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[Page 247]

Personal Stories of the People
of Suceava and Surrounding Area

Translated by Moshe Devere

 

Sara Openheimer's Story on the Kerzner Family

My father, Menaḥem Mendel Kerzner, was born in Poland, moved to Romania at the end of World War I and settled in Suceava. My mother, Miriam (née Berl), was born in Suceava. My parents married in the early 1920s and had four sons: Moshe Yosef, obm; Yitzchak Binyamin, obm; Zipora and myself, Sara.

We lived in the city center, in Berl Rauch's house. Our neighbors on one side were the Weidenfelds, and on the other side, the Smotrici family, until they left Suceava. Later, the Itzcovici family lived there.

My father was a traveling agent who also dealt with foreign currency (exchange and transfers abroad). He was a well-known and respected man in our city partly because of his occupations, but especially because of his good deeds and concern for those in née by providing loans, assisting young couples, and caring for patients who needed special treatments. However, it was all given secretly. My mother was his help-meet. She treated patients, provided hot meals for the lonely. We as children would bring the food to their homes 2-3 times a week.

Our childhood passed like most that of most of the city's children. Kindergarten was at Mrs. Isolis' kindergarten; the boys were in the Talmud Torah with teachers Carten and Miller, and elementary school. Afterward, the boys went to commercial school and we girls to a vocational school. All that until 1938. With the rise of Antonescu, the troubles began. We had to leave school, wear the yellow patch. My father stopped going to Czernowitz because Jews were being harassed on the train.

We were in the Bnei-Akiva youth movement and at that time we increased our activity there. We learned Hebrew in the hope that in the future we would emigrate to [Eretz] Israel. We also raised money for the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL).

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We had a competition who could collect the most. We went on many hikes to Zamca and Chatata and in summer bathing in Suceava [River] and Gîrla [Somova] Stream. All in all, we were happy and did not feel the difficult situation so much.

In 1941, there was an opportunity from the Youth Aliya to send three children from our city to Eretz Israel. My parents decided to send Yitzchak obm and Zipora (may she live long), who met the age requirement. This was about 1/2 year before we were deported to Transnistria. This was very difficult for my parents. The children (accompanied by my Aunt Rachel) left on Saturday night. The house was full of people who came to wish them bon voyage. My father made havdala, which is engraved in my memory as if knowing that this was a last goodbye. On Sukkot 1941, it was declared in the city that all the Jews had to evacuate. They divided the city into two parts, telling us to pack several things that can be carried by hand or on our backs. Afterward, by Dr. Teich's intervention, then head of the Jewish community, some residents were given a stay of another day. We were among them. Then, we were joined by my Grandmother Esther and my Aunt Rachel Berl, as well as Yisrael Schaumann and his sister Maddy.

We left on Simḥat Torah. We traveled to the train in a wagon and from there on cattle car on the train to train to Ataky. From there, we crossed the Dniester River by ferry and arrived in Mogilev. They housed us in an old casino without doors and windows, but at least we had a roof over our heads. After a few days, Dr. Teich organized a group of several families and we started moving toward Shargorod. Some things were loaded up on wagons and the rest we carried by hand or on our backs. That is how we walked for several days until we came to Shargorod. There, we found a pretty large Jewish community that opened their homes for us. We arrived at the Kornblit family. The homeowner was the city blacksmith.

They provided us with a room where we lived together with the Hauser family (4 souls), Mrs. Kissman (1) and our family with my grandmother and aunt (6 souls). It was very crowded, especially at night when we all lay down on the floor to sleep. We were among the first to arrive in the city. After us, crowds arrived who were housed in the synagogue. People suffered greatly from the overcrowding, cold and hunger. Because of the overcrowding and poor hygiene, typhoid broke out and most of us came down with it. My grandmother, Esther Berl and my father died of this terrible disease a month apart: My grandmother on 3 Nissan (April 16, 1942) and my father on 2 Iyyar (May 15, 1942). After my father died, we were left without a breadwinner since he was the one who brought home food. My Aunt Rachel helped us a lot. For me personally, she made sure I learned, teaching me Hebrew and English. She gave lessons in Hebrew and helped the home economy a lot. My mother and I were busy knitting (hats, socks and gloves) and so we earned something for a living and got along.

We began returning to Romania in May1944. It took us almost a month of hardships until we arrived in Suceava. Of course, we did not find any of our possessions. We stayed in Suceava for about three

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months before traveling to Bucharest, where we waited for Aliyah to Israel. This only took place in 1946, on the ship Max Nordau. It was illegal immigration. The English were waiting for us, stopped the ship, and we were transferred to Atlit. When we arrived in Atlit, we were greeted by none other than our former neighbor David Smotrici (who was a representative of the [Jewish] Agency). We were overjoyed.

