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Translations by Moshe Devere

Zvi Fuhrer's Story

 

My Suceava...

My name is Zvi Fuhrer, son of the late Shlomo Fuhrer, born in Suceava, and Ḥaya Fuhrer obm, born in Burdujeni. Brother of Margalit (Perla) Ḥanna on my father's side, who was orphaned by her mother, Jetti née Blei, in Transnistria.

 

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Tzviya (Pelz) and Zvi Fuhrer

 

Father was a religious man for all the years I remember. He was the sexton of the synagogue in Suceava, from the start of the Beit Midrash Synagogue (which was across from the Great Synagogue) and after its demolition, the sexton of the Vizhnitzer Shiel (Synagogue). To avoid working on Shabbat and holidays, Father chose work being in charge of weighing, a role that allowed him to take the day off on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

I was born in 1947 in the post-World War II generation, but the Holocaust affected us as well. I remember most of my friends were single children who grew up without grandparents because they died in Transnistria. Usually, the place and date of their burial was unknown.

I attended a school called the Girls' School. Half of the class was Jewish. The best students were Jewish, and Mrs. Vigdar, the school principal, was also Jewish.

I remember that on Yom Kippur, I arranged for all Jewish pupils not to come to school. All the Jewish children,

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including those who were not religious, agreed to the move, because everyone was happy not to come to school. The next day, I was called to the principal's room. She asked me not to do similar things in the future. I would also like to mention two Jewish teachers that we had: Mrs. Schmeterling the Russian teacher, and Mrs. Schmelzer, a history teacher.

Thankfully, my parents made sure that I learned Hebrew and to know how to pray already in Romania. When I was three years old, I studied prayer in the ḥeder with Teacher Sonnenshein and his wife, and at an older age with Teacher Vizhnitzer. I remember very well my Hebrew teacher, Arthur Schapira. Thanks to him, when I arrived in Israel in 1964, I could get directly into high school with no Hebrew ulpan requirement. I believe that knowledge of Hebrew also benefited me in getting a good matriculation certificate. That enabled me to continue my studies at the Technion in Haifa in the faculty of my choice.

For me, Suceava is not just the city where I was born, but much more than that. The people, especially the Jews who lived there, and who, thanks to the role of my late father as the synagogue's sexton, I knew most of them, and are close to my heart. I am thrilled and excited whenever I meet with someone from there.

Thankfully I also married a native of Suceava, Tzviya-Herme, daughter of Ludwig-Eliezer and Augusta Pelz. We did not know each other in Suceava but being native to the same place; we shared its language, expressions and foods.

Places like the Citadel (Chatata), Zamca, the Grove, the “Fedoricha”, are for both of us not only place names, but carry the same meanings and childhood memories. In the summer of 2002, I returned to Suceava with my wife and a childhood friend, Reisele Shauer. Although 40 years have passed that I have not been there, and even though our homes have been destroyed and the city has expanded, the smells, the familiar places, the remnants of the Jewish community and the Jewish cemetery remain (unfortunately, neglected). I was glad that I visited Suceava and I even hope to show all the places to our children as well, so that they too will feel like a continuation of immigrants from Suceava.

 

Ḥaim Fischler's Story

I was born on January 10, 1917, in Suceava to Nathan and Sarah Fischler.

Father was a director of the Zionist Revisionist Organization. In 1933, when I was a 16-year-old high-school student, I established the Beitar Organization with friends and was the ken commander from

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1933 to 1936. During that time, we were visited twice by Aharon Propes, who was Ze'ev Jabotinsky's assistant.

In 1936, I moved to the city of Czernowitz, where I was commander of the ken from 1938 to 1940. Our ken numbered about 400 members. During this period, I got to meet and know Ze'ev Jabotinsky. In 1940, during World War II, even before the occupation of Czernowitz by the Russian army, I took part in the purchase and delivery of weapons to the Irgun organization in Eretz Israel.

I also dealt with illegal immigration, Aliyah B, between 1937 and 1939. On one occasion, I met Menaḥem Begin, who led a train-load of illegal immigrants from Poland. My job was to escort the immigrants all the way to the port city of Constanta on the Black Sea coast.

With the Russian occupation in 1940, I was arrested with my wife, Leah Bergman, by the KGB and sent to a labor camp in Siberia. I spent 10 years in the camp. In 1950, I was released from the camp but was banned from leaving Siberia. I had to report once a week to the KGB headquarters and sign in.

 

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Ḥaim Fischler

 

I was in Siberia for about 22 years. Most of the time I worked cutting down trees in the forests, where I also got to the point where my fingers and toes froze. In 1962, I received a permit to leave

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Siberia and moved to the city of Sauty, Russia. There I worked as a translator in German and French, and volunteered at the Jewish Agency branch there.

In 1991, I moved to Germany where I worked marketing coal to Russia until 2000. In 1991, I also visited Israel for the first time. In 1993 I was recognized as a prisoner of Zion. In 2003, I immigrated to Israel and today, I live in Netanya.

 

Menaḥem (Manio) Fischler's Stories

I was born in Suceava on March 15, 1921, as the eldest son of my late parents Ze'ev and Neḥama (daughter of Rabbi Raphael Halevy Glickman) Fischler. My parents also had my sister Miriam in 1922, my brother Avraham in 1925, and my sister Bianca in 1926. Our home was a traditional one; Zionist with nationalist viewpoints.

 

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Menaḥem (Manio) Fischler

 

At three, I was put in a kindergarten where the kindergarten teacher, who we called “Auntie”, spoke Hebrew to us from the moment we crossed its doorstep. I studied the Alphabet in Zeidel “Bauch”'s ḥeder (that is what we called it) until the age five. In the meantime, my parents moved to a village near the city and opened a tavern to improve their livelihood. Since I had already learned to read

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and write in Hebrew, they left me with my grandmother in Suceava so that I could continue studying. My late uncle hired a tutor named Feibisch Melamed, and with whom I began studying ḥumash (Pentateuch, Torah) and then Rashi. When I turned seven years old, I enrolled in the city's Romanian school, alongside my religious studies in the “Talmud Torah” that opened in the city. The studies there were Hebrew-in-Hebrew. I studied “Gemara for beginners” and grammar with the late teacher David Miller, who was a graduate of the Ḥayot Teachers' Seminar in Vienna. He came to us from Munkatch {Moneasa, Romania, near the Hungarian border?}. At the outbreak of World War II, he went to visit relatives and perished in the Holocaust together with his son, my classmate. He instilled in me the Hebrew language that I have been speaking since childhood.

I studied for four years in the elementary school. After successfully passing the entrance exam, I was accepted to the Ştefan Cel Mare high school. I studied there until completing my high school studies and received a high-school diploma.

In October 1941, we were deported to Transnistria together with all the Jewish people of the city. After hardships along the way, as known from stories of others, we settled in the Murafa ghetto in the Mogilev province. We rented a room from a local Jew. It was 3 x 3 meters and we six people lived there. Hunger, disease, and inhumane conditions did not pass our family either. In addition, we were conscripted into forced labor gangs for paving roads, harvesting tobacco crops, etc.

 

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Ze'ev and Neḥama Fischler

 

The Trykhaty Hell

In June 1943, the Romanian government demanded that the Obshechina, the Jewish Committee of Murafa, provide 200 Jews for building a bridge over the Bug [River] and fate had me placed on this list as well.

