« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 266]

Translations by Moshe Devere

Mimi (née Liquornik) Artzi's Story

I was born in Suceava and bear my Grandmother Margalit's name. My mother, Rachel, was the daughter of Yaakov Shimshon Schapiro, a descendant of the Kossover Rebbe, who was part of Rabbi of Koretz dynasty. Her brother was Rabbi Yehudah Meir Schapira, the Admor of Lublin, the founder of Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin and established the “Daf Yomi” program. All were born in Suceava. The Schapira family was considered a pedigreed one in the Jewish world.

The little that I know about my grandfather's father is that he immigrated from Poland to settle down with a wealthy girl with land in Costîna, and indeed, my grandfather was a Costîner. My Grandmother Margalit was born in Poland and came to marry my grandfather in Suceava. My grandfather was already divorced from the Rabbi of Roman's daughter, and he married my grandmother, a nineteen-year-old widow. She had first married at age 13 and was caring for two young children.

 

Suc266.jpg
Mimi Artzi (2004)

 

My mother, Rachel, was their third daughter. Her older brother, Yehudah Meir, the same Admor of Lublin, was already a prodigy at a young age. At 17, he had already moved to Poland and became a reputable rabbi there, a member of the Polish “Sejm” and a worldly man who in those years traveled all over to raise funds for Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin. On returning from one of his trips to the United States,

[Page 267]

he stayed in Suceava. The entire city came to welcome her illustrious son.

Moshe Schapira, Mother's younger brother, perished in Buchenwald, while her other brother Avraham Schapira lived first in Vienna and then in New York.

In an arranged marriage, my mother married my father, Berl Liquornik, born in Bălăceana, a village near Suceava. My father was a Zionist in his outlook. He was one of the founders of Hapoel Hamizraḥi in Suceava, and even served as a member of its council in eastern Bucovina. Mother, under the influence of her ultra-Orthodox Schapira family, belonged to Agudat Israel, and this created a conflict at home, because already at 10, I joined Bnei Akiva, much to my mother's dismay.

A year before, at age nine, I traveled with Mother to my uncle the Admor, to visit the Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin. We stayed there for three months. I remember the intense experience I had. Even then, I faced questions of faith and the clash between Zionism and Judaism, and between tradition and renewal.

On our return home, we found an economic crisis, since Dad lost his entire fortune in 1929's “Krach” [Crash]. Following the write-off of debts in Romania, we were left destitute. Even the savings account that Father had opened up for me at the 'Maramureş Blank' [Bank], which I was so proud of, was completely deleted. For me, this was also a “Krach” [Crash] because I did not understand what happened until later. I remember how they explained to me I no longer had a small bank-book and could no longer go to the bank and record the birthday presents I received from my uncle from Lublin.

Following our economic hardship, moving to live in Vienna was discussed. But in the end, nothing came of it and we remained in Suceava. We moved in with Grandfather Shlomo Liquornik and rented our apartment. Only when Father found work as a sales agent did I learn something, and we returned to our apartment on Regina Maria Street across from the Stefanto Dominitro Church.

I was the single daughter of parents with an ideological divide and very much attached to my father. His education deeply affected me. He claimed we were religious, but not ultra-orthodox. He urged me to learn Hebrew at Jewish community's Kultus Gemeinde School. I went to the regular school in the morning, and then in the afternoon I went to the Hebrew school.

My activity in Bnei Akiva was criticized by my mother. She was mainly worried about foreign influences and that boys accompanied me home. Despite the arguments at home, I was stubborn about my path. And the Bnei Akiva ken became my second home.

After finishing sixth form in the “Gymnasium,” I transferred to the teachers' seminary in Czernowitz. I lived in the capital of Bucovina from 1937 until 1939, the year I completed my studies at the Seminary. When the Russians entered, I left Czernowitz and return to Suceava. I still hoped to emigrate

[Page 268]

to Eretz Israel and study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, just as my other friends at the Seminary had done. However, the Russian invasion upset my plans.

With the outbreak of war, people began escaping from Poland and some of our family found shelter in Romania on their way to Eretz [Israel]. In 1940, during prayer in the synagogue, my father and the community leader were caught and held under arrest in the synagogue. We stayed with our elderly and blind grandfather. Grandfather Schapira who lived with us, was cared for by Mother until he was 89. My paternal grandfather lived nearby with Weissbuch on one side and Osher Reicher on the other. Since he was an only son, Father also had to take care of the two elderly grandparents. Both my children are named after these grandfathers: Shlomo after Father's father, and Na'ava was the Hebrew translation of Sheina, the name of Father's mother, of the Jurgrau family in Rădăuţi.

When he returned from his arrest, Father decided I should run away from Suceava. I refused, protesting and crying, but Father convinced me that there was no choice and that I had to save myself. In 1940, I arrived in Oradea in Transylvania. I did not have any [traveling] papers, but the people in the community took care to get me papers and work in a girls' dormitory. In 1941, my parents were deported with the rest of the Jews in Bucovina to Transnistria. There, my Grandmother Sheina passed away in the Murafa ghetto and was buried there.

In 1944, I still sent my parents some money through the Rebbe of Vizhnitz. But in the same year, the Germans entered. So, I joined a group that tried to sneak across the borders back to Romania. We were caught and immediately sent to the ghetto in Oradea. In one of the aktions in the ghetto, I was sent on a transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I choose not to detail the terrors of the Holocaust. Suffice it to say, I underwent three selections by the infamous Dr. Mengele, and in November 1944, I was sent to the Kleine-Schoenau concentration camp in East Germany. Apparently, my command of German saved my life. I was employed in the camp's office. Thanks to the kindness of people, including Klein, a German citizen who was in charge of me, I survived. The Red Army entered the camp gates on May 8, 1945, and I was liberated.

I made my way home, asking myself if anyone in the family had survived. I walked all the way to Bârna, accompanied by a woman from Cluj who was like a mother to me and another 14-year-old girl. We climbed upon open train cars carrying loads of lumber. We thought that this way we could head eastward, but each time we found ourselves back in Bârna. Suddenly, I heard somebody speaking Romanian. We got off the freight

[Page 269]

car and told them we were born in Romania and were trying to get home. They were soldiers who took us to their colonel. He took us under his wing and provided us with food. The Romanian soldiers were traveling to Budapest. He promised they would take us along.

