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[Page 486]

Translations by Moshe Devere

Moshe (Niederhoffer) Nadir's Story

(Assisted by his sister Zehava Steiner)

 

The Niederhoffer family history

My father, Shimon Niederhoffer, originally from the Schotz area, died in the Murafa ghetto. My mother, Ester (née Riegler) Niederhoffer from Găureanca / Rădăuţi, succeeded in emigrating to Israel and passed away there.

 

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Moshe Nadir

 

I was born in Dănila, a small village near Schotz. It was a Ukrainian-speaking village, and we were the only Jewish family there. As a religious family, village life was accompanied by many difficulties, As I recall, we spent most of the Sabbaths in the nearby village of Huţani, with the Wasserman family (the late Aharon Leib, the late Taube, the late Meilech, the late Gizzia, the late Sophie, and Motti may he live). We usually stayed with the Wassermans from Friday, but many times we made our way there, on foot, early on Shabbat morning, to arrive early enough for morning prayers.

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My late mother ran the only store in the village of Danila and the tavern that the gentiles called the Krichma. My late father was a big merchant and was engaged in supplying lumber, potatoes, and other food products to various parts of Romania.

I spent my childhood up to the age of 5-6, mostly with the shkutzim, in the village. I spoke my mother's tongue with them; a dialect of Ukrainian, Romanian, German and Yiddish. In 1937, the difficulties and life in the village became unbearable.

 

Family history in the years before the war (1937-1940)

As a result, we moved to Schotz, to our own house, which my father purchased in the early 1930s. The house was on the main street; 11 Regele Ferdinand St. It was a large two-story house: Upstairs there were many rooms for us. On the ground floor, there was another apartment that was rented out and a large shop, which we rented to Martin Herrer from Schotz.

I remember the inauguration of the house, which we celebrated with great grandeur and in the presence of many participants, among them Rabbi Hager the Elder, who came especially from Vizhnitz, and other distinguished guests. Engraved in my memory is the “charm” I received in celebration from Rabbi Hager. Unfortunately, the amulet was lost on the way to Transnistria, but perhaps thanks to it we remained, in part, alive and survived the war and the Holocaust.

 

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The Niederhoffer family

 

Our home in Schotz no longer exists. The Romanians demolished it in the 1970s and built the city's pedestrian mall and a row of 5-storey houses instead. I can also relate that five years ago, on my first visit

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to Romania since those days, I got, through a junior official in the Romanian Land Registry, and through some bribes (some banknotes passed from hand to hand), various documents to prove our ownership of the house:

  1. Contract from 1932 for the purchase of the house signed by my late father and mother.
  2. A document from the 1950s according to which the Romanian authorities expropriated the house in the owner's absence.
  3. A demolition order for the house from the 1970s for the rehabilitation of the environment and the construction of the pedestrian mall.
We were doing well. My father was a successful “Angro (Enegro?)” Merchant, and together with his partner, Baron Capri, a landowner, they supplied lumber, potatoes, and other products to other parts of Romania. We even had a telephone in the house, which was then considered a luxury. It was an extension of the telephone from the city's switchboard and all incoming and outgoing calls were made by a telephone operator.

 

Deportation to the ghetto in Transnistria in 1941

In the fall of 1941, we were deported along with all the Jews of Bucovina to Ukraine/Transnistria. I remember the freight cars by which they transported us to the Dniester River, the crossing to Mogilev, and then to the ghetto in Murafa.

My father, with his developed commercial sense, immediately opened a kosher meat butcher shop with a partner and we tried to survive. But my father's luck did not last. With the poor hygienic conditions in which we lived then, he contracted typhus and on the 8th day of Passover 1942 (at night after Passover ended), my father passed away and left us: Mother a widow and two orphans to continue to cope with the difficulties of living in the ghetto.

My mother exerted efforts and, thanks to special connections, they transferred us to the ghetto in Djurin, where my mother's entire family stayed: Uncles Riegler and Fuchs. We spent time there until the end of the war, making a living selling old clothes; ours and others, to survive.

 

1944, the end of the war

In 1944, when the war ended, the family decided to return to Romania. We bought a horse and wagon, loaded our belongings, and made the journey back to Romania, which lasted about two weeks. The adults walked, and the children rode part of the time on the wagon. When we arrived in Lipcani on the Russia-Romanian border,

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we were informed that the border was closed. There was no passage into Romania and we had to keep about 25 km from the border. When even our attempts to cross the border elsewhere were unsuccessful, we settled in the city of Bereznyi in Bessarabia, where we spent another year of exile. This year passed without hassling by Romanian soldiers (storm-troopers).

In the summer of 1945, after the intervention of the JDC and the leadership of the Jews of Romania in Bucharest, we finally returned to Schotz. We went back to our house, and we found the back part destroyed. We assumed that the destruction was because of gentiles' attempts to search for valuables within the walls. They thought my father hid money there, but unfortunately, they found nothing.

My ffather was wealthy. He left a lot of money with his partner, Baron Capri. Unfortunately, when we returned after the war, the Baron denied the matter and turned us down, except for a few pennies that we received from him.

 

The yearning and emigration to Eretz Israel

We spent another 3 years in Schotz. My sister and I attended the Jewish High School.

I emigrated to Israel in 1947, through the Youth Aliyah. Along the way, I spent 16 months at a boarding school in the Netherlands. I arrived in Israel in 1948, after the establishment of the State of Israel. My sister Zehava immigrated through Cyprus on the Pan Crescent and Pan York and arrived in Eretz [Israel] in 1948, just before the establishment of the State of Israel. My mother obm only joined us in 1951.

 

A few words about the Romanians and Romanian authorities

The Romanians were not “so nice,” to say the least, as they are trying to portray themselves today. During most of World War II, the Romanians collaborated with the Nazi extermination machine, and the Romanian troopers were not much different in their behavior from their Nazi accomplices. At the end of the war, they turned-coat and joined the Allies. Under no circumstances does that entitle them to anything. The Romanian authorities must take responsibility for their criminal acts during the war, and draw lessons for future generations. Even today, it is not too late. It is important that the Romanians return stolen property to Romanian Jews, or compensate them with today's real values. Property can be returned; life is no longer!

We Romanian Jews must forever remember what the Romanians did to us during World War II.

We Will Never Forget And Never Forgive.

 

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Ada and Ḥaim (Zuniu) (Neuberger) Noi's Stories

The Talmud Torah and Jewish education in Suceava (by Ḥaim Noi)

I received my Jewish education in Suceava by a private teacher, and also in the Talmud Torah, which was in a building that was only for Jewish and Hebrew education in the city. It had three classrooms for boys, a kindergarten and classrooms for girls (Beit Yaakov). The boys were taught by Teachers: Weissberg, Carten and Miller obm. Teacher Miller spoke fluent Hebrew (I think he was once in Eretz Israel) and Teacher Weissberg who specialized in teaching Gemara and Torah. Teaching of Hebrew, the Bible and the Talmud was conducted in the afternoon in the aforementioned Talmud Torah (because in the morning most students attended Romanian state schools) and the studies began at 4 pm, and lasted three to four hours.

 

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Ada and Ḥaim (Zuniu) Noi (Neuberger)

 

State education was compulsory in elementary school and after four years I moved to first grade (form) in high school, from eight years until matriculation. I remember that in first grade (form) of high school, there were over 30 Jewish students enrolled in my class. But in the eighth grade (with matriculation) only 4 completed their studies. Most of the Jewish students were failed by the antisemitic teacher Karlen (who was an MP for the antisemitic Cuza party).

I remember that a lot of homework was given at state school, which we worked on until late at night. In the higher high school forms, I no longer had the opportunity to spend so many afternoons studying Judaism, so my parents decided

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to hire Teacher Weissberg, who taught me in the afternoon at our home. He was a well-known scholar, had difficulty with speaking Hebrew, so my late mother made sure to only speak Hebrew to me.

Apparently, such study from childhood and youth were not forgotten, despite the hardship we went through during World War II. When we arrived in Israel at the end of 1948, my wife and I spoke Hebrew so fluently that customs suspected us we were returning Israelis who wanted to evade customs payment!

 

About the Schwarz family (Ada Noi; Idela bat Yoel David Schwarz and Vika née Pelz)

One of the most extended Jewish families in Suceava was the Schwarz family, which was called di poileshe, a nickname that signified their origin. The mother of the family, the late Deborah Schwarz, emigrated to Suceava from Poland with her five children after she was widowed. She found work for the family's livelihood with a cousin (Shimshon Zeberling), who owned a small spinning mill in Suceava (in the courtyard of Rabbi Yankele Moskowici's synagogue).

Four members of the family established families in the city: Meir Schwarz, Yitzchak Schwarz, Yoel David Schwarz and Esther Karniol (the fifth daughter, Chaya and La Segal, live in Focşani). They all owned shops like most of the city's Jews. They were devoutly religious and raised their children in a religious Jewish and Zionist spirit.

