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[Page 444]

Translations by Moshe Devere

Reizi (Shoshana) Kahana's Story

My name is Reizi (Shoshana) née Schauer, born to the late Isidor and Klara Schauer. I am married to Ronny Kahana and mother to three daughters: Aya, Tali and Adi. My father was born in Rădăuţi and moved to Suceava following his first marriage to Gusta Schauer. After his divorce from Gusta, my father married my mother Clara Zucker in 1947, who was a war widow with two young children: Rolfy and Ephraim (Freddy). She was originally from Czernowitz and moved to Suceava after the war. Her first husband, Shimon Reicher Gougle, was killed in the war and his burial place is unknown.

My brother Ephraim stayed at the boarding school with war orphans and immigrated to Eretz [Israel] with the boarding school in 1947, as part of Youth Aliyah. They were delayed for about a year in the Netherlands and then brought to Kibbutz Kfar Glikson. My mother agreed that he would go because she was promised that she too would follow him, but the borders were closed and she remained with Rolfy in Suceava. This situation affected the rest of her life. She sickened within the intensity of her longing, and she felt guilty for sending a little boy, 13 years old alone, out into the big world. Until the day she died, she did not forgive the Romanians who separated her from her son and herself for letting him travel. My mother had not seen Ephraim (Freddie) for 22 years and it is difficult to put into words their meeting after so many years. My father, Isidor Schauer, who before marrying my mother was divorced with a child, Henry, embraced and lovingly raised Rolfy as if he were his own son.

I was born in 1948, and grew up on the stories of the Holocaust, which affected me greatly. Like my friends, I did not have grandparents because they died in Transnistria. I studied in the “Girls' School,” whose principal, Mrs. Vigdar, was Jewish. Many of the students in the class were Jewish who emigrated to Israel in the 1960s. My parents insisted I did not go to school on Jewish holidays, especially on Yom Kippur. It caused problems; my parents were summoned to school for clarification but they did not give in. At school, we could learn a “native language.” So, we received Yiddish lessons with a teacher, Mrs. Neumann. I really liked those lessons.

My father was a self-employed owner of a laundromat. He refused to hand the business over to the government and insisted on remaining independent until we emigrated to Israel. My brother Rolfy worked as an electronics technician at the “Cooperative.” All his friends were Jewish. When Romania opened its gates, most of them immigrated to Israel and remain in friendly contact to this day.

There were many Jews in Suceava. Everyone knew everyone, and it felt almost like family. Even today, when I meet acquaintances from the city, I get excited as if I have met a relative. My parents made sure that we received a Jewish education. My father did not open the laundromat on Shabbat. We went to the synagogue during the holidays and Rolfy studied Hebrew and bar mitzvah studies with Teacher Sonnenshein.

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In the summer of 2002, I returned to Suceava with a childhood friend, Zvi Fuhrer, and his wife, Tzviya, who was also born in Suceava. It's been 40 years since I had last been there. Our homes have been destroyed, but there remain the familiar places remain: the kindergarten, school, the Chatata, the Zamca, the Federation. We visited them and it reminded us of our childhood. We remembered every corner and walked there as if we hadn't left 40 years ago.


Ruth (née Klein) Caspi's Story

I was born in Suceava in 1931.

In Transnistria, I was in Copaigorod and then in Shargorod, where my father, Moritz Klein and my sister, Bitzia Betina, died of pneumonia in 1942.

I returned with my mother to Suceava in 1944. I was a member of Bnei Akiva until I left on December 25, 1947, to emigrate to Eretz [Israel].

We sailed with many others aboard the Pan York but were stopped and taken by the British to Cyprus, where I was in Camp 55. It was not until May 15, 1948 that I came to Israel with Youth Aliyah.


