« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 406]

Translations by Moshe Devere

Mordechai Wasserman' Story


From liberation to liberation

After the liberation from the hell of Transnistria until the War of Independence of the State of Israel, there were a few eventful years until I settled down and realized my dream of emigrating to the Holy Land. Below are a few of the stations.


Mordechai, Wasserman



No mistake! It is not Schotz nor its environs. It is a city in Bessarabia where we were stuck on the way from Transnistria to Schotz because they closed the border to Romania. Among the stranded were a number of families of Schotz and its surroundings, and for the first time we began to feel liberated. The youth organized into a non-partisan Zionist Youth organization. The organization was headed by Max Kurtz and Eislard, veterans of Beitar Rădăuţi. Midweek we had activities and lectures and on Shabbat an oneg Shabbat was held. The organization published a pamphlet in the form of a notebook. The booklet appeared weekly. Members wrote articles, poems, and commentary on the weekly Torah reading. The contents of the pamphlet were discussed during oneg Shabbat activities. And on Friday nights, the youth would meet at Rabbi Babad's, formerly a rabbi of Gura Humora, and heard lectures on Torah and Zionism. On Saturdays at our house, they held the Shabbat seudah shlishit (Third Meal). My mother and sisters would make the refreshments.

[Page 407]


The 1945 Zionist Youth organization in Bereznyi, 1945


In Bereznyi, people were also looking for sources of income. My partner, Yaakov Fistiner, a guy from the Zionist Youth, and I, improvised a tobacco-cutting machine and we would smuggle it {the tobacco?} for sale in Czernowitz. Mordechai Gross's family used the cart and horse that brought them from Morfa to transport the locals for a fee. Other Schotzers who were in Bereznyi were Baruch Kostiner and B.B., the Gelbert family, the Peltz family, Ben-Zion Schaechter (later shot in Schotz by a mysterious assassin at the home of his fiancée Sali Gelbert) and others.

After about a year, with opening of the border, we finally returned to Schotz.


Schotz Bnei Akiva Branch

After three years in Transnistria and a year in Bereznyi, we returned to Schotz. Each of us tried to make a new life while hoping to emigrate to Israel in the future. Religious and traditional youth began organizing the Bnei Akiva branch. We were given a house with a lot of rooms and a large living room. The ken was organized based on weekday activities and cultural activities for oneg Shabbat. The members were organized in groups (tribes) and a counselor led each group. The activity would begin with a parade in the ken courtyard that ended with the singing of Hatikva and the Bnei Akiva anthem. The groups then dispersed

[Page 408]

to the rooms for activities on the history of the Land of Israel, religion and tradition, and on the weekly Torah reading. On Shabbat, we prayed in the ken's synagogue and my brother Elimelech was the Torah Reader. In the afternoon, the members came to oneg Shabbat and for lectures. Guests from the city's Jews also took part in this activity.


The Bnei Akiva Shaḥal Group

From the right: Standing: Gelinert, ?, Giza Niederhopfer, Yosef Vizhnitzer, Koppel Peltz, Bluma Kostiner, Dolio Glitzer;
Sitting: Klara Kaufman, Mordechai Gross, Sylvia Schulman, Menashe Hess, Berta Wald, ?, Gelinert, Rut Klein;
On the ground: Mendel Fischler, Madi Auerbach, Durli Marilus, Dov Distenfeld


Among the lecturers were activists from the Bnei Akiva Center from Bucharest: Menaḥem Brayer, Israel Levanon, Andy Weissbuch, Willy Roseman, Hoenig and others. The ken had a choir that I conducted. The songs were in Yiddish and Hebrew. Numerically, the Bnei Akiva movement was the largest of all the Zionist Youth movements in the city.


Kibbutz Lamifneh

The movement's management decided to establish a training kibbutz in Schotz in preparation for Aliyah to Eretz [Israel]. The name Lamifneh was proposed by the late Yisrael Schaumann and Menaḥem Brayer (may he live long). Menaḥem Brayer was born in Botoşani but felt at home in Schotz. A quintessential Zionist but settled in the United States where he received a degree as a professor of philosophy and psychology, but his heart was in Zion.

[Page 409]

Young people from all over Romania came to our kibbutz. We received a house in late Rabbi Ḥaim Hager's courtyard and worked at all kinds of jobs for our livelihoods. We received support from the JDC. Families in the city also came to our aid: the Ḥaim Boiman and Baruch Kostiner families. After about a year, the kibbutz was transferred to the Alba Iulia District of Transylvania. There we worked on railway tracks. The Bnei Akiva Center also supported us. On Saturdays, we would walk to the provincial city, where at the Mizrahi and Bnei Akiva children's home, we held an oneg Shabbat and group singing with the children.



And now it was our turn to emigrate. We all moved to Bucharest, where we joined several thousand Jews from various Zionist movements. From Bucharest we went by train to the Bulgarian border. Our destination was to the port of Burgas. On the way, on Yom Kippur, the trains were transferred to an inactive line in some field. There we got off the trains, fasted and prayed. This prayer in the field was very moving. There, in front of a makeshift Holy Ark, Leibish Rand, father of Professor Yaakov Rand, an Israel Prize laureate, led the prayers.

At the end of the day, we broke the fast with grapes that they brought to us. We remember their flavor to this day. We continued on trains to the port where the ships Medina and Geulah were docked, which we boarded that night. The overcrowding on the ships was great, but as great as the overcrowding was, so great was the excitement and the good mood because we were finally fulfilling a dream. Close to the shores of Eretz [Israel], the English discovered us and boarded our ships despite our resistance. We, the young people, threw tins of preserves at them and resisted with the “weapon” we were equipped with: wooden sticks! The English blinded us with tear gas, tugged our ships to Haifa. From there, we illegal immigrants were transferred on their ships to Cyprus.



Here we were housed in tents in the winter camp. Barbed-wire fences surrounded the camp and were guarded by the British. The camp had a management which made all the arrangements. In the field section of the field we had, we grew vegetables. In our free time, various cultural activities were organized; lectures, Hebrew courses, and sculpture and painting clubs. And at night, in the ranks of the defense, we would go out to night field-exercises (a”sh leilah), to train with small arms, the Sten, hand grenades, and rifles, with trainers

[Page 410]

from Eretz [Israel]. The weapons were smuggled via a tunnel dug from a dummy tent erected to hide the entrance until past the barbed-wire fence guarded by the British. The tunnel was kept secret, even from my family. Young people were also smuggled out through the tunnel and onto ships that sailed to Eretz [Israel].


The War of Independence

On July 7, 1948, while the British were still in Israel, a group of young men left the Cyprus camp under the guise of Youth Aliyah in order to join the war effort. In Haifa port, my brother and my late brother Elimelech were stationed in the 4th Battalion of the Palmach; the Breach Battalion, which belonged to the Harel Brigade commanded by Yitzchak Rabin.

We were transferred to Kibbutz Ḥulda where we were equipped with uniforms, a rifle and some bullets. We were sent straight away to the front, to the Castel and to the breakthrough, the Burma Road. Meanwhile, all checkpoints and fences were thrown open in the camps in Cyprus and all the illegal immigrants rushed home to Eretz Israel. During a cease-fire, I was released from the front and with my brother, we moved our mother from the immigrant camp in Pardes Ḥanna to Haifa, where there was a concentration of immigrants from Schotz. We arranged for her to live next to Mrs. Bluma Gottlieb, who lived in Haifa with her sons Srul and Aryeh.

I miss the days and nights of that year (1948). We were not worried about thieves or burglars. We did not lock the doors. Everything was open. I wish the unity that prevailed then among the Jews was present today. Henceforth, after the long journey, full of delays from liberation to the liberation, I continued to establish and expand my family and fulfill my duty to the IDF and our dear country.

Below is a poem that I composed in the Bessarabia in Bereznyi. It was printed in a booklet published by the “National Zionist Organization” with members of all kinds of Zionist organizations.

I want to be in my home!
I want to be in my home, which makes me very homesick!
When will those days come, when will those times come,
When I remind myself what is meant by home?
It will no longer be as it once was,
It was uselessly built, it was uselessly worked for,
Recently, we were driven away,
we had only helped ourselves,

[Page 411]

And now, we see how nice,
Our own land to be built up,
And not let foreign people aggravate us,
Let us make the best of past things,
And not allow foreign peoples ridicule us,
And remind ourselves very well that I speak from the heart.
Jews!! Five minutes past 12 will be too late...
Adapted by Meir Kostiner


Dr. Harriet (née Ita Schmelzer) Vernia's Story

My father, Yaakov Schmeltzer, was born in the village of Ilieşti in 1891 to Ḥaim and Reizel Schmelzer. His brother, my uncle, was Shiloh Schmelzer, and I also had three aunts: Rachel, Jenny and Sali. They later emigrated to Venezuela, where they passed away.

My mother, Devora, was born in Ilieşti in 1891 to Noaḥ and Rivka Schnarch. My parents married in Ilieşti and moved to Suceava to live at 36 Armashului Street, where Father also had a fabric store.