When we finally arrived in Budapest, we try to find refuge at the refugee center but could not find the building. We were especially frightened of the Russian soldiers. We were wandering about lost and frightened, when suddenly, on one street we saw a Jew walk into a house. We knocked on the door. Indeed, it turned out to be a Jewish family. We asked if we could pass the night with them. These were Jews who did not go through the deportation, but they refused to give us shelter. I remember how the house appeared just looking in from the doorstep. Five rooms! A spacious, nicely furnished apartment. The homeowners were worried that we were carrying lice and diseases. They claimed there was no room in the apartment. I remember us being put out on the street, crying bitter tears. Suddenly, a voice came from the attic, a woman shouting in Yiddish: “Kinderlech, Kinderlech (children), do not go away. Come to me!” It was an old woman who lived upstairs. Her son was also deported, and she did not know if he was alive. Her small apartment was empty. But she laid out a fur coat on the floor that served as a mattress for us. She then put up a cooking pot with a handful of beans that she had left, so that we would have something to eat in the morning.

The next day, we finally found the refugee center. We were immediately examined by the doctors. It soon became clear that my health was uncertain, and that I was underweight. One doctor turned out to be the cousin of my friend from Cluj. The excitement was immense. The doctor immediately sent us to his mother's house, where we first bathed in a bathtub. When the aunt asked what we wanted to eat, we only asked for an unpeeled potato. Although the doctor's mother offered us a soft bed with pillows and clean sheets, in the middle of the night, we stepped down and slept on the floor. Our bodies were not used to anything else!

The next day, the Jewish doctor bribed one of the Russian drivers with a bottle of vodka. So, that was how we crossed the border into Romania. We finally arrived in Oradea. What I did not know yet was that soon after the liberation, my father set out looking for me. When he learned I had been sent on a transport to Auschwitz, he traveled to Bucharest, Oradea and Cluj, looking for witnesses and hanging notes everywhere, saying, “Who recognizes? Who knows?” At the Oradea refugee center, I suddenly discovered his note on the bulletin board. Someone there paid to send a telegram to Suceava for me. Mother received it and informed Father in Bucharest that I was alive, and he rushed to come for me. I will never forget that exciting moment! My father cried like a baby. First, he took me to Bucharest to a cousin, where they removed the prisoner's clothes I was still wearing. I spoke to Mother on the telephone and then my father and I returned to Suceava.

Suceava was already under communist rule. I searched for employment. Someone suggested that I teach Hebrew at the Jewish Gymnasium, and indeed for a year I served as a teacher there. Srul

[Page 270]

(Yisrael) Schaumann, head of the Bnei-Akiva ken in Suceava, especially came to ask me to join the ken as a counselor.

And then, Itzio (Herzig, Yitzchak Artzi) came back into my life. I knew Itzio while I was studying in Czernowitz; we lived in the same building. I was in the sixth form in the seminary and he was in the eighth form in the “Arun Pomanol” Romanian gymnasium. We were friends and later corresponded until the war broke out. In 1946, Itzio came to Suceava to reorganize the “Zionist Youth” movement after the Holocaust. He met members Pachko Eidinger and Freddie Roth, who told him I had returned from the camps. So, a teenage friendship between us turned into a renewed love. He would visit every time, and when I came to Bucharest and stayed with Bnei Akiva on Colonel Orrero Street, he would come to date me.

Yaakov (Yankele) Rand of Bnei Akiva, who was also close to the Zionist Youth, once came there and “caught” us, thus a romance was exposed between two members of different youth movements. Itzio and I already started discussing emigrating to Eretz [Israel]; illegal, of course. Our wedding ceremony was held on September 10, 1946, and instead of honeymooning, we embarked on a journey to Eretz [Israel]. There was an argument about which movement quota I would be traveling. In the end, I traveled as a representative of Bnei-Akiva, the movement I was active in my entire life.

The journey took three months. We had a long wait in Zagreb. Fany, my mother-in-law, accompanied us. She was a “chained” woman whose husband abandoned her, emigrating to America many years before. Our best friends were Hanale and Berl Shieber, with whom we became friends and over the years, we became like brothers.

At the port of origin in Zagreb, Sheike Dan was waiting for us on behalf of “Aliyah B”. The captain of the ship, Knesset of Israel, was Yoske Harel, aka “Amnon” (who also commanded the Exodus [1947]). All 4,000 illegal immigrants were crammed onto the rickety ship that could barely hold 500 people. While at sea, another illegal immigrant ship ran aground and all its immigrants were transferred to us. Conditions on board were extremely difficult. People vomited. There was no fresh water or fresh food. Several pregnant women gave birth at sea. Itzio was among the ship's command so, he was not with me. Maddy (Yonah) Ounikovski, my best friend, was also on our cruise as a counselor for small children, ḥoushelei atidot [euphemism for mentally frail children, orphans?] from Dorna.

After four weeks at sea, the Knesset of Israel was seized by the British destroyer fleet and transported to Haifa. On November 1, 1946, our battle with the British began when they tried to forcibly transfer us to the deportation ships to Cyprus. We refused to disembark. We threw cans of preserves or any other object at them. The British open fire and one of the illegal immigrants, the 16-year-old son of the Nadwórna Rebbe, was shot and killed.

They separated between the families, placing them on three deportation ships. We began a hunger strike demanding to unite

[Page 271]

the families, but only in Cyprus did we find one another. We stayed at the Kraolos quarantine camp near Famagusta for nine months. I taught Hebrew to the youth in the camp. Maddy Ounikovski was the counselor, and her mother, Rivka Lehrer, was the housemother. I worked with Silberberg, a representative of the [Jewish] Agency, in organizing and recording the certificates since my knowledge of Hebrew was better than anyone else. Silberberg passed away four years ago at 100. I was then requested to maintain complete secrecy. I did not even tell Itzio who was to receive the long-hoped-for certificate.

Itzio and I visited him [before he passed away], and he remembered me and our joint work in Cyprus.