Ruth and Eliyahu Caspi

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Here I was in Mikveh Israel and then in the army. In 1951, I married Eli Caspi, and we moved to Moshav Segulla near Kiryat Gat. Since 1976, I live in Netanya. I have two sons: Dr. Moshe Caspi, who was born in 1952, a lecturer at the University of Beersheba, and Amir Caspi, born in 1956, works in computers at the same place. We also had a daughter, Shoshana, who fell during her military service (see memorial to the Fallen of Israel's Wars).

We have six grandchildren; they should only be healthy.


The Late Yisrael Katz's Story

My name is Yisrael Katz. I was born in 1927, in Burdujeni, the son of Moshe ben Abba and Lakanyah bat Mordechai. We lived on main street with my two brothers and my three sisters. My parents had a housewares and pottery store. We made a nice living from it until in 1941 we were deported together with all the Jews of the town to Transnistria. After hardships along the way; Ataky, Mogilev, we arrived in Lucinz, where my parents, my brother Ḥaim Katz, and Grandfather Mordechai died.


Yisrael Katz

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In 1944, I was in the orphanage in Mogilev, and from there we were returned to Romania. I stayed briefly with the Marcus family in Pietra-Niametz. There they picked us up, and we emigrated to Israel with the “Shraga's Children” (Shraga was the JDC's emissary). First on the Turkish ship “Kazbek” to Istanbul, and then by train through Syria and Lebanon to Eretz Israel.

In Eretz [Israel], I was absorbed into the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School. My brother Yosef and sisters Tsipora, Ita and Malka also immigrated to Israel a few years later.

I married in 1952 to Hilda, who was also from Burdujeni, an only child of the Cupru family. They were merchants who owned a grocery store and were cattle merchants. The Cupru family was also deported to Lucinz, Transnistria. Gershon, the father of the family, was sent to forced labor to Tulchyn, where he worked in peat production. After liberation by the Red Army, Gershon was conscripted and sent for reconsideration work in the Russian city Muzhich'ye.

The rest of the Cupru family got stuck on the way home in Brezon, in Bessarabia. It was only a year later, together with Gershon, who had been released from Russia, that they returned to Burdujeni, continued the cattle trade. They emigrated to Israel in 1951, and this is where Hilda continued her studies at the Ayanot Agricultural High School until her marriage.

A note from the Editorial Board: Yisrael Katz passed away in 2005 shortly after writing his story. Blessed be his memory.


Yossele Carmin's Story


Growing up fast

We arrived at the last stop: Ataky. We went down to the bank of the wide Dniester River. The ground was muddy, the houses were close to the waterfront. Evening came but we did not find shelter except inside a destroyed house with no roof to cover us. We soon huddled together and fell asleep with the packages at our heads. A thin trickle came down on us in the early morning, wet us and woke us up for the new day. Early in the morning, an order was received that every head of the family would bring the valuables and Romanian money and report to the authorities who were sitting at a table. The valuables are delivered in exchange for a receipt and the money was to be exchanged for Marks; printed paper that the Germans prepared for the occupied territories. We had little property, so I was tasked with hiding a small bundle of money with a few gold rings and a watch. Father showed up and exchanged some Romanian notes for Marks. Anyone who handed over their possessions could board the ferry with their family. The ferry

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was a wooden raft, with no walls at all, which was manually pulled from one bank to another by cables stretched between both sides of the river.

On the other bank of the river was the Ukrainian city of Mogilev, where we had to go. The ferry started to float along slowly and transported people. When it was our turn, the soldiers pushed us with shouts and profanities to crowd up and huddle. Our family comprised a mother, a father, and four children. We clung to each other and kept a small gap between us and the end of the raft, dipping into the murky river water that flowed slowly below us. Later that day, I heard the adults talking among themselves and talking about the Jews of the city who felt what was going to happen to them and jumped into the deep water.

The Ukrainian bank of the Dniester River was muddy and boggy. As soon as the ferry touched the ground, the soldiers who accompanied it began screaming dreadfully, pushing and rushing us to get off and get into the ranks. Each member of the family took his bundle and got into line. An order was heard and all the whole convoy, adults, old people and children, were led through the city streets until we arrived at the place with enormous gates that opened wide to receive the new transport.