I was born there in 1920, and after me came my brother, Bibi, in 1922. Suceava was where I spent my childhood and youth. I studied at the Douma Maria Girls High School, together with my friends Coca Tzentner, Jenny Schapira (Lola Schaefer), Silvia Bogen (née Glickman) and Herta Schlaefer.

After passing my matriculation exams, I moved to Bucharest and began studying at the university. I was expelled at the beginning of the decrees against Jews, but at least I was spared deportation to Transnistria. My parents and brothers were indeed exiled together with the other Jews of Suceava in1941. They arrived in Shargorod, where Bibi was also murdered in 1943 and his burial place is unknown. My parents returned to Suceava in 1944.

In 1943, I began studying medicine again at the University of Bucharest, where I also met Dan Wertenstein, later Vernia, also a medical student, and we got married. I graduated there in 1949. Our son Michael was born then. The second son, Carmel, was born in 1952. He grew up with his grandparents in Suceava until the age six while I worked as a doctor in Bucharest.

We emigrated to Israel on March 30, 1960. Three months later, my parents from Suceava also emigrated. We worked as doctors in Tel-Aviv. My husband, Dan, died in 1970.

[Page 412]

Both boys were academic reservists and studied electronic engineering. Michael lives in the United States and has two daughters, Dana and Nataly. Carmel held many senior positions in the electronics industry and was Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. He has four children: Lior, Inbar, Nadav and Shaḥar.


Yaakov Sommer's Story

I was born in Suceava in 1926 to Menashe and Fani Sommer.

I was expelled like all the Jews of the city to Transnistria and went through all the tribulations of exile in Bershad.

I returned to Suceava after the liberation and worked for the CRR Company, which collected agricultural products from collective farms.


Yaakov Sommer


My sister Rina Haimovici died at age 58, leaving two children.

I lived in Suceava until 1960, the year I emigrated to Israel. My wife Edith née Kalman, born in Oradea, was sent with her family to Auschwitz, where her parents and sister perished.

[Page 413]

Chita (née Wagner) Singer's Story

I was born in Ýtzkini to Meir and Ernestina (née Schmelzer). We later moved with my sister Mali (Mauzi) to live in Suceava.

At the time of the deportation to Transnistria, we were in Mogilev, where my father and maternal grandfather, Moshe Yitzchak Schmelzer, died. My paternal uncle, Benjamin Wolf Wagner, and my aunt Mona Zollinger, who was Sarah Hirsch's grandmother (Sali Carten) all died there.

We returned to Suceava in 1945.

My sister emigrated to Eretz [Israel] illegally, Aliyah Bet in 1946, on the ship Haganah. My mother emigrated in 1950 aboard the Transylvania. I married Moshe Singer and emigrated to Israel in 1959 together with my son Aryeh (Livio). My son has two sons, Nir Moshe and Or Moshe.

My husband died in 1986 at 65, and my mother passed away in 1968. My sister, who died in 2000, had two sons, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

My uncle Abraham (Bonio) Schmelzer, his brother, his mother, and his wife Regina, died in Suceava. Their daughter Claudia Gruenberg, who was a teacher at the Jewish High School in Suceava, emigrated to Israel, and died in Jerusalem in 1991. Her sister Paula Schmelzer, a pharmacist, also passed away in Jerusalem, in 2003.


Jenny (née Schapira) Tennenhaus' Story

My grandfather, Mordechai Schapira, who was known in our city as Feter Mukiah, came to Suceava from Galicia and traded in shoemaker essentials and engaged in Torah study. He was a scholar, a Jew who spent many hours a day studying the holy works, very pleasant with people, and known to bring peace between one and another. He was married to Liba and had four children, Yaakov Yosef, Yitzchak Zvi (my father), Golda and Haya.

Yaakov Yosef moved to Vienna and died at a very young age, leaving a wife and two young girls. His wife was murdered in a concentration camp, but the girls had been transferred to England and thus saved. They now live in England and Canada. Both are widows with children and grandchildren. Golda, the older sister, her husband, and their four children perished in Transnistria.

[Page 414]


Jenny Tennenhaus


The daughter, Haya, emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in the 1930s, started a family. Her daughter Rut, who is married to Shmaya Levy, is mother of two sons, Ron and Ziv, and grandmother of five grandchildren.

My grandfather Mordechai died in Suceava on the first day of Passover 5695-1935 and was laid to rest on the second day of the holiday. My grandfather's grave was dug near his late Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Hager's mausoleum, one of the rabbis in our city. My grandfather was his ḥassid.


Mordechai Schapira's grave
To his right is the tomb of
Rabbi Moshe Hager Mordechai Schapira
  Der feter Moka

[Page 415]

My father was initially an employee of a leather shop and then became independent, owned a leather shop and shoemaking essentials. We were in good financial shape. We owned our house and lived with my maternal grandmother.

I attended Aunt Isolis' kindergarten and then the elementary school. At the time of the deportation to Transnistria, we were in Shargorod, in horrible conditions, even hungry for bread. We lived there with a Jewish family across from a large house where many deportees lived. Every morning, during the winters of 1941 and 1942, they would take out many dead people to the street. A cart passed by and the dead were thrown, one on top of each other; not a pleasant spectacle for a 9-year-old girl. We all became sick with typhus and my paternal grandmother died there.


Netti and Yitzchak Zvi (Hersh) Schapira obm


After the liberation, we immediately returned to Suceava and already on Shavuot (Pentecost) we were in our home. We found it intact and even with the furniture we had left behind. Dad reopened his shop, and I started attending the Jewish school. My maternal grandmother died a few weeks after our arrival home.

I joined the Zionist Youth movement and took part in activities several times a week. That is where I met Judah, my future husband. After the Jewish school closed, I continued my studies at the Romanian High School and successfully passed the matriculation exams.

In 1951, I immigrated to Israel (10 days after my parents) and we have lived in Haifa ever since. I finished Hebrew ulpan in February 1952, married Yehuda, and have two sons: Mordechai and Eitan, and our granddaughters: Netta, Keren, Adi and Mor.

[Page 416]

Yehuda Tennenhaus' Stories

I was born in 1928 to an old Suceava family. Sarah (my father's grandmother) was born in Suceava in 1825, married Mordechai from Galicia and lived in Suceava in house No. 311.

Mordechai ran a shop in Suceava and even built the Vizhnitz Synagogue (Vizhnitzer Cloise), which stood until 1956 when it was demolished by the communist authorities along with other synagogues. He died in Suceava and was buried in the old cemetery. Sarah emigrated to Eretz Israel, died in 1901 and was buried on the Mount of Olives. She would correspond with her son (my grandfather) in the Holy Tongue (Hebrew).

My grandfather Yiddel Tennenhaus was born in Suceava in 1857. After the death of his father, he continued to run the glass, porcelain, and enamel housewares, cutlery, glass and lamps store (founded in 1872). I have an advertisement for the store in the form of an ashtray from the beginning of the 20th century.


Yiddel (Yehudah) Tennenhaus


My grandfather Yiddel and my grandmother Rivka (née Heller) had six children who reached adulthood. After my grandfather's death, the ownership of the store was transferred to my grandmother, my father and his two sisters, Mina Oberweger and Susie Neuberger, whose husbands actually took part in the store's management. The store was in the house that my grandfather built

[Page 417]

on the main street (corner of “Rajela Ferdinand” and “Armasholoy” Streets). It had three shops and on the second floor were two apartments where my grandmother and aunt lived with their families.


Yehuda Tennenhaus


My father, Avraham, was born in 1889, the fourth child, and married my mother Rosia (née Steinhorn) from Gura Humora in 1926.

My grandfather was considered a wealthy man, as well as a scholar, an ordained rabbi, with a keen mind. He served for a time as a member of the City and Community Councils and was involved in city and community life. It should be noted that his daughter Mina's wedding was arranged in the village on December 24 (1900) to ensure that the non-Jewish invitees did not arrive (I have a photograph of the invitation).


Rosia and Avraham Tennenhaus obm

[Page 418]

The store was the largest of its kind in the city. Sales were retail and mostly wholesale. Besides the shop, there were also warehouses on Tailor Street, and more. Most of the glass stores in the city shopped with us and merchandise was provided to stores in South Bucovina (Iţcani, Burdujeni, Gura Humora, Kimpolung, Vama, Dorna Candrenilor, Vatra-Dornei, Rădăuţi, Seret and Mibilni). The store was the sole agent for southern Bucovina for the Fisher glass factory from Putna. The goods were purchased in local factories and abroad (Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic). My father used to visit the Leipzig Fair every year until the Nazis came to power. I remember even afterward, invitations bearing swastikas were received to visit the fair. The three partners, their wives, their children, and two employees worked there regularly.