We remained in Atlit for about 6 weeks. From there we moved to Kiryat Motzkin, first to family members and then to temporary housing. After two years, we bought a house in Kiryat Shmuel with money that my father, most wisely, had deposited with a friend in the United States.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence, my brother Moshe was drafted into the army and in January 1949 fell in the line of duty as a sapper. He is buried in Haifa. Most of her years, my mother lived in Israel in her home in Kiryat Shmuel with my brother Yitzchak and his family. And in recent years, on and off, with my sister Zipporah and me. However, she continued the tradition of helping others and did so with great loyalty until her passing in 1992, at ripe old age.

I worked for a living in a chocolate factory until I married David Oppenheimer. We had two children: Ze'ev and Shlomit. David, a teacher by trade but yearned to be a farmer. That is why we went for this; it's been about 50 years now that we are farmers with a dairy farm in Kfar Bialik, which is now mostly run by our daughter Shlomit and her husband Ilan Baram. Our son Ze'ev is a farmer in Nov, a moshav on the Golan Heights.

 

Dr. Menaḥem (Freddie) Eidinger's Story

Stories about the family

My mother is a descendant of the Herzberg family from Galicia. My maternal great-grandfather held a Propenzia, a license to sell liquor. His son Moshe, my mother's father, developed the business into a successful tavern.

On my father's side, the family came from Oman in the Ukraine. His grandfather, Leib Eidinger, was a Cantonist, a type of army service in the Czar's armed forces that extended for 24 [should be 25 yrs.] years. He served in the Far East on the Manchurian border. When he found out that the place was not quiet and uncomfortable, he left his backpack and rifle on the ground, turned around and started walking west until he crossed the Austrian border and settled in the first town he came to: Suceava (Schotz). It is said that he lived for 104 years; had three wives and 21 children.

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Dr. Menaḥem (Freddie) Eidinger

 

My paternal grandfather, Yosef, was a Konzopist (a scrivener). He had a beautiful handwriting, in a time when typewriters did not exist. When I was born, the grandparents on both sides demanded the right to give me my name. In the end a compromise was reached and I received both names Mendel Leib (Menachem-Aryeh). I did not know many of my great-grandfather's children, but before the Six-Day War, I received a telephone call from someone who spoke English and named Benjamin Eidinger. He was a pharmacist from New York who was visiting in Israel and wanted to get to know me. I proposed to hire a taxi and come to me, which he did. After a half-hour, the doorbell rang and when I opened it I nearly fainted: My dead father stood before me! The similarity was so amazing! We related to each other everything we knew about the family. He himself knew little. We have exchanged letters once or twice over the years, but the connection stopped, probably because he was very old.

And another amusing story is about my paternal grandmother who came from the Vama Frasin area. A young man from her area went to the “big” city of Suceava. Following up on a recommendation, he came to the grandparents. The next day, Grandpa took him on a tour of the city, where they met a police officer dressed in an impressive uniform with a sword. The young man became very frightened. Quaking and clinging to Grandpa's arms, he exclaimed in Yiddish: “Yossele, Yossele! Is that the Kaiser?!” If I am not mistaken, his name was Leibele Gelbert. He was a bachelor and owned half the houses on the city's main street.

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My Mogilev

About March 1941, The German and Italian armies concentrated in Suceava and in the surrounding area. Every one of us felt the significance of this. But 40 km northward, people did not know and did not sense it. In the summer months, the offensive began. The daily discussion was about preparing backpacks of all kinds of materials, hefty bags, and also hoarding groceries: flour, sugar, oil, etc.

In July, the invasion of the Soviet Union began, and within two weeks, the hope and expectation that the Red Army would quickly end the campaign in its favor and for our own good had failed. The pressure on the Jews increased, and in Sukkot, October 9, 1941, the expulsion began. Within three days, all 6,000 Jews of the city were deported down to the last of the patients in the hospital, and placed on freight-train cars without knowing where they were going!!!

I remember after a brief stop at a darkened station, someone peeked out and said we were leaving Czernowitz. After a while when he checked again, he said: “Geloibt zu Gott, man furt nisht kain Lublin (Praise God, we're not going to Lublin).” Apparently, they already knew something about what was going on in Poland.

Late at night, the train stopped and a Romanian gendarmerie began clearing the carriages, screaming and beating, and gathering the people in the dark ruins. Nobody knew where they were. After a while, figures in long white robes circulated among the people. It turned out that they were residents from the Vizhnitz lunatic asylum who also arrived that night. The darkness, the screams, the behavior of the gendarmes, the cold and wetness, as well as the uncertainty caused the panic to deepen. There were already rumors were running around that already there were dead people. I remember a music teacher named Barber, who went crazy that night.