Some of the family's descendants emigrated to Eretz [Israel] back in the 1930s. A few emigrated to distant countries, but those who returned from Transnistria emigrated to Israel after World War II. Most of the descendants of the Schwarz family now live in Israel.

 

The Jewish kindergarten in Suceava (by Ada Noi)

I would also like to write something about the Jewish education in the city, which the Yiddishe Cultus Gemeinde handled and whose activity was welcome and commendable. Among the Jewish educational institutions, I remember in particular the community's kindergarten, with kindergarten teacher Mrs. Balranka Izuhi, a devoted woman who dedicated herself to the education of the city's Jewish toddlers. She worked two shifts a day, before noon with the smaller children and in the afternoon with the older ones. The activity in the garden was diversified. An emphasis was placed especially on Hebrew and Zionism.

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We have all remembered from back then the Hebrew language poems that we learned in kindergarten such as “Oh homeland, you are a nice country...” Or “Hurry brothers, hurry... To our ancestral land...” Even the Romanian language was not neglected (songs such as “Alunelu”). That contributed to our ability to integrate into Romanian state schools, because at home the spoken language was not Romanian, but German and Yiddish.

 

“All in need” (by Ada Noi)

As a child, I spent a lot of time at the home of the late Rabbi Yaakov Moskowici, “Rabbi Yankele”, because I was friends with his daughter Miriam Yehudit. It was a large house with lots of rooms, but one did not enter the rabbi's own room without permission or an invitation. People had great respect for the rabbi.

I was particularly impressed by the hospitality customary in this house. Throughout the day, every needy person could get a hot meal there and many passersby knew about it. The employees, under the guidance of the kind-hearted Rabbi's wife Pessyale, worked most of the day cooking and preparing the meals served to each supplicant /beggar. Apparently, with such rabbis there is no need for soup kitchens, all the appreciation is due them for it.

 

Solomon Sulchiner's Story

Opening words: I lived in Suceava at 86 Chernaucilor Street. On October 9, 1941, at 08:00 am, we were informed that we had to leave the house and get into order on the street. At home, we were myself, my wife Betzi (née Weintraub) and her mother Bluma Weintraub (daughter of the late Aryeh Leib Pisem, who died several years before).

We were married on September 13, 1941, and 26 days later we were deported with what belongings that we could take with us for the journey. When we arrived at the Burdujeni train station, we were forcibly loaded onto freight cars. We traveled for two days until we got to Ataky on the banks of the Dniester. There we were taken off the train by Romanian gendarmes and robbed of everything we had; money, wedding gifts, and anything of value. We were put on a raft and reached the other bank of the Dniester, to Mogilev, where we were transferred to a barracks which also had Germans present. The next day, we were taken out and marched on the road that led to Copaigorod, without food and water. We were tired and exhausted, especially my mother-in-law Bluma, aged 53 and had a particularly difficult time keeping up.

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Solomon and Bracha Sulchiner

 

After many more marches, through different places, we arrived in Shargorod after 30 days. Here I met with my brother, Yuzhou Venlo, who was expelled from Bosanci Street two days after us. They came directly to Shargorod, while for us it took an entire month of wandering in terrible conditions and in great fear (because it was forbidden to walk from place to place). Later on, I was in various forced labor gangs paving the road from Murafa-Yafimovka together with engineer Koenig. At Kolkhoz Kalokotina, together with Dr. Weitman and Fischler who distributed barley bread and lentil soup; the food we received there.

I worked over the entire summer, paving the road that ended up at the Zhmerynka train station. When I returned to work in Shargorod, I received a residence permit and found a cubicle where the three of us lived. We got sick with typhus, and I walked to Murafa afterwards to get injections for my wife. The Leon Glickman family helped me and, thanks to them, I got the medications. The “hike” to Murafa and back was done at night and was extremely dangerous, in winter with piles of snow and life-threatening dangers.

In the spring of 1943, I was sent with my younger brother to Trykhaty, where we were building a bridge on the Bug River under German guard. It was then that my wife, who was pregnant, gave birth to a son. With the help of the Wagner family, he was circumcised and named Feibish-Perry, after the late Feivel Wagner.

Today, my family lives in Haifa. We have two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have reached 87 and my wife is 85, but she is ill. I wish everyone well and that we get to a better situation for our whole family and our dear country.

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Yaakov Smotrici's Story

On my family: my parents drowned in the abyss on their way to Eretz [Israel].

One of the well-known families in Schotz was the Smotrici family. My great-grandfather, Rabbi Yisrael-Leib Smotrici obm, was the rabbi and rabbinical judge of Schotz from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. My late father, Ḥ Smotrici was a scholar, a friend of the late Gaon Meir Schapira, also born in Schotz, who founded the well-known “Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin”.

 

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Ḥaim Smotrici and his wife Elka obm

 

As I was told, in his youth, my father studied at the Vizhnitzer Cluj in Schotz, and together with Meir Schapiro and Michael Wasserman, were known as the “trio”. My whole family was Zionistic. I remember Schotz as a Zionist and Ḥassidic city.

To my sorrow, my parents did not get to Eretz Israel. They sank into the abyss with the MV Mefküre that left Constanta with over 380 Jews, including some 80 Transnistria orphans, but was shelled and sunk in the Black Sea. The ship sailed on the evening of Shabbat Naḥamu, Parshat ve'etḥanan. The disaster happened near the start of its voyage on Shabbat, on the eve of 16 Menaḥem Av 5704, (August 4, 1944). Much has been written about the Mefküre disaster. A few months after the Germans sank the ship, an article appeared in the haboker newspaper and in it was a passage about my parents:

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Certificate of the drowning of Ḥaim and Elka Smotrici on their way to Eretz [Israel]

 

Deaths at sea

Memorial candles for the Mefküre victims

Among the passengers on the Mefküre were special people, such as Rabbi Ḥ Smotrici and his wife. He is a wise Jew, who set aside time for learning Torah, had broad knowledge and an excellent memory, always happy, always eager to tell some joke from the small talk by the Sages. A sensitive singer, who knew an entire collection of Ḥassidic tunes.

She was a woman of valor, and her home was wide open to the religious Zionist youth in Bucharest. There, in their home, there were a lot of conversations when the movement was underground, a lot of meetings and even debates. Whomever came to her home, Mrs. Smotrici treated like her own children. She welcomed them all with love and warmth.

State institutions recognized the victims of the Mefküre as eligible for commemorative certificates.

Personally, I do not have a lot of memories of Schotz because our family left the city in December 1932 when I was 11. One memory that I have of Schotz is that with the genius Rabbi Meshulam Roth obm came to serve as the city's rabbi, the Talmud Torah began teaching Ḥumash Hebrew in Hebrew. We studied Hebrew, Hebrew grammar, Jewish history, some religious laws, and, as mentioned above, all this in Hebrew. My teacher was Miller. We studied the book of Samuel with the commentary mikra meforash. In Ultra-Orthodox circles this commentary was considered a modern interpretation and books with this commentary did not enter their home.

I emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in March 1941. In 1946, I married Bruria (née Rafelfeld). Our children, a son and a daughter, are both educators. The daughter is a member of Kibbutz Tirat Zvi and the son is at Beit Yatir in the Southern Hebron Hills. We have 12 grandchildren, thank Heavens, seven of whom are already married and we have even been blessed with great-grandchildren.

 

The Story of Natanel (Wax) Amit

I was born on Shabbat, May 14, 1932, in Suceava, in my parents' apartment on the main street as was customary the time. My mother Mina and my father Milo Wax had married a year earlier, meanwhile my grandfather Natanel (Snell) Dalfen had passed away, so I was named after him. My grandparents had seven children. My mother was the youngest and inherited the book and stationery store, as well as a regional yeast agency. The firm carried the “Le Dalfen” brand. My grandfather, who originated from Galicia, was a scholar (albeit a skeptic), was proficient in the Hebrew language, and therefore he liked to instill his knowledge in all the residents of Schotz who wanted it. The impulse for this came from being a Zionist from the “Aḥad Ha'am” branch, who he knew personally. When I turned three, I was first brought to the Jewish kindergarten of the community in the city under the direction of the kindergarten teacher Balranka Izuhi, an exemplary pedagogical personality whom I really loved. I stayed under her educational auspices for about four years. I studied Hebrew and Torah with her until I was 6 years old, instead of going to the ḥeder. On September 1, 1939, I attended the city's municipal boys' school. My teacher was a Mr. Schlusser, a kind educator and especially so for me. I studied diligently and was among the best students in my class.

As we know, at that same time, World War II broke out. Aside from my Jewish friends, my best friend was Milotzu Orndovici, who was the son of the commander of the Garda de Fier (the fascist legionnaires at the time) but ended his friendship with me. Until the end of the summer of 1940, the Jews were not harmed, although there were signs it was coming. Indeed, at the beginning of September 1940, a decree was issued that Jews could not attend a public school. Luckily for me, my father had special rights (Category 2), because my grandfather was a combat soldier in the Romanian Army

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during the War of Independence in 1877 against the Turks. So only myself and Benjamin Wolf could attend as usual. At the end of the sophomore year, we were told that this right had expired. Therefore, we were not to set foot there anymore, the same as the other Jews.