In 1937, my father became ill and was treated for heart disease. It was only thanks to Dr. Tarter, a doctor from Suceava who moved to Bucharest, that his illness, hyperthyroidism, was determined, and his life was saved. I attended the Jewish kindergarten (for two years) under the management of Aunt Isolis, then the state school (four years) and one year at the “Ştefan Cel Mare” High School. For religious and Hebrew studies, I had private teachers (at home) with whom I studied the Hebrew alphabet with Feibish; Ḥumash and Rashi with Ḥaim Carten and Mishna and Talmud with Zvi Weissberg. I completed first year of high school as an external student because I became ill with Scarlet Fever immediately at the beginning of the year and was absent from school for two entire months. The antisemitic atmosphere that prevailed even in the school was expressed in my oral exam of the Romanian language with Teacher Bresnitzky: after countless questions in the diverse material that I answered correctly, I was asked a question in grammar that I did not know how to answer. The teacher remarked to the class: “Shame on you that someone who is not Romanian knows your language better than you!” Of course, the score I received was 7 (out of 10).

Fortunately, we were deported to Transnistria only on the third deportation day (October 11, 1941). We thereby learned from the experience of others who had been deported before us. In Ataky we had to exchange Romanian money for rubles (Russian money) at a rate of 40 Lei per ruble when across the river (where we were expelled) the legal tender was the German occupation money (Reichskredit Kassenschein) converted to 40 rubles; i.e., 1600 lei, when its market price was 5 Lei.

Our extended family (we were deported together) had a lot of money, Romanian currency and also dollars. Since I was the youngest, I was dressed with money belts full of banknotes under my clothes. When my family passed the check-point near the market, I mingled among the market people and after the check ended, I rejoined them and so we transferred most of the money. Of course, a certain part was converted so as not to arouse suspicion in the eyes of the inspectors.

In Mogilev, we were led to the “Movie House”; a large riverside building that served as a cultural center,

[Page 419]

library and cinema. We barely found a place in the crowded hall, and following a rumor that we were about to be deported, we left the place at night and moved to an abandoned house not far away (this is after immersion in the Dniester. See below) where I also started putting on tefillin. In the meantime, people organized to leave Mogilev not by the Convoy but on their own. German army trucks were rented. In one of these, we were transferred to Morfa with all our belongings, where we rented three rooms in the home of a Ukrainian woman (Henka Murusyuk). We built a long bed from old planks which seven people slept on. Meanwhile, snow fell, and it became freezing. We found a tinsmith who made us an oven from old tins lined with bricks, which we used for both cooking and heating. The toilet was in the backyard. We would bring water from a well about 500 meters away. Since we had clothes and as well as money, we exchanged clothes for food and wood and also bought them with money. We were in relatively good condition; we did not suffer from hunger or cold.

In Morfa, there was also a teacher from Czernowitz, a Mr. Büchwerk, who taught mathematics, physics and other subjects. I took lessons with him along with other children, of course, for a fee. In addition, we had the acquaintance of a lawyer, the late Dr. Peretz Strominger, who knew German grammar very well. He volunteered to teach me German, of course, for nothing. He was a very strict teacher, but thanks to him I learned German, a language that I am still fluent in to this day. Unfortunately, he died in Morfa from typhus.

After liberation by the Red Army in March 1944, we stayed in Morfa for a few more months. When we left for Mogilev and from there on a military train to Czernowitz, the Soviet authorities closed the border and refused to let us go to Suceava. We lived with my uncle Shraga Feivel (my father's brother) in Czernowitz until April 1945, when we could return home.

The period in Czernowitz was extremely bad for us. My father became critically ill because of a Russian drug he had taken; despite its name, identical to the Swiss drug he had used all these years; its composition was completely different. It was only thanks to the doctor Dr. Salzinger, who ordered him to stop taking the drug, and his dedicated treatment, that his life was saved. It was forbidden to live in Czernowitz without a license, so we stayed there illegally. We had to bribe the person in charge of the house to turn a blind eye to our presence in the uncle's apartment. We were without a livelihood since our money had run out. I enrolled in a school where the teaching language was Yiddish and so received a student's certificate. In the afternoon, I dealt, together with my friend, the late Marcel Becker and Bubi Huebner, may he live long, in chopping firewood for other people, for a livelihood.

We could return to Suceava in April 1945. We found our house with most of the furniture. My father began trading in house- and glasswares, and I began studying at the Jewish school. I engaged in Zionism with the Zionist Youth movement, as well as helping my father run the business,

[Page 420]

which was run in partnership with my uncle, Shmuel Oberweger. After passing my matriculation exams at the end of 1945, I worked in my father's shop and was busy in Zionist Youth (see below) activities, where I met Jenny Schapira, my future wife.

In 1947, I took part in organizing the Great Aliyah from Romania (on the ships Pan York and Pan Crescent), assisting the emissary from Israel, Yona Yabin obm, and my friend Menachem Eidinger, may he live long, in organizing a special train that left Vatra-Dornei. It stopped in Kimpolung, Gura Humora, Iţcani, Burdujeni, and Dolheska, picking up emigrants everywhere and continued directly to the Bulgarian border, where they were transferred to a Bulgarian train. We returned to Bucharest and from there, I returned to Suceava.

After about a month, I went to the training farm in Aiud. After a few months, I was transferred to teach at the children's home in Gagia. From there, I was transferred to the training branch in Braşov to manage the branch and prepare the ground for the absorption of the pioneers from the Aiud branch, which was liquidated. The CDE, inspired by the authorities, made things difficult. It reached the point where we had to leave the apartment in which we lived and stay in our workplace, a school that became a hospital and where we worked as construction workers. The foreman, a Jew named Oresco, agreed to allow us to live in a building that was becoming a hospital. A few months later, the branch was dismantled, and the members were transferred to the Ploeşti branch. I moved to the Vama branch, where I worked in a sawmill until the dissolution of the Zionist movements by the Romanian authorities, and from there I returned home.


The Zionist Youth's Gagia Children's Home

[Page 421]

In Suceava, I could not get a job because my father had enough money to support me, and since it was dangerous to walk around without a job and there was a risk that I would be sent to forced labor. Finally, I got a job as an accountant at a SubRom-Construction Company in a village near Botoḥani, thanks to engineer Yaakov Schapira, who was the workplace manager: building huge cowsheds in the middle of the field for the Romanian government. We lived in barracks and only came home on weekends. On Mondays, before returning to work, I was shopping for the workplace at the Metalul store, where I met the deputy business manager, Mr. Borshi Klein, who offered me work at Metalul. He transferred me to work for him with the consent of the business manager Mr. Manea (Norman's father) and especially with the consent of the Labor Bureau, which refused at the time to provide me with a job in Suceava. I conditioned my transfer by firing me at my request because I submitted a request for emigration to Eretz [Israel], and I was promised that.

Of course, my parents also applied for emigration with me, as well as did my fiancée Jenny and her parents. One cloudless day, an order came from the [government] center that Jews should not be fired. So, I remained stuck, because there were no chances of obtaining a permit to leave the country as long as you worked in a government position. Fortunately, after a few months, an order came to reduce staff by 10% and I was among the few, thanks to Mr. Manea, who kept his promise.

In December 1950, Jenny's parents received an exit permit from Romania and refused to travel without their daughter. The officer in charge of exit permits assured them he had Jenny's permission, but he had an order to hold it until next week, and so they traveled alone. Jenny received the requested permission and sailed to Israel a week later, in January 1951.

I used the time to complete my knowledge of the Hebrew language together with my friend Simcha Weissbuch. We practiced the spoken language by reading the Israeli Communist Party newspaper, The Voice of the People regularly sent to me every week by my fiancée Jenny. Needless to say, after we finished reading it, the newspaper went to other Hebrew readers.

Finally, in August 1951, I also received an exit permit from Romania and after running around getting all the necessary documents (such as not owing taxes, electricity and water, and nor a book from the library where I was not even registered) I had to go to Kimpolung for a “travel certificate” after renouncing my Romanian citizenship. I returned from Kimpolung on the 7 p.m. train (the normal bridge was washed away by floods) and at 11 p.m. I would have had to board the train in Iţcani to get to the ship on time. Lots of friends filled my house when I got home and I barely had time to say goodbye to everyone.

[Page 422]

On August 15, 1951, I arrived in Israel on the Transylvania, and in Haifa port, Jenny and my uncle (my mother's brother) were waiting for me. I remained in Haifa with Jenny. I studied Hebrew technical clerical concepts, passed the exam for a type of clerical classification, and got a job in the statistics department of the Customs and Excise Administration in Haifa.

On February 19, 1952, I married Jenny, began studying economics in evening studies at the High School of Law and Economics, and completed my first year. I enlisted in the IDF on August 19, 1952, where I served as a trainer at the Artillery School until February 17, 1955.

During my military service, our eldest son Mordechai was born (October 21, 1954) and I continued to work at Customs. My late friend, Boumi Stettner, started studying accounting and convinced me to join him. I graduated in 1959, and since an internship was needed, we passed tender for Income Tax supervisors, underwent a four-month course in Jerusalem and were assigned to work in the Haifa Assessment office, as auditing supervisors. We received the accountant diplomas in 1959. My parents emigrated to Israel in 1956 and also settled in Haifa. Our son Eitan was born on July 30, 1961.