In the morning, it turned out that we were on the banks of the Dniester in the town of Ataky and crossing the river by ferry to the Ukraine, to the city of Mogilev-Podolsk. Before that, we were asked to hand over all our valuables, especially our Romanian money, that were converted into Rubles at the official rate of 1 to 40. We crossed over to the left bank. Here begins my story about Mogilev. Since the whole family had been gathered, about 17 people, we could bring a lot of our belongings and also move all the luggage with nothing lost.

A concentration camp was established in a beautiful high-school building from the Czar's time, from which groups of people would be deported every day, on foot, on a steep path deep, into the country. Many people perished on the difficult trip, in the cold, in the mud, by the behavior of the gendarmes, and in particular, that of the local population who simply snuck in after the “transport” to undress

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the fallen, who were not always dead, and to collect the goods lost along the way.

We managed, by bribery, to leave the camp and, for a fee, to be housed with local Jews who were still living in the city. It now became clear that after the disappointment at the behavior of the Ukrainian population (we naively thought that Soviet citizens were excellent people and not bloodthirsty animals) we encountered a new problem: The money we received for the Romanian money, the Ruble, had almost no value. The good money was clothing, shoes, watches for which we could get in the local market large quantities of food, but this decreased with new deportees: An inflation of merchandise was created. Part of the city, in particular the riverside streets, was destroyed, as the Russian Army caused the river's flooding to somewhat halt the German invasion. We removed the wooden beams from the ruins for heating. At the end of November, the deportations from the cities of Bucovina and northern Moldova ended. An order was issued that on December 1, businesses should be opened in the city and those who do not do so would be deported inland. Within days, the city was full of signs of all kinds of businesses; in Romanian, of course, to justify the claim that this part of the area called “Transnistria” belonged to ancient Moldova.

We also opened a restaurant. The menu was bean soup and bread at a fair price. With time, the customers ordered a half-portion or less until they could not pay at all. So, we tried as much as possible to give food without charge. Winter was very harsh. The cold, combined with a typhoid epidemic, caused hundreds of deaths. The bodies were collected every day. Sometimes entire families fell ill together and perished for lack of a minimum of help. We also suffered the disease, but we were lucky that not all were ill at the same time. So, there was always somebody healthy to take care of the sick. Another problem was that our doctors did not know how to treat the disease, which was spread by lice and mainly attacked the heart and blood circulation. Doctors treated the disease as if it were a “typhoid” through an acute diet that further weakened the body's resistance.

The residents of the city suffered from a lack of clean water. There were no toilets, nor any possibilities for bathing either. Cooking was over an open fire. All this added to the misery. Management of the deportees was organized for arranging minimal sanitary conditions, contact with the authorities regarding works such as bridges on the river, a foundry, etc.

Meanwhile, the United States entered the war after the Japanese attack. By us, the “ghetto” was organized by the regime in early 1942. Another decree was the renewed money exchange, this time the Ruble for the German Mark, which again gave a further shock to possibly surviving. Otherwise, the further existence of the market, the bazaar, in the ghetto, eased the exchange of goods for food. In the spring

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of 1942, some 4,000 Jews were deported to Skazintsy, a former military camp about 15 km from the city, claiming that they were residents of Northern Bucovina under Soviet rule in 1940-1941, and we were among them. During the summer of that year, the rest of the local Jews were deported to the Bug River. Only a few survived. Toward the end of 1942, it became clear to the Romanian government the chances of war, especially after Stalingrad. Still, there were several further actions for recruiting people by force and sending them to labor camps.

The ghetto persuaded the authorities to allow minimal contact with Romanian Jewry for receiving help. During 1943, a Red Cross audit committee also appeared after the ghetto was lightly cleaned and showed them what the government wished to show, but they were also given actual information. Rumors began about returning the Jews of northern Moldova (Dorohoi) as well as the orphans. This happened in early 1944 when the late Yitzchak Artzi visited the ghetto.

The front rapidly approached, and in March 1944, we were liberated by the Red Army. Upon its penetration into Romania, people moved to Czernowitz and then to return to Suceava until the border was closed in June 1944. In the meantime, many of the men were recruited to the Red Army as volunteers, since we were foreign nationals. When they were sent deep into Russia, they suffered several casualties in a German bombing in Brianske. On June 6th, when D-Day, the invasion of Normandy began, there was jubilation in the city, but that night we underwent a serious German bombardment. We were free but hungry because with the return of Soviet rule, the market quickly emptied of any goods.

With all this, we were in contact with local Jewish youth, but our legal situation was vague until, through the activity of the local committee, a Hebrew teacher from Vatra-Dornei named Alberton was sent to Khrushchev (then Prime Minister of Ukraine) in Kiev, and explained our situation to him.