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As is customary with the Nazis, we were brought under the protection of the Romanian gendarmerie, and placed in freight cars. 24 hours later, we reached Trykhaty, on the Bug, near to the city of Mykolaiv. Next to the construction site, there was a lot for unloading and storing building materials. It was located a kilometer away. The camp itself was surrounded by a double barbed-wire fence.

APCs filled with German soldiers patrolled between the two barbed-wire fences. Later on, they were replaced by Romanian gendarmes. We came from different camps and no one knew anybody else. What brought us together was the barbed-wire fence surrounding us. Standing in two lines, one in front of each other, we waited for the camp commander, a “SS Sturmbanführer” named Birrer. His first order was to immediately hand over the jewelry and foreign currency that he thought we had. None of the 200 people obeyed, so he gave an order that everyone beat the one in front of him while the German foremen screamed “Get your gold and dollars out.” The Germans noticed our beatings were “pretending,” so they took on the job and beat us relentlessly. One of the work managers named Zeke was the worst of them all, a true sadist. He thrashed horribly and shouted, “It's going to cost you your lives.”

Our cries carried all the way to the nearby Romanian gendarme station. As we knew, the Romanians were the “proprietors” in Transnistria. A Romanian officer with the rank of major then appeared and approached the German commander. After a brief conversation between them, the beatings stopped. That was our welcome to Trykhaty. After the beating scene, they led us to a former pigsty, where they set up bunks three decks high. We had a bit of a straw and a blanket for our night's rest.

Work began the next day. The bridge that had to be built by us was about a kilometer long. The construction companies were “Krupp,” “Concrete und MunirBau” and “Luig[i Construction].” We worked all day and there was only enough food so as not to starve to death. A personal case of mine can testify as to the quality of the food. I ate the meal called lunch for a while so as not to drop from hunger, until one day, when I was lining up to get my soup dish, the head of a horse stared back at me from the cauldron (stew-pot). From then on, I gave up on the soup.

The commander of the Jewish camp was called “Hekele”, a sworn sadist. Once, when one of us who worked in the iron smithy took a few drops of machine oil and it became known to Hekele, he pulled out his gun and shot him, killing him on the spot. Another time, while drunk, he entered one of the huts, took out a Jew and led him to a pit destined for the basement, pushed him in and stoned him until he died.

In one case I experienced, I had better luck. One day, I was sent to remove the lid from a boiler buried in the ground,

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which was attached to it with a lot of bolts. They gave me a wrench, and I started opening them, but suddenly the wrench fell from my hand to a depth of two meters, between the boiler and the sides of the pit. I had no way of getting the wrench out. Unfortunately for me, I was standing there desperately, not knowing what to do, when the infamous Meister Zeke goes by and asks me what the problem was. When I told him the wrench fell down, he told me it would cost me my life if I did not get the wrench out by the time he got back. An acquaintance of mine, who worked in the iron smithy, came to my aid. With the help of a long iron wire hooked at the end, he grabbed and raised the wrench and so I was saved.

We also worked at the train station near the camp, unloading building materials. Some of us could connect with a Romanian soldier who offered to deliver letters from us to relatives in Mogilev, Shargorod and Murafa, of course, for a proper fee. This deal worked a few times until someone talked too much. One day, when three of our friends were delivering letters to the Romanian soldier, a German appeared. That night, those sending the letters were taken to the riverside. According to one version, first they were shot and then thrown into the stilts that supported the bridge, and concrete was poured over them. Another version says they were thrown in alive into the stilts and concrete poured over them. The stilts became their burial place. Among the letter senders was also a good friend of mine named Sammy Facht from Kimpolung.

As early as October, the Bug [River] froze and we could no longer bathe. As a result, lice began bothering us. The Germans brought a disinfectant boiler, and our clothes were disinfected. We got rid of the lice but then we were left with rags for our clothes.

One day, a Romanian sergeant major suggested that for $20 a head, he would take us back to the ghettos where our families were located. A list was made, but I did not have the $20 so, I was not included in it. But, friends of my late father paid for me, and so I also got on the list. The sergeant major went to Odessa and returned with an order to bring all those registered to appear before a tribunal in Odessa. Despite the protests for this relief, we were taken to the gendarmerie station and from there to the train station and loaded onto the train but it was going toward Mogilev.

This is part of my bitter memories of Transnistria, where the worst part was Trykhaty. Only a few of the Bucovina deportees sent beyond Bug, where the Germans ruled, survived. As a witness who saw it with his own eyes, it is imperative that I not let forgetfulness take over, and so I documented it for future generations.

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The return to Suceava and emigration to Eretz [Israel]

After my return to Murafa, my fiancée Zina, whom I knew before being sent to Trykhaty, and I decided to get married. Indeed, at the end of November 1943, we were married. In March 1944, we were liberated by the Red Army, and walked for an entire week until reaching my hometown Suceava. There we waited to emigrate to Eretz [Israel].

Our son Isaac was born in 1945. Because he was a baby, our Aliyah was postponed until October 1947. We arrived in [Eretz] Israel after a six-month stay in a camp in Cyprus. There is no need to relate what we went through in Israel as new immigrants. I worked as a laborer in a factory until the end of 1950, while studying bookkeeping and worked for an accountant.

In 1951, we had a second son named Yigal. In 1954, I began working as an accountant in a large moving office. I worked there until I retired in July 1986. I started as an accountant and became chief accountant and the company comptroller for many years. After retiring, I worked voluntarily as an accountant at the Bucovina Immigrants Association until the end of 2001.

We arrived in [Eretz] Israel on February 2, 1948, when the War of Independence was about to break out. In the meantime, we had to make a living to support a family with a two-and-a-half-year-old child. When we arrived in Israel, we were directed to the Ra'annana transit camp. Soon after, we moved from there to Pardes Katz.

I went to the General Labor Bureau of to sign up. The first question was whether I was a member of the party, and did I have a membership booklet from the General Histadrut? I answered, “No!” because among my many misdemeanors, I was a Beitar follower and belonged to this movement then and still do to this day. There was also a labor office of the National Workers' Union, where I also had acquaintances from the movement, and there I signed up to arrange for work. I was offered a job, either in a building or in paving roads. Because I was sick with ulcers in the duodenum, I could not accept the offer and asked for a job at some factory. In parentheses, shall we say that I come from a non-industrial environment and imagined to myself that a “factory” was a building full of machines that automatically produced some items and the employee only keeps an eye to ensure there was no malfunction.

To my surprise, they sent me for a day's work at a “Priman” canning factory in Ramat Gan, where they produced all kinds of canned goods and squeezed orange juice. The work was very hard. It turned out that my job was not to monitor the machines but to feed them raw material for production. The raw material was crushed tomatoes, cooked beans, seasonal fruit, etc. to be canned or packaged. All this came in bags weighing at least 100 kg or crates that weighed more than their contents. The production intended for export had to be loaded onto a freight car and sent from the factory to the port.

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On the first day of work, they sent me to the warehouse to load this type of produce. Since I was new, they sent me to arrange cartons of twenty-four cans on the truck. What four or five workers sent over on a conveyor belt from the warehouse to the truck, I alone had to arrange. This job was tough for me because I have never been a strongman [like Samson]. I came home in the evening and cried like a little boy. I had no choice, and the next day I went to the same workplace. When they reassigned me to work loading the truck, I informed the foreman that I, physically, could not stand up to such an exertion and I was going home. Apparently, the foreman took a liking of me and told me to go to the canning prep hall and let me work next to a cooker.