I began teaching accounting in the Jewish Agency's Courses for New Immigrants. I then lectured (after hours) at the University of Haifa and also in the Technion's External Studies Section. I was promoted to Chief Inspector, Commissioner of the Auditing Office and Deputy Assessment Officer. From 1973 as the Haifa Assessment Officer, a position in which I served until I retired in 1993.

Our son Mordechai (an engineer) is married to Ora and they have two daughters, Netta Rose (1984) and Keren (1985). Our son Eitan (an economist) is married to Iris and they have two daughters: Adi (1990) and Mor (1993).


Pre-Bar Mitzvah Immersion

The Dniester [River], like many other rivers, the right bank is shallow and the left bank is deep. When we arrived at Ataky, we drew water for drinking and bathing from the Dniester River. And since Ataky was on the right bank, it was possible to go about 10 meters into the river to fill the bucket. When we were transferred to Mogilev, we were temporarily housed in the Movie Theater. It was an enormous building that was used during the Soviet period as a cultural building with a movie theater for which the building was named. The building held many deportees, and every lucky family grabbed a corner or wall area. Water had to be drawn from the river, only this time it was on the steep bank which

[Page 423]

was about 1.5 meters above the river's surface. One day, my late grandfather asked me to bring him water. I took the bucket and went down to Dniester to draw water. Although it was already during the second half of October, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the air was warm. As mentioned before, the left bank was higher than the water, so it was necessary to bend down to reach the water. While bending and filling the bucket, I lost my balance, flipped over and fell into the river. Luckily, I landed on my feet, but I was still holding the bucket by its handle and it was pulling me down. I stood on the riverbed with at least a meter of water over my head. I was fully clothed, including high shoes, a coat and cap. Of course, I could not breathe, so I let go of the bucket immediately and got to the surface, inhaled air, but the water pulled me back in. After a few seconds, I bent my knee for momentum, floated again and inhaled air. This time, I saw people screaming on the river bank, and my late father's cousin, Jan Tennenhaus, undressed to jump into the water and save me. Meanwhile, the river pulled me into its current and in order not to fall; I walked on the bottom with the flow, and every few seconds I flexed my knees, climbed to the surface of the water, inhaled air and dove back into the water. My strength was running out, and the last time I could get on the surface, I took off my hat and waved it to signal to Jan where the water was carrying him and threw it away. While walking on the riverbed, I came across a large stone, a kind of rock. I climbed on it with my feet with almost half my upper body out of the water. I was about 1.5 meters from the shore. I clung to the rock with my legs with all my might and I doubt I would have been able to cling so tightly in another situation, even with my hand. Jan came up to me and threw me the end of his belt. I grabbed it and he pulled me out of the water. Many years later, I suffered nightmares following this terrifying event that almost cost me my life. About a week after the event, I celebrated my bar mitzvah (4 Marcheshvan) with prayers in a temporary quorum, and the worshippers were honored with honey cake and schnapps that we still had from home.


How I got to the Zionist Youth

On the way home from the expulsion to Transnistria, the USSR authorities detained us in Czernowitz for about 10 months, only arriving home to Suceava in April 1945. In Morfa, I befriended Emanuel (Manio) Michalovici, and we became soul-mates. When I got home, all my friends studied to make up for the years lost during the deportation. I too, on Manio's advice and with his help, I began to attend the Jewish school that was actually established for this purpose.

[Page 424]

Besides helping me in school, Manio told me to come with him to the Zionist Youth movement operating in our city. I listened to him and that is how I got to the Zionist Youth. The ken was then in the Jewish Community House right next to the school, where we spent a lot of time both in activities and at the end of the activity we stayed there and studied the entire night. Especially so before exams, when we had to settle for a few hours of sleep on the benches.

Leading the ken were the late Boumi Stettner, Freddie Eidinger and Freddie Roth, with the late Friedel Bogen as the chief overseer. The activity in the ken was varied: studying The Zionist Idea, learning the Hebrew language, geography of Eretz Israel, and various social activities. The ken then moved to the Talmud Torah building, where we were given a room, but considering that the studies in the Talmud Torah ended at about 6 p.m. and our activity only began then, we actually had additional rooms at our disposal.

The ken had different age levels, so the activities were according to age groups, with a counselor leading each group. On Shabbat and holidays, all groups shared in the activity. The activity on Shabbat comprised literary readings, group singing, and folk dancing.

In the meantime, it was time for the leadership members to go to the training farms, and they did so. They were later elected to the movement's central leadership in Bucharest. Because of their departure, a new local leadership was elected: Meir Kostiner, Simcha Weissbuch, and myself. Members of the central leadership used to visit the various kens and training farms and the children's homes. They, in fact, directed all the activity programs in the kens and took care of the pioneers on the training farms and the residents in the children's homes and their emigration to Israel.

It was customary for us to send emissaries to the kens, senior counselors, for guidance, and they stayed in there for several months. In my best memory, the following emissaries came to our ken: Linzi, Natan Croitoru and the late Iki Schaechter. Members of the central leadership also used to visit our ken. They were the late Yitzchak Artzi (then Itzio Herzig), the late Berl Shieber, Yitzchak Yalon (then Tutyo Yablonover) may he live long, and even the movement's emissary from Eretz [Israel] Yehuda Sha'ari obm (then Leibo Schuyerman) visited the ken and spoke to the members. Suceava-born members of the central leadership would also visit the ken whenever they came home on vacation.

Later, we had to evacuate the ken from the Talmud Torah, so we rented a three-room apartment on the first floor on Petro Rersh Street and moved activities there.

The most prominent feature of the Zionist Youth movement was the composition of its members. Almost all were students and no craftsmen or laborers. The groups were: Trainees [lit. listeners] up to the age of 12, intermediate groups such as Ḥavazelet, and Abba Berdichev and Carmel group (all just boys). The living spirit in the Carmel group was Manio, an intelligent and intelligent fellow, knowledgeable about literature, who contributed greatly

[Page 425]

to the group's activities and to the ken in general. He did not get to immigrate to Israel and died in Romania.

One of the ken's special events was in performing “The Man of Ashes,” which we presented with brilliant success in Suceava, as well as in Burdujeni and Fălticeni. On Shabbat in the summer, we would take trips to the citadel (Chatata) or Zamca, historical places that were outside the city, and hold the activity there. The highlight was the movement's summer camps held in the mountains and with members from all over the country. It was a very uplifting event that involved a few days' travel in each direction.

On Romanian Independence Day, we would take part in processions organized by the government where we marched under a blue and white flag.

Needless to say, a significant number of engagements ending in happy marriages came out of the ken, including my own. In the meantime, many friends went to training farms or to a children's home, and from there they emigrated to Eretz [Israel]. I, too, after a period of training at Ken Siret (I was in training at various branches: Aiud, Braşov, Vama, as well as training at a children's home in Gagia), when on one clear day all this ended because of the Romanian Government's decision to dismantle the Zionist Organization and the dispersal of all training-farm branches, children's homes and kens, and a complete prohibition of any Zionist activity. This happened in 1948. It was not until 1951 that I was able to legally emigrate to Israel equipped with a travel certificate.

When I look back, the activity in the ken and the Zionist movement remains to this day, an important and nostalgic chapter in my life.


The Story of Sherri (née Schlaefer) Yalon's Story

About one of the Schlaefer families of Iţcani

I write these lines from my more than sixty-years memory; from my youth, when I also met my father's sisters, and when the family dispersed before, during, and after the Holocaust. My grandmother Netti and my grandparents live-Shalom Schlaefer were residents for many years in Iţcani and may have also been born there. Between 1890 and 1900, they had five children, four daughters and a son, who also lived there as teenagers, but, of course, lived their adult lives outside of Iţcani.

Their son, Moshe (Moritz), my father, married my mother Aliza (née Riczker) and moved to

[Page 426]

Vatra-Dornei (in short, Dorna), where my mother lived. I am their only daughter. My father worked as a clerk in one of the city's sawmills, and my mother operated a boarding house in our home during the three summer and vacation months in our city. After the elementary school, I studied in several external classes in Dorna and passed the exams at the Girls' Gymnasium high school in Suceava, where I lived with the Buki Gropper family.

In October 1941, we were deported, with all the Jews of the city, to Transnistria, where we survived thanks to the work of my father and mother's work in “Turntoria,” the foundry in the Mogilev-Podolsk Ghetto. The Soviets liberated us in the spring of 1944 and recruited my father into their army. He did not return until the fall of 1946. At the end of that year, I married Yitzchak (Tutyo) Yablonover (later Yalon).

In September 1947, we emigrated to Eretz [Israel] with our parents. But we were exiled by the British to camps in Cyprus. Our parents emigrated to Israel from there in May 1948, and I with my husband, in February 1949. For the first three years in Israel, I worked as a waitress, and in the evenings, I studied bookkeeping. I worked in this until I retired, including two years in New York, where Tutyo was on a mission on behalf of the Ministry of Defense. We had two children in Israel, Ronit and Amnon, who started families and we have three grandchildren from them.

My father died in 1967 at age 71, and my mother died in 1998 and was almost 99 years old. Our family's history in Israel is also detailed in The Book of Remembrance of the Jews of Vatra-Dornei and the Surrounding Area.


