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[Page 606]

Translations by Moshe Devere

The Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Schwarz Tribe's Story:
Der Poilesher (The Pollack)
(The Gottlieb, Landau, Itzcovici and Leibovici families)

 

Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Schwarz

Grandparents Schwarz were born in Poland, where their eldest daughter was also born. At the end of the 19th century, they moved to Schotz, where they had seven more children (in total they had three sons and five daughters).

 

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Meir (Der Poilesher) and Feige Schwarz

 

My grandfather owned an iron wire factory for the construction of fences and gates for house and courtyard entrances. The factory also produced filters for the sugar factory in Iţcani. It also had a factory for the production of sieves and a shop selling glassware, pottery, and straw products. The store was run by grandma, who was a woman of valor and had a business sense. She took care of the family's livelihood, because grandfather sat in the beit midrash {study hall} and studied day and night. Grandfather was a quintessential scholar who also mastered the Zohar. The grandchildren who write these lines have letters that Grandfather wrote to his sons in Eretz [Israel] in a wonderful modern Hebrew language, which can be compared to the writings of Agnon and Uri Zvi Greenberg.

The commercial sense of grandma and great-grandmother, Hannah Devora Zeberling, passed through all their offspring's genes. As they grew older, they owned stores even before they started families and helped support the home.

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Hanna Itzcovici

 

The sons, Ḥaim (Ze'ev) Wolf and Moshe emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in the mid-1930s as pioneers in Hapoel Hamizrachi's “Torah Va'avodah” and settled in Kfar Ata, where they established families. They were building contractors for many years. They built houses, synagogues and yeshivas in moshavim and kibbutzim in Eretz Israel.

The grandparents were privileged to immigrate to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) in 1937 with certificates they received from their sons who lived in Eretz Israel.

Daughter Elka Schwarz Rose traveled to London in the 1930s to a relative and so she and her two brothers who were in Eretz [Israel] were no longer in Schotz when the war broke out.

(Notes by Hannah Itzcovici and Rachel (Landau) Betzeig)

The eldest daughter, Chisa Zili Schwarz-Gottlieb, was born in Poland, divorced Gottlieb (without children), lived in her father's house and ran a grocery store for a livelihood. In the Transnistria exile, she was deported from Mogilev to Peciora. She found her death in one of the escape attempts. She was about 50 when she died.

Daughter Jetti Schwarz married David Leib Aryeh Landau of Siget, who was a graduate of Rabbi Breuer's Rabbinical Seminary in Frankfurt. The house was very religious. Two daughters were born: Rachel (b. 1933) and Tsipora (b. 1935). Of course, they attended the Jewish kindergarten run by Aunt Isolis and Kalchstein's ḥeder. Rachel entered first grade, but within a short time, all the Jewish children were expelled from school. The parents had a shop in the Yiddishe Gasse with fabrics and sewing essentials and ready-made clothes bought in Iaşi and Czernowitz. Thank God

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there was a livelihood and a maid as well. Then came the dark days and with them the harsh decrees. My father was in detention, a “hostage” in the Great Synagogue with many of the city's Jews.

Our family numbered four when we were deported to Transnistria, and the only one of all the sisters and brothers who returned intact from Transnistria and the war: Father, Mother and the two girls. Grandmother Hanna Leah Landau, the widow of Rabbi Shalom Halevi, a descendant of the Noda Beyehudah, lived with us. She perished in Mogilev in the winter of 1943.

The family emigrated to Israel in 1951. The girls established wonderful families. All our children and grandchildren studied, served in the IDF, work and live in Israel.