A group organized in Cyprus who later settled down and established Kibbutz Bema'avak, which later became [Kibbutz] Alonei Abba. We were joined by friends who came on other immigrations, such as Leo Rosenstock (Aryeh Vardi), Yehuda Sha'ari, Itzio's childhood friend from Siret, Milo Derech, Nathan Sheir and others. We waited in Kfar Shmaryahu until we could set up our settlement. We were there when the War of Independence broke out.

The Women's Army did not exist yet, but I was enlisted as kitchen manager at the PalYam base in Sidna Ali near Herzliya. With my own eyes, I witnessed the Arabs leave the village of Sidna Ali. In the evening, the commander said: “When you come in tomorrow, you see that all the Arabs have disappeared.” And indeed, that morning we saw them leaving. It turns out that at night, one corporal shot warning rounds at the cows and in the morning the Arabs left.

We gathered in the mess hall to listen through the declaration of the State. I remember the excitement around the old radio and the tension regarding the result. Two days later, with the outbreak of the War of Independence, the Egyptians bombed Tel-Aviv and also the factory near Kfar Shmaryahu. It was our luck that a bomb hit the courtyard. 10 women who were working there crawled out of the building. I remember the panic of the men who came running in a panic to make sure we were not harmed.

Although Kibbutz Bema'avak was officially settled on the land in 1948, but only the men traveled to the Lower Galilee while the women stayed behind in fear of Kaukji's gangs who were still operating in the area. Since no decision had been made which group would receive which parcel of land. Two other groups for other kibbutzim stayed together with us before settling: Hagoshrim and Ghetto Fighters. I vividly remember Tzvia Lubetkin, the famous rebel from the Warsaw Ghetto. I worked together with her in the kitchen.

Our son Shlomo was born in the kibbutz in November 1949. My parents came on Aliyah in 1951 and were placed in a transit camp. Afterward, they settled in Gav-Yam in the Krayot. Fany, Itzio's mother, stayed with us in the kibbutz. At first Itzio worked as a porter but afterwards as a cow herder. We also absorbed youth from Iraq, and I was their Hebrew teacher.

When the debate over the future of the kibbutz arose and it was decided in 1951 to turn it into cooperative moshav, Itzio decided to leave. It was an enormous blow for me, because after all the hardships and horrors I went through, the kibbutz was

[Page 272]

for me the home I dreamed of. But Itzio did not see his future in agriculture, so we left for a new life in Tel-Aviv.

At first, we lived in Ramat Yisrael, later in the Bitzaron neighborhood, where our daughter Na'ava was born. In 1956, we moved to Brandeis St. in Tel-Aviv. We lived there until Itzio passed away on September 6, 2003.

 

Suc272.jpg
Mimi and Yitzchak Arzi (1990)

 

I accompanied Itzio all his life in his activities for the community. He served as the general secretary of the Progressive Party, and later on, he was one of the founders of the Independent Liberal Party. He served in the Foreign Ministry, worked as a journalist, and was a member of the [Jewish] Agency Board and head of the Aliyat Hanoar Division. For 20 years he served as deputy and vice mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and responsible for the city's culture. In his last public capacity, he served as a member of Knesset. He was also among the founders of “Massuah”, the Institute for Holocaust Studies at Kibbutz Tel Yitzchak. It was our custom every year to come for the memorial meeting at “Massuah” Holocaust Martyrs & Heroes Remembrance Day. Actually, according to Ben Benzion Fuchs, following my remarks at one of these meetings in 2002, the idea for publishing this book was born.

Father Berl passed away at a young age in our home. He was 62. Shlomo, who was then 11 years old, was deeply connected to him and he misses him to this day. Grandfather taught him to swim, took him to the synagogue and taught in the prayers. Shlomo's love for singing came from my father. I still remember them singing together on the Seder night. Father Berl is buried

[Page 273]

in the Shomrei Shabbat Cemetery in Zikhron Meir, Bnei Brak.

Mother Rachel reached a ripe old age. When she was widowed, she had first remained alone in a small apartment in Tel-Aviv. But afterward she moved in with us. She has her final resting place close to Father in the Bnei Brak Cemetery.

My mother-in-law, Fany, also reached a ripe old age. In 1960, Itzio's father, Gabriel Herzig, who had emigrated 40 years earlier to New York, returned to the family. The couple remarried and lived on a street near ours. The two grandmothers lived to see the first great-grandchildren, Shiri and Ben, Shlomo's older children.

My grandfather, Yaakov Shimshon Schapira, passed away in Suceava in 1948. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in the same mausoleum as Rabbi Hager. My grandmother, Margalit, whose name I bear, passed away many years earlier, but she is also buried there.

My grandfather, Shlomo Liquornik, passed away in Suceava in 1947. He is also buried in the same cemetery. The Admor of Lublin passed away at a young age and is buried in Lublin. Many years later, his remains were transferred to Israel by his brother Avraham Schapira and are buried in a mausoleum on Har Menuḥot. The remains of the brother from New York were also transferred after his death to the mausoleum for his ultimate resting place.

I visited Suceava several times. The last time I visited with Itzio was in 1995. My parents' house was obliterated and the Jewish school does not exist anymore. Only the cemetery remains A decade earlier, in 1986, we went on a family roots trip with our children and their spouses. We visited Suceava (and also in Siret, where Itzio was born).

Early in the morning, we entered the cemetery. We visited our grandfathers' tombs in the mausoleum. Shlomo and Na'ava lit memorial candles. Two Hebrew-speaking Israeli children, Sabras. Itzio and I thought, what a long way the family in all its branches has come.

I am proud of my children's contribution to Israeli society and culture. Shlomo, an Israeli singer throughout his life. His songs touch people of all generations and is one of the most beloved people in Israel. Na'ava is a writer who deals with the riddle of Israeli identity, and with the shadow of the Holocaust that prevails over the second generation. Her works have been published in Israel and abroad. She is married to Noam Semel, CEO of the Cameri Theater and has cultural rights of his own.