Relatively speaking, it was an easier job. When the juicing season began, I was sent to this department, where my job was to notice that the machines worked properly. Only after the workday, I have to dismantle the machines and wash them in caustic soda and then reassemble them. I was very satisfied with this work because I could manage it. They also allowed me to work overtime for which there was higher pay. However, my duodenal ulcer gave me no rest. There were days of unbearable pain. The doctors told me the citrus juice fumes were bad for me. I started thinking about another job. In the meantime, I enrolled in a bookkeeping course, which I graduated from six months later.

A relative of mine who worked for an accountant arranged for me to work for another accountant. I then left the Priman factory and started working in bookkeeping for that accountant from 1950 to 1954. When I learned that a kibbutz transport company called Taḥburah was looking for an accountant, I presented myself and got the job. At first, I was an assistant to the accountant and over time I became in charge of accounting and was appointed comptroller and chief accountant. I worked here until 1986 and retired after 32 years of work.

After so many years of work, I needed to rest, so I enrolled as a free auditing student at Bar-Ilan University, audited a Ḥassidic History Course and other Jewish subjects over a period of nearly three years. I admit these were the most beautiful years of my life.

In 1991, I was offered a job as an accountant for the global organization of Bucovina Jews and the Bucovina Immigrant Association in Israel, where I worked for 11 years, and stopped in 2002. Since then, I have rested and enjoyed myself after together with my wife Zina. Survivors who got to raise a wonderful family, a branch of the great Fischler family (before the war): Two sons,

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two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren and four granddaughters and their children, all descendants of Avraham and Pessiah Fischler, and on the other side, Mama-Neḥama, daughter of the late Rabbi Raphael Halevy Glickman, rabbi of Dorohoi, Romania. The grandchildren grew up. They all studied and all have a college degree except for one who is now a soldier.

 

To the memory of the Grandmother Neḥama (Neti) obm: To the sons and daughters of their families

For good reason, I emphasized in my biography that I am the grandson of Rabbi Raphael Halevy Glickman obm. Among religious and traditional Jews, there is a concept called yiḥus [pedigree]. It is understood that you are related to someone with special qualities or status, to whom you are linked. Your “pedigree” and mine is that we are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Rabbi Glickman, rabbi of Dorohoi, Romania, a Jewish scholar, respected and greathearted.

These qualities were inherited by my mother, your grandmother, who was a beautiful, educated, and noble woman. I loved her as a mother, and as I got older, I admired her for her wisdom and education. She was born in Dorohoi, whose spoken language was Romanian. However, she spoke German and French fluently. When I was a high school student, I studied foreign languages, both French and German. She would recite to me by heart parables by La Fontaine and quote stanzas from Heine's famous poem “Lorelei” in its original German.

She did not have an easy life. Ours was not a rich man's home. She raised four children under difficult conditions. Her health was also not the best. For years she suffered from gall-stones, and yet devoted herself heart and soul to her children's education. As her eldest son, I tried to understand her and treat her properly. I can assume she also loved me the most. When I was already a student in the upper classes of the high school, I gave private lessons to students from the lower classes and made money to pay my tuition. When I came home in the evening, I would bring her a cake or some other candy. There was no end to her joy.

As known, we were deported in 1941 to Transnistria. As we walked in the convoy, from the train to the deportation site, I almost had to carry her on my shoulders because of her weakness. A lot has been written about the living conditions in Transnistria and is well known. As I wrote, I was taken in June 1943 to the labor camp in Trykhaty, where we were employed building a bridge over the Bug River. While I was in this camp, my mother fell and fractured pelvis bone. There and then, in those conditions, there was no possibility of healing such a case. She lay in bed for two weeks

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and died of a blood clot (thrombus) in her heart. I only found out about this when I returned from the camp.

I will not forgive myself, although not my fault, that I was not near her during her illness and did not stand by her when she passed away. They told me that before she passed, she said, “Manio, my eldest son, where are you?”

I should also note how I received the news of my mother's passing. We returned by train, in a freight car, from Trykhaty to Mogilev, from where we walked “home” to Murafa, about 60 km. We passed through many villages until we reached Shargorod, 13 km before Murafa. A rumor spread in Shargorod that Jews were returning from Trykhaty. Everyone left their homes to welcome us. Among them were people from our city, including personal friends. One of them, Mookie Rohrlich (later an attorney), came up to me and said to me in German, “Manio! Come and say the first Kaddish after your mother.” After recovering from the shock, some friends gathered for the quorum, and I recited outside, along the way, the first Kaddish.

In Murafa, the next day, the whole family went to the cemetery, and next to the grave, marked by a stone, I recited the el malei raḥamim “God of mercy” [the memorial prayer] for my late mother. Before returning to my hometown of Suceava in Bucovina in March 1944, I said goodbye for good to my mother by her graveside.

I have pangs of conscience that over the years, I could not travel and visit my mother's grave, and this was for various reasons. When immigrants recently came from former Soviet Russia, including from Murafa, they related that the Russians had plowed up the cemetery, turning it into an ordinary field.

Let us all remember that late Grandma Neḥama, the daughter of Rabbi Raphael Halevi Glickman, died on 20 Sivan, 5703 (June 23, 1943). These lines shall serve instead of a tombstone on her grave that probably no longer exists: May her soul be bound in the bundle of life. We shall remember her forever!

Below are two incidents from my memoirs as a Jewish student at the Ştefan Cel Mare Romanian high school in Suceava, which left their mark for the rest of my life.

Incident One: In Suceava, I lived on Jancu Flunder (Herrengasse) Street, a side street off the city's main street. In 1938, I was a 6th grader at the high school (the equivalent of 10th grade in Israel today). There were 7 Jewish students in a class of 40. The period was pre-World War II and antisemitism flourished. The country was ruled by the Goga-Cuza government, which imposed numerus clausus in high schools and numerus nolos in the universities. Codreanu's Iron Guard, mostly made up of students, took the lead for antisemitic activities. Described above is just an introduction to the atmosphere that existed, which resulted in the case I am relating.

Across from us on Jancu Flundor Street was the home of the Eisenberg family. He was a wealthy Jew,

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a former banker, who rented an apartment in this house to Professor Ionesco, the Romanian literature and language teacher in the class I studied in. This teacher had a daughter my age who attended the parallel class at the girls' high school in the city.

I had nothing to do with this girl. We did not even exchange hellos between us.

On Seder night in 1938, when we returned, my late father, my late brother and myself from the synagogue and were preparing to sit down to the Seder table, a policeman came in and asked me to accompany him to the police-station to clarify some complaint filed against me. Obviously, I followed this order and went with the police officer in the city, where I was put in a ward called the Siguranţa. I waited in the room until I was called to a second room where an interrogator sat, whose name I forgot. He had a reputation as a harsh interrogator, beating suspects to death during the interrogation and specially handled political offenses, such as suspicion of belonging to the Communist Party.

Since the interrogator lived next door to my late uncle, he knew me when, from time to time, I visited my uncle, where my grandmother also lived. Therefore, I was not “honored” with the regular reception; that is, slapping my face, but he invited me to sit down and read me the denouncement that had been received about me. It turns out that Prof. Ionesco's daughter, whom I was talking about, ratted me out. She said that one evening as I was walking down the sidewalk on the main street, I saw on the opposite sidewalk three friends of mine from my class, Jews, whom I greeted with my left hand raised with a fist, like the communist greeting.