(Written by the Landau girls: Rachel Betzeig, Tsipora Schwarz)

The daughter, Henia Schwarz, married Avraham Leib (Yehudah) Itzcovici. He was orphaned from his father, studied at the Spinka Yeshiva in Slovakia, and came to Schotz to study a profession and worked in his grandfather's factory. Until his marriage, he stayed with the Kostiner family, who had a kind of guest house. In the letters he received from his mother in Slovakia, there were warnings not to marry a girl from Bucovina, because they are not religious and do not cover their heads after marriage. He told me all of this. My father did not heed his mother's pleas, fell in love with my mother Heniya. They married, and had three children: Ḥannah (1933), Ḥaim (1935) and Lutsika (1938). They lived happily until the great disaster that befell the family.

Father joined Mother's shop, which she owned before her marriage, and together they managed it very well. The store was on a main street near the Yiddishe Gasse and was full of merchandise, various fabrics, ready-made clothes, for summer and winter. The livelihood was good. The residential apartment was next to the shop.

My father was very religious, praying in Rabbi Yankele Moskowici's synagogue, because Grandfather and his brothers, Meir and Yoel David Schwarz, and their families also worshipped with R. Yankele. Dad devoted a lot of time to the needs of the community and dealt faithfully with public affairs and took care of maintaining the ḥeder for the Talmud Torah, etc. He continued so also in Israel, where he arrived in 1950. He continued to do so, along with other ḥassidim such as Sander Marilus and Kalman Avraham. Teams were sent to the descendants of Schotz in Israel, raised funds from them, and thus started the establishment of a synagogue on Hillel Street in Haifa called “Kol Yaakov,” headed by Rabbi Yaakov. Rabbi Yankele then came to Israel. He stayed for some time in the Ahuza transit camp until he could leave and move to an apartment where the synagogue was also located. They received significant support from Rabbi Yisrael Levanon.

In 1940, my father was drafted into the Romanian army and served in the Czernowitz region. An antisemite informed

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on him that he had signaled to the Russian planes about targets to be bombed and said that they were approaching and about to win. He was tried in a military court and faced very severe punishment. Thank God he was acquitted then, after the family spent a fortune bribing the people who handled the affair.

On Sukkot 5701 (October 1941), when we were deported and arrived in Mogilev. All our families worked hard and paid huge bribes (money and jewelry) so that we could stay there. The success was to our detriment, because a year later there were new decrees and we were deported to Peciora, on the bank of the Bug River; mother and three small children, because Father was taken to work in Atachi. Peciora was a terrible camp. It was impossible to work there. Food was not given, and the people starved and froze (remember, the winter of 1942-1943 was unprecedentedly cold, 30-40°C below zero). Our family arrived there in the middle of the month of Marcheshvan and we survived until the end of Kislev. The women villagers would come up to the barbed-wire fence and from them we could get some food for the clothes we had. The fierce cold that prevailed prevented the women villagers from continuing to come.

Three times during this period, my father sent local guides cum smugglers, paid them, and they located us in the camp and arranged escapes at night. Three attempts with professional smugglers were unsuccessful. We walked all night in December 1942, in the deep snow and in the morning, we found ourselves at the entrance to the camp gate, and the accompanying guides “evaporated.”. We got beaten up by the guards and waited in the hope of another successful attempt, but we were disappointed.

For several days now, no food has come to our mouths except for a few tablespoons of snow. We did not know what Hebrew date it was. In retrospect, it turned out to be the fifth candle of Ḥanukkah. On the eve of Rosh Chodesh Tevet, Mother who was a very smart, brave and daring woman. She got up at daybreak; took her three small children and escaped with them. That day it was extremely stormy, and the gendarme guards hid in their guard posts and never imagined that a Jewish woman with small children would dare to flee. The snow storm covered our tracks. And so, we slid down the hill toward the Bug River, which was frozen. We walked along it until we got a little further away from the camp. On the way, we met some shkutzim (non-Jews) who demanded money from us, otherwise they would take us back to the camp. We had no money, and by some miracle, they let us go. We continued walking, day by day, from village to village, for about two weeks, until we reached the Murafa ghetto. However, the little five-year-old sister, whom my mother was carrying in her arms, did not survive: two days before we reached Murafa, she froze to death in her mother's arms. She had no choice but had to lay her on the side of the road. A non-Jew found her small body and brought it to the Murafa ghetto. In our escape, we were lucky and some good gentiles gave us food and allowed us to enter their house to sleep on the floor. But there were also wicked people who chased us away

