by Noakh Borsuk
Translated by Libby Raichman
6 August 1949[Page 352]
Budapest. 21. 3. 1940
I received your letter for which I thank you very much and you will please pardon me for my long silence. It was simply not possible in our life situation and our conditions, to concentrate on writing. As I do not wish you to be angry with me, I will try to tell you that which I know but I ask only that you forgive me for my illogical writing.
I will recount the scene chronologically from before the war.
As you know the relationships with the neighbor [Germany] became worse from March onwards. From that time on, the disturbances had already begun in our small shtetl's little world and our politicians used to gather in the bank and deal with questions. This continued until the 31st July when the first mobilisation occurred. Then darkness came to the shtetl, people cried. The whole town took to the streets, stood at the posts and argued about the situation in the bank. You can just imagine what took place. And in such circumstances I had to work, at a time when I anticipated that at any moment they would bring me the note (to mobilise). Every night I used to sit at Chaim's place and listen to the news. The outbreak of war was unfamiliar to us. We received the news that on Friday 1st September at 10 o'clock there was bombing and destruction. From that time on, normal life ceased. The farmers who obviously knew that the neighbor would also come, began coming into the town and buying unusual quantities, whatever they could, even bottles of perfume, as long as they spent the money. Every day when I lay down in bed I used to think that this would be for the last time. We lived in these frightening circumstances for the entire period of the next 16 days. They bombed Baranowicz three times on yomtov. You cannot imagine what went on here. We were expecting them. At night the town was dead, dark. It was forbidden to go out into the streets after 7 in the evening. Only those who were mobilised and guards were allowed out. During the day there were frequent alarms and people would run like madmen. Pits were dug throughout the entire town, to be used as hiding places. They were in the market place, next to the old girls where Vinereich was the commander, next to Sarah the daughter of Minke, behind the Bet Midrash and in various other places. I am writing all this to you in brief because if I survive I will tell you everything exactly. We lived in this way until the famous 17th September.
I am sending you the names of those persons whom I remember were taken into the military: into the active-military-service of course, Ze'ev Tunik's son Nakhe, Y. Brukhansky the son of Berel, Hirsh Milcenzon, Tzivia Stragonowicz's husband, Eliyahu Makhtay's son, Leibl Ruditzky son of Prusinovke, Fytl and Velvel Bernshtein sons of Yosef Chaim, Velvl Ryser the shammos's son, Boaz Akselrod, Mikhl Brukhansky's son, Kliatshuk on Yurezdik the son of Melamed whom I think is a relative of yours. Also Borukh the son of Ozer, Menakhem the son of Kushner. Slutshak, Aharon Tunik, Yaakov Brukhansky the tailor, Esterkin's two sons, the younger son of the Priziers, Namme's grandson the son of Gershonowicz, Leibl the son of Yentl. In the meantime, from them (the enemy) no one came. Those that I underline until the 25/10, it is possible that they had already come. At the same time Tzipke and Yocheved Makhtay, Aharon's daughter was in Warsaw to give birth. We don't know about them. But I ask you that no one should know about this and no one God forbid, should see this letter.
At about 3am my landlady woke me saying that I should dress quickly because German planes were flying over the town. I ran out and saw 9 planes but remarkably they were flying from an easterly direction, westwards and each time there were new ones and they were constantly flying westwards. There was a commotion in the town. The anti-aircraft-protection team, with bare hands to light up, were ready at their places. All the people are lying in the pits but Metsanes B runs up to me and says that the neighbor has moved and everyone is running to the market place because they are saying that their tanks are already there. It is understandable that I was also there but as one came into the market place, shooting could be heard, so you can understand what was happening in the market place. People were running like madmen to hide. The retreating head did the shooting. In the meantime the police started gathering in our street, Potshtovve Street, on bicycles that were taken from Khatze Dovid Ruditzky and Berkowicz and fleeing in vehicles. I go to Pilsudski Street where people are whispering to each other and wheels are standing still. Suddenly a commotion can be heard from the corner of Shpitalne Street and iron bodies (defense forces) can be seen walking. At the corner of Pilsudski Street they were met with cries of joy because you cannot imagine how frightened we were by the Germans and they were only 100 km from us.
They were showered with flowers but in a few days the enthusiasm disappeared. The reality and its tragic circumstances became evident. They came into the market place and stood still. Eliezer Radunsky started to kiss the tank and the hand of a soldier. At the same time they kept Yaakov Bernshtein and Shkolnik in a Kartuz Bereze and M. Makhtay at Kovel. They all came back.