I was stunned and did not know what to answer. After I recovered, I turned to the interrogator and told him I knew he was well-versed in all the Jewish youth movements that existed and that most of them have branches in our city. How can I be suspected of being a communist at the same time being a member of the Beitar movement known as an anti-socialist and anti-communist nationalist movement? Although he did not have an answer, since there is a complaint, he should have continued questioning, but unexpectedly, instead of arresting me, he released me and allowed me to go home. To this day, I associate this behavior only with the fact that he was my late uncle's neighbor. It is quite clear that I did not especially enjoy this Passover holiday.

After the holiday, knowing that an investigation was underway against me on such a serious charge, I approached the late Dr. Meir Teich, a well-known lawyer in our city and its environs, Chairman of the Jewish Community in the city, and asked him to look into my case that had been transferred from the police to the Prosecutor's Office. From reading the case file, it was learned that a friend of the complainant named Lelco (surname), the daughter of a history professor in the classroom, testified to the police and confirmed the veracity of the complainant's words.

Prof. Lelco, besides being a teacher in the high school, was also a farmer with fields and a farmyard where there were cows, sheep, horses and more. My late father, who was a cattle trader, knew

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Prof. Lelco. So, when he had to sell or change a cow, sell a calf for slaughter, etc., he would call my father. In his anguish, my father went to Prof. Lelco's house and complained to him about his daughter's false testimony that could have resulted in my being imprisoned for quite a few years. The professor called his daughter, asked her if she gave her testimony to the police. She began crying and admitted to him that her testimony was untruthful and she did so only because her friend demanded it of her. In the presence of my father, the professor slapped his daughter in the face and ordered her to appear in court and cancel her testimony. When the case was brought before the juvenile judge, he called the professor's daughter to testify, and after the cross-examination of Adv Dr. Teich, she admitted to giving false testimony to the police. Considering this, the judge acquitted me and the case was closed.

However, this is not the end of the story. According to the law or procedure, in any legal case involving a student, the court must inform the school the student is attending, and the court did so. I should also note that according to the instructions of the Ministry of Education, besides the grades in various subjects, there is also a score for behavior. A negative score invalidates the student's right to be promoted to the next grade.

My case, and the course of its events, were brought before the meeting held at the end of each school year in which they discussed each student, his academic achievements and also his behavior. When we discussed my case, most of the teachers were of the opinion that since I was acquitted and the case was closed, there was nothing to discuss. Since even my grades were very high, it was decided that I was to be promoted to 7th grade. This was opposed by one teacher, a Jew-hater named Braznitsky, and he remarked figuratively that 'where there's smoke, there's fire.' Unfortunately, he convinced the other teachers, and they gave me a negative grade in behavior, which meant, “Not promoted.” In addition, I was denied the right to be a registered student in the state schools, and I had to study privately and take the exams.

It was difficult for me to accept this decision, and we began an appeal to the district supervisor. After my late mother's crying, and various solicitations, the supervisor revoked the decision to cancel my right to be a registered student. The negative score was left in place and I remained behind a class. It was very difficult for me to come to terms with this decree. So, after deliberations, I decided to stop my studies and emigrate to Israel on the Af Al Pi. The leading organizers of this Aliyah was the Revisionist movement represented by the Beitar movement. I was approved for Aliyah by the movement. I was supposed to sail to Eretz [Israel] on the Toros in the summer of 1939. As the time approached, at home they began making preparations for my trip; bought me clothes, backpacks, etc., and before sailing day, baked bread for me to take with me.

On a recent Shabbat eve, before the trip to Bucharest and from there to Constanta, to board

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the ship, after prayers, we sat down for a Shabbat dinner that was also supposed to be a farewell meal. After the kiddush and after eating the first course, my late father, began chanting as usual, singing the piyut “All who sanctify the Shabbat”, etc. Suddenly, he burst into tears and sobbed and tried to say goodbye to me with about these words: “My beloved son, you are also my first-born son, you are emigrating to Eretz Israel, the aspiration of every Jew. I wish you travel in peace and that you would reach your destination safely and that you would succeed in all your undertaking. But know my son, you're going, but only after the train goes over my body. I won't return home alive without you.” Silence fell over the room. No one raises his head to look at Father's face. Everyone joins in the crying. At the end, I pluck up the courage and I brazenly say: “Don't do me any favors. I'm not going!” I got up from the table, went to the backpack, took out my clothes, etc. Thus, I then canceled my trip to Eretz [Israel].

A few days later, I thought things over and decided to re-enroll for the 6th grade exams. I finished them with no difficulty and then enrolled as a full-time 7th grade student.

As mentioned above, this incident left its mark on me for the rest of my life and it is clear why. I graduated from 7th grade in 1940 as the war was approaching our region. As someone who had been accused of communism, I was taken hostage by the authorities and imprisoned until I was deported. I also could not register for 8thgrade because the numerus clausus had come into effect. In October 1941, we were all deported to Transnistria and everything was disrupted.

After our return to Suceava, I privately completed my 8th grade exams, passed my matriculation exams successfully. But all of this prevented me from continuing my higher education that I wanted so badly, especially medical studies. I regret that to this day and will do so until my last day.

The second incident: It happened when I was in 7th grade of high school. According to the curriculum, it includes a subject called Philosophy, which included psychology, logic (the theory of reason), and ethics (morality). Among the other chapters of ethical theory was also the chapter, “Ethics in Monotheistic Religions:” i.e., the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. The teacher; in our language, the Professor was Dr. Kuzac, a gentile of Ukrainian origin. To his credit, it should be said that he was not antisemitic.

The professor, in his lecture on the subject, detailed his views on each religion. As an example of morality in the Christian religion, he mentioned the Teachings of the Jesuits: “If you are slapped on one cheek, turn your face for the other one too.” As an example of morality in the Muslim religion, he mentioned the “Blood vengeance”, meaning that the crime will not be forgiven until revenged. Regarding morality in the Jewish religion, he quoted from the reading of from the Book of Exodus 21, verses 23-25: “Life for life, eye for eye,

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tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” and interpreted them literally. This upset me and I asked permission to comment on what it meant.

He allowed me, and then I told him, in front of all my classmates, that it was Rashi, the great interpreter of the Bible and Talmud, who correctly interpreted that it was monetary compensation. The intention of the Torah was not really an eye for an eye, but in exchange for an eye, and so on. After listening to my comment, the professor added that as a student, he once heard a lecture in the spirit of my commentary, but relied on a Bible interpretation by some German professor.

In response, I asked him for permission to prove Rashi's interpretation by bringing in Book of Exodus to the next lesson and quoting from what is written in the Torah with a clear translation of Rashi's interpretation. The professor agreed to this as well. And for the next lesson, I appeared with the Book of Exodus and a kippah (skullcap). I stood on the platform where he sat, put the kippah on my head and read the above scriptures, translated them, and then read Rashi's interpretation of each verse with its translation. He listened to what I said and remarked that he did not contradict them, and for lack of knowledge, he would not argue. The professor did not argue, but the Christian students made antisemitic remarks at me, which did not stop until the end of the lesson. I do not know how it leaked out, but my late father's acquaintances congratulated him on his son's daring. I think he was proud of me.

These are the two incidents, although different, which attest to the atmosphere that dominated the school I attended at the time. Dixi et salvavi animam meam (I have spoken, and have saved my soul)

 

Dr. Avraham (Abe Bartfeld) Peled's Story

My father, Pharmacist Leon Bartfeld, was born in Iţcani in 1909. He was one of seven children of Batsheva and Yehoshua Bartfeld. He built his house in Iţcani in 1912 with his bare hands. That house is still standing on the side of the road leading to Suceava.