About my aunts and their families

The eldest daughter, Hilda, married Ḥaim Ellenbogen (nee Lieberman {sic!}), (apparently) a cattle trader from Dorna. They lived in the village of Iacobeni near Dorna. They had two sons and a daughter, Dolio, Lutzy and Sali. Dolio died in Dorna in 1939. He was about 30 years old. Lutzy and Sali moved to Bucharest, thus being saved from deportation to Transnistria. The parents, Hilda and Ḥaim, survived the deportation to Transnistria. They later moved to Bucharest, where they passed away in the 1950s. Lutzy and Sina {Sinai?} Ellenbogen, as well as Sali and her husband Yosef Calderro emigrated to Israel, lived and died here. Luzi and Sina's son, Dr. Adrian Ellenbogen, a gynecologist, lives in Herzliya with his wife Irit and their two children, Amir and Ilanit.

The second daughter, Fritza, married Philip Greif of Dorna, moved to Iacobeni, where they had two children, Fanny (Foya) and Shalom (Borshi). A few years later, they moved to Dorna, where they opened a restaurant. Philip Greif died in the late 1930s.

[Page 427]

The children were deported with all the Jews of the city to Transnistria, where Fritza died. The children came to Israel and started families here. Borshi Greif lives now in Israel with his wife Pnina, their daughter Ḥayya and their son Ephraim and their children. So too Foya's children, Ernest Schwarz's widow, Salomon and Fritzy, and their children.

The third daughter, Toni, married Rubin (Reuven) Primat, and they moved to Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, where their son, Julius, was born. All three perished in the Holocaust. The son worked and perished in the copper mines in BOR, but regarding Toni and Reuven, we do not know how they perished.

The last daughter, Anna, married Salomon (Shlomo) Schoenberg (a refugee from Poland). They established their home in Kimpolung and had an only child, Herta. My grandmother Netti, who was widowed in the early 1920s, moved in with them. My uncle Salomon was the manager of the flour mill in the city. They were also deported to Transnistria. Grandma Netti died there and aunt Anna with her husband Salomon and daughter Hertha returned to Kimpolung. The communist regime rejected their emigration to Israel for four years, and my aunt and uncle only emigrated in 1952. The daughter, Herta, could only immigrate four more years later, in 1956, but she no longer found her father alive. Hertha married Micky (Eliyahu) Markowitz from Focşani and only she is alive today.

Although half my roots are from Iţcani, I cannot relate anything about my relatives from there beyond the dry facts, because I did not live there. Although we met at family celebrations and funerals, I only visited Iţcani once with my grandmother's sister and her husband Schlaefer (my grandfather's brother) after their return from Transnistria.


Sarah Yaron's Story

The Jews' gold, Mogilev 1941
They said of the Jews' gold
I was the Dinar
of the oppressed. Among the excommunicated
I brought his bread and candle.
And when his pursuers came, I followed them
And I was given for his life.
(Natan Alterman from ir hayona, p. 273)

[Page 428]

I was born in August 1940 in Suceava, in the large house on 8 Regina-Maria Street, the house built by my grandfather R. Yechiel-Michael Wasserman, who was a wealthy grain merchant. By this time, my grandparents were already at rest in the cemetery in our city. Living in the house were my mother Clara-Haya née Wasserman and my father of Avraham-Aryeh Kemper (Zunio) and their baby daughter Ruth, and my mother's sister Jeanette, her husband Berel Rudich and their young daughters Ruth and Miriam. Refugees were also crowded into the house with our family. They had fled from the countryside, where the Romanians had already carried out murder sprees by local initiatives.

My late father was born in a small village called Părhăuţi in the Suceava District, and he was orphaned by his father even before he was born. The family moved to Suceava, and my father established himself as a leather dealer. Everything he did, he achieved in his short years of life with only his ten fingers. He was a loving family man, loved by all his friends and acquaintances, and worked with all his soul in the “Zeiri Zion” movement in the city.

In Europe, war has raged for a year, the horizon was gloomy and did not predict pleasantness. In Romania it was also stormy: antisemitic legislation was advanced that limited Jewish life and harmed their livelihood. When I was born, the German army was in our city and uncertainty marred life with great uneasiness for our personal safety. Two days after my birth, my mother saw her sister baking a honey cake, taking out a bottle of liquor, and urging my father to go to the synagogue to give me a name. My mother became angry and said: “What! Is my daughter a weekly girl (a Yiddish phrase [a wochendike kind])? We'll wait until Shabbat and do this festively, as is customary.” Her sister said the situation was so uncertain that it was impossible to know what would happen by the time Shabbat came. My mother sadly accepted this, and my father therefore went to the synagogue on a weekday and gave me my name, Sarah, after my grandmother. And if my mother thought that this was the worst thing that could happen, here is more of the worst that was still before them.

And so, life continued between fear, worry, and hope until October 1941. On Sukkot, we were deported from Suceava on Friday, and on Monday, we crossed the Dniester River by rafts on our journey to Transnistria and arrived in Mogilev. The Dniester River served as the border between Romania and the ghost land of Transnistria, which was created in the evil Nazi vision of Romanian evil. At the border, the Jews had to hand over their money and received money of less value for it, and their documents were taken. At this border, they have gone from civilized human beings with reputations, status and personality traits to an indistinguishable crowd disowned of their basic human rights.

In Mogilev, we were driven to a military barracks, where we were supposed to stay until we were sent to Morfa. From this point onward, my story relies on what Mordechai Gross informed me. He was with us on this transport as a youth, and the records of the days of atrocities are well-engraved in his memory.

[Page 429]

The expected moves were already known. When a new group of deportees arrived, the previous group would be sent on a foot into Transnistria. The practical end of these journeys was also already known: most people, old, sick, women, and children, could not cope and fell alongside the road. They were also vulnerable to abuse and looting by the accompanying soldiers. Therefore, it was necessary to urgently find a workaround to this deadly path. My father, by instinct coming from ancient Jewish experience, took a monumental risk and did not hand over his money at the river border. My mother and sister carried large amounts of money on their bodies.

In the barracks, my father noticed that the officer in charge of the gendarmes was someone he knew from school. Although in those days it was no longer possible to trust previous acquaintances at all, with lives at stake, betting on the unknown was the only possibility that remained. Thus, my father turned to the officer and asked him if for his money, he would save his family and other Jews as much as possible. The bet was successful, though nothing stopped the officer from shooting my father and taking his money.

Eighty-one Jews were included in that group of survivors. The officer sent eight horse-drawn wagons to take us out of the compound. Mordechai Gross remembers that this was done under the auspices of the gendarmes' unsheathed bayonets, for great was the terror of those who remained. In Mogilev, they were housed in houses that had been emptied of their residents until we were sent by truck to exile in Morfa.

The passing time drops a screen over those dark years. Those people who were there, and saw things and could tell, have become fewer and fewer. My late father died in Morfa of typhus in 1942. He was only 39 years old when he died.

My sister Ruth left Morfa with her two cousins, Ruth and Miriam (née Rudich, now Miriam Shimron, who now lives in Haifa) in 1943 and emigrated to Eretz Israel. After the liberation, my mother and I returned to Suceava. We emigrated to Eretz [Israel] on the Rafiah, an Aliyah Bet ship, which sank in the middle of the Aegean Sea. We were rescued by a British warship that took us to Cyprus. We arrived at Kibbutz Gvat, where my sister and cousins had come earlier.

During the Schism, we moved to Kibbutz Yifat, and then our paths split. My mother and sister lived in Bat Yam. My sister married and had two sons, Shmuel and Michael (named after their grandfather). My mother died in 1991, and my sister passed away in 1996. She was four years older than me.

I am married and have been living now for many years in Jerusalem. Professionally, I am an educational consultant and have worked for many years in the education system. Today I am retired. I have two children. The first-born Avraham (named after my father), and a daughter named Hadas. My husband, Raphael Yaron, was for many years a senior employee

[Page 430]

in the Ministry of Education, and now manages the Public Institute for the Development and Research of Educational and Welfare Systems in Tel-Aviv.


The story of the illegal-immigrant ship Rafiah

After my mother and I returned to Suceava from Transnistria, my mother decided to join the illegal immigration to Eretz Israel. My sister and cousins were already in Eretz [Israel], and my mother no longer wanted to stay in a place that caused us so much suffering.

We applied to the Aliyah Bet Organization and took a cattle train to Yugoslavia. It was already a harshly cold November, and the car was almost frozen. In a small, remote port named Bakarac, a small, dilapidated ship was waiting for us. It was originally used to transport animals between the Greek islands. To disguise it, sheet-metal structures were built on board to give it the appearance of a cargo ship. And in the ship's hold, benches were installed throughout. The people had to stay there so they would not be discovered by the British.