Around Pesach 1945, the NKVD suddenly requested the deportees to prepare lists. Again, Alberton was put in charge of the project. Since we lived in the same house, I became friends with his son Mordechai. So, I also took part in preparing the lists and in night meetings at NKVD offices until they notified us that a train was waiting for us at the station. We for two days in the cars until the survivors from the Shargorod and Tulchyn ghettos joined us and we started on our journey.

On April 12, 1945, we arrived at the Czernowitz train station. There we heard the news of Roosevelt's death. That same evening, we arrived at the Terebleche border point opposite Siret. Two days later, we crossed the border.

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My story is very concise and cold because luckily almost all of us survived except my paternal grandfather, who died there. I was unsuccessful in describing the terrible suffering undergone by the deportees on the trains, the hunger, disease, and humiliations that profoundly affected the lives of survivors, and in particular, the development of young people like myself and influenced the course of our lives.

 

Dr. Colette (Cetta) Itzik's Story

I was born in Suceava and lived in my parents' house for 40 years on the city's main street.

My mother, Erna was born in the village Mitocul Dragomirnei where the grandfathers, Jetti and Yosef Hermann, had a farm and a field. They were very nice and respected people. Many years later, people came looking for me in the clinic where I worked not for treatments, but only because they heard I was Yosef Hermann's granddaughter.

My father, Leon Itzik, was born in Suceava, the ninth of Rosa and Moses Itzik's 10 children. He studied at the Faculty of Dentistry in Vienna, and during World War I, when he was a student, worked under fire in a military hospital as a medic. He later married my mother and opened a dental clinic on the main street in Suceava.

After a relatively peaceful period between the two wars, came the decrees culminating in the deportation to Transnistria. A former patient of my father (an Italian officer) tried in vain to get the deportation order canceled for our family.

We were all stuffed into cattle cars: My paternal grandparents, my parents, my mother's older sister, Lottie and her husband Nochio Wagner, her younger sister, Marta Hermann (later Sterling), who had to stop her linguistics studies at Czernowitz University, and myself, a three-year-old girl.

At the train station in Burdujeni, a young man, Giorga, who worked at my grandfather's house (and grew up there as an orphan) also asked to board the carriage to tie his fate with ours. We could barely convince him to give up on his intention.

After an arduous trip and great suffering, we arrived at Shargorod and we all settled into a deserted apartment. The intense cold, hunger and typhus caused many casualties. Father, like the other doctors, went to treat the patients and sometimes got potatoes, flour, bread, etc. from the locals. When he returned

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home, my mother, grandmother, and aunts were waiting for him at the door to remove the typhus causing lice. My Aunt Lottyie died from typhus and was buried in Shargorod.

Across from our hose, by the Ashkenazi family, an underground fighter hiding in the basement had a radio receiver, which was how we knew what was going on in the world. Once, German soldiers entered our apartment. We all spoke German, and my father told them that we were members of the local Romanian Police (Rumaenische Lokalpolizei). That was how were saved. I remember one day, my aunt told me that a Romanian soldier came with money for my grandfather and he refused to accept it. So, he threw the money out the window.

We returned from Transnistria on May 15, 1944. I was then a frightened and introverted girl. My uncle (Carol Schmeterling), who remained in Czernowitz, waited for us and helped us a lot. We arrived in Suceava two months later. Dad started working at his private clinic and then at the local Polyclinic.

I graduated from high school, then went to medical school and worked for 26 years as a doctor in Suceava. We came to Israel in 1986. My father was 91 years old and after the surgery in his groin, he was brought home on a stretcher. He partially regained his health and lived for another 5 years in Israel. Mother lived another 10 years. Both were happy to be reunited with the surviving relatives: Marta Schmeterling (an English teacher) and a cousin, Dr. Mori Itano. I worked in Israel until I retired. My son, Dr. Adrian Harrar, is a dentist.

I returned twice to Suceava, walked around, visited the cemetery, and remembered my childhood and the city that completely changed its character but remained a beautiful and clean city (but maybe only to me).

(Translated from Romanian by Simcha Weissbuch)

 

Jetti (Ruckenstein) Ellenbogen's Story

My parents, Baruch Shalom and Rivka Ruckenstein, had three daughters. I, Jetti (later Ellenbogen), was the firstborn, Zuzi (later Gluek) and Frizzi-Hedva (later Weinberger). My father, Baruch Shalom, was born in 1891, the son of Eliezer and Shosha. They had three other children: Moshe, Feige and Rivka. My Grandfather Eliezer was the son of Shmuel and Maniya. He owned a glass factory in Firstental, Bucovina.