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with curses. We met our father in Murafa. My mother became very ill and died exactly one month after the death of her young daughter. Both of them found their last resting place in the local Jewish cemetery. Ḥaim and Hannah were placed in the orphanage, and Father barely found a corner to lay his head. Twice my father was kidnapped on the street, and sent to forced labor in Tulcin and Trihati. His two children had no contact or knowledge of him, if he would be returned. A few months later, my father came back.

In March 1944, we were transferred to Romania on a transport of orphans called “Children of Transnistria.” There we waited for our turn to go to Eretz Israel. In the summer of 1944, the Russians entered Romania and closed the exits. Father and Aunt and Uncle Landau had meanwhile returned to Schotz. Aunt Landau came to us as far as the city of Buzău in Russian army trains and trucks with drunken soldiers, and took us and her two daughters back to Schotz. There we went to elementary school and tried to make up for the years of schooling that we had missed. In 1946, Hannah and Ḥaim moved to the children's home in Botoşani. In September 1947, we left Romania on our way to Eretz [Israel] as part of the Youth Aliyah, through the Bnei Akiva movement. After a stay of about two months in Cyprus, we arrived in Eretz [Israel] in December 1947. Hannah studied in Kfar Pines, Mikve Israel, and upon graduation, she enlisted in the IDF and served two years in the Navy. After that, she was a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance, the Foreign Currency Department. She worked for several years in the economic department of the Israeli embassy in London, and on her return, worked at Bank Hapoalim until her retirement.

Ḥaim, who changed (Hebraized) his name to Dotan, first studied at the Yakir Institute in Kfar Haroeh, and then moved to the Kefar Hano'ar Hadati in Kfar Hasidim. He served in the Air Force for five years, studied at the universities of Jerusalem, Los Angeles and Oklahoma, and received two MA degrees in education and general history. For over forty years, until his retirement in 2000, Ḥaim worked in education as a teacher, high school principal and director of the planning, evaluation and computerization division of the Tel-Aviv municipality. He is happily married to Dr. Gabriella Dotan, and they have two married daughters, university graduates, and three grandchildren.

(Written by his daughter, Hanna Itzcovici)

The son, Shmuel Schwarz, his wife Rosa and two babies arrived in Mogilev. Uncle Shmil went to a nearby village to look for work and get some food for the family. On the way, he encountered soldiers who arrested him, threatened him with murder, but before that they ordered him to dig a grave for himself. While excavating, he begged for his life so that he could return to his wife and children. Every request was met with murderous blows. He was miraculously saved thanks to one soldier who took pity on him and released him.

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He returned to Mogilev weak and very ill and soon died of heartbreak in April 1942. When he died, he was less than 40 years old. His widow Rosa and the two babies were deported to Peciora, where they perished.

(Written by nieces, Hannah Itzcovici and Rachel Landau Betzeig)

The daughter, Tsipora Schwarz, married Benjamin Abba Leibovici from Siget. He was a scholar, a Satmar ḥassid, from a prominent / pedigreed family, a descendant of R. Meir of Premishlan. Before her marriage, Aunt Tzipika had a housewares store. After her marriage, her husband joined her in running the store. He managed it with a firm hand, making it prosper and doubling its income and profits. The couple had two sons, Eliezer David (b. 1938) and Leibele (b. 1940). Aunt Tzipika, who went to Mogilev to get some food for the family, was kidnapped on the street and deported to Peciora in October 1942, without a penny and without clothes. Two weeks later, her sister Henia Itzcovici was also deported, but when the family arrived in Peciora, she was no longer alive. Three months later, her husband froze to death in Mogilev. The couple were in their midthirties. Their two-year-old baby Leibele died of malnutrition.