Six of my grandchildren are already making their own way: Shiri Artzi in literature and communications; Ben Artzi is a young singer and songwriter in his own right; Iyyar Semel is into electronic music. The younger grandchildren, Yonatan Artzi, Ilayil and Nimi Semel, are still high-school students. I am lucky and have also been blessed with two lovely great-grandchildren. Shiri and her spouse Yiftaḥ Klein's children: Yaheli age five, and Michael age two.

[Page 274]

How much happiness has the fourth generation given to Itzio obm! On Shabbat evenings, we customarily gather, a small tribe that has its roots somewhere in Bucovina and continues to flourish here in Israel.

 

Raya Bogen's Story

My name is Raya (née Serbernik) Bogen, born in the former Soviet Union. I was not born in Suceava, but I had a strong connection with its Jews during World War II and afterward. After the war, I spent three and a half years in Suceava. My story comes in three parts: during the war in Transnistria; after the war in Suceava, and after the establishment of the State of Israel.

 

Suc274.jpg
Raya and Sigi Bogen at a family celebration

From the right: Sitting: Melech Wasserman, Ara Wasserman, Silvia (née Bogen) Glueckman, Karl Glueckman, ?
Standing: Sigi Bogen, Raya Bogen, Dr. Adolf Weitman, Jaki Spiegel

[Page 275]

I will begin by saying that even from this terrible war something good came of it. This happened to me and I will explain: Almost all the Jews from Suceava were sent to Transnistria in 1941, and many arrived in the Shargorod ghetto in Ukraine. I, too, came to Shargorod from Kiev, where I went to university. My mother and sister Manea lived in Shargorod and I joined them. Shortly thereafter, the Jews of Bucovina arrived in Shargorod and the local Jews received them warmly.

We also shared our apartment. We stayed in one room; two rooms to Tina and Yossi Landman, the uncles of Mushko and Lucy Fischler; Lucy was then married to Professor Sigi Rohrlich. They had many friends who they brought over and introduced to me, such as Rafi and Sonia Aronovici, Clara and Boccio Goldschmidt, Regina Weitman and her boyfriend, Mate Brucker and others. One day, Sigi Rohrlich introduced me to his good friend, who also studied philology and was a professor of Latin, Greek, and German. I also studied this subject so, we had something in common. His name was Berel (Bernard) Bogen. Later, Berel introduced me to his older brother Friedrich and his twin brother Sigi (Sigmund), whom I married in 1945. The three brothers were born in Suceava. They were members in the Beitar movement. They told me they and their father Elias were in prison because of a red flag they found in the attic on Armashuloi Street. They lived in the same courtyard, but on Halelor Street. This helped them to go free after three months, two weeks before they were sent to Transnistria.

Their mother, Sali (née Wagner), died in Shargorod in February 1942 and their father Elias died of typhus in March the same year. He is buried in a mass grave in Shargorod, together with Simcha Rosner and another 135 Jews.

My sister Manea also had many friends from Suceava such as Gideon Teich, Gideon Neuberger, Libby Schaerf, Leah Brandes and last but not least, her boyfriend Freddie Roth (now Ariel Shani). In order to exist, my mother took my wall clock, my guitar, and various clothes out of the house. She traded these for flour, which she baked bread to sell. I kneaded the dough between the Russian lessons I gave to professionals such as doctors and engineers, Dr. Friedel, Benzion Fischler, and others. Studying by me from Suceava were Dr. Hart and his wife, Dr. Margolis, Engineer Dudel Rachmut, Dr. Levi, the Shargorod orphanage director, Foldi Rohrlich, and Miriam Yehudit, the daughter of Rabbi Yankele Moskowici.

My mother made flat buns (pitot) from bran, and from the white beets she made sweetener. This was like a hot tea which she distributed among the orphans who came to our house every day at number 105 to get their portion. I will not write about the horror and fear that was in the ghetto. Many have already written about this and others will also write about it in this book.

[Page 276]

During the years 1944 and 1945, I studied at Czernowitz University, staying with Sigi's uncles. Alter and Toni (née Wagner) Lesner were by her sister Frieda (née Wagner) Goldschliger. In 1945, we all traveled to Suceava, and I married Sigi Bogen. Rabbi Yankele Moskowici married us. My husband worked as an electrician in the Suceava power plant. My husband's brothers also lived in Suceava. Friedel was married to Coca (Dora) Rachmut. Berl was married to Othilia Rimmer who was a professor of mathematics and physics. Their daughter, Elissar, lives in Herzliya.

I was welcomed in Suceava with open arms and a lot of love. I traveled with my husband to Schlossberg, Zamca and Sibişel. On Purim and Hanukkah, we went to parties organized by the Zionist organizations. At one party, a young man from [Eretz] Israel, who was serving in the Brigade, came. His name was Moshe Bacal. He was Vicko (David) Bacal's brother. His arrival stirred up a lot of happiness. We were very proud of him.

I did not know Romanian, and I only spoke a little of German but still I was accepted into the Jewish Cultural Association (JICUF). My friend Marrousiya Weisbrod was its manager. Our activities included current affairs lectures, literary (judicial) discussions on various topics, plays in Suceava and Burdujeni, and even in Gura Humora.

At the time, I had a wonderful relationship with the neighbors who lived in our courtyard, Yossi and Jenna Schaechter, who were like parents to me, and Frieda and Perry who were like brothers. A very good neighbor was Ani Seltzer, whose son Carly (Ḥaim) I dressed disguised as Charlie Chaplin for a show on an entertainment night. I think Ḥaim Seltzer lives now in Herzliya. His brother Moshe Reshef, a scientist, also lives in Israel.

We emigrated to Israel on the first ship that left the port of Constanta, Romania, on the Pan Crescent, after the State was established. We arrived in Israel during the war with the Arab nations. We lived for almost a year in a tent, afterwards in a tin hut in an immigrant camp near Kiryat Eliyahu in Haifa. My daughter Sarah was born there in March 1949. After about a year, we moved into a municipal housing project.

