuk took me in, passing me off as locally born, which enabled me to stay in Michaliszky for some time. There I encountered other displaced Kobylnik refugees who recounted the events of my family's demise together with that of all the other Jews in town.

Michaliszky was a center for Jewish work transports destined for Vilna; eventually it was my turn to go. I was dispatched to a work-gang on the railway line for an extended period, during which I became overly introspective and spiritually tormented. It was the winter of 1943 and our lot appeared to be completely hopeless.

Jews from the surrounding towns were ostensibly driven to the Kovno ghetto….. Those from the Vilna ghetto elected to go there voluntarily…. No one made it past Ponar…. We already knew that thousands of Vilna's Jews were massacred there.

One sunny morning a round-up was convened in the ghetto for a “special” work detail. Everyone understood that this signaled the trip to Ponar…. Folks immediately took to hiding. A man hunt was ordered by the Germans. They found and rousted us from our hiding places…..Together with other Jews we were loaded up and locked into freight cars. That's where I met up with my old girlfriend Rochelle Yavnovitch[1] with whom I endured all the trials, tribulations and anguish until the liberation.

We were evacuated from Vilna to the work camp of Vaivara in Estonia; the surviving remnants of Vilna's Jewish community and surroundings ended up there. Our lot was to serve the Germans' needs and involved stone splitting and minor construction; but it was our good fortune not to have been massacred.

I remember feeling completely indifferent to fate—not having anything left in this world; the toil, forced labor, hunger, and cold rendered me mentally and physically spent, and all this in early adulthood….. I hadn't the strength to confront this morbid fate, which appeared to me pre-destined…. I no longer felt the need to hide during a camp selection that called out for 100 women. More railroad cars with barbed wire, not knowing where or why. Two girls attempted and successfully escaped---that was unbelievable heroism for the situation in which we found ourselves.

When next evacuated, we re-girded ourselves for death. This time, however, they took us to Kivioli. 350 Jewish men worked in the mines; we women had it a bit easier.

[Page 269]

As we neared the Estonian border, they killed the old and frail…. we, the survivors were remobilized and transported by ship via Port Reval (Tallinn, Estonia), to the hell-hole known as Stutthoff.

That concentration camp should have been the last stop, for us as well as for the thousands of other Jews from all over Europe.

It was only Rochelle who possessed an even minimal will to carry on. The two of us remained so closely bonded, each morally supportive of the other. That bond framed our destiny and enabled us to insulate ourselves from this horrific place. Early on in 1944 we were evacuated again, along with 500 other women, as a forced labor group to Aksenzahl, near Hamburg. We worked there for over a year at a munitions factory. The factory actually depended upon our services and, irrespective of the slave-like conditions, we were able to maintain our sanity.

Hitler's empire was rapidly reaching its end. We, of course, remained only minimally informed of the war's developments, but even the bits of information that filtered our way re-energized us. We began to anticipate living through all of this and witnessing the rout of our bloody tormentors—and we did it!!!

Amazingly, it turns out that the end of the line was liberation at Bergen-Belsen, of all places.

The camp was littered with skin-mantled corpses, some still reflexively moving. Thousands of bodies strewn everywhere, completely still. The murderers exhibited no signs of changing their routines, not even pausing to clean the blood off their hands. They proceeded with business as usual, continuing the bloody processing of Europe's last remaining Jews until the eleventh hour.

We were liberated by the English forces. Our hearts welled with emotion and jubilation, sapping the remaining strength we had left…. Here is where Simcha Pszechodnik, my future husband, was liberated and together we built a new life in the State of Israel.


Footnote

  1. Rochelle (Rasza) Yavnovitch is the mother of Anita Frishman Gabbay of Montreal, Canada. Return


[Page 271]

Reflections of Memory

by Yitzchak Gordon

Translated by Jerrold Landau

As we bring forth the memory of our dear ones of Kobylnik, including their bitter fate, the tribulations, pain, suffering, and death – it is accompanied for some reason by a deep pain in our hearts – an unclear and inexplicable pain, accompanied by a painful question eking at our brains, from which it is difficult to free ourselves: The guiltless blood that was spilled, the great tragedy that took place – who are the guilty ones? Are only the strangers guilty, or do we Jews also bear some guilt, and not just in a roundabout way?

*

The Jewish nation, tried with suffering and tribulations during its long diaspora amongst the nations, generally developed a special sense to discern the time of approaching danger when there was still time to know, shout out, and complain about it. It also knew how to prepare for the disaster. Indeed, thanks to this, entire communities were often saved from the loss and destruction that threatened to annihilate them.