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Jetti (Ruckenstein) Ellenbogen

 

My father married Rivka (née Gantz) from Vicovu in 1921. Both families were Vizhnitz Ḥassidim. My father used to travel every year for the High Holidays to pray with the Rebbe until 1940. Father was a grain merchant, popular and well-liked in trade circles, and was also a member of the Community Committee in Suceava. Mother was a housewife and busy with public affairs, in Wizo, OSE, Hadassah and Ruth, nonprofits that dealt with the feeding and clothing needy children. My parents' house was known for its hospitality. Father tried to bring a guest home every Shabbat eve. Mother cooperated willingly.

Our family was exiled to Transnistria together with all the Jews of Suceava and came to Murafa, where they first lived in a large hall. Afterward, we moved to a room in a former hospital building until one day the Praetor Din Dalgan came from Shargorod and for no reason beat my father. He knocked him down on the floor and stomped on him until he nearly killed him. He then ordered him to immediately leave the room. We found another room in what was once a restaurant and moved there with Wolf Schaeffer family and Baruch and Yosef Alter. All of us in one room that served as a living room, bedroom and kitchen. Our main concern was maintaining cleanliness and indeed all the residents managed not to get sick with during the typhus epidemic. In Murafa too, Mother made efforts to give charity and sent food to a different needy family every day.

Abba arranged a permanent place of worship in Murafa close to where they prayed twice a day, and of course during the High Holidays and other holidays. For Succot, a communal succah was set up for every resident in the courtyard. During the first period of our deportation, we made a living selling and bartering belongings for food. Later, we got help from Mother's brother, who lived in Timişoara.

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By chance, we met a Romanian official who worked at the train station in Zhmerynka who was also from Timişoara and occasionally went home for vacation. He passed on a letter to the uncle from his sister and came back with money he sent for us. Of course, only some of the money was given to us and the rest he kept for himself, but with the help of what was left, we could survive. From our family, Grandfather Eliezer, Moses, my father's brother, and his sister, Feige perished in Transnistria. In the Murafa ghetto, I met Yisrael (Nawzi) Ellenbogen. We fell in love and have been together since.

After Murafa's liberation on March 19, 1944, we began planning our return home with the Ellenbogen family. We purchased a horse and wagon and on May 10, 1944; we started on our way home. Two families, eight people. We began a long journey intending to bypass Mogilev, where young men were recruited into the Red Army or to work in the coal mines. Our route was Djurin-Tomashpil-Yampol, and from there we planned to cross the Dniester and get to Soroka. On the way, we were detained by Russian soldiers. Only after a thorough investigation were they convinced that we were refugees returning home and were released.

In Tomashpil, we met Romanian soldiers captured by the Russians and established a brigade named after Tudor Vladimirscu who fought alongside the Russians against the Germans. From them, we learned that the road to Suceava was freed. In Yampol, we found, in exchange for a bribe, a Russian military truck that transported us across the Dniester River to the city of Soroka, Bessarabia. From Soroka, we arrived by all kinds of means of transportation through Lipkani Venoah Suliţei to Czernowitz, where we again bought a horse and wagon. Traveling through Mihăileni, we arrived at Suceava on the evening of May 22, 1944.

Our house was in a catastrophic state. All the lintels and floors were broken in search of money, and one could not even sleep there. For the first night we slept by our neighbors and then rented a room elsewhere, until we finally moved into Yosef Alter's, who had not yet returned (he died in Czernowitz and did not get to return home). Father opened a small general store with a partner from which we made a living.

I married Yisrael on December 19, 1944. The wedding took place in the house we were living in and the marriage ceremony was carried by the rabbi from Lespezi. All the refreshments were prepared by my mother obm at home/ Some 40 people shared my happiness. Two weeks after my wedding, my father became ill with typhus and passed away at 53.

After emigrating to Israel, I visited his grave several times, and once with my sister Hedva, who was a young girl when Father passed away, and barely remembered him. Of course, for her, it was even more emotional.

My mother moved to live near her brother in Timişoara with my sisters. I moved to

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Gura Humora, and then feared persecution because of my husband's Zionist activities. We also moved to Timişoara. My sister Zuzi married in 1947 in Romania. My mother emigrated to Israel in 1951 with my little sister Hedva, who was married in 1954.

We emigrated in 1958, having waited 10 years for passports along with our son Benny, 12 years old. We lived briefly with Mother and then went to the Ulpan in Petah Tikva. On Hanukkah 1958, when we returned from a party and sat in the garden, a police officer came looking for the Ellenbogen family and told my husband that my mother had fallen in the street and died of cardiac arrest. The next morning, my husband suggested that I go to Netanya because he learned that my mother was not feeling well. It was only when we arrived at her house that he told me that my mother had passed away. My mother always asked that she get to see the children (us) before she died, and indeed her last wish was fulfilled.