My parents also suffered from legionnaires' guards; they kept away those gentiles who wanted to shop in our store. Our livelihood was also damaged when my father was occasionally recruited for local military purposes. At the beginning of 1941, a decree was issued that Jews had to wear a yellow Star of David on their outer garment. The Legionnaires' activity was well felt. Shopkeepers were forced to add a Romanian gentile as a partner and finally, as we know, on October 9, 1941, an order was issued that all Jewish families must leave their homes within 48 hours, with baggage of up to 100 kg for a family of four, and limited amount of cash, and to report to the train station in Burdujeni. The Jewish population was divided into three arrival times: October 9, 10, 11, 1941.

Panic and tension prevailed. Our family somehow organized, including sewing valuables into clothes and shoes. At the [train] station we were loaded, like the other Jews, into terribly crowded cattle cars with no minimal sanitary conditions and we left on a chilly night, to an unknown destination. After about three days, we arrived at Ataky, in Bessarabia, on the bank of the Dniester [River], where they rushed us out to get into a convoy and then housed in warehouses in a kind of no-man's land. We rested here for a few days. With the Romanian money my father had, he bought some food. We were told that our packages had to be shrunken down so we could cross by ferry to Mogilev on the other bank.

When we arrived in Transnistria, my father and mother were 36 years old, I was 9, and my sister 4. In early November, signs of winter appeared. By shared family effort, with the essential things (the rest my father could barely sell) we reached Mogilev already crammed with deportees like us, placed into a rundown hotel, to the corner allocated to our family. Here we waited for the continuation of our journey into an unknown future. Life for those who survived was [lived] day-to-day and hour by hour. Not everyone lasted. As a child, I remember pictures from both Ataky and Mogilev, of fallen old and sick people. Three days later, our family, with another 300 people, including children, moved on foot towards Shargorod. The convoy was led by five Romanian soldiers, who urged the people forward. Those lingering were hit without mercy by rifle butts. There were also about four wagons loaded with most of the baggage. Also, old people and children could take turns riding on them. Every day we advanced about 20 km. On the evening of the third day, we reached Shargorod. Everyone received an address, and we arrived with three other families at Aron Gedaliah's [home], a local Jew with a family of five who lived in an apartment of about 60 m². We crammed 21 people in there. Sanitary conditions were close to nothing: actual bathing

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once a week was with snow; for the toilet, we ran out for up to a kilometer to trenches by the local river. Food could only be gotten if you have something left to sell or in exchange for clothing. Hunger took its toll as well as did typhus. So, it went on for about eight months. My father and mother were recruited for hard labor; paving a road 30 km east of Shargorod. Luckily, they were given permission to take us, the children, with them, because relatively speaking, it was not so crowded there. We were housed together with the rest of the people up to the age of 40, in a large dairy barn at the local kolkhoz. Our beds were a layer of straw. We covered up with what each of us had from home. The food was a disgusting porridge from oatmeal given twice a day. Sometimes our father sweetened the food with a little milk he bought. Twice a week, we got a loaf of bread for the whole family. Luckily, we kids, up to age 12, were free to do as we pleased. So, we gathered some vegetables in the fields around us and sometimes some fruit.

Thus, it lasted more than a year, until August 1943, when the road construction project stopped: The Germans withdrew from the East because of the defeat in Stalingrad. Indeed, an order came to immediately abandon the camp. Now there was no forced [labor], no overlord, but also no porridge either. We had to travel to a settled place. By luck, after a three-hour walk, we arrived at Murafa, a town with a Jewish community. It was headed by a fellow townsman, Mr. Bacal. In our troubled condition, we asked for help to be absorbed there. We were allocated a cubicle at the entrance to a residence, which was 3 m x 2.5 m in size and had a cooking area. My father collected planks from around outside, and with them we built a kind of bed, a platform, for the four of us. We brought straw from the nearby market, upon which we spread a blanket for all of us and put our backpacks near our heads. We gathered food from neighbors who were better off than us. Then my father found a gold coin in one of our items of clothes from home. He rushed to sell it and began trading to support us. Meanwhile, on the Eastern front near us, the thunder of the Red Army's cannon thunder was heard as it was advancing. The situation was dangerous because with the withdrawal of the Germans and the Ukrainian Dobrowol'chyy who now sought revenge on the Jews. We had to hide to survive. At the market, besides food, my father could also buy a quantity of dried tobacco leaves. We used these everywhere as currency. Thus, we set off, first to Djurin, where my mother's sister equipped us with a little food and then to the Dniester border and then to the Prut [River]. We took a Russian train with soldiers who agreed to let us board. Along the way, they wanted to recruit Father who had not yet turned 40, but out of pity for us children, who also sang Russian songs, they dropped it. This is how we reached the border, but we were informed that today the border was closed and there was no crossing. Luckily, a Romanian peasant came to us, and helped us by getting us across the Prut in her boat and housed us in her home. All that for a fistful of tobacco for her husband. After a decent meal and a great sleep, for the first time in years, she took us early in the morning in her cart, with us covered by a layer of straw, to a crossroads outside the danger area.

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Again, we got a ride in a wagon going to Dorohoi. There, my father met relatives who had survived in Romania all these years, and who, despite their serious condition, helped us with everything.

We arrived in Suceava wearing rags, a little luggage, and some tobacco. The sight was very difficult: the house we lived in was occupied. Everything in the city seemed abandoned and derelict. We took over a shop that once belonged to my mother's sister; all the rooms next door that were deserted. I found a big grocery store with a lot of abandoned merchandise. The whole family joined in, cleaned the quarters and the store, and moved the merchandise there. That is how in July 1944, we began a new life. A month later, the Romanian king surrendered and signed an armistice, and the roads re-opened for traffic. That way Father {md: source has 1st person} could bring merchandise to the store that was now returned to its original prewar purpose. We put up a new sign reading Cultura Romaniaska. It seemed to us that we would recover.

I resumed my studies that had been neglected for over three years. The Jewish community, which also recovered, opened a special Jewish-run school, but with teachers who also included Romanians, and so I regained all the missed schooling within a year and a half. At the same time, the “Zionist Youth” movement built itself up and sparked off intensive activity. So, I joined it at age 14. There we worked at learning Hebrew, the history of Zionism, current events in the Eretz Israel, as well as Hebrew songs. This was especially so after 29 November 1947, when they called for emigration to Eretz Israel. In the ken, I was active in “Scouts” under the guidance of Simcha Weissbuch, who passed the idea on to us and even supported emigration to Eretz [Israel]. I took advantage of this wave, deciding as a teenager to fulfill the Zionist ideal. Full of youthful enthusiasm, I reminded my mother of my grandfather's will and the song: “There in the coveted ancestral Land, all hopes will be fulfilled.” Yiddel Tennenhaus helped me convince my parents, and I indeed executed the plan that had been coming together in my mind, and on December 22, 1947, I emigrated to Eretz Israel. But instead of coming to Eretz [Israel], I arrived with another 15,000 immigrants to the camps that the British Army had prepared in Cyprus. At about 15½ years old, I spent three months in tents, with the January rains and, but I was full of enthusiasm and my spirit was high. The Jewish Agency arranged for all 14-15-year-olds to receive approval from the Mandate to immigrate legally. So, I and 120 other boys came to Eretz [Israel], on Purim, March 24, 1948. At first, we stayed at the Beit Ha'olim in 'Ra'annana. From there, I and another 26 boys and girls were assigned to Moshav Rishpon with veteran families. I acclimatized quickly because my knowledge of Hebrew and Torah, as well as mathematics, history, and geography, surpassed that of others. But I sought a connection to members of the Zionist Youth movement. After the Egyptian occupation, I closed the circle and moved to the Zionist Youth institution. I was part of the founders' clique, and I was quickly welcomed among friends and school.

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I was trained and knowledgeable about agriculture from the moshav. Half the time I studied and the other half I worked as a milker at the nearby kibbutz cowshed.

My parents and sisters immigrated from Romania in July 1950. I helped my parents get into the Kfar Ata transit camp. I was required to enlist in regular army service on October 25, 1950, and was assigned to the Artillery Corps to my great sorrow. I finished my service as a quartermaster officer {md: today it is known as “Technology and Logistics Division”} and got out because I wanted to sign for permanent service in the 1st Golani Brigade. Three months after my release, I was accepted into the Ata factory as a clerk. At the time, getting the position was an almost impossible mission. Thus, I actually fulfilled my part in successful absorption in Israel. Six months later, the whole family moved to Haifa after I received tenure at the factory. I completed high school studies and passed matriculation exams. Then, with a stipend from Ata, I enrolled and completed higher education for a bachelor's degree in economics and statistics. In the last year of my studies, I was already married, and I had four great children, for us and for the State of Israel.