Already in the immigrant camp, we received help from Suceava people, such as Efraim (Fritz) Brandes, who took diapers and baby clothes from Sali's children and brought them for my daughter. Two other families from Suceava lived in the same tin hut as us: Mochico (Mordechai) and Coca Suessman, and Mali and Meir Zollinger. Of course, we were glad the baby was in a [central] nursery. It is very hard to describe this arrangement. But we were young, and we went through this too. We were visited at the immigrant house by Zina and Manio Fischler, Yisrael Rosner, our cousin Martin Gidron (Goldzweig) and his wife Hali; our relatives who lived in Haifa, Yosef Ḥaim Klueger, Leon Klueger, Coca Tillis (née Klueger), Yaakov Grossman, Mina Abush and her husband.

After our immigration to Israel, my husband was enlisted in the army for a short time. Afterward, he worked in different jobs.

[Page 277]

He worked as an electrician for 30 years as a shift manager and headed the electrical division of the Atta textile plant in Kiryat Atta. When he retired, they celebrated his departure with a wonderful party in which they expressed great appreciation for him and his work.

When my daughter was 3 years old, I studied at an ulpan in Haifa. I graduated from two ulpans with honors and also studied at the People's University in Haifa, in order to complete subjects I did not study at the university in Kiev and Czernowitz. In 1954, I was a Hebrew teacher in Haifa, at Erdstein House and at the academics' residence in Kiryat Ḥaim. Among my students were immigrants from different countries. I also had students who were immigrants from Suceava, such as Paula and Leon Berntal, Mrs. Hoch, Dr. Hoch's wife, and Lala Costiner, who continued to study with me in a course for advanced students at the Erdstein House in Haifa. Janio Schapira and Gerti Wasserman, daughter of the late Ara and King Wasserman, also studied at this ulpan.

I was and I am still in touch with my friends, the women from Ukraine who married men from Suceava, such as Jenny Weidenfeld, wife of the late Dr. Yaakov Weidenfeld; Fira, wife of the late Israel Goldschmidt; Zila, wife of the late Israel Rosner; Clara (the partisan) wife of the late Sami Grossman; Hava, the wife of the late Izzo Salzman, and Sheindele, wife of the late Willy Giter. I also had regular contact with the late Etty Vińo Shapira, Thea Frenkel, Freddy Horowitz (husband of the late Mata), Tozzi Herrer, Miriam Heller and Titi Spiegel, widow of Jacqui Spiegel, as well as relatives of my husband in Jerusalem: Osia and David Kraemer, who recently died; and Bozio (Shlomo) and the late Zizi Gott, and our neighbor from Suceava, Paula Schmelzer, obm.

I lived 44 happy years with my husband Ziggy until his death in 1989. We have two children: my daughter Sarah who lives in Jerusalem and works in the JDC, and the son, Ilan, an engineer, who lives in Haifa, is married to Nili and father to Tal. I am 82 years old at the time of writing and enjoy my life and regular relationship with relatives and friends, most of them from Suceava.

 

Michael Blumenfeld's Story

My parents, Magda and Broida Blumenfeld obm, were born in Botoḥani and moved to Suceava in 1952. My father worked as a reporter in Suceava until 1990, when he retired.

[Page 278]

Suc278.jpg
Michael Blumenfeld and his son

 

I was born in Suceava in March 1955. I stayed there until January 1983 when I emigrated to Israel. My firstborn brother, Bruno, was born in Botoḥani and studied in Suceava in the same class with Mugoral and Anita Waxman and another 10 Jewish pupils. Today, he is living in New York. My sister Felicia was born in Suceava in 1959 and emigrated to Israel in 1984. My parents emigrated to Israel in 1989.

I studied at the Elementary School ą 2 in Suceava, and afterward, at the Patro Rarache High School. Since 1995, I have been working as a secretary at the Labor Court in Be'er Sheva. I am married to Karina, née Abramovici, from Kimpolung. My mother-in-law is the niece of the famous tenor Joseph Schmidt.

 

Leah (Hurtig) Ben-Dror's Story

My name is Leah Ben-Dror, formerly Luci Hurtig. I was born in Bălăceana to my parents, Bliema and Emmanuel (Mendel) Hurtig. When I was yet a baby, my parents moved to Suceava because of bullying by the villagers. I was in a Jewish kindergarten with the “Aunt”. I transferred to the elementary school, completing two grades. I never completed third grade because the principal ordered all the Jewish children to leave the school.

My father was conscripted to forced labor, and we were deported to Transnistria without him. Joining us

[Page 279]

were my paternal grandmother and uncle. After about a month, we met our father by chance. We continued together from there to Shargorod. My grandmother, Etia Hurtig, died and was buried there in a mass grave. Hunger, cold and various typhus plagues prevailed there. I would go to the market to find a bit of green onion to chew for the entire day. But even this was hard to find because I was not the only girl.

My father was sent from Shargorod together with several other men, my uncle among them, to work at the sugar factory in Derebchyn. My mother was left alone with me and my brothers. Every once in a while, my father would sneak into Shargorod by walking the entire night to bring us some sugar and money. Dr. Teich sent a few families to Derebchyn. At my mother's request, and being very ill, he sent us there too. The situation in Derebchyn was better. There were few families there from Czernowitz, and my father worked at the factory. My mother knitted socks and gloves for the locals because they had to give them to the gendarme. During the holidays, we prayed by the Vizhnitzer family. Despite the tough road we had to travel on from Shargorod to Derebchyn, nature's beauty made a big impact on me. The fields were green, and in the background, there were birch forests. This all affected me very much after gray Shargorod.

But the situation did not last very long because they again conscripted Father for forced labor. The first time, his brother switched with him on the rationale that he was a bachelor. However, about a month later, they again grabbed Father and sent him to work under inhuman conditions for the Todd Company that was building the Troiţa Bridge over the Bug River. We were again left with no support. We lived like in biblical times. We gathered the leket, barley stalks from behind the combine that worked in the kolkhoz. Of course, we also collected some sugar beet. My mother worked in a place for Ladies who could not do [physical] labor. We would steal sugar from the factory by different means and sell it to the residents of nearby Morfa. Father was saved by the skin of his teeth and returned to us sick and exhausted. Father regained his health because the residents of Derebchyn helped us a lot with food.