My father's entire family was exiled to Mogilev in Transnistria, and spent the war there. My father was drafted into the Russian Army in 1944 and was wounded. He married my mother, Liora Fachter, in Mogilev, in June 1944. I was born after they returned to Burdujeni in September 1945.

After the war in 1945, my father Leon opened a private pharmacy in Burdujeni, which was nationalized in 1948. We then moved to Iţcani, where he was a pharmacist. My mother worked at Centrofarm as an accountant.

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We emigrated to Israel in November 1958 and lived in Nahariya. My father Leon died in April 2004, aged 95.

I, Avraham (Abe), graduated from the Technion in 1967 and graduated from Princeton University in the United States in 1974 with a PhD in Electrical Engineering. I am now president of NDS, which is headquartered in England, and has 2,500 employees worldwide. It is a technology company with a development center in Israel, in Jerusalem, with about 800 employees.

I am married to Yehudit (née Oberndorf) from Nahariya and we have a daughter, Dafna, who lives in Washington. She is a lawyer and works as a legislative consultant for a senator in the U.S. Congress.

 

Ruth and Meir (Fallenbaum) Palmon's Story

The Fallenbaum family, the late Aharon and Feige, and their sons Meir (myself) and Yisrael, lived in Suceava before the war and were involved in community life there. My parents had a candle and soap factory and store in Suceava.

 

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Meir Palmon

 

I attended various schools, most recently at “Ştefan Cel Mare” high school and was in the “Bnei Akiva” youth movement, which was dominant there.

Like everyone else, we were exiled to Transnistria, first to Mogilev and then to a village called Zagóry.

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We stayed there the whole time (my grandmother died there), undergoing all the suffering along with everyone else. In 1944, we returned to Suceava and lived on the Street of the Republic.

There are opinions that the elderly Suceava Jews, who attended German-language schools, felt superior. The German language and culture was considered by them to be the supreme one, which gave them special status (and this was true for all the Jews of Bucovina).

About seven years after returning from Transnistria, we could get am emigration permit for Aliyah and emigrated to Israel in September 1951. In Haifa port, we were liberally sprayed DDT, but we did not complain. We lived in Nahariya. My late father was employed in relief work and did not complain about discrimination. I served in an Armored Corps combat unit. After the army, I began working at the National Insurance Institute, where I served as branch manager in the Western Galilee until I retired in 1996.

We have two children: Amitai, a computer engineer, is married to Sharon, an electronics engineer, and lives in Kfar-Saba and has 3 children. Na'avah, a teacher, is married to a doctor and is a mother of three children. They live in the United States.

My parents died in Israel, but they wrote a document about what we went through in Transnistria, at the request of the Yad Vashem Institute. We have undergone the hardships of war in Transnistria and instead of enjoying some peace and quiet; we continue here in the wars as well. But this time it is different and cannot not be compared to that period.

 

Nelly (Aspler) Fallenbaum's Story

Memories

I was born in Suceava to Yisrael-Leib and Ḥannah Aspler. We were deported to Transnistria in 1941, where we remained for about three years. Afterward, we returned to Suceava.

Yaakov (Bibi) Fallenbaum was born in Suceava to Shlomo-Zalman and Sophia. Bibi and his family were also deported to Transnistria and returned to Suceava afterward. Bibi worked in his father's textile store.

Bibi and I were married in Suceava on September 13, 1944. In 1947, we emigrated to Eretz [Israel]. We traveled together with Bibi's parents to Burgas, Bulgaria and from there to the Pan York. The ship was seized by the British, who exiled us to Cyprus. There we lived in a tent camp for about 13 months until they released us and we emigrated to Haifa, Israel.

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At first, we lived in a two-room apartment on Iraq Street together with Bibi's parents. We had two children: the firstborn, Yehudah, in 1950, and Yisrael in 1955. Bibi worked as chief accountant and afterwards as CFO for two companies: The Ice Association until 1965, and Oxygen Warehouses (at the Kiryat Atta junction). During all these years, I was a housewife and raised the two boys. In 1985, Bibi fell ill with cancer and after a short period passed away on March 1, 1985. Since then, I continued living in the same apartment where we moved to in 1965.

 

Tzviya (Herme) Pelz-Fuhrer's Story

After 40 years; to Suceava and back

My name is Tzviya (Herme) Pelz-Fuhrer, the only daughter of Ludwig-Eliezer Pelz obm of Suceava and Zahava-Augusta Reichmann obm of Flosca.

I was born in Suceava at the end of 1949; over four years after the war's end. As a member of the second generation, I felt the shock wave from those harsh events, and it also affected my life. I believe these things routed and change the life-path and personality of many members of this second generation.

 

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Augusta and Ludwig Pelz

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I lived in Suceava from the day I was born until 1958, when we emigrated to Israel. I was eight years old. Although these are a few years compared to the decades of youth and adulthood in Israel, they are firmly hardened, similar to tree roots sustaining the living branches. Since my parents passed away many years ago, and since I am an only daughter, I am the only one left to commemorate and to give an account.

My father, Ludvig Pelz obm, the son of Dov-Ber and Pearl (née Gott) obm, was born in Suceava in 1902, and lived there until 1958. He completed high school, received a matriculation diploma and travel to Germany in order to study mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic. His father's untimely demise and antisemitism that threatened him, forced him to quit his studies and to return to Suceava. The Pelz family had a flour mill, but when that burned down, he worked for several years in the local bank.

After his marriage to Mother, the war started. The family, along with the other Jews of Suceava were deported to Transnistria. At first they were in Mogilev, in Promusnitze, and then they moved to Lucinz. I spent many of my childhood hours among adults, listening to their stories “There” in curiosity but also in jitters. The words that Shargorod, Mogilev, and Lucinz have come up many times in family conversations. And then there was the biggest and most threatening word of all... Transnistria. For many years, I did not know what it meant. I tried to loosen it as if it was a tight knot pressing on my childhood. Only many years later did I understand that this was the name of a region where the Jews were deported to and where my family wandered about in the terrible cold.

I remember trying to be a regular girl; concentrate on playing with dolls or fairytales. But all the time I was listening to the adults repeating their stories over and over again. Typhus, lice, cold, and the most desired foods were potato peels and the rare piece of bread starred in their conversations.

At the end of the war, when my father was weak and starving, he leaned on the fence on the other side of which a tombstone maker was working. The man called to him and offered him a job. Here, his talent for designing letters and stone sculpting was discovered. And since the dead were not lacking… Father continued in this pursuit. Many of the tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Suceava were made by him. He was a very hardworking man. Later he also had a kind of grocery store in which he exchanged the peasants' goods. In his spare time, he painted and sculpted.

Father's only sister, Pesya, married Itzik Pasta. They had two daughters who emigrated to Israel and married here. Naomi Schlumiuk obm, and Lidi Gewirtz.

Those from my father's family, who perished in Transnistria: Heniya (my grandmother's sister Pearl) her husband Mishka and their son Ḥaim. The younger sister, Malaysia, a pharmacist, married a man from Warsaw and entered

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the ghetto with him, where she disappeared, apparently among the victims there. Oscar Rosenberg, sister Shalima's husband, died of typhus. His daughter, Dr. Ruth Segal and his son Martin Rosenberg live in Vienna.

After the war, my parents returned to Suceava, the city that Dad loved, even here in Israel he will walk for kilometers and travel for hours to meet “A Schotzer kind (a native of Suceava (Schotz))... He especially liked to talk to his good friend the late Shmuel-Milo Reif and his late wife Rosa (née Brumberg), also from Suceava.