After staying a couple of minutes they went on further. In about 10 minutes the cavalry began to come, then motorised infantry, cars and canons without an end. The shop keepers indicated that they wanted to give up the keys of their shops because it was not possible to sell the merchandise they were looting by force day and night. When I awoke at 2am, people were already standing at the little railroad, waiting. So they told them that they must sell. A Militia was formed. They entered Berel P's shop and told him to give them a silver service and he gave it to them. For many people now it was a free-for-all. They would simply go into shops, dress themselves in whatever they needed and leave and still say that they have a good hand. In short, this is the situation. I have no more patience. Next time I will write more.
When I told Khaim that I was going away and time was short because with each passing day the borders were more guarded, he wanted to go and bring me a note but it was impossible to travel. He informed me that the person was in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem. From him you will learn the address of the person in Tel Aviv. In the evening I was at your house. Your Mother cried from happiness that you would receive personal regards from her. There Khaim gave me, you know how much. Everyone looked well. Of course it would be fortunate for them if they could be where you are. I saw Maishe and Sholem almost every day. Of course you understand that there is no work at the bank. On the 15th they began working but only to collect money. Whether there is now something there, I don't know.
I saw Gruntshen often with his children. The man came from Warsaw a few days before the invasion, ragged and hungry, the same Shepsl Kitayevicz and Zimme.
You understand yourself (Yenkele's words) what I can write about them that you know and that I know.
I believe that you will forgive me for ending. I believe that perhaps we will see each other soon. Then I will tell you everything, exactly.
Greetings to you from my brother. I am ending. Be well.
Your friend Noakh
Regards to your sister, her husband and child, Khanne, Mordekhai, his wife and children.
PS. Get to know the teacher's children regarding what you wrote to me and tell Maynikke that I wrote to them yesterday and they should see to taking care of everything.
Yesterday I wrote a letter to Khaim.
|From right: Noakh, Shashe, Avrom Borsuk
The grave stone reads:
Son of Khaim Yitzchak
May his memory be blessed
Died 12th Kislev 1879
Translated by Libby Raichman
Rywka Kantorovitz 15. 2. 45
By chance I find myself amongst the living. How this happened I don't know myself. This is how it was destined to be. It is possible that it would have been better if I had perished with those who were so beloved and dear to me.
But I am full of hope that we will one day meet again and I will be able to tell you exactly what they did to us, how the German murderers destroyed our people in a bestial manner.
You cannot possibly imagine how broken I am. It is already 3 years that I have been without my beloved Nissen. I managed to raise a lively, blond curlyhaired daughter before the murder. I should write to you and separate the stories of how they perished, but I cannot . But you already know a little about everything. Only 60 of us survived in Stolpce … there is no limit to our misfortune.
Grunye together with her lively daughters perished on July 8, 1943. I lost my Mother, Baylke and the children in the gruesome pogrom of 1942 when 3000 Jews perished.
I will restrain myself from writing to you about all the cruelties because my heart is heavy, yet it wants to share with the remaining Jews who will never be able to imagine what was done to us. It is very difficult to start building a life anew but one has to. One cannot go to the grave alive yet the murderers had the savagery to throw our children into graves when they were still alive.
I hope that this letter will bring us closer to one another. Be well. I kiss you thousands of times,
Your best friend,
P.S. This is the first letter in Yiddish that I am writing after so many years.
Translated by Libby Raichman
Stolpce 20. 9. 44
My dearest and most beloved,
After more than 3 years of suffering and pain, after more than 3 years of experiencing events that have never before happened in world history, after 3 years of enslavement, I have today the possibility of writing to you as a free person, my dear ones. Yesterday I received your postcard of July 3. It makes me very happy that you are all alive, my dearest. Now the question that confronts me is what shall I write to you? I am now not in the right frame of mind to begin to write in detail about the great tragedy of our people.
Perhaps a time will one day come when we, the few surviving souls of millions of people, will be able to cry out a little to the world or on the contrary it is not we, who have something to tell. The earth that is soaked with our innocent blood, she can be witness and tell all. We the survivors are no longer normal people at all. It is difficult after what we have been through and losing so much, to remain human. We have already lost everything. The German thugs slaughtered us in the middle of the street. Our most dear children, our parents, our wives, they murdered in the most bestial manner. Today we wander around on our graves downcast, disappointed, ashamed to show ourselves to others, as if we had committed the worst crime. It is however a fact that that nothing has become of us. They robbed us of the most beautiful and best of what we possessed.