The ship sailed on November 29, 1946. On board were about 800 illegal immigrants; about 600 from Romania and the rest from Hungary and Bulgaria. The captain and the crew were Greek, but the responsibility was on the four Aliyah Bet emissaries who were in charge of the immigrants in every way. It was densely crowded and impossible to sit. The little food that was distributed to people had to be eaten lying down. The water was also rationed, and a few drops of rain that could be collected in a tin can was cause for great joy. It is unnecessary to elaborate on the harsh sanitary conditions and terrible heat that prevailed in the ship's hold. However, the people's spirit was high with everyone hoping for the best.

For a few days, the ship sailed in a calm sea, and then a large storm broke out. The dilapidated ship was tossed from side to side, the waves washed over it and one of its engines quit. On the morning of December 7, the storm intensified, and the captain sought to find refuge between the Dodcanese Islands.

Toward noon, the sky darkened, and the captain tried to anchor near one of the islands. The ship stopped near a small exposed rocky island named Sýrna, and the crew tried to throw an anchor. The anchor did not catch hold, and the ship was battered onto the rocks of the island, received a terrible blow to its keel and water poured in.

Panic broke out among the illegal immigrants. “Jump and save your lives,” was the instruction. And people jumped into the freezing water. The Greek sailors who jumped first tied the ship to the rocks with ropes and people clutched ropes and reached shore.

[Page 431]

Tombstones of immigrants who drowned with the Rafiah


The ropes tightened or loosened the ship's movement up and down with the waves. There were people who fell and were crushed between the ship and the rocks. My mother and I (who was a five-year-old girl) could not jump into the sea. We stood on the sinking deck among the people who were busy saving themselves and their families. Then my mother turned to a sailor and asked him to transfer me to the island in his arms for her money. She repeated again and again to me the name of the kibbutz where my sister and cousins were located and handed me over to the sailor. I went quietly with the sailor as if it were a natural thing to separate so from Mother in the middle of the catastrophe. On the beach, I sat down on a rock, and watched the ship sink and saw my mother standing on the deck washed by waves. I sat by myself and waited quietly. Toward the end, my mother was also transported by the sailor to the island and we both sat hugging each other and watching what was our ship as it descended into the abyss, and with it our few belongings, along with the few pictures that my mother saved from the war and took with her.


About the Wasserman family in Suceava

When I come today to tell my family's story, who lived in the city for several generations, I feel how the Holocaust has also sabotaged my ability to tell the story. In the natural order of things, a family that has a continuum of generations will also keep documents describing its life,

[Page 432]

elders and children, certificates attesting to its property, and objects that pass from father to son and mother to daughter. There would also exist a continuity of their parents' language maintained and spoken by the descendants, and they will know their family's history even after the parents pass on. It is natural that “generation to generation utters speech,” for years, on weekdays, holidays and holidays. And they would relate and they would listen.

However, the Holocaust turned everything upside down.


R. Yeḥiel Michael Wasserman's children (1910): Berta, Yisrael, Jeanette and Klara


After our deportation to Transnistria, our home was emptied of all our belongings, documents and pictures. The little that my mother managed to gather on our return to the city went into the deeps with the sinking of the illegal-immigrant ship Rafiah on our way to Eretz Israel.

The language spoken in our house was German and it certainly was not preserved. Naturally, the children of immigrants want to speak the local language, much more so for those who wanted to speak the language of the murderers in the years following the war. And when you come to a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley, all you want is to be just like the cheerful, naughty, and carefree kids. You do not want to convert the valley's bright blue summer days into the story of a distant gray, snowy city where disasters were enfolded. And so, I did not ask and my mother got used to not telling and life flowed by.

My mother was used to her silence and did not respond easily as I got older and wanted to know. And when she passed away, she took with her those unspoken things and those untold stories. Therefore, what will be written about the Wasserman family is my mother's family, is not really a family history. The writing comprises sections of stories about my mother and other relatives, and a few pictures

[Page 433]

sent at the time to relatives abroad, a patchwork in which what was hidden was more than what was revealed.

And this is some of the history of the Wasserman family that lived in the Suceava community: Our great-grandfather, R. Yehoshua Halevy Wasserman, is the man we have information about. His first wife died at a very young age, and left him a widower in care of toddlers. Since the place was not yet inhabited enough by Jews, he went to Buczacz in Galicia and brought his second wife Leah from there. By this we believe that he may have originated from this community. The couple had other children, including my grandfather, R. Yeḥiel-Michal. After marrying off all their children, and closing their interests in this part of the world, they emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1890, to Jerusalem, with their youngest son, Pinḥas. Before emigrating to Eretz Israel, their children promised to support them and send money to live in Eretz Israel.

The grandparents were buried in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. At the time, their son Pinḥas emigrated to England.

My grandfather, R. Yeḥiel-Michal was born in 1867 and married his niece, Sarah. He was a grain merchant and also dealt in agricultural exports to Germany. My grandmother had a grocery store. The family was considered well-to-do and built a spacious house for itself on Regina Maria Street in Suceava. The home was run as an Orthodox one in all intents and purposes. My grandfather was a scholar who had set times for Torah after he finished work. And that is how his children remembered him, with an open book and a lamp lit until he went to bed. He took part in communal undertakings; taking care of the needs of the synagogue where he prayed. The merchants in the city, who trusted his integrity and appreciated his wisdom, chose him to be an arbitrator between them in financial disputes.

Among the immediate and distant family, their home was known as a place of kindness and charity. Despite being an Orthodox home in its way of life, it was open to the winds of enlightenment and progress that had been blowing from the west. The son and three daughters received a fine education in the German high school. To complete their Jewish upbringing, a private tutor was brought in to teach them Hebrew reading and writing at home. My mother remembered having a happy childhood and youth in the city. Years of schooling and social life, and traveling every summer for vacation in Prečín where we had relatives.

Rabbi Yeḥiel-Michal and his wife, Sarah, raised four children when many children died. The son Israel and his three sisters, Jeanette, Klara and Berta. Two sisters, Jeanette and Berta, went on to higher education. Jeanette went to Vienna, where she studied economics and commerce. Berta went to France, where she studied medicine, with the encouragement of their father and his financial support. The son, Israel, married and moved to Czernowitz. Jeanette returned from Vienna and married Dov Rudich, the son of a wealthy family in the city.

Together, they continued in their family's business. My mother Klara married Avraham Aryeh Bampfer

[Page 434]

(Froelich), who came as a teenager with his mother and sister from nearby Părhăuţi, and was a leather dealer. Sister Berta graduated as a doctor and married a local doctor and settled in Paris. The two sisters' families lived in the city; they were involved in Zionist activities in the Zeirei Zion movement. It provided them with cultural content as well as social connections. Children were born, and they continued life in a manner similar to their parents, with economic well-being, interest in public needs, and a variety of activities. A tradition of Shabbat and holidays and kosher food was kept, but in general, there was already greater openness to the general culture. Religion played a less of a central place in their lives.

Sister Berta continued to come every summer by train (a few day's trip) and the few surviving photos tell of trips to Czernowitz, social gatherings and pleasant summer vacations. In 1938, my grandparents passed away and were buried in the city's cemetery. Their deaths spared them the horror that awaited the community in 1941.

My aunt Jeanette, her husband and my father perished in Morfa, Transnistria, and were buried there. My mother, her daughters and Jeanette's daughters, her brother Israel and his family emigrated to Eretz Israel after the war and built their homes there. In May 2005, Jeanette's daughters Ruth and Miriam went to Romania for a “Roots Tour.” Danielle, Aunt Berta's daughter and her daughter Leah arrived from Paris. Berta underwent the horrors of the war in the French underground.

None of us visited Suceava after the deportation, and Danielle only knew about it from her mother's stories. Many emotions accompanied us on our trip and there was great curiosity to see what we did not remember. We feared disappointment, and deep in our hearts is an anger that always accompanies us. We traveled through the Bucovina District and it is prettier than anything we imagined. A vista of round hills and green forests. Apple trees standing in pink and white bloom. Flowing streams with small bridges over them. Remote villages frozen in time. Wooden houses, courtyards and manual pumps. Geese running about and peasants riding in carts. Our burning eyes “swallowed” these vistas. These were the sights that our parents saw in childhood and adulthood. Only through them could we try to penetrate their life experiences in this place. But what did we see in Suceava itself? Naturally, the city grew and has pleasant parts. But the [Jewish] community of Suceava is gone. One orphaned synagogue (GACH) remains but is almost unused. The Community Center is small and neglected. About 94 Jews live in the city, most of them elderly. My grandfather's house was expropriated by the communist regime and at some point, destroyed. Ruth and Miriam found their parents' home in a large building downtown that now serves as a center for teaching the blind. We searched for the girls' high school where our mothers studied and found a handsome school building that was built at the end of the 18th century and is now a Center for the Arts.

[Page 435]

Then we drove to the rundown but spectacular train station in Iţcani. And there returned the distant summer days from which Jeanette and Berta came from the world's great cities to the small town, where their father waited for them with a carriage to bring them home. It was from there we were sent on our last journey to Transnistria. The place where we found the relatives from our hometown was the cemetery. The cemetery was on a green hill adorned with trees, with the tranquility of the world resting upon it. We lit memorial candles near the graves of Rabbi Yeḥiel-Michal Wasserman and his wife, Sarah. His great-granddaughter Leah, who comes from Paris, saw hands adorning his tombstone and asked about its meaning. Indeed, they did not know that Levi, their grandfather, was a Levite {Cohen, spread hands was their symbol}, and none of their descendants remained in Suceava.