My mother Augusta (née Reichman) was born in 1912. She spent most of her teenage years in Czernowitz with her relatives, especially with her brother Pinḥas Reichman, who was a merchant. The Reichmann family owned forests, sawmills, and horses. However, shortly before the outbreak of the war, her parents were deported to Siberia and their property was confiscated. My grandfather, Hersh Zvi Reichman (I bear his name) disappeared somewhere in Siberia. The date of his death and burial place were unknown. They could find my grandmother Rachel, but her health was severe and she continued to deteriorate. She passed away when I was four. Mother's brother, my Uncle Marcus, his wife Greta, and their young daughter Ethel froze to death in one of the hiding places in Transnistria. Berta, the older brother Paul's wife, died of a serious illness towards the end of the war. Their daughter Frizi and her children live in New York.

Like many second-generation children, I did not get to know any of my grandparents (only my grandmother Pearl survived until I was about ten). I was always jealous of large families. Over the years, I wanted more and more to know about the family and what happened to them during the war years. Unfortunately, when I already had the strength and the desire to ask, there was no one around anymore, and those who survived refused to speak and remember.

When we emigrated to Israel, I shed everything exilic from myself and tried to be a sabra in every way. I turned down any offer to go back there. I remembered the fear that was in the atmosphere of my childhood; fear of someone being thrown in jail again, fear of not complying with prohibitions that were difficult to meet. On the way to Israel, this fear increased because of all the things that should not have been taken out of there. Some of them were hidden away from the authorities. It is hard not to remember as traumatic when a large mustachioed Romanian guard puts a girl in a small cell on a train going to Vienna, cuts off her coat pads with a knife and disassembles the heels of her shoes in his search for gold and dollars. It is hard for me not to be resentful about being banned from taking my favorite books or my violin.

After over forty years, and after the death of my parents and with the encouragement of my husband, Zvi Fuhrer, also a native of Suceava, we traveled to Romania. We found a city that had grown and spread out, but its old nucleus of our childhood city remained mostly as if time seemed to have stood still.

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On the way to Suceava we saw carts and horses, cornfields with pumpkin flowers hiding in them. Along the roadsides, poor hard-working women were selling straw brooms, a handful of tomatoes, and neglected children selling cherries and berries. As we got closer to Suceava, our excitement grew. As migratory birds remembering their flight path, we remembered the streets, directions and houses. We soon found the synagogue, our school, and the cinema. The only things changed were the posters. Places that seemed large and powerful to in our eyes as children now seemed so much smaller: The Zamca, which we considered a high mountain, which we climbed on, in our adult eyes turned into a small hill; the “Fedorica” at the end of our street, which was once a thick forest in our eyes, now seemed to be just a sparse grove. It was sad for us to see that almost all the Jewish houses were destroyed. In pain, we asked why? Since, in their stead, they built ugly neighborhoods. Instead of my beautiful childhood home, stood a shabby shed. Were the Romanians looking for the Jews' treasures?

Despite the concerns, I was happy to return to Suceava, although there were more beautiful cities than it, but this is our childhood city, a special city whose people are special.

Today, I am an educational consultant by profession, and write prose and poetry. These days, my books asssur lehatel ba'even, have been published. In the background are also the feelings of the second generation. I hope God will give me the strength to write the next novella whose background will be Suceava and its people, a special city that still intrigues me...

 

Frederica Pasternak's Story

I was born on December 18, 1931 to Nathan and Toni Schauer in Suceava where we lived on 48 Petro Rersh Street. My father had a chemical painting {coating?} lab in the big market (the wood market).

I graduated from a pedagogical high school in Suceava and was sent to the university, to the Russian department. I did not report to the university. Instead, I studied bookkeeping and then worked for 26 years in this profession in Romania.

In 1958, I moved to Bahia-Mare, following my marriage to Yuman Pasternak. I have two daughters: Rosetta and Tonela, and three grandchildren, Tomer, No'a and Dara. My husband died in 1988. I emigrated to Israel in 1989 with my daughters.

Today, I am living in Netanya for the past 15 years, together with Yisrael Finksel. I have a brother, Marcel, living in Israel. He was also born in Suceava, in 1933. He emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in 1947, and lives in Rishon Lezion.

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Martha (née Matti Marilos) Freund

 

Family history

My father, Alexander (Sender) Marilos, studied at the Yeshiva of Desch (Transylvania) and passed the rabbinate's exams at the Rabbinical Council in Bucharest. His father, my grandfather, Rabbi Menashe Marilos and my grandmother, Gittel, came from Poland and lived in Bucecea. My grandfather was the rabbi of Bucecea, in the Botoşani district. My father came to Suceava following his marriage to my mother at the end of 1929.

My mother, Frieda, was the daughter of my grandfather Meir and my grandmother Feige Schwarz, who came to Suceava from Galicia as youngsters. They married and had eight children in Suceava. Three of them emigrated to Israel in the 1930s, while the rest started families in Suceava. Grandfather had two other brothers in Suceava: Yitzchak and Joel-David Schwarz, and they also had children and grandchildren. The entire extended family was called “The Poles” (di Poilishe). My parents made a living from a haberdashery and textiles shop that was on Jews Street (Yiddishe Gasse).

 

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Marta (Marilus) Freund

 

My parents had two daughters: myself (Matti), who is married to Eliezer Freund (born in Germany). We have two sons, Ilan and Avi, and six grandchildren. My sister Devorah (Dolly) Petrenak, is married to Shimon Petrenak. They have two sons, Nir and Erez, and five grandchildren.

We were a Zionist family: my mother's two sisters, Ḥayya and Rachel, and her brother, Menaḥem Mendel, emigrated

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to Eretz [Israel] in the 1930s. My mother studied Hebrew with Teacher Carten, and my father, of course, knew Hebrew from his yeshiva studies. We went to Mrs. Izuhi's Hebrew kindergarten. We called her Auntie (I then thought that was her name). A lot of dances and children's songs that I heard when we arrived in Israel were the same songs that we learned at Aunt Izuhi's kindergarten. When we reached school age, we studied Hebrew reading and writing at home twice a week with the Melamed. Although we were not enthusiastic about him, it did not help us: Dad decided we had to read and write Hebrew.

In Transnistria, we were in Murafa where my grandfather, Meir Schwarz, died and was buried. We returned to Suceava in 1944. We went back to school, after a three-year hiatus, and were active in the Bnei Akiva movement.

 

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Sisters Matti and Dorli Marilus

 

In 1947, we left on the Pan York (Kibbutz Galuyot) on the way to Israel. My father came along in charge of a group of teenagers (Youth Aliyah) and so we got to emigrate together with our parents. There were 48 people in the group (also a few families, besides the youth group). The ship was stopped by the English before we reached the shores of the country and were taken to Cyprus. We there stayed for eight months, attended a school that was conducted entirely in Hebrew, underwent useful sports training, and also pledged allegiance to the “Haganah” with one hand on a Bible and the other on a pistol (this was pre-military training, GADNA, under the guidance of trainers from Eretz [Israel]). We arrived in Israel in 1948.

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Sender and Frieda Marilus

 

Childhood memories

I want to relate here about my beautiful and pleasant childhood memories, not details about antisemitism and deportation (these are things that people who were then older than me know more about it).

In Suceava, we lived on “Clea Oniri” Street, in the house of Rabbi Yaakov Moskowici, whose large courtyard also had a synagogue. It was always happy around there, especially on Shabbat and holidays. There were people coming and going, some who came to the rabbi and to the synagogue, and there were always children playing in the courtyard. There were even boys who played football (among them the late Boumi Stettner). But when they were playing, us girls were always chased home, so that we would not disturb them. But we did not go, but stayed to admire.