Today my eldest son, Sagiv is 41; the second, Matti 37; my daughter Dalit, 35; and my daughter Naomi, 27, is doing her masters in chemistry at Tel-Aviv University. There are 14 grandsons and granddaughters in my family. I am retired and at 70 I am busy as a voluntary mentor at clubs. I believe with all modesty that I have brought honor to the Suceava community and the Zionist movement.

 

The story of Rachel (Shela) Etzion (née Schweizer)

I am Rachel (Shela) Etzion (née Schweizer), widow of Yehoshua Etzion (Bibi Fallenbaum). I was born in 1933 to the Schweizer family in the village of Mihăileni.

In 1941, as the German army advanced eastwards, we were deported along with all the people of the village to Transnistria. We arrived at a small village called Vendichany where we lived and went through all the horrors of war until the liberation in 1944.

We returned by freight trains to Romania, to Mihăileni. In 1945, the family moved to Suceava, where we lived for five years. For me, these were wonderful years after all the suffering that we underwent during the war. I continued to attend high school and thoroughly enjoyed my studies and social life. The family emigrated to Israel in 1950. After an extended stay at the transit camps, we finally settled in Haifa, where we still live.

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Rachel (Shela) and Yehoshua (Bibi) Etzion (Fallenbaum)

 

In memory of Yehoshua Etzion (Bibi Fallenbaum) obm

I knew Bibi from abroad when I was a teenager, but in Israel I met him again and a connection was established, which led to our marriage in 1954. We had our children, Meir and Tali, who, in time, gave us five grandchildren.

Bibi was born in 1925 in Suceava to Meir and Feige (née Shaechner) Fallenbaum. There were two other children in the family: brother David (Dovidle) and half-sister Fanzia. The parents owned a shop selling fabrics and sewing essentials in the Yiddeshe Gasse.

The father died at the age of 52, and Bibi was forced, as a child, to help his mother support the family. In 1941, the entire family, together with the rest of the community, was deported to Murafa in Transnistria. Like the other Jews, the family suffered from hunger, cold, and disease. The oldest brother was taken to a labor camp in Trykhaty and Bibi took care of his mother until the liberation.

In 1945, Bibi returned with his family to Suceava. After activity in the Beitar movement, he emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in 1947 on the Pan York, as part of the Youth Aliyah, but the immigrants were exiled by the English to Cyprus and only reached Israel in 1948. Upon his arrival, he enlisted in the Pal-Yam unit, later the Navy. Bibi continued his service in the career army. After an officers' course, he served in a variety of positions while studying, rising through the ranks. He was discharged in 1972 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Feige, Bibi's mother, immigrated to Israel in 1950, and since then he has taken care of all her needs until her last day.

Upon his discharge from the army, he began working at the University of Haifa in an administrative capacity

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until his death in 1986. Unfortunately, he did not get to know his grandchildren, but we mention him and cherish his memory.

 

Shlomo Fuchs's Story

I was born in Suceava on March 22, 1934, to Moshe and Esther Fuchs. We lived at 34 Regina Maria Street, in the home of Moshe Shamai Schapira and Berl and Rachel Liquornik.

My mother owned a dairy shop (Brânzărie). My younger brother, Yosef Fuchs, lived together with us. Near us, at #39, lived my sister Amy Bluma with her husband Avraham Schapira. They owned a haberdashery. At the time, my uncle Avraham Schapira's parents had a tavern at #41.

 

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Shlomo (on the right) and Yosef Fuchs

 

As with most Jewish children at the time, the midwife was Mrs. Nossig. At three, I went to the Hebrew kindergarten under kindergarten teacher Mrs. Izuhi, which I attended from 1937 to 1941. In the afternoon, I went to the Talmud Torah (ḥeder) which was next to the kindergarten. In September 1940, I went to first grade at the state elementary school, which was in the Municipal Garden (Volksgarten) across from city hall.

However, a few days later, all the Jewish pupils were informed to go home and no longer come

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to school. The persecution by the fascist regime of Marshal Antonescu and Cornelio Codreanu's Iron Guards began. On October 10, 1941, we were deported together with all the Jews of Suceava to Transnistria. The train brought us to Ataky in Bessarabia on the banks of the Dniester River. From there, we crossed the Dniester River by ferry and arrived in Mogilev-Podolsk by freight train.

After spending a few days in the camp in Mogilev, we escaped from the camp and, with the help of local Jews, we rented a wagon and reached Shargorod. There we went through all the tribulations of typhus, famine, and cold. My uncle Avraham Schapira died there, but we survived. In 1944, the Red Army liberated Shargorod. Together with the Red Army, we moved towards Czernowitz. I, a 10-year-old boy, and my 8-year-old brother Joseph, walked the road barefoot from Mogilev to Czernowitz. We returned to Suceava from Czernowitz when the front was still in Fălticeni, about 20 km from Suceava.

I began studying to complete what I had missed during three years in Transnistria. After a series of external exams, I was accepted into the first form (5 years of study) of the “Ştefan Cel Mare” High School. After that, I finished another 2 years of studying at the Jewish High School. Like all Jewish youth in Suceava, we joined Zionist youth movements. I joined the Beitar movement in which my late uncle Willy (Ze'ev) Lecker was a member.

In 1947, {It's unclear how many years of schooling he had. Was it 5 +2???} together with a group of children from all youth movements, I traveled through Bucharest to Holland. In Holland, we spent a year in a Youth Aliyah children's village funded by the Dutch government, and in October 1948 we emigrated to Israel on the Negba. In Israel, I stayed, as part of the Youth Aliyah, in a Beitar children's village in Be'er Yaakov, later becoming the Jabotinsky Educational Institution.

In 1950, together with my family, we joined an immigrant moshav near Ekron (Mazkeret Batya), later called Moshav Ganne Yohanan. In 1952, I enlisted in the IDF and served in the Armed Forces for two and a half years until 1954.

I married in 1955 and had two children. Over the years, I have completed technical studies in the automotive and transportation field, and worked as the technical director at a government company for 38 years.

I retired in 1999. Unfortunately, my wife died in December 2002. I still work part-time.

 


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Benzion Fuchs's Story

(The family tree is listed at the end of the article)

For Tom, Ido, Shaḥar and Aḥinoam

The resume` that scientists are required and accustomed to present begins, as in my case, as follows:

Born: September 8, 1930 (Romania); in Israel: since 1950; Army service: 1951-1954; Married (Tamar) + 2 (Neora, Eden), and that's it! From here on out are detailed the academic studies and degrees, appointments in Israel and abroad, prizes, achievements, publications, and so forth. I often sat and looked in amazement at the one line above what is in it and what is not in it?! Therefore, the lines below.

I was told that I was born an hour after the death of my grandfather Ben-Zion Fuchs. That was how I got his name. He and my grandmother Mirza had six children (as detailed at the end of the article), may the memory of all of them be blessed. Among them, the second brother, Yeḥiel, died in his youth and the two younger brothers, Ze'ev-Velvel and Zevulun, real Zionists, emigrated to Palestine in the early 1930s. The first-born brother, Daniel, and my father Hersch-Zvi, managed and expanded the family business on the main street, which flourished and was well-known in the city and the surrounding area and had everything from groceries to agricultural tools and fuel for vehicles.

In 1925, my father married Mina, and bought her to Suceava. She was the late Mindele Janover, the youngest daughter of the Chief Rabbi of Iaşi, the late Mordechai Janover. They had two sons, my older brother, the firstborn, Asher-Selig, in 1926, and myself in 1930. I often asked myself how the memory of most of my history from the first ten years of my life in Suceava had disappeared from my memory. The only answer that comes to mind is that the intensity of the events that followed overshadowed that peaceful childhood. Underlying all my memories, and also my story, are the more shocking or formative events than just routine details.

Still, there remain some fragments of a beautiful memory of a good life in the house on the Lange Gasse, in Rabbi Hager's courtyard, with the lilac trees in front of the window and the extensive garden of nut trees and the adjacent synagogue. Life took place between the house, the shop on the main street, the school and the Talmud Torah and of course, the visits to Grandma Mirza's house up our street, spending the holidays there, especially when it was possible to stay overnight and savor her stories about the Baal Shem-Tov. During the fruit season, the whole family gathered in the courtyard, where a hole was dug with a huge bowl for cooking and turning the plums into povidella with the participation of peasants from the village and interwoven with stories, food and drink, a real experience. Grandma insisted she continue living in her home, even in her widowhood. Her sons carried out her wish meticulously and continued to keep a small shop for her at the front of the house.

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First the daughter, Ḥayya-Ḥitza lived with her, until she married and moved to Storozhynets, and then her niece, Sarah-Sorka Kraemer (later Schmelzer) who was nice and always smiling, moved in with her. Across from Grandmother lived Mayor Dorupatay on the right side. On the left was the Haas family, with a small farm. A visit there was interesting, including conversations with the brothers Omi and Menashe, who are so at odds in temperament and views. Occasionally there were trips to the grandparents in Iaşi or a health spa, quite different from going to Czernowitz to Dr. Nua, the pediatrician, for treating childhood diseases.