In Eretz [Israel], I worked as a bookkeeper in a factory for 25 years. My husband, who had a degree as an accountant, worked as a government official. After his retirement, he worked as a partner in an accounting firm.

Below are the descendants of Baruch Shalom Ruckenstein: My husband and I have one son named Benny, who is married to Magda. They have two children, a married son and a daughter who is a [university] student. To my grandson was recently born a girl, so we now have a great-grandchild. My sister Shoshana (Zuzi) is married to Shimon Gluek. They have a married daughter and three grandchildren. My sister Hedva is married to Naphtali Weinberger and has three married children and twelve grandchildren, may the ever increase!

 

Freddy (Friedrich) Antschel's Story

I was born in Suceava on July 17, 1927. My father, Leon, owned a shop for sewing essentials. My mother, Mali (née Beck) was a housewife, and my sister Herta.

I went to elementary school and attended the first grades in high school. On October 9, 1941, we were deported to Transnistria, where we first arrived at Murafa and afterward, to Shargorod. My father died of typhus in December 1942. My sister Herta, then had her first nervous breakdown that left its mark over her whole life. My mother sank into a deep depression and passed away in 1958. In May 1944, I returned on foot from Shargorod to Suceava, where I found nothing in the store or at home.

I resumed my high-school studies and after completing my matriculation, I went to a school

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specializing in Agricultural Culture (agronomics [or school name?]) in Bucharest. After I graduated, I was employed as a guide until the school closed. When all the Zionist organizations were closed, I went to Timişoara and enrolled in the Faculty of Agronomy. I studied there from 1949 until 1953. After the final exam, I was employed by a government committee in the Ministry of Agriculture.

From 1958 to 1960, I studied at the Faculty of Techno-Economics at Bucharest Polytechnics, and graduated with a degree in Economic Engineering.

I retired in 1987, and went to visit my sister Herta Hotmann, who lives in Dusseldorf and had suffered a shock after the death of her husband, Bruno.

I am currently an active member of the Community Association Committee of Romanian Jews and Victims of the Holocaust.

I am married to Felicia (née Silberman) a language teacher. My son Maurizio Leonard is an engineer, my daughter-in-law Dana is a dentist and my grandson is called Dori Carrol.

(Adapted and translated from Romanian by Simcha Weissbuch)

Hedva (Braunstein) Antschel's Story

I was born in Burdujeni on May 16, 1933, to Shulem and Rashel Braunstein. My father was born on August 27, 1898, and my mother (née Pinco) was born on December 24, 1903. My sister Mina was born on May 11, 1934.

My father's family lived in Burdujeni for many generations. My grandfather Avraham Braunstein's parents were Chaim Hersh and his wife, Frieda Ruchel. My Grandmother Haya's parents were Shulem Shulimović and his wife Sarah Brane. They were all born in the 30s of the 19th Century.

My grandfather, Avraham, had four sisters. Adela Breed, Fanny Leibowitz, Hannah Kasriel and Leah Rimmer and three brothers: Leizer, Noah and Henoch. My Grandmother Haya had one brother. Moshe, and three sisters: Ester, Bela and Rosa.

My grandfather Avraham and my Grandmother Haya had three daughters: Rivka, Mina (who died at a young age) and Jeanette, and one son, Shulem, my father. Rivka is married to Abraham Grauer and they have two daughters: Betti and Mina Jeanette, who is married to Marko Manea and have a son, the author Norman Manea.

My grandfather Abraham had the only bookstore and newspaper store in town. The store was transferred to them when my parents, Shulem Braunstein and Rashel Pinco got married in 1932, the store was transferred to them. My mother and her twin sister

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Rosa were born in Suliţei, on the border of Bessarabia, and had already moved in their infancy with her parents Moshe and Rivka Pinco to Ştefăneşti. Her brother Shlomo was born five years later. With her marriage to my father, my mother moved to Burdujeni. There we lived at 36 Ḥtefan Cel Mare Street.

 

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Ḥedva (Braunstein) Antschel and her parents, Rashel and Shulem

 

We lived a good life at a high standard. We had maids, a wash-woman, ironer, and a cook who prepared noodle and dough. Every summer we spent three weeks in Kimpolung or Vatra-Dornei.

Our house was a cultural one because of being the book center of the town. There were always teachers, top officers and writers in our shop who came to browse or buy books and newspapers. My parents customarily went to the theater and listened to music. They were involved in everything that was going on in the country and around the world, talking and analyzing political and political situations. Even before the war broke out, we realized bad days were coming.

Growing up in a bookstore, I really wanted to read, so by the age of three and a half, I started learning to read, and by the age of five, I had already read books from the store. But I did not go to school because of the decree prohibiting Jews from attending school. There was no Jewish school in the town.