The Russians were approaching. But we were fearful because the Ukrainians, the Dobrowol'chyy, were busy murdering Jews. They massacred the Jews in our town, even entering our room which was overcrowded and smoky. But they left without harming us. The Russians arrived on a freezing night. The Germans were passing through the town and I hid from them. In a field outside the town, they were burning papers and distributing things they could not take with them to the children who went out there to watch.

While my father was in Troiţa, they offered my mother to place us, my brothers and I, in the orphanage and thereby we could emigrate to Eretz (Israel), but she refused. Very often I think of where I would have been if she had agreed. Probably at the bottom of the sea or a graduate of some agricultural school.

[Page 280]

After the Russians liberated us, we left to go home to Schotz along with other families. The way was hard, with almost no food and a great deal of traveling on foot. We finally arrived in Schotz full of joy and hope for a new life. However, our house was occupied, and the city was full of refugees. We wandered about the streets and gathered all sorts of thrown out the furniture. I gathered up books and paper because I wanted to write about all that had occurred to us. The Russian Army headquarters was across from my house. One soldier befriended my brother and gave him a puppy as a gift. It turned out that the soldier was Jewish.

After a while, emissaries [from Eretz (Israel)] arrived, gathered us together, and taught us songs and dances and held an oneg Shabbat with us. The emissaries were from Bnei-Akiva, and to this day they have a warm place in my heart. In the meantime, a Jewish school opened, enabling intensive studies to make up the material we lost because of the deportation. We also learned Hebrew. My teacher was Mrs. Mimi Artzi. There were also Yiddish reading evenings in the city, which I would go to with my late father. I wanted to immigrate to Israel on behalf of Bnei Akiva, but my parents were Poaleh Zion. So, I transferred to Dror Habonim with a heartache. In the end, I emigrated to Israel without my parents. My father and brother immigrated only 20 years later. My mother died in Schotz. I immigrated to Israel on the ship. The Jewish State, passed Cyprus, stayed for a time in the Ra'annana Immigrant Home. From there, I was transferred to Gevar'am in an armored vehicle. There I saw a beautiful Israeli kibbutz style Passover [Seder]. War followed hard on my heels. First, it was the War of Independence. On November 29, I was in Cyprus. We sang and danced, but we did not know what lay ahead of us. The Egyptians captured Yad Mordechai. We were evacuated to Be'er Toviyya. No kibbutz was willing to take us in during the war except for Kibbutz Na'an. They are well-remembered. I finished my Youth Aliyah, some studies and some work; a good Israeli base for life. I married, lived in a moshav and gave birth to a daughter. There was a call to volunteer and settle the Negev. My husband, a Kadoorie Agricultural School graduate, left the farm and was among the founders of Eshel Hanasi Agricultural School in the Negev. A son was born to me in Be'er Sheva. It was during the Fedayeen period. Since there was no suitable educational arrangement for my daughter, we moved to Rishpon, to a Swedish cottage without an approach path, but this was 50 years ago. The conditions were hard without transportation and without a baby health-care center (Tipat Ḥalav). This is where I took root because the seed for agricultural life was sown in me on that journey to Derebchyn. They started paving a road to Rishpon. The day after its inauguration, on the 16th Independence Day of our State, I gave birth to my daughter. It compensated for everything.

Thank God, I have three children, seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the way! So how do they say by us? A'bie gezundt! They should only be healthy!

 

[Page 281]

Yitzchak (Isiu) Bessler's Story

I was born in Suceava (Schotz) on January 5, 1928, the youngest of my parents, Yossel and Mali Bessler. My brother Aharon was 3½ years older than me.

Father Yossel was the only son of Rachel and Itzik Bessler's children, a native of Stroeşti, a village in the Suceava District. He was in the meat business, was a big cattle merchant, who also dealt in exports.

 

Suc281.jpg
Isiu and Nella Bessler

 

After elementary school, I only studied in two grades of Suceava's Ḥtefan Cel Mare Gymnasium before the Nazi laws were enacted in Romania in the summer of 1940. In Suceava, we lived in a house on 5 Armashuloi St.

On October 11, 1941, we were deported from the city together with all the Jews to “work camps” in Transnistria. We were exiled to Morfa, about 60 km from the big city of Mogilev-Podolsk. Among our relatives who perished in Transnistria were my grandmother, uncle (Mendel Weidenfeld, was a first-class furniture carpenter), their children and other relatives.

After our return from Transnistria in May 1944, we returned to live in the same house (under communist rule, the street received the name: “Karl Marx”). Father continued in his meat business;

[Page 282]

however, I and my brother Aharon started studying at full steam. We passed the matriculation exams and registered for academic studies. I for Polytechnic and Aharon for the medical faculty. In 1950, we both received diplomas as “Engineer” and “Doctor”, respectively.

 

Suc282a.jpg
 
Suc282b.jpg
Yosef and Amalia Bessler

 

Aharon was married in 1950 to Clara Neustadt and went to live and work in Iaḥi. I married Nella Litman. Until September 1951, we lived with my parents. Afterward, we went to live and work in the village of Vatra-Dornei, 120 km from Suceava. Our son Stanford was born in the summer of 1953. Today he is a doctor of electronic engineering (a graduate of Technion's Faculty of Electrical Engineering, class of 1977). He now lives with his family in Vienna, Austria.

In 1955, we returned to Suceava and lived on “Mihai Vitiazo” Street and then on “Marshashti” Street until we emigrated to Israel in August 1973. Both my parents passed away within two months of each other in 1964. My brother Aharon emigrated to Israel with his family (a wife and son) in February 1970. He was a nose, ear and throat doctor, and passed away in 1983, in Hadera.

I emigrated to Israel from Suceava at the end of August 1973. We studied at an ulpan in Kiryat Yam. We lived in the city's absorption center. After 2½ months, I worked as a supervisor of water and sewer work in the Haifa District Ministry of Construction and Housing. After absorption, we received housing in Kiryat Sprintzak. I advanced in my career and was appointed manager of the Water and Sewage Department until I retired in February 1993. Nella worked for two years with an accountant, Dr. Stern. In 1976, she transferred to the Haifa Fuel Administration, working as an accountant until she retired in 1995. Since 1997, we have been living in Neve Sha'anan, Haifa since 1997.