You my dearest, are surely interested in who remained alive? Do you still have your father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends and acquaintances? I decided after much deliberation to write the truth to you. Of Velvl Tunik's family we have all remained orphans. Together with all the other Tuniks of Stolpce, only Azriel, my dearest and most beloved sister Chavah and I, remain. I no longer have any tears. My soul is covered in blood. Better said, I no longer have a soul. Of the Milcenzon family no one has remained alive. Of Merre Proshtsitskis family that lived in Stolpce, no one is alive. Her two brothers, who lived near Pinsk, are both alive, I think. Console yourselves and take strength my dear ones. It is difficult to write such things but once and for, all one must know.
Our people are already so hardened that it is already quite natural to speak about it. We are more tied to the dead than to the living. There we have our most dear and our best.
You are surely interested in how I and my Chavale managed to stay alive. . For more than 2 years we were Partisans. I believe that you have heard about Partisans. All 70 (70 Jews) who are today in Stolpce, we are all Partisans. Perhaps the day will one day come when we will be able to talk about all of this. A couple of weeks ago I was in Moscow. From there I sent a telegram to the Davar. Upon us lies a great task. Firstly, to take revenge and secondly, to establish a nation.
Your brother and friend
by Chavah Tunik
Translated by Libby Raichman
My dear brothers and sisters
- - - You must certainly have read about the cruel crimes of the fascist dogs and the manner in which they destroyed our dearest and most beloved. It is understandable that no human mind can imagine how anyone could live through this. We lived through such terrible years. We had to see with our own eyes how they led our parents, brothers and sisters to the slaughter, as we waited for death at any moment. We are now no longer human. Our hearts are aching and there is no consolation.
My dear ones, I will now tell you briefly about myself. In 1941 when the Germans occupied Stoibtz, our town was burned down. To find homes and produce was difficult so I, Ya'akov-Shlayme and little Leah went to Ruven in Horodishtz. We lived quietly and peacefully until that terrible day when the whole town with 1500 Jews, was destroyed. Amongst them was our dear little brother Ya'akov-Shlayme, Merel and little Yisroel. Little Leah, Ruven and I managed to escape, struggling for 6 weeks in fields and forests. We returned hungry and barefoot to Stoibtz to find out about the fate of our parents and brother. For us it was such luck to be together with our parents. It was easier for us to suffer. There was someone from whom to hear a word of comfort. But our luck did not last long. It happened in Tammuz 1942. In what was a dark morning for us, drunk Lithuanians barged into our house and shot our dear father? In one minute the crown of our home was taken from us. There was no longer a father, no word of comfort. A short time after this great misfortune the Germans took away skilled working youth, amongst them our dear little brothers Maishel and Ruven. They sent them to Minsk where they worked very hard. A short time later, a general slaughter took place in which we lost everyone. Only Azriel and I remained and also not together. We escaped together but for 2 years we didn't know anything about one another.
Suddenly we were orphaned. We remained alone, torn away like a lamb from its flock that strays and wanders around in the field looking for her flock, her home. But we did not find a home. There was no home, none of our innocent blood. Seven days after escaping only one thing remained: revenge - to take revenge for our innocent blood. Seven days after escaping, a few people from Stoibtz and I, arrived at a Partisan group. It was easier for me here. It is understandable that not only one Partisan fell in battle but he knew what the risks were and why he might fall. He knew before his death that he was taking revenge for his most beloved. Our Azriel also went with me to the Partisans but in a short time he perished.
Yes, my dear ones, I have lived through a lot. Although I lived for 2 years in the forest under free skies, more than once during the winter we lay in the snow, barefoot and even hungry but everything was dear to us. We knew that we Partisans were sitting among the Germans, hundreds of kilometres from the front and that we were helping the Red Army. And we knew that only they can and will free us from the teeth of the dog. Yes, you are reading and you cannot believe it. And the day of liberation came and we Partisans were leaving the forests and were going to occupy towns. So a question arises for me: Where am I going? Who will greet me when I return home? To whom am I coming? There is no home, there is no one. All that is awaiting me are graves and ruins.
As I was returning I met Azriel. You can imagine our meeting. We each thought that the other was dead. You can imagine how it was for us in our own home town. We have to live and see where we once were together. Each little road, each path where blood was shed, reminded us of so much. We were turned to stone, numbed.
Stolpce 7th March 1945
by Dov Garmizze
Translated by Libby Raichman
With the end of the war. A soldier of the Jewish Brigade on Italian soil. Initially we will meet with the survivors of his home town and the surrounding areas and convey this information to his brethren in Israel.