Among the officers who visited us was Colonel Sigmiriano. My mother gave him all her jewelry before we were deported.

On October 9, 1941, we were sent in freight cars to Ataky on the banks of the Dniester with minimal equipment that was packed into my parents' backpack. When we got there, we found Jews who had arrived shortly before us. They were in a very poor physical and mental state. We were immediately forced to cross the

[Page 261]

Dniester to Mogilev-Podolsk in the Ukraine, in an area the Romanians called Transnistria. We lived in Mogilev, in the ghetto, for several months.

Also deported with us were my Grandmother Haya, my grandfather Avraham, and my father's two sisters, Rivka Grauer and Jeanette Manea with their families. The entire extended family stayed together the entire time we were there. A few months later, we moved about 15 miles [25 km] from Mogilev to the town of Vendichany. There was a sugar factory there where we lived for a while. All the adults worked in the factory and in the area.

On April 24, 1942, my grandfather Avraham perished from typhus and three weeks later, on May 16, 1942, my grandmother died, exactly on my ninth birthday. My father's parents were buried there without a tombstone or any recognizable sign.

After the factory, we lived by two different farmers for a fee. My parents carried chunks of salt on their backs from a quarry and sold them to peasants as food for cows. My sister and I, ages 8 and 9, stayed home alone and anxiously waited for the parents to return before nightfall. Any Jews found later outside were in deadly danger.

With the Russians' victory over the Germans, we heard Russian cavalry galloping down the main street and in the back streets the German soldiers fled, leaving a scorched earth. They were very cruel, and we hid from them until they passed.

As things calmed down a bit, we returned to Romania on foot and on all sorts of wagons and passed through all of Bessarabia. There, we saw beautiful Jewish homes abandoned and looted.

Our stop in Bereznyi lasted almost a year. All the family's children attended a Russian school. We crossed the border into Romania in April 1945. Here we said good bye to my father's sisters. Rivka and her family traveled to Târgu Frumos, to Avraham Grauer's family. Jeanette and her family went to Fălticeni, where Marco Manea's family lived.

We traveled on to Burdujeni, where we found widespread destruction. My parents transferred my sister and I to my mother's family in Botoḥani, and they returned to our hometown to rebuild the ruins. My sister and I attended school in Botoḥani. Between April and June, my sister finished third grade, and I completed fourth grade. By September, we were already back in Burdujeni. My sister attended the local fourth grade school. I studied the first grade of high school privately because the high school was only a 2.5-mile [4 km] walk to Suceava, and my parents would not let me walk that distance every day. The elementary school principal taught me for the first year of high school. My sister and I could make up a four-year lag we lost in the camps in a short time thanks to our mother, who kept encouraging us to study hard during this difficult period.

[Page 262]

In the summer, I took external exams, and in September 1946, I studied in second grade at the Jewish high school in Suceava. In 1948, I transferred to the High School for Girls where I studied until 1951, when we emigrated to Israel.

In the years 1945-1951, after many difficulties, my parents rebuilt the house and reopened a thriving book and newspaper store.

My sister immigrated to Israel via Cyprus in December 1947 and we immediately requested a permit to immigrate there. The permit did not arrive until 3 years later and was only valid for one week. We left behind a shop full of merchandise for The Christians' New Year's Eve and Winter Holidays and a beautifully furnished house. Again, we started all over again. I could not finish high school and go on to university.

We arrived in Israel at the Sha'ar ha'Aliyah [St. Luke] transit camp and were later transferred to Ramataim transit camp. We lived in a tent for a year, during the harsh winter of 1951. This was especially difficult for my parents; in such a short time, to go through two serious crises.

But after a while, my parents also rehabilitated their lives. After several years of working very hard in a grocery store, from sunrise until late at night, they opened a book and newspaper store in Petah Tikva, like the one they had abroad. I studied at the Bet Berl Ulpan. Afterward, at a seminary for counselors and teachers at the same place. In 1952, at age 19, I started studies at a school in Ramle. I continued in Lod, Ramataim, Yehud and Hod Hasharon.

At the same time, I took external teaching exams that I passed successfully, except for Bible, which I dreaded. On February 14, 1958, I was badly injured in a traffic accident and had to stop my studies.

On October 16, 1955, I married Yaakov Anschel, an IDF officer. Since then, we are living in Maoz Aviv, a career-officer's' neighborhood.

Our firstborn son, Ron, was born on November 7, 1956. He graduated from MARAM, holds a BA from Bar-Ilan University and a Masters from Tel-Aviv University, and is an IDF officer. Ron is married to Nita Levi, an advocate. they have three children, my grandchildren, Nadav, Noa, and Nir. Amir was born on June 27, 1962, a Golani soldier and officer, Technion graduate, married to Idit Amit and father to Homer, Oren and Dolev, my grandchildren.