In front of me I saw many long two-story buildings. Adults and children came out, came and walked around them. Their faces were sad and off-color, their clothes were shabby. They put us in a building with large halls. We found ourselves some bit of space near one wall and lowered our meager bundles from our shoulders.

The first thing we did was look for my mother's sisters' families and her father, my grandfather, who had been deported the day before from Burdujeni, 4 km from Suceava. We found them in a corner of one hall and with hugs and crying, we told each other what happened on our journey.

From them we heard that this place is a former Red Army barracks. Every day thousands of people come across the river and every morning convoys left. Each convoy accompanied by soldiers. They could not tell us where they were going, but rumors arrived about their walking for weeks and anyone who could not walk and fell behind the convoy or sat on the side of the road was shot.

After all the families gathered together in one place and continued their stories, I set out on my own to explore the barracks. I was a very curious kid and everything interested me. The Mogilev Camp had several enormous buildings and the entire area was fenced off with barbed wire. Entry and exit were through the same gate which we entered on our arrival and it was well guarded. Here, for the first time, I saw sights that became the reality from that day on. Jews walked barefoot and worn. They looked gray from dirt and starvation. These were the survivors of a convoy of Bessarabian Jews who had been on the way for months and were held at the Yedinets Camp. Afterward, they walked again without food and or water until they arrived here.

[Page 449]

We, in comparison, looked “wealthy.” Our clothes were still nice and we still have snacks with us. I remember starving little children, reaching out and asking for a shtikela broit, (Yiddish, “a piece of bread”). It happened while we were sitting on the floor eating bread and jam. Mother gave them. She still didn't realize that in a few days, when the snacks we took with us were finished, we would look just like them. That night we slept on the floor, still wearing our clothes.

In the early morning, we woke up in a panic at the sound of terrible screams. Romanian soldiers with sticks and whips in hand entered the hall and began shouting and whipping people who had woken up in panic from the floor. “Get up! Get on the way!” As the men left, I saw Father was befriending the officer who accompanied the soldiers and secretly giving him the golden watch. In return, he agreed we could stay that day and not be off on the Convoy.

Again, I went wandering and at noon that day I saw a sight that I have not forgotten to this day. I saw two people dragging a big pot of porridge. Within seconds, hundreds of Jews gathered around them and fought among themselves who would first approach the pot. It was the first time I saw a cruel struggle over a little food. No manners, no propriety, no politeness, a struggle for life and death, with all their remaining strength. Suddenly, there was the whistle of whips that sliced through the air and struck bodies and heads. The pain overcame the hunger. The soldiers shouted and cursed. People lined up to get their food. Occasionally, there was a lashing that landed on one of the poor souls who was trying to get another portion.

For several days, the daily bribe given to the Romanian officer saved us from walking with the convoy. The trouble was that our few valuables were running out and soon there would be nothing left to bribe. The men sat in the corner each night debating. What to do? Go on the way? What will Grandfather Moshe and the little children? They cannot walk. Tomorrow, the day after, it could snow. What do we do?

I listened to their conversations, which usually ended with a sigh of helplessness. There was not any solution, there was nothing we could do. We'll have to hit the road. There was not any choice.

I was then an 11½-year-old boy, curious and open to taking in the sights. On one of my wanderings in the widespread camp, I saw a breach in the barbed wire fence. Next to it stood an armed soldier. People approached him, shoved coins in his hand and went out through the breach carrying a bundle. On the other side, near the fence, there was a makeshift market for clothing and other objects that the deportees sold or exchanged for a loaf of bread. They did this to relieve the weight of their backpack and also to have a slice of bread for the trip. Word had already spread among people about what is happening on the journey for those who found it difficult to walk because of the weight of their packs or because they had no more strength to continue walking.