Like everyone else, I went through the stages of traditional education in “Auntie” Izuhi's kindergarten and Teacher Carten's ḥeder and, of course, the elementary school, where I completed three grades. Mother, who was Rabbi Janover's only daughter who graduated from high school, was the one who kept pushing for education and culture. Thus, even then, we were both sent to English classes with an old maid up the street, and violin lessons at Buki Gropper's, across the street. My brother dropped out of them pretty quickly but I went on until the deportation.

* * *

Indeed, that was when other scary winds started blowing. As a child, I remember the first slap I took on the way to school from an Iron Guard Legionnaire. Interestingly, not because of my Judaism, but because my coat had 'gold' buttons with the royal emblem embedded in them and I was sent home to have them changed. Then they stopped our studies completely. The Jews in the surrounding villages became afraid of the persecution there and then personal persecution began. At the beginning of 1941, the German army arrived and camped on the outskirts of the city and then the period for wearing the yellow Star of David arrived. We decided (some friends) to sweeten the humiliation and went to Grossman's iron smithy (behind Father's shop, near the Talmud-Torah) and he let us cut and polish Star of David symbols from brass, which we wore proudly ...and in fear. But finally, that bitter day in the fall of 1941 came when all the Jews were ordered to report to the train station for transfer to another place; no one knew where. The whole family gathered at the home of Uncle Daniel and his wife Jetti (they were childless) and packed together what was possible. The next day, we drove in a cart to the Burdujeni train station, where we were loaded into cargo/cattle cars and sent northeast.

On the first night, we were put in ruins left by the German/Romanian army in the town of Ataky on the banks of the Dniester [River]. It was also my first traumatic encounter with the reality of the Holocaust, when at night we were woken up by soldiers' screams, men's sighs and cries of women and children. Through the ruins we saw a convoy of Jews (from Yedinets, as we were told) in torn clothes, stumbling, falling and rising, driven by soldiers' screaming and using whips and clubs, most likely to their deaths. With the dread this left, we rose the next day for

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the Dniester crossing, with the parents debating where to hide the money they had that would save our lives in the next few stages.

We crossed the river, frightened and worried. We arrived in Mogilev where we were housed in a large, crowded building whose nature I cannot remember. Before long, Father and uncle and other partners organized a truck, which we boarded outside the city from which we had left on foot. After an anxious drive, we arrived in the evening on the edge of the town of Murafa, where we found shelter for the night. And again, encountering a direct threat in this new reality: That night, the man we were staying with rushed us to go down to the basement through a trapdoor in the floor and remain there in complete silence because a convoy of German Army was passing by and if we are caught, we would all be in mortal danger. We also went through this. The next day, Father and Uncle went out looking for “permanent” lodging. Uncle found a fairly large room on the main street and Father found a smaller room but with a small kitchenette, all this adjoining and belonging to the Mutchnik family. The choice was successful. Noah and Ḥanna Mutchnik were local Jews in their 60s, and established there. Also staying in their home were their daughter and daughter-in-law (whose husbands were conscripted into the army) and their grandson, Grisha, about 13 years old. They were left with the house (built of wood and/or clay) of two and a half rooms and a kitchen. Despite the overcrowding (they installed a sleeping place over the Pripachik, the cooking stove and oven). They rented a room to the Kupferberg couple, who was later joined by their brother/brother-in-law Shilo Ellenbogen, who was a Yiddish poet and an erudite person but crippled in face and soul. It should be noted that our fortunes improved: behind the house was an actual garden and an outhouse with a septic tank. Few were so fortunate to have this. That is how we lived for about three years, overcrowding and trying, which we succeeded, to survive.

Next to us was the town's oil press, which was deserted when we arrived but was occasionally used to produce sunflower oil. We tried to get the edible pressed remnant (the makukh). Across from us, again luckily for us, there was one of the village wells, so we did not have to go too far to pump water into buckets to bring home. Up the same street lived Yehudah Tennenhaus and his parents. The road led to Derebchyn, and at some distance was the Jewish cemetery.

We had some money left and Father also started trading in many things and even took (calculated) risks when leaving the town. On one of these journeys on foot to Shargorod (about 12 km), I accompanied him, carrying a backpack. My brother stayed with Mother to watch the house. Much later I did it again, but much of the way was by wagon.

However, the blows were not late in coming. As early as the spring of 1942, my uncle Daniel came down with typhus. His condition rapidly deteriorated into infectious jaundice. This was the first person whose death I witnessed, with all of us gathered around his bed. It was a major blow. He had the status of tribal leader, always prudent, serious and authoritative. The irony of fate! In 1937, he visited Eretz Israel to examine

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the possibility of Aliyah for the whole family, but when presented with the difficult economic situation in Israel, including that of the two brothers who had already immigrated, he returned home and ruled, “It's too soon!”

Not long after, the bitter news came of Aunt Ḥaya's death in Tereshpol'. In the fall Father fell ill with typhus, a cursed disease transmitted by lice, despite all the laundry and head washes with kerosene-water. Dad was of short stature but strong in his body, so the disease also attacked him fiercely, so they claimed. Dr. Kraemer treated him devotedly. We also brought Dr. Schaechter, but after nearly a week his fever rose to 42 degrees and he was wildly delirious. They gave up saying there was nothing to do and left. That evening, I ran to call the Fletcher, the Russian doctor, a kind of advanced paramedic, from the military hospital on the outskirts of the town. She came and declared that the situation seemed lost and the only thing left to try was to wrap him all night in sheets dipped in cold water. We did that frantically all night. At one point, it seemed as if he had passed away. Mother burst out screaming, “Herschel, loz mir nisht alein (Herschel, don't leave me alone!)”, he opened his eyes, and we continued working to cover him up. In the morning, his temperature dropped. I will never forget that night. Within a week, he was back on his feet, and after about six weeks, the three of us, my mother, my brother, and I became ill with the same disease, but with no comparison in terms of the severity of what had happened to Father. Had we been vaccinated to some extent? He took care of us like babies. In the end, he brought a cake. I do not know where he got it. This period has left us physically and financially exhausted. The potato soup contained a lot of peels. The favorite food was a slice of barley bread smeared with sunflower oil and with a rubbing of garlic cloves all around the crust. Father started trading again, for example, with the farmers in the Derebchyn area. If I am not mistaken, he got from them a kilo of salt, and a pod (16 kg) of brown sugar. This traumatic period had also left us with a positive sign, as paradoxical as it sounds. It was the feeling that it will always be possible to trust each other in the family and really, the hand or gaze of the parents always accompanied us as children, wherever and whatever we faced. This remained engraved in us throughout our lives, even when we had to take care of them in their old age.

With all that, our parents were concerned about our education. Büchwerk, the professor from Czernowitz, surpassed them all. He had taken with him a series of micro-books from every field. I think our parents worked (by bribery) to free him from forced labor at the quarry across the Murafa River so that he could teach the children. Besides me, Akhim Hopfmayer, Ingwald Zand, Bubi Huebner, Ziggy Berl, Wolfie Mossberg and others, came to him. We were all enchanted by the expert knowledge and culture he radiated. The man seemed dreamy in his attire and appearance, but immediately it was possible to observe the sharpness of his mind and perception. In exchange for the lessons,

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we brought a quarter loaf of bread or potatoes each time, but mostly his wife was not happy enough when he took potatoes and cut them up for demonstrations in spatial geometry classes. We studied with him mathematics, physics and chemistry. For botany lessons, he took us to a meadow by the river, picked flowers and analyzed them before us. The most exciting moments for me were the literature lessons, German of course. We read from his tiny books (and sometimes from those that others brought with them, unbelievable!) plays and poems by Goethe, Schiller and Heine, we learned them by heart (to this day many of them are still engraved in my memory) and analyzed them. I first learned from him the concept of “poetical license;” to read between the lines.

A certain mystery shrouded Büchwerk. To this day, I could find no one who remembered his first name or what was his history. Upon liberation, we heard he was recruited to Zhukov's headquarters to work in cartography. He fell on the Berlin front. I owe him a lot of my cultural development. His memory will always have a place in my heart.

However, in the house there was also Shiloh Ellenbogen, who, because of his disability, was not recruited to work. When he was a little more invigorated, we sat next to him in the garden behind the house and he read to us in Yiddish from his poems or works such as a Yiddish translation of Goethe's “Faust”. From Mother we learned to read and write in Yiddish: Shalom Aleichem's stories, Mendel Mocher Seforim's books and J.L. Peretz. Of course, traditional education was not neglected, but especially in my case since I was approaching 13. I studied Bible and some Gemara with Litman Welzer, but I did not feel like I was very good at them. I cannot believe it, but I remember nothing from my Bar-Mitzvah day. It must have been a difficult time, and there is no one around anymore to ask. And there were also endearing things in children's company, the games (even poker taught by Muniu Distenfeld) using buttons or sweets and more, but also learning facts of life, among them to go about and usually getting beaten up in confrontations with the shkutzim (non-Jews) but not only with them. But all this has ended with the worsening of everyone's economic condition and also the hardening of the ruling powers. The lessons ended and boys were also taken to help with work in a quarry or tobacco. Distress and worry increased.