At a scientific conference in The City of Manchester, England, my daughter met a student from Romania. They chatted about many things when my daughter asked where she in Romania did she come from. “No place,” she replied, “just a small town you've never heard of.” “Still...” Apparently, she came from Suceava! She did not know and was unaware of the city's Jewish past and the fate of its residents. Naively, my daughter asked why her family left the city and why there was no one left there? And we, what can we say?

For us who were little girls when the community was destroyed; we did not live a normal childhood life of joy and sadness, studies and games, weekdays and holidays. All that was cruelly stolen from us. The memory will remain with us as a place where our family lived for many years and between the light and darkness, there were also good and beautiful years.

Yehuda Kohn's Story

I was born in Schotz on September 30, 1914 (Yom Kippur) to Shimon and Zissel Kohn, a middle-class family. My parents always cried about the reign of Emperor Franz-Joseph and the good life under Austrian rule. We studied [Hebrew] alphabet with Zeidel Melamed, Ḥumash and Rashi with Froim Melamed, until teachers Ḥaim Carten and Miller came and we also began to study Hebrew. Almost all of our group went to work in stores, as assistants, except for Adolf Weitman who was from a wealthy family. His parents had a flour mill, and he studied medicine and became a doctor.

[Page 436]

Yehudah Kohn


We founded the Shomer Hadati and then the Hapoel Hamizraḥi, but the majority did not emigrate to Eretz [Israel] because the English did not issue certificates. Thus, we ended up in northern Bucovina, Czernowitz-Vaskauts, which were occupied by the Russians in 1940. In Vaskauts, I worked in a government grain warehouse where the peasants brought grain by order of the authorities (as a kind of tax). There, I also married the daughter of the ritual slaughterer, R. Yisrael Koppelman. On June 22, 1941, the Germans and Romanians attacked Russia. {missing info} If we had stayed in Vaskauts, our fate would have been similar. It was also the fate of those who worked with me, but remained there.

On the night of July 1, 1941, we fled in a cart into Russia, until we reached a train station and from there we traveled into greater Russia. My wife ended up in Tashkent and I was drafted into the Red Army. The first winter was very difficult, and freezing, but after the Germans suffered a defeat in Stalingrad, the situation improved and the move toward the west began. When Bucovina was liberated, I was already a sergeant in the Red Army. I arrived in Czernowitz, where I learned from Shmuel Oberweger that my parents had perished in Transnistria.

My sister Elka and I arrived in Israel via Cyprus on the Pan Crescent. Since 1948, I have lived in Tivon in a private house with a garden. I worked for 30 years at the main post office in Haifa and I have long since retired. I have reached the age of 90. Thank God, I live well. I have five grandchildren, and five

[Page 437]

great-grandchildren. Thank God they are all comfortably well off. I have not lived in Suceava since 1940. I have visited twice. Once, at a conference of Schotz veterans, I did not know anybody, except Leslie Hirsch and Adolf Weitman. Besides them, no one knew me.


Shoshana (née Rosa Lester) Kohn's Story

My parents, Haya {sic! should be Ḥaim?} and Idel Laster. And my sister Rivka. There we lived in Burdujeni on Štefan Cel Mare Street.

Of course, as a 7-year-old little girl, I lived with my family: Father, Mother, and my one-year-old sister Rivka. Before the outbreak of World War II, our lives had been going well since time immemorial, and I could visit the municipal kindergarten for a very short time. I remember the expulsion from kindergarten without prior preparation as one of the worst traumas of early childhood, a childhood that ended abruptly and forever!

The deportation to Transnistria was first to a village called Lucinz, after which, we moved to the Mogilev ghetto, where I spent the years until the end of the war. My mother perished there from typhus and remains buried there to this day.

My father was conscripted for forced labor from the beginning of the deportation by the Romanian army. As is known, life in the Mogilev ghetto was unbearable. Famine, frost, and untreated diseases without medicine or any medical help. The extreme overcrowding created a low hygiene level. The shortage of drinking water and, of course, bathing water was severe. Looking back, after many years, I am sure that we have got through that indescribable hell, only because the family remained very cohesive despite the difficulties and terrible overcrowding.

With the liberation of Mogilev by the Russian army, my father was recruited again, this time by the Red Army, where he served until the end of the war. My sister and I returned to Burdujeni in April 1945. Being without both parents, we were supported for a long time by an aunt, named Ḥanna Laster.

In December 1947, we left Romania, together with members of the “Gordonia” youth movement, a group that comprised many children on a cruise on one of two ships, the Pan York and the Pan Crescent. In April 1948, we arrived in Eretz [Israel] and were absorbed into a Youth Aliyah immigrant camp

[Page 438]

in Ra'anana for about a month, after which we were transferred to the Onim Youth Village near Kfar Saba.

A short time later, we were absorbed into the Hadassim Educational Institution. We were to be finally absorbed as o group for kibbutz fulfillment. We spent the remaining time until our recruitment to Nahal, in Kibbutz Amiad, in the Upper Galilee.

I joined with my friends from the Hadassim Institute in the Nahal. After boot camp, we returned to Amiad, where I had stayed before I was drafted into the IDF. Upon my release from the army, I moved into civilian life and in time, I started a family.


Carmen (née Dickman) Kahana's Story

Schotz of yesteryear

The city's past can be divided into two periods: The first was until October 9, 1941, the date of the Jews' deportation to Transnistria. The second was after the return of the remnants from that hell. The Jews in and around the city lived as a minority among a population composed of Romanians, Germans, Ukrainians, and others. This population, even those who did not identify with the fascist parties, was antisemitic and full of feelings of envy toward Jewish professionals and property owners.


Carmen (née Dickman) Kahana

[Page 439]

There were families with large properties such as the Hopfmayer, Tropp, Marcus Dickman, Holdengerber, Schmelzer, Wagner and others. The owners of land and forests in the Schotz area were Muka Fischer, Moshe Rudich, Marcus Dickman, Meir Ebner, Leibish Weitman and others.

Professional and honest traders such as Schieber, Kasvan, Spiegel, Gronich, Tennenhaus, Freir, Geller, Kostiner, Fuchs Brothers, Kolber, Reif brought respect to the city.

Also, professionals with high expertise were well known and appreciated. Watchmakers, photographers, tailors such as the Heller brothers, Klueger, Ungerish, Tein, Schwarz, the Weisbrod sisters, and celebrities Attica Strominger, the Grossman brothers in iron works and mechanics, tinsmiths, glaziers, painters and others.

Not to be forgotten were the doctors with professionalism and high specialization who were appreciated by both the Jewish and Christian populations: Dr. Hermann, Dr. Tartar, Dr. Reicher, Dr. Hoch, Dr. Weidenfeld, Dr. Weitman.

Small industry was also founded by Jews from Schotz: Leather processing by the Sternlieb Brothers, the Zwibel Brothers candy factory, and the Weitman Brothers' flour mill.

At the head of the Jewish Community Committee was Adv. Meir Teich. His offices were in a building owned by the community. The Committee addressed the needs of the community: A slaughterhouse for poultry and cattle, a public bathhouse, a Talmud Torah and also care for the poor of our city. We will respectfully remember the teachers who gave us the secrets of the alphabet and the Torah of Israel: Kalchstein, Carten, Weissbuch and others.


The family

My mother's family roots are from an ancient family from Austria that settled in Schotz. My maternal great-grandmother, Haya Bogen, was a wealthy property owner woman with dozens of apartments and shops in Schotz. She was a God-fearing woman who always listened to the advice of the rabbis and contributed greatly to assisting poor Jewish brides. Haya Bogen had three sons and a daughter: Dr. Bernhard Bogen, Moshe Bogen, Elias Bogen and her daughter, later Sharpinster. Jetti, my mother obm (later Dickman) was an “educated woman” with knowledge of foreign literature, art and languages. She played the piano and traveled a lot outside of Romania. My mother inherited from my grandmother a shop of textiles and farming goods, a well-known shop in the area, and a furnished apartment with expensive antique furniture filled with art treasures and silver.

My father, Marcus Dickman, was a respectable man, among the richest men of the city. He owned land and forests near Schotz. Within the city, he owned apartments and shops on the main street and on other streets in the city center and also on several side streets. Today, all these assets do not exist. In the city center

[Page 440]

there is a multi-story residential tower and a public park with lawns and flowers and a fountain in the center. On the side streets was built an indoor market for food products.

My father was religious and cared for others. In the cold winters, he would help the poor with firewood, and before Passover, he would give out matzo, he especially ordered from Itzik's bakery.

My grandfather, Yankel Dickman, a landowner in Slobuzi, had a synagogue in his home in the village where locals and Jews from nearby villages prayed. Upon my grandfather's death, my father kept the Torah scroll in our home until October 10, 1941, the day of the deportation to Transnistria, when he placed the scroll into the GACH synagogue.