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I saw how people went out with bundles and come back through the breach. In my head a plan was born: if we go out and find a roof over our heads, we can go out with our so-called bundles for sale, go in and out again until we got all our belongings out and stay in town. I went back to the corner of the hall and found our families there in the same state of despondency and despair. I talked to Father and told him what I saw, but I felt like he was not listening to me and his thoughts were wandering elsewhere. When the adults started discussing the situation again, they mentioned that there was one ring left to bribe the officer tomorrow morning, after which we would have to leave. I approached and said: “Listen, I know how we can get out of here.” They didn't pay attention to me. In their eyes, I was a child. What did I know? Disappointed, close to crying, I lay on the floor and fell asleep.

The next morning, I was stubborn and I would not let go of Father and said to him, “I know a way. Come with me and see with your own eyes.” I took him to the same breach in the barbed wire fence and he became away convinced. He hugged me and kissed me and said to me: “Come quickly, we'll pick them all up and we'll leave today, because tomorrow morning we'll have to go out with the Convoy. There's nothing left to bribe the officer anymore.”

Father and I went out first and started asking people who looked Jewish about a place to stay overnight. They sent us on between the alleyways until we got near the riverside. A Jew with a family, with young children, showed us his home and said: “You see? The house is full of mud because the river overflowed. The water only went down now, and we came back home. Clean up a room and stay with us.”

We hurried back to the barracks. Before long, everyone was out. The uncles' families and Grandfather Moshe also went to look for a place for themselves and we returned to the family of the hospitable Jews, cleaning up the mud.

I was pleased with myself, but I still had not noticed that my growing up had happened in the blink of an eye.


Dr. Rudi Lupovici's Story

I was born in Burdujeni on April 3, 1936, to Moshe Lupovici, a wine wholesaler, and to Devora, a housewife.

I was only five when we were deported to Transnistria. On the way there, at Ataky, my uncle Lupo Rubin tried to escape the gendarmes who were chasing him. He fell into the Dniester [River] and drowned.

We were about a year in Transnistria, in Lucinz and moved later to Mogilev. My grandfather, Leizer Rubin, died of an illness there. We returned to Burdujeni in 1945. There, I attended [elementary] school until high school

[Page 451]

and then studied at the Jewish School in Suceava. During these studies, Carly Zwilling was my classmate. He now lives in Nazareth Illit.

Grades 8-11 I attended the Ştefan Cel Mare High School in Suceava. Among the teachers there, I remember Teacher Hopfmeier who taught nature. In high school, I had Jewish friends, including Norman Manea, my second-cousin, now a famous writer in the United States; and David Hershkowitz, born in Burdujeni, who is now an engineer in Israel.

Afterward, I studied at the Faculty of Medicine in Iaşi, and after completing studies, I worked as a general practitioner in two villages near Gura Humorului and as an epidemiologist ……………………….. Suceava.

I have been in Israel since 1974. I worked at the Kupat Holim HMO as a general practitioner and I also specialized in homeopathy. Today I am retired.


Ilsa Leibowici's Story

The hoary head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness
(Proverbs 16:31)

The Jewish community in Suceava was a small one. Everyone there knew everyone else. The custom of the Jewish population was to send their children from a preschool age to ḥeder, where they learned to read and write Hebrew, learned the blessings by heart, read the prayer book and understand the ḥumash (Pentateuch).


Ilsa Leibovici

[Page 452]

The generations of the 1930s, until the deportation to the camps in Transnistria, mostly studied in Rabbi Hersh's by Rabbi Hersch Notta. Klackstein's ḥeder. He was short in stature and pale by nature, but with a broad knowledge and faith in the Torah of Israel and in the Holy One blessed be He. He prepared generations of boys for their “bar mitzvah” ceremony at 13, and also in intense study of holy books with Rashi's commentary, and Gemara as well.