To our great sorrow, this sense was removed from us this time, and did not stand for us at the time of trouble. We lost our understanding. Its sources were sealed off. Means of thought and logic were paralyzed among our people and our leaders. We failed to evaluate the situation appropriately, and did not protect ourselves from the germs of the illness that were carried by the air and were threatening us. Our human nature was not moved, and did not push us out of our complacency to search for means of escape and protection while there was still time, before the fire closed in on us from all around, and when means of salvation and help were still open.

What was the source of this calmness and dissonance, and how was the perplexity and sense of oppression planted, causing us to give up and accept the situation – rather than arising, complaining daily and hourly about the destruction that was crouching at the doors of our houses? Where was the healthy intellect of the nation that had learned from experience? For the wrath did not come upon us suddenly one day. It was preceded by many years of increasing anti–Semitism by the enemy that was known in Europe, and that spilled over to neighboring nations!

Why were we calmed by false hopes, criminally ignoring the dangers that threatened us? From where did we draw the innocence and personal sense of assurance that no harm would befall us? What was the weak staff upon which we rested, and to whom did we ask for help? Was what we endured not yet enough, were the killings and tribulations insufficient?! How did we close our eyes from figuring out what they were preparing to do to us, without investigating at all, and without learning

[Page 272]

about our unfortunate situation, about the uneven power situation between us and them. And what about our chances of survival? Did we not yet know that they had lost their feelings of mercy toward us? If so, why were we so late in evaluating our situation? Only now, after storm has passed over us with its full fury – only now did it become clear to us that the relationship of the gentiles to us had been “almost self–evident” …

Indeed, the entire nation, with its movements and factions with which it was blessed in Eastern Europe, both Zionist and non–Zionist, some aspiring to become the beacons for the social order of our times, and others who prophesied about the end of days and the coming of the Messiah, the great leaders or renown, heads of communities and spiritual leaders – all together were blinded, and did not see what was about to take place.

Our brethren the house of Israel throughout the Diaspora, across seas and continents, upon whom the hand of the enemy did not reach – remained with a quiet conscience, for they were quick in offering help and doing everything to help their brethren during fateful times, when the axe was hoisted over the heads of the Jews of Europe? If there was assistance – was it in appropriate proportion to their ability and to their status of great influence that they gained in the lands in which they settled; or perhaps they too wished to be “proper” Jews, not angering the nations and governments with cries of outrage over our continued existence?

The settlement in the Land, despite its constant battle with the Mandate government and against the White Paper, and despite their significant volunteering through the Jewish Brigade in the fight against the enemy, as well as taking other asks upon their shoulders – did they also do everything possible for European Jewry, upon whose blood they were based? Did they do everything possible for this situation? Or perhaps we too were immersed significantly in the internal struggle, in factions, and in an internecine battle, and did not pay attention at the time as the Jews of Europe were hauled to slaughter?… Why were we late in breaking through the boundaries to offer salvation to the extent that we could?

We here in Israel as individuals – did we not each make peace separately, in the privacy of our hearts, with the bitter fate of the Jews in the lands in which they lived? Did we do enough to bring them to the Land before the inferno? Did we not sin on occasion by the words of our mouth as we slandered the Land, stating that life here is difficult, the work is backbreaking, and the lands consumes its residents?… With this, we perhaps were the cause that many of our brethren tarried, did not make aliya to the Land, and were therefore not saved from the fires of destruction? Indeed, we too were weak in faith. We pushed aside the main thing – and such a high price was paid for our error.

There are many question marks; I have raised many questions – but there is no answer. I did not do this to make it easier from those who are directly guilty for their criminal deeds. I added my thoughts so that we could investigate and understand with full depth the tragedy that took place before our eyes, and in which we were involved…


[Page 273]

Remember That Which the Nazi Amalek
Perpetrated Against You

Let us remember with pain and anger the souls of our dear martyrs of Kobylnik, who fell at the hands of the impure murderers who had lost their G–dly image.

Let us remember the human splendor of women, elderly, and children who were murdered by the wild wanton ones; let us remember this forever.

Let us remember and unite with the grief of the mother whose child's head was smashed before her eyes. Let us remember its final quiver before death.

Let us remember and listen attentively to the clicks of the guns and the mist of the pierced bodies of our dear ones as they fell into the pit that was dug. G–d, avenge their blood, and give the perpetrators what they deserve!

 


Survivors of Kobylnik after the liberation next to the mass grave

 

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