[Page 283]

David & Renate Bacal's Story

I am David Bacal, son of Nahum and Zili, obm I was born on September 6, 1923, in Suceava. Renate was the daughter of Avraham Gott, obm, born on June 6, 1929 (impossible date!!! Perhaps 1909?) in Suceava. In the deportation to Transnistria, all of my family: my parents, myself and my younger brother Moshe, arrived in Morfa. The Gott family, their parents, together with Renate and her sister Bella, went to Shargorod. The Bacal family returned to Suceava in 1944, and the Gott family returned in 1945. Nahum Bacal passed away in Suceava. His wife Zili died in Nahalal where her son Moshe lived.

I studied in the elementary school, and in 1938, in the vocational high school for commerce and, from age 5 until 14, in the Talmud Torah.

During the exile, my father Nahum obm was chosen to be head of the [Jewish] community in Morfa. He arranged with a small group to issue identity cards without pictures even for those who escaped during the nights from the German-controlled areas, really from the “death pits”, to the Romanian areas and arrived in Morfa, so that they could remain in Morfa. He knew that if he was caught, he would pay with his life, but that was the only way to save lives of those who escaped from the death camps. A Jew from one of those deported from Gura Humora informed the authorities. Luckily, the information reached Bodoroga, the Gendarmes' Commandant of the Mogilev District, but was at one time the commander of the Gendarmes of Suceava. He did not take any of the necessary measures.

After our return, I completed my high-school studies in Suceava and worked in the civil service in Suceava. In 1948, I married my wife, Renata. We lived in Suceava until 1950. In 1951, we moved to Brashov and in 1952 we moved to Bucharest. There I worked in the Ministry for Heavy Industry. During the years 1953-1958 I completed my studies at the Institute for Economical Sciences (ISE). Because of my review application for emigration [to Israel], I was appointed as a “sanitation worker” between 1959-1967 in the IOR factory (Romanian Optical Industry) in Bucharest.

Renata emigrated to Israel in November 1966. I came a year after, in November 1967. We emigrated on such separate dates to increase the chances of receiving emigration approvals. At age 45, I arrived in Israel. My wife was 38 years old.

In the years 1949-1954, Renata studied in the Institute for Slavic Languages in Bucharest and was a lecturer at the same Institute from 1955 until 1959, when she was expelled from her position because of registering for emigration. She worked in various capacities in industry in Bucharest from 1959 to 1966.

After immigrating, I was accepted to work as an economist in the Department for Business Economics at the Institute for Labor Productivity and Manufacturing in Tel-Aviv. Later on, I was the assistant manager at the Institute for Administration and Budget. My knowledge of spoken Hebrew was next to nothing, so was my information about Israel's economy. Colleagues at work displayed understanding, goodwill, and willingness to help. With this same understanding and goodwill, I was accepted

[Page 284]

later in my career in Israel. In 1972-1988, I worked for Kitan Ltd. (textiles). In my last position there, I served as the Assistant and Deputy CEO until my retirement in 1990. Since 1991, I have been an internal auditor at Argon Industries Ltd., a position that I still fill today.

After immigrating, Renata worked from 1967 in the educational field; from 1982 as a senior lecturer at the Faculty for Languages at Tel-Aviv University until retiring in 1999. We have concluded that the “veterans” are willing to lovingly and sincerely absorb the “joiners”. This is characteristic of the Israeli society's development path.

 

My brother Moshe

He was born in 1926, and went through all the horrors described until the return home from Transnistria. In 1946, he was by my late father's sister in Bucharest and got onto the emigration list to Israel, with no prior notice (using a certificate for a Jew from Budapest who preferred to postpone his emigration). He did not even have enough time to say farewell to the family. However, via a Jew from Suceava that he met in Bucharest, he sent us a long and detailed letter full of hope and vision, as well as an apology.

In 1947, when he was in Europe as a sergeant in the Hebrew Brigade, to which he had enlisted in Eretz [Israel], he somehow “skipped” over to Suceava in British Army uniform to visit our parents and to say farewell. On his return, he was interrogated in Bucharest by a Soviet patrol but got out of it okay.

With the demobilization of the Brigade, he returned to Eretz [Israel], married a girl from Nahalal and established a family there. He passed away in 1992.

 

Dr. Mario Avraham Becker's Story

I was born in Suceava on November 3, 1937 to my mother Regina (Rachel Hermann) and my father Hersch (Zvi) Becker. My father was an electrician and had a shop for electrical goods. My mother was a milliner (hat designer).

When I was three years old, we were deported to Transnistria. Because we had some money, we could travel in trucks while others had to go by foot. Many of the youngsters died of hunger, cold, and exhaustion. Of Shargorod where we lived, I remember fragments that were carved into my memory from what I heard from my relatives about which I will relate.

[Page 285]

My father obm

I was told that my father was taken to the Troiţa work camp in 1942. He ran away from there and returned to Shargorod. The community leader, Dr. Teich (brother of my aunt Pepi Teich, wife of my father's brother, Shaya) immediately sent him to another work camp in Tulcin. He ran away from there to along with 12 other men, but along the way they were captured by the gendarmes. They tie them up and then force them to dig their own graves. My father cried and asked to see my picture, his only son, which he carried with him. He was allowed to do so and then he was shot along with the others. This happened in a forest near a place called Yorkovka.

 

Artzio Hermann (my mother's brother) and Trude.

Artzio was a doctor who married his patient, named Truda née Koerner, who had a severe heart disease. In Shargorod, he devotedly treated the sick day and night. When all the medications were finished, he was left with a can of kerosene for disinfecting the typhoid patients. In the end, he was also infected. His wife Trude crawled into his deathbed, clung to him and did not allow them to remove his body, although he had passed away. She stayed there until she also died alongside him. In life and in death, they were not separated.

 

Awaiting my fifth birthday

I love animals but I was hungry. When they asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said a rabbit and a meal. My family got (or stole) two potatoes and an onion. I set for myself at the table eating mashed potatoes and onions. The whole family stood watching me. My father appeared in the window holding a small black rabbit. That was last time I saw him. It was the happiest day of my life. To this very day, when I am sad, I eat potatoes and onions.