The eldest son, Duvidka, was in the orphanage, suffering from malnutrition, becoming skin and bones, all covered in wounds. Aunt Jetti Landau took him in and so saved his life. Really a surviving ember. Duvidka left Mogilev in March 1944, on the orphans' transport and arrived at the orphanage Iaşi. He was five years old, a very sweet and beautiful boy. Because of his young age, he was in the girls ward, with his cousins Hannah Itzcovici, Rachel and Tsipora Landau, so that the older girls (11 years old) could look after him. Mrs. Rosa Brill, who was a member of the management, took the child home to take care of him and help him recuperate. After a short while, she came with him to the institution to visit his cousins. The boy was well-groomed and dressed like a prince.

The Russian front was then approaching, and the planes were bombing day and night. The Brill family fled with the boy to Bucharest. Nathan and Rosa Brill had no children so, they adopted Duvidke and raised him with a lot of love. The Brill family arrived in Israel in 1961. Duvidke studied at the ulpan, served in the IDF and currently owns a luxurious optics store in the center of Givatayim. He is happily married to Pnina. They have a son, Aviv, and a daughter, Hila.

(Written by: Cousin Brill (the name after adoption), Hannah Itzcovici and Rachel Landau Betzeig)

Rabbi Shimshon Zeberling obm was born in Lemberg, and attended the yeshivas of the Belz ḥassidic community. He was an eminent scholar. At the age of a Bar-mitzvah, he knew 100 pages of Talmud by heart, including the commentaries. He

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was ordained as a rabbi, but never functioned as such. He was a genius, set times for Torah. Among his chavruta {study partners} were the greatest rabbis of his time, the late Rabbi Meirel Schapira obm, head of the Ḥochmei Lublin Yeshiva, who originated the study of the daily Gemara page throughout the Jewish world and was the representative of the Jews in the Polish Sejm.

He married Mrs. Gittel Bluma, daughter of Rabbi Reuven Papfir. They did not have any children.

Rabbi Zeberling established a knitting factory in Schotz and imported “Imperial” knitting machines from England. About 20 workers were employed at the factory. Its produce, which included sweaters, socks, etc., was marketed to various places in Romania. He was a very wealthy Jew, and it was said that the weight of gold in his possession exceeded his own weight.

The Zeberlings were around the age of 70 when they were deported to Transnistria and were close to their nieces, daughters of the Yitzchak Schwarz family. His wife, Mima Gittel, died in Mogilev three months later. Uncle Shimshon was deported to Peciora in the fall of 1942 together with his niece Henia Itzcovici and her children. A Romanian or Ukrainian soldier beat him with a rubber baton and he died two days later. Such a righteous man like him who did not get a Jewish burial!

(Written by Hannah Itzcovici and Rachel Landau Betzeig, granddaughters of his sister, Rivka Schwarz)

 

Simcha Stettner's Story

I am Simcha Stettner son of R. Avraham (Boumi) and Pearl (Margalit, née Schnarch obm. My brother, Gil Stettner, lives in Haifa with his family.

 

About my honorable father R. Avraham (Boumi) Stettner obm

My father obm was born on 5 Elul 5624 (September 6, 1924, in Schotz, to R. Simcha Stettner (son of Chief Rabbi Gershon Stettner) and his mother Tsipora (Popa) daughter of R. Israel Koch of Czernowitz. There were two more children in the family: the eldest brother named David. He died at a very young age and is buried in the cemetery in Schotz, and the sister Rachel (Maddy) who died of typhus in the Transnistria exile. The family made a living from the leather trade. Father spent his entire childhood and youth in Schotz, in the ḥeder at the Talmud Torah and in the local school.