These lines testify to the great yearning, the spiritual closeness and the sincere desire to receive them and to encourage them.
Somewhere in Italy 20. 7. 45
Peace and blessing,
I decided to write to you without waiting for a reply to my previous letter, and more importantly, at the request of one of the survivors of the people of Nove-Shverzne Gaga Yosselevsky. I am still in the same labor council in the Alps and feel all right. Soon we will leave this place and go far away from here. . . . .
During these days I met the Melamed brothers and I immediately informed Noach Tunik. We learned many important details and soon you will also receive general information. According to what they said they met them in Lodz and they (the Melamed brothers) arrived here from Lodz via Budapest. We must hope that we will still manage to meet them here before we leave this place. A few days ago I met Gaga Yosselevsky and her husband. From them I learned new details and also about the number of survivors from this village. And they are: Rivkah and Nyumkah Vilitivsky, Dovid Kubitz, Gaga and Munyek Yosselevsky, Avrom Doktorovicz, Berel Gershovicz, Chaim, Hirshl and Rayzl. Avrom Dovid and his family, Yitzchak Liebson, the brother of Mayer Shvartz from Stolpce and others . . . . Please inform the committee of the immigrants from this village. Regards to all the people of Stolpce. Write about their news and generally about everything and I will be very happy.
From he who wishes you peace and everything good from the midst of his heart,
by Bashke (Basia) Milcenzon
Translated by Melissa Rubin McCurdie and David Rubin
6 August 1949
Dear Friends Meishel and Getzel,
I received your letters and read them with great joy. I've heard that slowly the remaining people of the massacres are getting together. Our exhausted and depressed (haunted) brothers and sisters of Stolpce, may we hear better things from one another.
Our Jewish nation should already be able to close the pages where our history is written in blood.
Please forgive me for my lateness in answering your heart rending letter. It was not through ill will, God forbid, but I had an accident with my hand and I couldn't write, but I did everything that was necessary.
My dear brothers I can tell you that since the great disaster that befell our Jewish people we cannot remain at peace knowing that the remains of my flesh and blood remain wandering on the way.
We are currently collecting money to help our brothers and sisters. All the collection of money takes place at my house. The 2nd in command to me is Chatche Russak, he is always with me and my daughter Brochke is the secretary.
Receiving your letter that you want to establish a Gemilut Chessed, we immediately called a meeting. Having collected a little money we wanted the opinion of all the friends because a few then suggested dividing the money amongst the needy as support without any conditions.
In the meantime we again collected money and then with Chatche I called a meeting again and discussed the meaning of a Gemilut Chessed, and we were able to confirm your plan. We wish you all success in your work.
Even though we were not with you in those gruesome and shocking days of suffering, pain and destruction, we have a responsibility to be with you today to help you with whatever we can to build up anew with the feeling that we lonely sole survivors of a family, Stolpce brothers and sister are taking part in the rebuilding of our age old land Zion and Jerusalem.
I am sending you a list of members who have committed themselves to support for the good of the Gemilut Chessed in the name of the Holy ones of Stolpce, may they rest in peace: Brochke Klatzko (Milcenzon) and her husband, Basia Milcenzon, Avron Russak and wife, Yaakov Boruch and wife, Hirshel Neifeld and wife, Nochum Malbin and wife, Beryl Bernshtein and wife, Yossel Reiser and wife, Yosef Renzon and wife, Mordechai Matityahu Rosovsky and wife, Yedidya Bernshtein and wife, Zissel Dvoretzky and wife, Hershel Dvoretzky, Reizel Neifeld, Yehudit Melamed (Russak) and husband, Luba Shapiro (Russak) and husband, Minna Zeidel (Reiser) and husband, Shashe Kafyan (Lublinsky) and husband, Yoel Lublinsky and wife, Yossef Lublinsky and wife, Pale Kohn and husband from the USA are here guests.
Be well. We greet you warmly from all Shtoibtze in Africa, be strong we are with you.
Bashke (Basia) Milcenzon
2 February 1945
by The Editors
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
Our organisation in Israel was established as soon as we received the first sad news about the fate of our town (Sukkot 1944). The founders were: Shneier Zalman Shazar the current President of the State of Israel, the Milcenzon family, the Borsuk brothers and BenYerucham. Their first aim was: to connect with the survivors and provide initial assistance.
The intensified immigration to the Land of Israel, of those liberated from the ghettos and the concentration camps, brought with it, many fellow townsfolk. Our task was to care for the people from our town and to help them as they took their first steps into the country. The aid consisted of financial support, loans and clothing.