Many children came mostly to play in the large courtyard during prayers. On weekday afternoons, I would play with them klaas, hide-and-seek, catch and more. On holidays and on Shabbat, it would be even happier. Along with all sorts of shenanigans.

Every day, a horse and cart would be standing in the yard. It was Itche the Milkman's cart. The cart had milk cans and hay for the horse. The milkman would take out urns, go to the houses with them, while leaving the cart with the rest of the urns in the yard. One day, one kid (an unusually naughty one, Leibele

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Laks) offered to take a walk around in the yard with the horse for anyone who had the courage to climb onto the cart. We were several of the brave ones. But the horse did not want a ride around the yard, but “got a streak of independence” and went out on the main road, started galloping and running wild. But when a car came towards him, he panicked and rose on his hind legs. We did not know how to stop the horse. People who came along, as well as those who ran after the cart, did so. Of course, the milk jugs flew out of the cart (the damages to the milkman were covered by our parents. They were happy for the children to return safely).

Besides all these recreations, we also spent a lot of time with our grandparents. We lived close by and often came to them. On Shabbat mornings after prayers, our cousins also came there, and we were very happy. Of course, all this was before the deportation. I had a happy and pleasant childhood.

I remember the entertainment at the ”Zamca,” when we drove there with our parents in the carriage. The Zamca was considered the place with fresh and healthy air. There were beautiful lawns, and many children came with their parents to hang out. Another well-remembered place was the public garden. It was a boulevard with chestnut trees and a covered stage where an orchestra played in (probably on Sundays). From there we went with Mother to Wagner's Confectionery (it was opposite the garden) to eat an ice cream bomb (an Ice Bomb). There we always met other parents and children we knew.

Two things that would have seemed obvious to me at the time were noteworthy: 1) We did not make fun of people with abnormalities and did not bully them. 2) There was help for the needy, even if it was not officially organized.

I remember an older man (we called him “Kash-Kash, maybe because he liked to bite “hard”). He always came to my grandmother on Wednesdays for a meal. We always asked him if he would like to have a cup of coffee? “No, I don't want a cup and I don't want a glass. I want a big pot of coffee!” he replied. The Gertler family (Josele Vizhnitzer's grandparents) lived next to my grandmother. There Kash-Kash would eat on another day of the week.

Similarly, at my grandmother's behest, I would bring various victuals to a deaf and lonely woman who lived nearby. We called her, “Heniya di toiba” (Tova the deaf one).

There was a poor, retarded man named Arele kakunya (Aharon the kook). He would walk around In the courtyard between the children and then sit on the steps to one of the apartments. He spoke to himself something incomprehensible, yet the children did not bully him. On the contrary, they always gave him a sandwich or cake and were infatuated that he ate a lot.

From 1940 to 1941, when Jews were expelled from the surrounding villages and they came with nothing. I remember a family with several children (the Genut family). The children came to our courtyard to play. At the end of the game, two girls (who were our age) would eat with us and Mother even gave them our dresses, because they were banished and had nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

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Rabbi Moskowici, of course, had all kinds of people who got help. There was a family; a mother, a father and two sons, who were expelled from one of the surrounding villages. Here, too, I remember that from time to time on Shabbat eve, families would invite them to dinner. Indeed, mutual aid worked well, mainly out of appreciation and self-awareness.

When we returned from Transnistria after the war, as far as I can remember, we were doing well. We studied at the Hebrew/Jewish High School. We were active in the Bnei Akiva movement, and the future looked rosy. Of course, all my memories are very personal. Because of my young age I was not involved or aware of the entire population or institutions.

I would like to mention my uncle and aunts who lived in Suceava. Perhaps there is no one left to mention them here:

Itzik and Leah Schwarz, and their daughter Etty Schapira obm. Rivka and Ze'ev Schwarz and their children Dolly Craft and Ḥaim Schwarz obm.

Ḥanna and Yehudah Bern obm, and their children Ze'ev obm and Miriam, may she live long.

Elka and Avraham Sapir, the late Sheindel and their son Aryeh (who fell when he was a 19-year-old soldier).

 

Martin Zwilling's Story

My father, David Zwilling had three sons, the late Irwin, born in 1931, Karl (Carol), born in 1937, and myself, Martin, born in 1945.

David was the son of Jacob and Clara (née Lepter) Zwilling. My grandfather Jacob was a musician specializing in violin and clarinet. He taught music at a school in Suceava. He would also perform at various family events to which he was invited. In this way, he could make a living. Grandmother Clara was a housewife.

My grandparents passed away in 1937, so I never got to know them. My father's parents try to give their sons, David (a doctor) and Heinrich (a photographer) an excellent education so that they could make an honorable living. David was sent to Germany and studied dentistry at the Würzburg University. There, he met my mother, Sali Fackelman. They continued living in Germany where my brother, Erwin obm was born on November 8, 1934. After the rise of the Nazis to power, they returned to Romania in 1935. During the years 1941-1944, our entire family was deported to Transnistria along with all the Jews of Suceava.

I emigrated to Israel in 1963 via Italy.

My uncle Heinrich passed away in Israel in 1987.

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Carol Zwilling's Story

I was born on March 7, 1937, in Suceava, a son to David and Sali Zwilling My father, David Zwilling, who was a well-known dentist in our city, had two other sons: Erwin, my older brother, who was an engineer and doctor of physical chemistry in Canada, died tragically in 1991, in Caledonia-Canada, following an explosion that occurred while conducting experiments to be used in extinguishing oil-well fires in Kuwait after the Gulf War. The third son, Martin, was born after my father remarried to Bella Burchis, my stepmother.

Our whole family was deported to Transnistria and were in Lucinz and Shargorod. I lost my mother in Lucinz. She died of typhus, to which we all fell ill. I graduated from high school and a college of engineering technology for the construction of machinery designed for construction, and hold an engineering degree.

 

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Carol Zwilling

 

In Suceava, I worked at the District Institute of Planning as a chief planner until my Aliyah to Israel as director of the technological department for workplace organization. My friend Isio Bessler, who now lives in Haifa, also worked there.

I emigrated to Israel with my wife Helena-Leah in March 1982. I was placed in Nazareth Illit against my will.

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Here I got to work at the military car factory as a quality supervisor and worked there until I retired in 2002.

From my youth to this day, I am addicted to the art of photography. I succeeded, after a relatively short period, in being accepted as a member of the Photographers Association of Romania. Today, I am a member of the International Photographers Association. I take and publish photographs on every subject in nature, man and environment. I have two international virtual galleries where you can see my work, including works on Schotz.

Translated from Romanian by Yehudah Tennenhaus

 

Aryeh (Ben Baruch) Kostiner's Story

The Schotz Jewish community can be defined as a traditional one. It had strictly observant people while there were those who excused themselves of the burden of the commandments, some less and some more. I remember that until the deportation, most of Jewish stores were locked on Shabbat.

 

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Aryeh Kostiner

 

Our city had a Zionist kindergarten, which my brothers and sisters and I attended along with many of the Schotz children. To this day, I remember that the Hebrew song we learned in that kindergarten: “Rejoice oh Maccabean heroes, be glad and rejoice day and night.” There was no Jewish school in the city: We attended the public school where the Jewish pupils were a small minority. Many of the town's children, and I amongst them, would attend

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the Talmud Torah every afternoon from 16:00-19:00. The public school was open on Shabbat as usual. This caused us problems because we did not write on Shabbat. There were teachers with an antisemitic tendency who deliberately scheduled exams on Shabbat to trip us up.