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Avraham-Boumi and Pearle (Shnarch) Stettner obm

 

At the age 16, he was deported along with all his family to the terrible Transnistria diaspora, where the family wandered to several places, including Shargorod and Copaigorod. At some point, the family was taken to a camp in one of the forests, when it was known that in that camp the Germans, may their name and memory be wiped out, were killing all the Jews entering the camp. Miraculously, with God's mercy, the family escaped from the camp. There in Transnistria, the Stettner grandparents and younger sister Rachel (Madi) died of disease and starvation. Toward the end of the war, when the Russians began advancing toward Romania, Father returned and moved toward Bucovina along with the advancing Russian army. When he returned to Schotz, he found their house had been occupied by gentiles. He moved in with relatives in Czernowitz and engaged in business. About a year later, he learned his parents had also arrived in Czernowitz, but he had already returned home in Schotz. Father, who had made a fortune in his business, sent a message to the parents, and indeed they returned to Schotz. In testament to his business success, he came to take his parents from the train station in a carriage. My grandmother and grandfather took the money my father earned, and through it they rebuilt their business, while father himself was sent to study, in order to complete his high-school education. Within a year, my father completed a three-year gap and received a Romanian matriculation certificate.

During those years after the war, my father joined the Zionist Youth movement as an activist, and later became a member in the movement's national leadership in Romania. He was heavily involved in organizing local movement activities and emigration to the Holy Land. Because of this activity during those years, my father lived mostly in Bucharest. Father took care of the family's emigration,

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staying behind to continue organizing the emigration of Romanian Jews to Eretz [Israel]. The family that arrived at the Eretz [Israel]'s shores was sent by the British occupier to Cyprus, where they stayed for about a year. In 1948, the communist authorities in Romania began arresting all the Zionist activists in Romania. Of course, my father was on the list of people wanted by the authorities. Miraculously, on the day they came to arrest him, my father had already boarded a ship to Eretz Israel a few hours earlier. Because he was wanted, Father hid below decks until it left Romanian territorial waters.

In 5709 (1958-59), my father arrived in Haifa and joined his parents there. He married my mother Pearl (Margalit), daughter of Rabbi Yaakov, and Charna Rivka Shnarch, whom he had already met in Schotz after the war, and they established their home in Haifa. My mother studied at the “Reali” teachers' seminar, and my father studied accounting and thank God, was one of the best and well-known in the accounting field in Israel. He was a partner in a large and successful firm, and for 35 years voluntarily headed the accounting department at the University of Haifa. He was active as a volunteer in several organizations and in various municipal committees in the Haifa municipality. The parents were privileged to be saved from the horrors of the terrible Holocaust, build a family, and have two sons. Father even got to dance at his eldest grandson's wedding. My mother passed away in 5744 (1984). My father passed away in 5760 (2000).

 

About the family

The Stettner family originated in Poland. The head of the family was Rabbi Gershon Stettner obm. He was born in Poland and orphaned at a very young age from both parents. As a child, he walked around the streets of the city of Zablatov. There he met the local rabbi, who asked him if he wanted to be a rabbi. He answered that he did. The rabbi then took him home, and indeed one of the greatest of the generation grew up there in the period before the Holocaust. In Zablatov, he married Zisel (née Schaechter). From there, they emigrated to Kosow.

The Admor, R. Moshe Hager obm was then in Schotz. He heard about R. Gershon and brought him to Schotz to study with his son, R. Ḥaim. When the family arrived in Schotz, the grandfather was appointed the city's rabbinical judge. According to testimonies from people from different places in Bucovina, we realized grandfather's fame as an arbiter and outstanding Torah scholar spread throughout the entire country. They lived there in great poverty from the community's meager allowance. So much so that he did even own a set of Talmud, but would borrow books from the synagogue, he literally killed himself in the study of the Torah. Our late father was the eldest grandson, and was even named after the grandfather's father,