My father's family there were also brothers Selig and Levi Yitzchak Dickman, and the sisters Bunya Nussbrauch and Jeanette Rudich who were honest and respected people in society. My uncle Avigdor Nussbrauch, an enlightened personality, a scholar knowledgeable about Talmudic topics, and chairman of the Zionist movement. He had significant influence in the Jewish Community in Schotz.

Until 1937, the Jews lived on good terms with the rest of the population, and the atmosphere was quiet. But from this year, when the Goga-Cuza government came to power, public persecution against the Jews began. The head of the Karlen District, who was also a teacher at the Boys' High School, caused the cessation of studies of Jewish students.

His nastiness stood out at the Doamna Maria Girls' High School, when Reverend Kokalichi, along with school principal Poleacu and Romanian teacher Rudolph, setup charges against several sixth graders that they allegedly sang the international anthem in class. The girls, Betty Kolber, Elsa Reif, Jenny Schapira, Anita Hauslicht and others were expelled from the school and their families were prosecuted. The atmosphere in the city was so poisonous that no Romanian lawyer would represent the “criminals.”

The regulations for upgrading Romanian citizenship led by the administration were aimed at reducing the number of Jews with Romanian citizenship, and it was also a splendid opportunity to extract money from the Jews. The years 1939-1940 excelled in persecution against the Jews. The merchants and Jewish homeowners were blackmailed by tax collectors such as Bulgaru, Malavenda and others. The bribes filled the pockets of these extortionists. You could not do business without bribery. This practice existed at all levels, from the officer on his rounds to the police chief.

At the outbreak of World War II, persecution against the Jews intensified even more. The Jews from the surrounding villages were brutally driven from their homes, leaving behind most of their possessions. The chattel was looted by the local villagers, and the local government took over the land and houses. The administration enacted racist laws, Jewish officials were fired from their positions,

[Page 441]

and business licenses were revoked. The Jewish pupils were expelled from the schools, the Jewish doctors from the hospitals, and the lawyers from their bar associations. Jewish cultural institutions were closed, the movement of Jews in the city, marketplaces, shows and synagogues was restricted.

The Romanian army, which withdrew from Bessarabia and northern Bucovina, began slaughtering the Jews. This is how Moshe Rudich from the village of Găureni was murdered. His property, the farm and the house were taken over by a priest, the father of the police chief. He did not allow the widow and her daughter into the house. The Wasserman brothers were murdered in the village of Grăniceşti along with a nephew who visited them. Sachar Laks was murdered in the village of Costina by a Romanian soldier. The Suessman brothers were shot at the Iţcani train station. One brother died at the scene, the other was only injured but bled to death without receiving medical treatment on the orders of Dr. Boneh, the director of the hospital in Suceava. The Jewish soldiers who were in the Romanian army were thrown off the [speeding] trains during the withdrawal. Itzik Nussbrauch and Dagobert Wagner escaped from this danger, hiding but could not reach their home because in the meantime, the border between the Soviet Union and Romania was closed.

The authorities began arresting Jews who were supposedly considered communist sympathizers. My brother Marcel, who barely turned 16, was arrested as a “spy” for the Soviets after a gentile named Vasiliu, a tenant in our home, informed on him. Several Jews were taken hostage and jailed in the city's Great Synagogue and guarded by gendarmes under the threat that if Jews carried out sabotage, the hostages would be shot to death. Me, my sister Rosetta and my late father were among the hostages.

The fascist police searched the homes of the Jews and used this occasion to rob whatever goods they could put their hand on. Personally, I witnessed an incident when, together with my father, we were called out one night to the screaming at the Redlich family home, who were victim of one of these searches. I saw that one officer planted a gun on a shelf and, despite my father's protest, the elderly couple were detained for questioning.

All the persecutions described above gave way to a greater disaster when on Thursday, October 9, 1941, the drummer announced the beginning of the deportation of the Jews from their homes and from the city. The Jews from Burdujeni and Iţcani and several streets on the outskirts of the city were designated to be on the first transport.

The authorities' instructions made it possible to take as much clothing and food as a person could carry. They were ordered to deliver money and jewelry to the municipality along with the house keys and a list of the goods that remained in the houses. The Jews of the city were in a terrible panic because, for every deviation from the instructions of the authorities, there was a threat of being shot on the spot. For all the prohibition and danger, the Jews handed over

[Page 442]

money, jewelry and valuables to Christian friends and neighbors. At the top of the deposit recipients were the heads of the government such as Lieutenant-Governor Ioachimescu, Gendarmes Commander Major Botoroagă, Suceava police chief Valerian Apreotesei, who knew they would not have to return anything.

The villagers from the surrounding area showed up in the city to loot the Jewish homes, and they also extorted enormous sums from the deportees for transporting the chattels to the Burdujeni train station, where the deportation began. The rest of the Jews were deported over the next two days (October 10-11) in a planned distribution of the streets. The division was done deliberately so that they began with the expulsion of the poorer, while the affluent Jews would remain for another two days to extort money and property from them.

The contacts with the deputy provincial Lieutenant-Governor Ioachimescu to exempt some families from deportation for immense sums under the pretext that they are essential to the city were unsuccessful. In the end, on the orders of Colonel Zamfirescu they were all expelled, including the sick, mentally ill and even those with infectious diseases. On the orders of the hospital manager, patients who were hospitalized there were also put on the train cars. On the way to Ataky, Dr. Wagner and teamster Meir passed away. Our family was also on this shipment. When we arrived at Ataky, we learned that the elderly from the first shipment perished along the muddy roads where they traveled on foot in heavy rains, or were shot by the Romanian soldiers who accompanied the transports. Among the victims was my grandfather's wife, Frieda Sharpinster, Mrs. Rosenheck and the Rosenstrauch sisters.

My family settled in Mogilev, but there too we were not exempt from the scourge of deportation. My parents, sister and brother were sickened with typhus. My father died of this disease in 1942 and was buried in the cemetery in Mogilev. After many years, we brought his remains for burial in the Haifa cemetery. My brother Marcel worked as an apprentice at the foundry in Mogilev.

After liberation by the Red Army, we returned to Suceava. We lived in our home at 20-22 Armaşului Street, where we lived before the deportation and was also my mother's shop. The house was my father's property. We, my ailing mother and the children, being my father's heirs, were supposed to own the house, but in 1950 the house was nationalized by the communist authorities with the “kind” help of some Jewish communist businessmen who informed on us.

My sister Rosette, a graduate of the Suceava Girls' High School, underwent a planning {programming?} course in Bucharest, and after Transnistria worked in Suceava in several companies until her Aliyah in 1964. My brother, Marcel (Dori) Dickman, was drafted after the liberation into the Red Army and sent to the front

[Page 443]

at Briansk, where he was wounded in the bombing, operated on and hospitalized for eight months. After returning to Bucharest, he completed his matriculation, studied at the Polytechnicom in Bucharest, and after receiving his degree, worked as a planning engineer for IPRONAV. When he registered to emigrate to Eretz Israel, he was fired from his position, as was the fate of all the Jews who signed up to emigrate to Eretz [Israel]. He emigrated in 1958 with his wife and son. In Israel, he worked as an engineer in several places.

My other brother, Jean, after his return from Transnistria, graduated from the Jewish High School in Suceava. After his matriculation, he studied at the Polytechnicom in Bucharest and was awarded the diploma as a mining engineer. In Romania, he worked in this profession and advanced to the position of chief engineer in government oil exploration and water source exploration companies until he signed up for Aliyah to Israel when he was demoted and transferred to work as a simple laborer.

In 1960, he emigrated to Israel with his family and began working for Mekorot, advanced there to the position of chief engineer, and contributed greatly to the excavation of water wells from Metula down to the Negev. His successes and diligence gave him the nickname “The Man with the Golden Hands.” He was invited and collaborated with geological excavation institutions from Europe and America.

I personally, after the matriculation exams in Suceava, I graduated from the Faculty of Law in Bucharest and in 1949 I married attorney Puyo Kahana. In Bucharest, I was appointed as a judge to a municipal court and was later promoted to the Regional Attorney General's Office.

The Aliyah of my family (brothers and sisters) to Israel disqualified me in the eyes of the authorities to high office. I was transferred to other positions in the Ministry of Justice and the notary in the capital, Bucharest. At the same time as my work, I was an assistant in the Criminal Law Department of the Ministry of Justice's Law School. After a tender, I received an appointment as a research fellow in the Department of Law Research at the Romanian Academy, where I passed tests for my Doctor of Law degree. Thanks to an international scholarship, I attended lectures at the Academy of International Law in The Hague from 1969 to 1974. I published various legal papers and participated in the publication of a legal guide for new lawyers. In 1975, I received approval as a representing lawyer (עו”ד מייצג) at the Bucharest Bar Association.

Since 1997, I have lived with my husband in Haifa.

Translated from Romanian and adapted by Meir Kostiner


« 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 © 1999-2023 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 May 2022 by MGH