Our fellow townsfolk organisations in America, South Africa and Argentina, have responded very warmly to assisting us, in this sacred work. We value their help greatly, as well as the brotherly contact that they maintain with us constantly.
Currently, there are approximately 150 Stoibtz families in Israel: on Kibbutzim, Moshavim, and in the towns. Many of them can be found in farming, as building workers, supervisors, and in various other workplaces. Every year we meet at a memorial service on 12th Tishrei to pay our respects to the memories of our holy ones. Last year, we received recent greetings from Stoibtz from our honoured current President Zalman Shazar, who attended the memorial event.
On Mount Zion in Jerusalem, we unveiled a memorial plaque for Stoibtz and Swerznie in the museum, the Chamber of the Holocaust. The committee has a Gemillut Chesed fund to eternalise the martyrs of Stoibtz. It was founded in 1949 at the initiative of the following members: Yechezkel BenMoshe, Moshe Borsuk and Getzl Reiser. The fund was of great help to the new immigrants, and to this day, the fund serves the people of Stoibtz, providing them with loans for various purposes. The fund has at its disposal
|Mr. Zalman Shazar and his wife Rachel, at a celebration of the Organisation Committee, where he was presented with a certificate from the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund on the occasion of his inauguration as the first Minister of Education of the State of Israel|
a sum of 17000 Israeli Lira. Most of the money was sent by our fellow townsfolk living abroad. Our synagogue in TelAviv that has already been in existence for 10 years was founded after the dissolution of the Stoibtz synagogue in America, thanks to the initiative of the respected Karl Hayman, of blessed memory. People from Stoibtz, as well as those from the surrounding areas, come to pray and also those who enjoy praying according to the former Lithuanian custom. After prayers, the blessing for wine is recited, people drink a toast and recall former memories. A spiritual uplifting of the soul is evident on festival days, especially on Simchat Torah, when more people from Stoibtz gather in the synagogue.
The organisation has a folk library for children and for the youth, that is named after the eminent teacher and educator Alter Yossilevitz, of blessed memory.
The managers of our organisation are:
Translated by Ann Belinsky
Irgun Yotzei Steibtz Be'Israel
Mr. Getzl Reiser, Eilat St. No. 38. Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, Israel.
Objects of the Association:
Ways of Realizing the Objects:
The Association shall be maintained by membership fees and contributions from any source in Israel and in the diaspora in the form of a gift, will, consecrations and in any other form.
Institutions of the Association:
Association shall have the following institutions:
|Members praying in the Steibtz Martyrs' Synagogue in Israel|
Committee of the Association:
Extraordinary General Meetings:
From time to time, the Committee shall be entitled to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting at the written request, signed by at least 25 members of the Association, wherein the questions to be discussed at such General Meeting shall be specified.
Should the Committee fail to convene such Extraordinary General Meeting in spite of the written request as above, then the subscribers of the written request shall be entitled to convene a General Meeting, provided that their invitation shall include the questions for which the General Meeting is being convened.
The proceedings at an Extraordinary General Meetings shall be the same as those at Ordinary General Meetings; the same applies as to the number of members forming a legal quorum.
Seal of the Association:
Signature and Representation:
The signature of the Chairman of the Committee or of his Deputy, or of the Manager of the Cash or his Deputy, jointly with the signature of the Secretary and the seal of the Association or of the Gemilut-Hessed Cash respectively, shall be binding upon the Association.
Members of the Present Committee:
1. Zalman Shazar Honorary President 2. Mordechai Machtey Chairman 3. Yehezkel Ben Moshe Manager of the Benevolent Fund 4. Azriel Tunik Deputy Chairman 5. Shmuel Aginsky Deputy Manager of Benevolent Fund 6. Getzel Reizer Secretary 7. Moshe Borsuk Treasurer 8. Noach Borsuk Member 9. Moshe Esterkin Member
|Tel Aviv, 24th of the Menachem-Av month, 5710 (August 7, 1950)
Members of the original committee
Official Registration of the Association
The State of Israel
() Y. Kuperman
Tel Aviv District Commissioner
|The lectern in our synagogue
(A present from Avraham Russak,
of blessed memory)
|Victims of the terrible Sunday on Shpitalneh Street|
|Right to left: Hirshel, Guttel, Itkeh, Basha, Musha Manishevicz||Right to left: Shmuel, Beyla, Golda,Yosef, Hirshel, Musha and Fruma Parkin|
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