In the middle of this period of exile and at the most difficult time, with increasing casualties and problems in the community; also, the authorities becoming increasingly cruel because of the failures of the war; the community committee changed and Father was elected as a member. I wish it was not so, because we began living in tension because of the pressure by the regime on the one hand and the lack of gratification by the people on the other hand. More and more hungry and orphaned had to be taken care of (although some of them were also taken back to Romania and afterward emigrated to Eretz [Israel]) and at the same time, complying with the regime's demands, while bribery barely helped. I was still a child, but these things have stamped their impressions throughout my life. And a word about the regime: I was left with

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the impression that we had a certain “luck” that we were under Romanian management and supervision and the Germans only came sometimes. In this way, we were able, if only partially, to survive through negotiations and bribery. It turns out that their hatred of the Jews was conditioned by greed as opposed to the absolute evil by the Germans.

Eventually, for those who survived, and we were among them, the day of liberation by the Red Army came. The picture, engraved in my memory from those days from peering out through the wooden gate of Mutchnik's court, was a convoy of German soldiers in their panicked retreat, wallowing in the Ukrainian mud and an exhausted soldier holding a horse's tail and being dragged after him. A beggar's joy?!

After the liberation in the spring of 1944, we stayed in Murafa for a few more months, during which I attended school and learned Russian reading and writing, which I remember to this day, without really understanding the language. Eventually we set off to go back “home”, together with our friends, the Zand family, in a wagon. After crossing the Dniester [River], we continued on in the trucks that we got hold of and rented for part of the journey. We made progress almost behind the front [lines] and there were days/nights when we saw the Katyushas being fired at the retreating Germans. At the end of this arduous and strange journey, we arrived in Czernowitz, where we briefly stayed with the Bazan family, relatives of the Zand family. Of all things, there is engraved in my memory a certain event that has made us shudder. One day, as we walked down the street, a sudden curfew began, and Russian soldiers grabbed young men in the street and forcibly recruited them into the army, including my brother Selig, who was 18, tall and good-looking. My mother and I chased them all the way to the train station, where they had already put him on a train full of the new recruits who, we were told, were being sent to Tashkent. All the begging and crying by me and my mother did not help, until in desperation we lay down on the train steps, and then an officer who heard and realized when we shouted that we were returning from deportation by the Germans and what they were doing to us, heard us and released my brother.

* * *

After a short time, we moved to Bucharest, where Father found the possibility of working in trade and transportation business, and my brother and I also began attending school there. While we were there, I visited Wolfie Mossberg, whom I knew from Murafa, and with whom I also met Walter Ellenbogen. They told me about the beginning of their activities in a Zionist movement called “Zionist Youth”. On the spot, I was enthralled by the idea. Through them I joined in activities in the movement's Bucharest ken. However, soon in mid-1945, the possibility of returning to Suceava opened up, and we did so.

Our former home was no longer available to us. After a transition period, we rented an apartment in the Wagner family home, close to the courthouse. It was the residence of two future friends, Simcha Weissbuch and Bubi (Yisrael) Huebner. I began attending the Jewish High School and, of course, joined the “Zionist Youth” ken.

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That is how I entered an instructive and hectic period in my youth and in my life, in all areas: Gaining an education, stabilizing my worldview and social and Zionist activity. I read books as one possessed, from reference works, mainly historical and Jewish to fiction, much classical but mostly by the authors of that turbulent half-century. Most of my friends went through a similar process and there was outstanding mutual cross-fertilization with friends in school and in the movement. There were discussions and arguments, public trials and competitions, mathematics and chess (especially with Bubi Huebner) from Dostoevsky, Yehuda Halevy and Bialik (with Simcha Weissbuch) to Ştefan Zweig and Franz Werfel (with the late Marcel Becker, a fellow who was considered a bully, but a gifted painter and an avid and in-depth reader of good literature). In this process of adolescence, apostasy was established mainly (unfortunately for the parents), the avoidance of control over the fate of others, the desire to take part in the revival of nationality and a better society and not only to enjoy their fruits. In these, I was in good company in Schotz.

 

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Three friends

From the right: Benzion Fuchs, Simcha Weissbuch and Yisrael Huebner (Suceava, 1947)

 

At the end of 1946, the time came to be active in the movement (to the disappointment of the parents who opposed the break in continuing studies). The page is too short for describing all the extraordinary experiences of that time. After and along with occasional seminars in Bucharest, there were training activities in the children's homes in Gagia and then in Dorna. With the little we knew and learned all the time, we taught and guided groups of children. We were active with them from morning gymnastics through classes in both calculus and literature, history and knowledge of the Land of Israel, to organizing a choir for singing in the institution and before the community. In the end, as planned, we sent a number of groups to emigrate to Eretz [Israel]. I remember an interesting case, in which a group of children, ages 14 to 16 (in Gagia) contracted itching (scabies;

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not a dangerous but very irritating and contagious disease) and had to be transferred to complete isolation in the attic. There was also a need for a volunteer counselor to stay with them day and night. I went up; it was an engaging experience, literally. I had just read a history book considering archeology and made it the subject of study, there in the isolation ward. A week later, we went down, and another week later, of course, I had become infected. I went home on sick leave, which I used to study for the 11th grade exams held in 1947. After a while, I was transferred to the children's home in Dorna. That same year, my brother Selig (Gil) emigrated to Israel on behalf of the “Ha'oved Hatzioni – New Generation” on transports aboard the Pan ships, via the Cyprus camps. My parents had a hard time saying goodbye but understood the necessity.

My friend Simcha (who was instructing in Dorna when I got there) reminded me recently that I said that I would not take my matriculation exams because we would soon go to Aretz and to a settlement. He spoke to me earnestly not to give up. Indeed, I took the exams at the end of 1948, when the communist regime had already issued a ban on any Zionist activity. The children's homes (and the training branches) were closed. We tried to hold more activities but underground. But then came the instruction to stop and everyone had to find a solution for themselves until Aliyah. I applied for Aliyah and in the meantime, I signed up, tested and was accepted into chemistry studies at the University of Bucharest. My parents supported me in this. The cost of studying and culture was not high; one of the virtues of that regime.

These months were truly a bohemian-student period, the only one in my life. The challenging studies at the university and attending (almost for free) every concert and opera possible together with friends, were an experience that was good to remember, even while constantly dealing with the communist “Big Brother” who waited in ambush at every turn. During that temporary and almost delusional time, I also tried to improve my violin playing. I occasionally practiced playing after returning from Transnistria. I called and was invited to the home of the first (Jewish) player in the Philharmonic Orchestra. He asked me to play something for him. I did. He smiled and said I would first learn with one of his students and then we'll see. Getting the hint, I went back to my rented room and got rid of the violin. Thus, my musical illusions ended, and I was left with only my love of music. After the first semester exams, I was informed not only that I had succeeded in them but also that the exit permit had arrived. My parents showed the same generosity that characterized them in their caring for us and our future and did not let me feel sorry for their second separation after my brother's Aliyah. I left Romania and never returned to it again, without a bit of sadness or longing.

* * *

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Thus, on June 25, 1950, I disembarked from the Transylvania in Haifa port, where I was dusted with DDT. (And I welcomed it after the experience I had in Transnistria) and received a £14 loan from the [Jewish] Agency, most of which was offset for a bed and mattress that I was going to receive later. I repaid it down to the last Grush by 1954. My brother was waiting for me at the exit. In the meantime, he had changed his name to Gil Sha'al. He gave me £5 (a considerable sum at the time) a first gift, and took me to visit my uncles in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. At the port, I by chance met Tamar Rappaport, whom I had already known in the summer camps and also in movement counseling. She was to become my future wife. She stayed at Kibbutz Shoresh after immigrating to Israel.

(At this point of my writing, Tamar asked me, “What, you continue to write about the period after immigrating to Israel?” It was as if “Schotz” did not have a line in everything I have done there and here, for better or worse. One should know my story had to be condensed into the positive aspects of my life, despite all the events in which I have experienced or observed: Deporting and returning (but not home), forced labor and cooperation, betrayal and nobility, sickness and devotion, death and survival, violence and compassion, humiliation and self-respect All of these were processed and put into a certain perspective in Schotz, on its extensive familial and societal, which enabled us to build a new future).