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and was naturally very close to his grandfather. As a child, he would sit for days in his grandfather's office listening to questions that would come before him and studying with him. Despite his Lithuanian origins, he also received great love and closeness from the Ahavat Yisrael, the Admor Yisrael of Vizhnitz obm. In those days, the late Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau (father of Rabbi [Yisrael Meir] Lau Shlita) was appointed rabbi in Schotz, and he was the son-in-law of the Ahavat Yisrael. Grandfather sat and studied with him and liked him very much, for Rabbi Lau was then a young man who was appointed because of his affiliation and being the son-in-law of the Ahavat Yisrael's first marriage. Later, there was a celebration at Rabbi Lau's, and the Ahavat Yisrael came to Schotz, bringing with him a special gift to grandfather as a thank you and appreciation for everything he had done for his son-in-law. There was a halachic disagreement between Ahavat Yisrael and Grandfather, regarding the exact location where the opening from the storage tank into the mikveh should be made.

 

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Dayan Gershon Stettner

 

In the summer of 5759 (1999), my late father and I traveled to Schotz, after we learned that one of the few houses left over from the prewar period was my grandfather's house. Dad remembered that the grandfather had left behind an enormous number of manuscripts, a treasure trove of halachic responsa and innovations on the Talmud, and he even remembered where they were in the house. We tried to track down the writings, but unfortunately, without success. On that visit, we were greatly excited

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when in the GACH Synagogue we found a plaque on the synagogue wall, on which the name of my late grandfather appears; the grandfather after whom I am named Simcha Stettner. There were once ten synagogues in Schotz. This was the only one that survived. I heard from the people of Schotz itself that this synagogue survived only because they did not talk during prayers. I have several original letters written by my grandfather to the late Rabbi Meshulem Roth obm, who was the Rabbi of Czernowitz, which were found in R. Meshulem's estate.

An interesting point that I learned from one letter is that there were those who in those days, when a match was canceled, the rabbi would write a note allowing the girl to marry anyone with no fear and doubt. After an investigation, it turned out that there was such a case with one of grandfather's daughters who had a match, but the groom simply disappeared.

During our visit to Schotz, we met the sexton of the GACH Synagogue, a Jew, who was then 93 years old, named Feller. He remembered the whole family and was able to relate that he remembered as a child that he was sent to Grandfather with a chicken to ask about its kashrut. He also remembers that they sent him to buy a piece of leather for sewing shoes at the leather trading house owned by my grandfather, R. Simcha. Grandfather was exiled with the whole family to Transnistria. It was there in Shargorod that the grandparents died, as well as father's sister Rachel (Madi). Abba's mother was Tsipora (Popa, née Koch) of Czernowitz of the Boyan Ḥassidim.

Coping as Jews, especially as Jewish and religious teenagers, in an antisemitic environment, was difficult and involved dealing with harassment and beatings by gentile youngsters. My father told me that while he was in elementary school, the teacher wanted to punish him. She ordered him to stand on his knees in the classroom's corner. Father, because of his education, knew that a Jew does not kneel. So, he got up and ran away from school. To express the depth in the internalization of a Jew who grew up in original and rooted Judaism, I will relate that the tefillin that Father received for his Bar mitzvah were the only thing he kept careful watch over. They were with him throughout the entire period of the Holocaust, all the tortuous paths, as well on the escape routes at the end of the war. These tefillin came with him to Israel, and to our great dismay, about ten years ago, they disappeared from his box in the synagogue in Haifa.

My late mother came from the Shnarch family, the daughter of R. Yaakov and the late Charna Rivka, of the Vizhnitz Ḥassidim, who lived in a nearby village called Ilişeşti. A short time before the outbreak of World War II, the family was expelled and arrived in Schotz, and also returned there after the war.

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Rabbi Gershon Stettner's letter to Rabbi Meshulem Roth obm

(Translated by Simcha Stettner)

B”H

From God in the heavens, a multitude of thousands of blessings and favors in honor of the great and famous rabbi of the land who is sharp and knowledgeable in all the halls of the Talmud and adjudicators, whose doctrine is clear and clean; many will go by his light of his towering pillar and the glory of the generation; a mighty genius; true and a great uprooter of mountains by the logic of his wisdom; there is no end of the good and the blessing can be made by his light, this important rabbi, the honored of our teachers, our Rabbi Meshulem, may he live long and good days, the President of the Rabbinical Court the Holy Community of Hryts'kiv, and now we will be receiving his presence at a happy and successful time as President of the Rabbinical Court in our congregation in the Holy Community of Schotz, may God protect it.