The German retreat

This is when the Russians advanced and the Germans retreated. The Germans got drunk, entered Ukrainian and Jewish homes, and killed little children before their parents. Then they stood all the occupants of the house in one row; shooting the first one and wondering how many could be killed with a single bullet. There was an argument among us of whether to hermetically seal the house. It was decided to lock up. But the Germans did not give up. They broke into the house, trampled the homeowners' baby and then told everybody to enter a single room and stand in one row. My mother was in bed, holding me tightly

[Page 286]

under the blanket. I did not have any air and ran outside. The German officer shined a multicolored flashlight on me, took me by hand and gave it to me to play with. We then had an argument whether he lent me the flashlight or gave it to me as a present. When the Germans left, they told the occupants, “You can thank this boy. Because of him you remained alive!”

In 1944, after we had lost a large part of our family, we returned to Suceava on a horse and wagon. Nothing was left of all the wealth that my father obm buried before we were deported. In 1947, my mother remarried to Ḥaim (Heinreich) Zwilling, a photographer. In Suceava, I went to a Romanian school for one year. It was very difficult for me because at home we only spoke German and I did not know enough Romanian. There was a lot of antisemitism and I was beaten up a lot because I was a Jew.

In December 1947, we left (illegally) via the port of Burgas on the Pan Crescent for Eretz [Israel]. On the way, we were caught by the English who brought us to Cyprus. We were held there for nine months, but for me it was a little paradise behind the barbed wire fence. There, I learned Hebrew, chess and other things.

In August 1948, we emigrated to Eretz [Israel]. We receive in an apartment in Gebalya (Jaffa), and for the first time I breathed the air of freedom. After matriculation and Army service, I studied Industry and Administration at the Technion, graduating in 1962. I received a doctorate in Operational Research (OR) at the ETH Technical Institute in Zürich in 1972.

I am married to Rivka. We have a son named Ofer, and a daughter named Orna, and six grandchildren. We live in Switzerland. Orna and her family live in Israel, in Rehovot.

 

Gertrude (Schlaefer) Ber's Story

My father, Ḥaim Schlaefer was born in Suceava and was married at the end of World War I to Jetti Soldinger from Vienna when she was on a visit to an uncle in Bucovina, which had then been transferred to Romanian authority. They lived in Suceava until the deportation to Transnistria and even after they had returned. My father was a lumber sales agent with a large warehouse. At the end, he was also a contractor for the municipality and paymaster for the Suceava District. He took part in tenders for road and bridge construction. When he received work, he hired engineers and technicians who supervised the work. The authorities held him in great esteem. He was also very active in Jewish community life to which he belonged. He was also active in the OSE organization, which took care of children's needs, such as food and clothing.

In the summer, he would set up a wooden hut on the bank of the Suceava River for the comfort of the children who came

[Page 287]

to bathe in the river. My father had a brother and three sisters: Fani who was married to Adv. Vishnipolski, died in Transnistria. He died in Israel. Mitza was married to Sammy Hermann. Both of them passed away in Suceava. Litza was married to Yaakov Landman. She also passed away in Transnistria.

My parents had three children: Herta, who after the war completed studies in the Faculty of Linguistics, was married to Dr. Marcel Bernstein from Bâcu. They had two children. Hector and her husband passed away in Israel at a very young age. I, Truda, the second daughter, studied at the Doamna Maria High School until the Jews were expelled from government schools. Yosef, the third son, passed away at a very young age from multiple sclerosis (MS).

 

Suc286.jpg
Jetti and Isidore Schlaefer and their offsprings

From the right: Standing: Icky Shaechter, Peretz Ber, Gertrude Ber, Herta Bernstein, Marco Bernstein;
Sitting: Yaakov Barnea, Isidore Schlaefer, Jetti Schlaefer, Shimon Ber, Lea Sharvan

 

The good and worry-free life in Suceava ended in 1941 with the deportation to Transnistria. There, we all underwent a difficult time full of trouble and disease. We were deported to Shargorod. There we lived a life of scarcity and hardship, but the greatest disaster was my brother's incurable disease. He fell ill with it in Transnistria and passed away after our return

[Page 288]

to Suceava. In Shargorod, I met my future husband, Fuldi (Peretz) Ber. We were married in 1945 after our return to Suceava and a son was born to us. Simon is employed as a manager at the Automatic in Haifa. We emigrated to Israel in 1965 together with my parents, who passed away here at a ripe old age.

 

Myra (Zeidler) Baron's Story

I am the daughter of Karl Zeidler obm, and my mother Sali Ribner.

My paternal grandfather and grandmother were Ruben Rosenblatt- Zeidler and Zipa Strominger. Grandfather was a tailor and father of four children: Bruno, my father Karl, Yehudit and Moshe. Grandfather passed away in Transnistria in February 1942. Moshe was murdered along with all the village's inhabitants where he went to live (near Czernowitz) after his marriage.

Our whole family was deported to Transnistria and arrived at Shargorod. My father was sent from there to the work camp in Troiţa. With the end of the war, he was freed from the camp and returned to Suceava. So, too Grandmother, Bruno and Yehudit. Grandmother passed away there in 1962. Yehudit emigrated to Israel with her husband and son in 1948 and died in 1950. Bruno established his family in Suceava and passed away there in 1982. We emigrated to Israel in November 1965 and lived in Kiryat Shmuel. Father worked as a tailor all his life and passed away in November 1997.

My maternal grandparents were Ḥaim-Ira Ribner and Miriam Denker.

My grandfather was a baker and had a bread shop. They had three children: Yitzchak, Sali (my mother) and Aryeh. They were also deported to Transnistria and arrived at Shargorod. Grandfather passed away there during the first winter, in January 1942. Yitzchak was sent to a work camp in Troiţa and returned.

At the end of the war, Grandmother, Yitzchak and my mother returned to Suceava. There, Yitzchak established his family and emigrated to Israel in 1962. He worked in Suceava as a baker and also did so in Ashkelon, where he passed away in 1977. Aryeh married in Suceava and emigrated to Israel in 1948. He managed a grocery store and passed away in April 2003.

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Suceava, Romania     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Max G. Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 14 Apr 2022 by MGH