After a pause of many years following my accident, I returned to work from 1975 until 2000. This time, for an Israeli Insurance Company at the secondary insurance desk and responsible for the claims division.

Today, Yaakov is a pensioner, listens to lectures, goes to concerts and theater for entertainment, and meets with friends.

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Ester (Huebner) Efler's Story

I was born on May 1, 1929 in Suceava to my father Michael Huebner obm and my mother, Sarah (née Abramovici).

I had a wonderful childhood in Suceava until we were deported in October 1941 to Transnistria. we remained in Murafa until we were liberated by the Russian Army. Afterward, we return home on a wagon that we bought.

 

Suc263.jpg
Ester (Huebner) Efler

 

My father obm, did not want to remain in Romania but to emigrate to Israel. We traveled to Bucharest; we were given a large room by Bnei Akiva. We lived there with three other families. But only after two years are we able to emigrate to Eretz [Israel] in May 1946.

In December 1949, I married a young man from Timişoara. He passed away in 1984. I have two sons and two granddaughters.

[Page 264]

Frima (Mozzie) Acks (née Glueckman)

I was born in 1923 to Leon Glueckman and Mina (née Mendelssohn).

My father was born into a family with many children. They were both poor and religious. At age 12, he moved from his birthplace Bălăceana to Suceava. He worked in Sharafinster's shop (Dickman). He studied, attained an education and slowly got along financially. At first, he went into partnership with Aronovici in a textile shop and later opened his own. He was one of the outstanding worshippers in the GACH Synagogue, an active Zionist, member of the City Council, and was well honored by its citizens.

 

Suc264.jpg
Jonas and Mozzie Acks (1987)

 

I was expelled from the high school in 1940 for reasons of race. I was deported together with all the other residents of the city and was in Murafa from October 1941 until August 1944. After the liberation, my mother and I remained there until August and then left with the Acks family to return home.

Because the border was closed by the Russians, we remained in Bereznyi until April 1945. After returning to Suceava, I completed my high-school studies, including the matriculation exam. I began medical studies at the University in Bucharest. In 1953, I completed my studies and received my diploma as a pediatrician.

I married Jonas Acks obm in 1947, and in1951, we traveled together to his diplomatic position in Warsaw and afterwards to Helsinki until 1956. After I return to Bucharest, I began to work as a doctor in the Panduri Hospital and afterward as a pediatric specialist. In 1983, I transferred to the Dr. I Cantacuzino Clinical Hospital (CANTA), retiring in 1992. In the following years, I worked as an employed doctor at the Polyclinic.

[Page 265]

From 1996, I was a social worker for the Bucharest Jewish community.

My husband, Jonas was born in 1920. His father, Adolph, worked as a tanner at the Sternlieb factory in Suceava. His mother, Jetti, was a housewife. They were both decent and honest people.

Jonas completed his high-school studies and afterward was a student for two years at the Bucharest Polytechnic in the Industrial Chemical Faculty until he was expelled because of the racist degrees against the Jews. In October 1941, he was deported together with his family to Transnistria and arrived at Murafa. There, risking their lives, he worked with his father as a tanner in the Ukrainian towns in the area.

After returning from Transnistria, he worked for several months in Fălticeni as a teacher and as a translator from Russian. Toward the end of 1944, he traveled to Bucharest, graduated from the Technion magna laude, and received a degree as an Industrial Chemical Engineer.

He joined the faculty, but after a series of classes in international relations, he was employed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1950, he was sent to Warsaw as first secretary of the Romanian Embassy, and in 1951, as an adviser to the embassy in Helsinki. He was returned in 1956, and worked in the Foreign Ministry until 1959 when he was transferred to the Chemical Ministry. This happened when most of the Jews were expelled from important positions.

During the last period, he worked in the Ministry of Forests, from which he retired in 1978. We visited Israel together several times and he was excited by what he saw. He was a broad-minded, decent and honest man. He passed away in 1995 from stomach cancer and kidney failure. Jonas was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Bucharest.

His sister Leah and her husband Adolph are doctors living in Bucharest.


A note from the translator:

In conversations I had with Jonas Acks during the last years of his life, he expressed deep sorrow that he had blindly believed in the illusion of communist idea. Jonas believed in good faith that communism would save mankind and redeem the world. When I asked why he was not considering emigrating to Israel, he replied with a tone of bitterness that he did not want to be a burden on a country to which he had contributed nothing. And in the words of Rabbi Shimon in Pirkei Avot, he bore the crown of a good name throughout his life.

(Translated from Romanian by Simcha Weissbuch)

 

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