After about a week, I moved to Kibbutz “Bama'avak” (in the abandoned German Templar settlement of Waldheim) connected to the “Zionist Worker”, to which I had been designated by the movement even before I immigrated. We were then joined by an entire group of members from the movement who had by then immigrated. They came from various kens and branches in Romania. I was lucky enough to get a good room in the dairy building of the old settlement, which I shared with Bozio, a member of the central leadership and the movement's “culturenik” in Romania, and later on Dr. Camilo Dresdner, director of the Knesset Library. And so began another hectic and defining period of my life. From the first day, I worked in the fields. Yankel Lieberman, to whom I was attached during the first month, did a thorough job; I would come back with my hands calloused from collecting the corn stalks and transferring them to the fodder pit until I developed a skill for it. The effort paid off: I underwent two weeks of training in the tractor garage, learned to drive a caterpillar tractor and a wheeled tractor. I was then accepted in the “extensive cultivation” branch, something that should not be underestimated by all and especially by the farmers. I plowed, disced and sowed the farm fields up to Zippori. But they would not allow me to harvest with the combine… yet That was during the day. At night, Bozio and I would read books; from the five volumes of Churchill's World War II (volume six had not yet appeared) to A. Kostler's Darkness at Noon, the last one in Hebrew translation alongside a dictionary and notebook for me, to record the incomprehensible words. So, after about three months, we only spoke Hebrew. Throughout the period, the

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communal life and manual labor: in agriculture, in the whitewashing of the toilets, on kitchen duty, alongside the founders such as Milo and his friends and before the leaders of the movement (Berl Shiver, who became the farm's shoemaker) and Itzio Herzig (Artzi, who went out to shepherd with books sticking out of his pockets) it was a great experience, despite all the difficulty involved in adapting to them.

After about two months, Tamar also moved to “Bama'avak” but left some time later for her own reasons. In the meantime, my parents immigrated to Israel, and my brother took them in. They stayed with him in the moshav for about a month. They also visited me on the kibbutz (and my mother burst into tears when she saw me return from the field and unloading bags of grain from the trailer). They were eventually absorbed at the barracks in the Kiryat Ono transit camp. My conscience really bothered me. I did not help them during those difficult times. Dad tried to trade cars {sic! probably typo and it's ניירות} in securities but it was difficult. Finally, he got into a partnership in a store with an old-world acquaintance of his.

I stayed on the kibbutz for another six months and left in mid-1951 when the assembly changed its status to that of a cooperative moshav under the name “Alonei Abba”. The reason/illusion was ideological, but not to mislead myself and others, I would have done so anyway. And so ended three years of Zionist volunteering in my life. A period of national service began.

I was supposed to enlist immediately, but I asked for a six-month delay, wanting to help my parents a little. Feeling unacceptable and guilty, I left the kibbutz in the morning (as thieves at night, Milo told me when we saw me after a while) with the agency bed in the van that the kibbutz made available to me straight to my parents' hut at the Kiryat Ono transit camp. I soon found a job as a translator from German to Hebrew and vice versa, in the office of a tough and fair Yeke industrialist (named Tornheim) who came on Aliyah in the 1930s and built a boiler factory but he could not “overcome” the Hebrew language.

Six months later, I enlisted in the IDF, underwent three months of boot camp, and was assigned, after learning that I had studied a semester of chemistry, to a science corps (ḥemed; who else knew there was such a corps?) This corps later grew to become Rafael. We manually produced bombs for future manufacture and for emergency use. We studied, assembled, tried, changed until we could put something out. It was a challenging time, with interesting people, led by Prof. Ernest David Bergman, one of the basic facilitators of the study and research of chemistry and nuclear science in Israel. I never dreamed then that 15 years later he would offer me the job as a chemistry lecturer at the university.

* * *

During this time, in the summer of 1952, I got off a truck that gave me a ride to Tel-Aviv from the camp, and I randomly encountered Tamar, who was a teacher in a border settlement. I realized that my love for her had not

[Page 514]

diminished. I was glad that she was single, and I knew where I was going. In October of that year, we were married at the “Noah's Ark” Club operated by the Soldiers' Welfare Committee on Yarkon Street in Tel-Aviv. My camp-mates joked that after I had previously turned down an offer to build a security wall in a dangerous facility where I worked, I suddenly demanded that it be erected. But they also did not understand why I turned down any offer to receive an officer's rank or sent to an officers' course but served as a private until my release. Go explain that already in Schotz, I vowed to avoid controlling other people's fates.

After a while, Tamar received a job offer at a Jerusalem school. I requested a transfer to the ḥemed camp there, and we moved to Jerusalem. We were given a room on the rooftop of an abandoned house in Abu-Tor, within the rifle range of the Legion on the walls of the Old City. We often had to find shelter from their shooting with residents on the ground floor. My parents were already there, which was also helpful, although they were not yet quite settled down. My father started as an employee in a candy store. He worked hard, and after a year he became a partner. About two years later, he established himself and bought the elderly partner's share who had meanwhile retired, and became the store owner.

 

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Mina and Zvi (Hersch) Fuchs (Jerusalem 1955)

 

At the end of 1953, I was discharged after a compulsory service of two and a half years, as was customary then. I began working as a chemistry technician with Prof. Felix Bergman, a charming man and an excellent scientist, who refused my request to work and study simultaneously at the university. In the spring of 1954, our daughter, Na'ora, was born, as her name, so she has always been. A few months later,

[Page 515]

Prof. David Ginsburg of the Weizmann Institute visited the laboratory. He was appointed head of the Department of Organic Chemistry and later of the Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion. It turned out that he had come to see me, after investigating with ḥemed members, and offered that I come with him to Haifa as chief technician of the Department of Organic Chemistry. It was an appealing proposition, but I risked it by answering that I was ready, provided he allowed me to study there at the same time. After a moment of hesitation, he replied he had not expected that, but he wanted it to be different, so long as it was not at the expense of working hours. Such was Ginsburg, an excellent scientist, a revered teacher, and an erudite person (until he was captivated by the magic of power and control).

 

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Tamar and Benzion Fuchs (Jerusalem 1954)

 

Thus began one of the most fertile but also most difficult periods of my life. We moved to Haifa and found accommodation close to the Technion in a two-room apartment, one of which was rented to two students. The move was hard, but it also had bonuses, such as part of Tamar's family who lived in the city and some friends from Schotz: Boumi and Pearli Stettner obm, and Yehudah and Jenny Tennenhaus, may he live long, and others.

Indeed, at the same time as working in establishing and organizing the laboratory, I enrolled in the first year of science studies in the chemistry program. They still studied for four years for a bachelor's degree. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced poverty, only it was with no sense of humiliation; just an inability to finish a hard work-month. At the time we went through four rented “apartments”. In order to make up the family's livelihood, I taught more evening classes that were preparing for matriculation, and when I completed

[Page 516]

my bachelor's degree and moved to study for a master's degree and assistant's status and later as an instructor, I could also supplement the income by teaching by day, in a high school with a science track. That is how I finished my master's degree and then we moved into an apartment with key-money (remember that?). Our son, Eden, was born in the Aḥuzah neighborhood on the Carmel. Just like his name, he has always been so.

The Technion also then moved with most of its departments to its new campus in Neve-Sha'anan. There, I finally completed my PhD in chemistry. I cannot help but mention the intellectual experience that these years of study and research have given me, both from the scientific subjects they included but also by the atmosphere and that special group of people around me; colleagues and teachers alike.

In all these years, the IDF did not pass me by, and since they dismantled the ḥemed, I was transferred as early as 1956 to reserve duty in the infantry. I underwent a battalion-signalman's course and became the battalion commander's signalman in a battalion up north. We joked that in every exercise; I had to capture each hill twice: once with the commander on a preliminary tour and again with the entire battalion. It was not until about six years later that they remembered me again and called me to join a special unit in Field Intelligence. I served there until I was almost 50 years old, albeit as a private. But then they invented a rather funny patent for those like me and gave us (the doctors) a blue ribbon to place on our shoulder straps with the inscription BAMAK: Status of Officer (major). On average, I served three weeks a year, but there were also years like the one in which we were sent on guard duty for nearly five weeks in Sharm el-Sheikh. I once estimated the total years of volunteering and service to my nation, and I reached the respectable result of 6.75 years! Many of my friends got similar results. Go explain that to those who ask where did the forces that led to the nation's revival come from?! It was a personal choice and a great privilege to contribute to this great enterprise, but in the end, it did not contribute toward subsequent self-realization. All the years of good absorption and high creativity have been swallowed up in this enterprise. All along the path that followed, I was the “old man” in the group: the oldest in boot camp; the oldest among the students in the class, and to this day, the oldest of the volunteers in the Civil Guard. But this, too, contributed to viewing reality with a broader perspective.

After completing my doctorate, I was appointed a lecturer in the Faculty of Chemistry and lectured and conducted independent research. But my achievements were not enough to get ahead without advanced study abroad. Three years later, in the summer of 1966, we left for Boston in the United States, where I enrolled in a course at Brandeis University, which at the time had a magnificent chemistry department. The two years we stayed there were good and opened horizons for all of us. Tamar also took part in advanced studies and the kids learned English. The only aggravation was caused by the Six Day War, which the Israelis there could not take part in, but as we know, it was brief!