I remember that for years my late father organized a quorum for students who studied at the high school and commerce school on Shabbat mornings. Prayers began at 6:30 am at the Sadigora Stiebel, after which, the students went to the high school. In the school year 1940-1941, the Jewish students were expelled from the school. That year, I was attending the commercial high school. Our principal was a liberal and did not expel the Jewish students from school. So, that school year we attended school. A few days later, the gentile students, incited by some teachers, organized and one morning when we came to school, they chased us away with sticks and stones. I had an unpleasant personal experience that day. I had a non-Jewish friend, the son of an Armenian priest. We did our homework together. So, he visited our house many times. But that day, he was one of the first in the class to start chasing me from class and school.

They also closed the Talmud Torah. So, we youngsters were idle and without studies. The authorities took several dozen Jewish leaders as hostages to prevent harm to the German and Romanian armies. Among those arrested were rabbis, community leaders, doctors, and lawyers. All of them were held at the city's Great Synagogue. Police were posted there at all hours of the day. I and a few other young people would sneak into the place where they held the hostages. We would watch the games some of them played, such as chess, cards, and so forth.

After the fall of Poland in 1940, the Russians gave an ultimatum to the Romanians to evacuate the area of Bessarabia and northern Bucovina within a few days. The Romanians, of course, obeyed the Russians and evacuated these areas. During its retreat, the Romanian Army murdered dozens of Jews from our area. I remember that on one of those days my father obm volunteered with many others to assist the city's Ḥevra Kadisha to bury the martyrs murdered by the Romanians.

In the summer of 5701 (1940), the authorities decreed it was forbidden for Jews to gather in groups greater than three Jews. Of course, synagogue prayer ceased. During 5701, I became 13 and began putting on tefillin. The “celebration” took place in our home because of the above said decree. The only ones present were my father, my grandfather, and my uncle. Toward Rosh Hashanah of 5702 {source is incorrect, it states 5701}, they bribed a police officer who gave permission for prayers to be held in the Great Synagogue. In the middle of prayers, the police came and chased away all the worshippers. They were no public prayers on Yom Kippur of that year. But there was one place which had a private quorum. Rabbi Yisrael Hecht organized a quorum in his house. He dared to do so because it was easy to move over to the neighbor's balcony from the balcony of his house. He invited my brother,

[Page 551]

Yitzchak, and me to complete the quorum. If it became dangerous, we would be considered the homeowner's sons. In this way, he ensured himself against a possible police raid.

I remember there was a Bnei Akiva branch in our city before the war. My brother was a member of the movement and I would peek sometimes and be scolded by him.

My grandparents Avraham and the late Suseya Kostiner had eight children. Four of them, my late father among them, lived close by to them in Suceava. We visited with them every Shabbat. My late grandmother went out of town for a while and I slept at Grandfather's. Once I woke up in the middle of the night and saw Grandfather sitting on the floor with a book in his hand and saying prayers in tears. The next day, I asked what was the meaning of this. I was told that Grandpa was reciting tikun ḥazot (the “midnight prayer”) every night, meaning that he did not go to bed until midnight, and only after saying the midnight prayers; i.e., appealing the destruction of the temple and praying to the Creator to return us to Zion.

Relations with the gentiles until the outbreak of the war were quite correct. Here and there you could hear antisemitic remarks. There were antisemitic newspapers, as well as antisemitic parties, but in everyday life we did not feel it so much. I remember that an antisemitic newspaper published an article in which the journalist accused the Jews of Schotz of demeaning the city that was considered the city of one of Romania's heroes by circling the city with a string. This refers to the eruv installed by the Jews of the city so that they could carry things on the Sabbath.

In the late 1930s, the anti-Jewish Cuza party came to power and was preparing to impose harsh laws against the Jews. I remember that one Thursday the Rabbis and the leadership of the Romanian Jews declared a fast day for all Jews, and the night after that day, this party was removed from power.

The Romanian flag comprises three colors: blue, yellow and red. I remember an incident that happened to a Jew from our city. His wife accidentally sewed the flag in reverse of the norm; i.e., red, yellow, blue. A police official noticed this. As a result, they arrested the Jew and accused him of communism, claiming that he deliberately hung the flag with the red color on top.

May 10th was a national holiday in Romania. Every year on this date, they would check whether all Jews hung the flag as required by law. If they found a Jew who did not hang a flag, he was suspected of being hostile to the state and dealt with severely.

The deportation: The Jews of our city were expelled in ḥol hamoed (intermediate days) of Sukkot within three days. The city was divided into three sections. The Jews from each section had to get to the Burdujeni train station. Our family arrived at Burdujeni on Friday. I remember that our uncle, Rabbi Moshe Michael Kostiner, brought wine with him and recited the kiddush (consecration of the Shabbat) at the train station before we boarded the carriages.

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I had a collection of old coins and stamps. Before the deportation, I hid them in a primitive cellar we had in the courtyard. I found only one collection after returning from the ghetto [in Transnistria].

In the Murafa ghetto: many Schotz people were deported to this ghetto. I remember one year there was not enough flour to bake matzot, and for lack of choice, matzo was baked during the Passover holiday. There was a time when I was a “trader.” I sold cigarettes and matches. Sometimes I made a lot more than the cost of renting a newspaper. To understand this, it must be remembered that we were completely disconnected from what was happening in the world. We did not have a newspaper and certainly no radio. To illustrate the reality in the ghetto, the Germans nearby learned of the fall of the Germans in Stalingrad about two weeks after it happened.

Sometimes, there were Romanian military personnel passing through the ghetto. I remember on one occasion I bought a newspaper from a Romanian soldier. I passed this newspaper from one to another reader; each for one hour for one German Mark. Since a long time passed without a newspaper coming to the ghetto, many wanted to know what was going on in the world, so I made a great profit from that newspaper.

In 5706 {Note: source has 5750! Probably a typo: nun instead of vav} 1946, my brother, Yitzchak, went to Bucharest to Bnei Akiva's “Kibbutz Hachsharah” to prepare for Aliyah to Eretz Israel. At the beginning of the month of Nissan (March-April), a message came from Bucharest that there was a chance of Aliyah and there was room for more young people to emigrate to Eretz Israel. My parents agreed to send me and indeed I traveled with other young people to Bucharest to wait for the possibility of emigrating.

In honor of the First of May, a large celebration was held. On the stage of honor sat Russian Marshal Zhukov, as well as Romanian heads of state. The emissaries from Eretz Israel, who were in charge of the Zionist youth movements, agreed that we would march together with the Communist Youth in order to bribe the local authorities to help us with emigration. I believe it was the only time in history that Bnei Akiva members marched on the First of May, and gave the communist salute as they passed the stage of honor.

A few days later, we left for Eretz [Israel] on the illegal immigrant ship Max Nordau. Our departure was supposedly legal: we had passports to Honduras.

As we approached Eretz [Israel], the British caught us and led us to Haifa, and from there they held us at the Atlit camp. A few weeks later, they released everyone, first the young, then everyone else. I was registered as a youngster and was sent on behalf of the Youth Aliyah first to Sde Yaakov and then to the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School. Instead of scholastics, I joined the Haganah. The next day, the War of Independence broke out; i.e., on November 30, 1947, we were recruited by the defense commander there, because Mikveh Israel was surrounded on three sides by Arab communities. Already on the second night, the Arabs shot at our school.

 

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