His daughter Ḥayya Leah (Leila) Klackstein, my aunt, was always at his side. She was more concerned with the children's discipline during school. Rabbi Klackstein was a well-known and respected figure in our city. Parents sent their children to his ḥeder to learn some Yiddishkeit. My grandmother Sarah and my grandfather R. Hersch Notta found their final rest in the Suceava cemetery.

I, Elsa Schneider-Leibovici, am proud to be Rabbi Hersh Notta's granddaughter. My parents, Rosa and Pinḥas Schneider, lived in Suceava. Father was a renowned furrier in all the towns around Suceava. I graduated from the Polytechnic in Iaşi, Romania, with the degree of Polytechnical Engineer. I married Paul Leibovici, cultured and artistic, a journalist, art curator and chairman of the Tel-Aviv Bible Museum.

We have son Hardy-Zvi Leibovitz-Klajan, a computer expert, and also a grandson, Peter, a high school student.


Yosef Leinburd's Story

I was born in Suceava on February 17, 1922. I graduated from high school and matriculation studies in 1940, a period in history when European Jewry suffered from severe antisemitism. The rise of Nazism in Europe poisoned the Romanian population against the Jewish population in Romania; a country where antisemitism had deep roots. The outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939 put an end to plans to continue my studies. The rapid fall of Poland and Western Europe further increased Romanian antisemitism. A flood of decrees was issued by the authorities, such as the obligation to wear a yellow Star of David, a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., a ban on gatherings and the abolition of basic rights. In June 1941, the war against the Soviet Union began. The Romanian fascist dictator, Marshall Ion Antonescu, who was Hitler's partner, sent his army to the eastern front. On their way eastward, the fascist armies left a tidal wave of blood, brutally murdering Jews.

In October 1941, the entire Jewish population was exiled from Bucovina and Bessarabia to Transnistria,

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which was under Romanian rule. We took from our homes only what we could carry by ourselves. We were transferred to a train station, crammed into freight cars and transported by train to Ataky. We crossed the Dniester by boat and arrived in Mogilev, a city where tens of thousands of exiled Jews were gathered. Then, Convoys from Mogilev began: a strenuous walk by people of all ages, along the way being robbed and beaten and humiliated by Romanian soldiers on horseback. Those who survived the cold, hunger, thirst and mud were distributed to various places in Transnistria and left alone, to live or to die. Our Convoy, which included my family, arrived at Murafa.

In May 1944, we were liberated by the Red Army. My immediate family survived. On September 8, 1946, I married Clareta (Lala) and we left Romania. We illegally crossed the border into Hungary and from there to Austria, where we lived in refugee camps. From Innsbruck (Austria) we crossed the Alps into Italy on January 1, 1947. We lived in refugee camps in Rivoli, Turin, and Bari. In the camps, I took part in courses in men's clothing design and tractor mechanics at the ORT school. This enabled us to get a visa to Canada. We arrived in Halifax on April 21, 1949, to get to Winnipeg Manitoba. Four days later, we both found employment in clothing factories. In 1962, we moved to Calgary (Alberta) and in 1964, we founded a business manufacturing Western shirts for men, women and children called Crown MFG. The brand was known in Israel and abroad.

We were blessed with our two daughters; Laurie, who was born in 1958, and Fay, who was born in 1960. The greatest achievement of our lives was to raise our daughters in a traditional and valued Jewish home. They are both happily married and have successful careers.

Laurie and Kenny Pollock live in Seattle, Washington, with their children, Keven, 15, and Taryn, 10, and work in the computing-technology field. Andrew and Dr. Fay Weissberg live in Toronto with their children, Elena, 7, and Lenny, age 5. Andree is an accountant and a partner in a commercial business. Fay is a gynecologist.

Today, I am ready to confront the pain and trauma of the past and I am fighting to understand the meaning of my experiences and to unite my past with the present by trying to compose my autobiography.

We have achieved our goal in life and we have a great deal of happiness from our children and grandchildren. For me as a survivor, who has come so far, this is nothing less than a miracle.

Translated from English by Yehudah Tennenhaus


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