[Page 517]

Toward the end of the two years, I received two job offers, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the new University of Tel-Aviv. I preferred the latter because it gave me a free hand along with improved research conditions, and where I was accepted as a senior lecturer. At the same time, Tamar initially studied librarianship and then worked as a librarian at a Herzliya high school, where we lived for 16 years. Then, after the children left home, each on their own path, we moved to Tel-Aviv, where she worked first at the Open University and then at the Kibbutzim College until her retirement. I immersed myself in research and teaching, and by hard work, I rose through the ranks to a full professorship and head of the university's chemistry department. None of this belongs here anymore since this is already included in the document headed by the same puzzling first line from the beginning of my story.

 

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Professor Benzion Fuchs
(Tel-Aviv, 2000)

 

The children grew up. Na'ora married Shmuel Berger, gave birth to Tom, (divorced) and became involved in the computer and internet culture; is prolific and innovative. Eden studied physics, continued his service in the IDF in the Intelligence Corps, from where he was released as a colonel in order to change his direction by going into community and social work; married Orly Shabtai and gave birth to Ido, Shaḥar and Aḥinoam. This story about their grandfather from Schotz is lovingly dedicated to all these grandchildren.

[Page 518]

About my brother Gil Sha'al (Selig Fuchs) obm

My late brother, Selig Fuchs, later Gil Sha'al, was born on November 7, 1926. Therefore, he was still able to celebrate his Bar-Mitzvah in Suceava, where he attended elementary school and three classes in the city's well-known commercial high school. He later went through all the tribulations of deportation to Transnistria as described in the family story. After returning to Suceava, he completed his studies and was active in the “Ha'oved Hatzioni – New Generation” movement. He was handsome and a heart-breaker.

 

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Two friends
(Haifa, 1950)

From the right: Freddie Roth (Shani), a new oleh (immigrant), and Gil Sha'al (Selig Fuchs) obm, two years in Israel

 

He immigrated to Israel in 1947 on the Pan Crescent, which was captured by the British, and was sent to Cyprus. Gil was there among the Haganah's camp commanders and arrived in Israel in 1948. He was one of the founders of “Kfar Shmuel” of the “Ha'oved Hazioni” in 1950. After our parents immigrated, he moved with them to Jerusalem in 1952, supporting them until they established themselves there. He worked in the Ministry of Labor and studied simultaneously at the Hebrew University, receiving a BA in social sciences (1956), and continuing studies at Princeton and Geneva Universities.

[Page 519]

He became an expert in labor relations. After his work position in the Ministry of Labor (until 1958), he continued as a lecturer at the Technion (until 1964), an expert fellow in the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva and an advisor to the Ceylon (Sri Lanka) government (until 1967). After returning from there, he served as director of the Personnel and Labor Relations Department at Ḥevrat Ha'ovdim (until 1974); attaché for labor affairs at the Israeli Embassy in the United States (until 1977); European representative of Bank Hapoalim in London (until 1981), and finally director of the Center for Labor Studies and Management at Beit Berl (until 1988). Gil was an excellent writer and published books and articles in professional periodicals in his field of expertise. The last of them, which received much praise from his colleagues, was:

The Rise and Fall of the Israeli Labor Movement,

Contemporary Review, 2000, I – pp. 64-73; II – pp. 127-134.

Gil married Ofira (née Stern from Tivon) and they had a daughter, Tali (later Salman) and a son, Nir.

He died prematurely on 26 April 2000, from a short and serious illness. Blessed be his memory.

 

Suc519.jpg
From the right: Grave of Yeruḥam Fischel Fuchs on Mount Olives
And the graves of Ben-Zion and Mirza Fuchs in the Old Cemetery in Suceava

 

[Page 520]

These are the generations of the Fuchs family from Suceava by its generations and branches, starting with Yeruḥam Fischel Fuchs, as compiled and researched by the late Gil Sha'al (Selig Fuchs) and completed and edited by Ben-Zion Fuchs.

Yeruḥam Fischel (Ben Daniel) Fuchs (1852, Bucovina; 1917, Jerusalem) and his wife Ḥayya Hinda (1853-1912, Suceava) gave birth to:
Ben-Zion Fuchs (1870-1930, Suceava), who married Mirza Stock (1875-1940, Suceava), whom she and her sister Yenta (1898-1960, Jerusalem) who married Ḥaim Kraemer, came from the surrounding town of Comăneşti.
Yaakov Joel Fuchs (1875-1939, Bucovina) who married Esther Malka Wasserman.
Miriam Fuchs (1883, Suceava–1953, Albany, New York) who married Moshe Schaechter (1879, Suceava–1949, Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Ben-Zion and Mirza Fuchs gave birth to:
Daniel Fuchs (1896, Suceava–1942, Murafa) who married Yehudit/Jetti Fachthalt (1900, Iţcani–1970, Haifa).
Yeḥiel Fuchs (1898-1920, Suceava).
Zvi Hirsch Fuchs (1900 Bucovina–1998, Tel-Aviv) who married Mina née Janover (1904, Iaşi–1990, Tel-Aviv).
Ḥayya Hinda Fuchs (1905, Suceava–1942, Tereshpol') who married Shimon Koerner (1904, Storozhynets–1965, Haifa). After Shimon Koerner returned as a widower from Transnistria, he married his sister-in-law, Jetti Fuchs (Daniel's widow) and emigrated to Israel – a memorial to those who perished and a challenge to cruel fate.
Gershon Fuchs (1910, Suceava–1993, Tel-Aviv) who emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1930 and married Miriam Walzer (1912, Suceava–1989, Tel-Aviv).
Zevulun Fuchs (1912, Suceava–1973, Jerusalem) who emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1933 and married Ḥayya Schwarz (1912, Suceava–1995, Jerusalem).
Zvi and Mina Fuchs gave birth to:
Asher Selig Fuchs later Gil Sha'al (1926, Suceava–2000, Tel-Aviv) emigrate to Eretz [Israel] in 1947, married Ofira Stern (1935, Jerusalem–) and gave birth to Tal and Nir.
Ben-Zion Fuchs (1930, Suceava–) who immigrated to Israel in 1950, carried Tamar Rappaport (1931, Iassi–) and gave birth to Na'ora and Eden.
Ze'ev and Miriam Fuchs gave birth to: Ben-Zion Fuchs, later on Sha'al (1936, Tel-Aviv) who married Deborah Fiebach (1937, Haifa) and gave birth to Sharon and Adi.

[Page 521]
Daniel Fuchs (1949, Tel-Aviv–) who married Ḥava Shelfrok (1951, Munich–) and gave birth to Shlomit, Ilan and Tal.
Zevulun and Chaya Fuchs gave birth to:
Ziona Fuchs (1935, Jerusalem–) and she has a son, Doron and a daughter, Daphna.
Menaḥem Fuchs (1940, Jerusalem– 2006, Kedar) who married Neḥama Raziel (1939, Jerusalem–) and gave birth to Ran, Yael, Eitan, Aviad and Ro'i.

Yaakov Joel and Esther Malka Fuchs gave birth to:

Krentze Fuchs (1889, Suceava–1975, Haifa) who married David Leib Gluek (1887, Suceava–1975, Haifa) and gave birth to Maltzya Gluek (1917, Suceava–2000, Haifa).
Regina Fuchs who married Ḥaim Greller
Peppi Fuchs
Dora Fuchs, who married Meir Frankel.
Zili Fuchs, who married Berl Rauchbach and gave birth to Orna, Ethel, Judith, and Yitzchak.
Aaron Leib Fuchs-Wasserman who married Ḥannah Wasserman and gave birth to:
Malka Wasserman (1914, Petrautz–1997, Rehovot), who emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in 1947 via Cyprus, married Aryeh Schor and gave birth to Yaakov and Nissan.
Ze'ev Wasserman (1917, Petrautz–1980, Haifa), who emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1938, married Miriam Weiner and gave birth to Aryeh and Rami.
Shoshana Wasserman (1930, Petrautz) who emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1944 from Transnistria, married Max Lillian and gave birth to Ḥannah and David.
Zila Wasserman (1934 Petrautz–). She emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1944 from Transnistria, married Yoḥai Gadish and gave birth to Ronit, Tali, Doron and Eitan. The parents and two other daughters were murdered by the Germans at the beginning of the war/Holocaust.
Miriam and Moshe Schaechter gave birth to:
Avraham Schaechter (1902-1922, Suceava). and Yehoshua Schaechter (1913-1913, Suceava).
Ḥaim Schaechter (1907, Suceava–1994, Albany, New York) who emigrated to the United Staes, married Frieda Silverman (?) and gave birth to Janet, Florence and Diana.
Gedaliah Schaechter (1910, Suceava–2003, Washington), who emigrated to the United States, married Ruth Gruenberg and gave birth to Linda and Robert.
Melech Schaechter (1913, Suceava), who emigrated to the United States, became a rabbi in Brooklyn, married Ḥaika-Claire Tunis (1913-1990, Brooklyn, New York) and gave birth to Sarah and Herschel.

 

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