After his good greeting and regards to all those who gather in the glorious shade of his genius, I came to welcome the majesty of his genius Shlita (who will live for good and long days) with the blessing of good fortune and may he be graced by the Lord, who will place him over the whole city. And may the day he arrives be a happy and successful one. May he serve us in peace and lead our community according to the Torah and Judaism until the coming of the Just Redeemer, Amen Selah. It is known that in his youth, when they stood before his famous Gaon, the Rabbi, the head of the Religious Court of the Holy Community of Ramelow obm, the honorable genius discussed intensely with his rabbi obm, in the city of Kitów about some matter in Kosov our wonderful Rabbi and Teacher and Rabbi Yeḥiel and I heard from him a brilliant question about that issue on folio 6 of tractate Yebamot, in what the Shas replies “it is not leading an animal [on Shabbat] and I also energetically discussed this difficulty with him, but it has now faded away. But now the main thing is that even a religious fire would spread his fame with no doubt. And I wait, looking forward to his arrival at a happy and time, to greet him with great and faithful affection.

His signature

 

Frizi Sternberg's Story

In memory of the Spielman Family

I am going to start from the end. my father Ḥaim, my mother Laza (Lottie), my sister Finni, and my brother Bruno. My parents died in Murafa, and my brother died in Bershad of typhus.

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Frizi and Bibi Sternberg

 

Finni and I have been together since 1950. She passed away at age 73 in Haifa, and I accompanied her for her whole life.

Because my mother was a relative of Mrs. Spielman, she took me in from age two after my parents died. The wonderful family gave me a delightful childhood as a gift. In my entire life, I have never encountered such noble and good people and for that I thank them.

In memory of my beloved husband, Bibi Weitman, who left me far too soon. Still, I love him and not a day goes by that I do not think about him. Bibi did not study in university but he had the academy of a human being and in addition was a noble life-friend.

Over the decades of our marriage, he gave me a thousand years of love. So, I love him as long as I still breath.

Translation from German by Yehudah Tennenhaus

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Miriam (Miki) (née Rudich) Shimron's Story

Unfortunately, I remember little because I was then four years old when we were deported to Murafa in Transnistria. I am the daughter of the late Bernard Rudich and the late Jeanette (Wasserman) Rudich. Both of whom died in Murafa and I and my sister, also a young girl, stayed with my mother's sister. In February 1944, I left Murafa with the orphaned children who had then been deported to Romania, and arrived in Eretz [Israel] on July 17, 1944. My mother's sister came later on.

 

Bella Schiff's Story

Childhood memories of my father's home

I am Bella Schiff, daughter of Adolf-Abraham and Rachel-Regina (née Gottesman) Gott.

We lived in Suceava, our family and three of my father's sisters. My grandfather was Moshe Gott. He had a shop and I remember his name was in clear letters on the store sign (years later we found the house purchase contract written in Yiddish and in my grandfather's handwriting).

Our house was in Itzkner or Chernovitzer “Strasse” corner of Melzerberg [Street]. My grandmother, Gittel (née Rauch) Gott, gave birth to eight children. She raised them under harsh conditions, sometimes in poverty. My grandmother baked bread to support the house and made herring, pickles, and pickled cabbage that was used by the family and also for livelihood. My grandmother's pride was that all eight of her children graduated from school, both boys and girls (of course they also studied in the ḥeder). The eldest son, Ozias, later became a professor of mathematics. Maltzya, the youngest of her daughters, was a pharmacist.

My grandfather, Moshe Gott, died in the influenza epidemic that struck the city at the end of the First World War. His children married and some of them emigrated to America. My grandmother remained at home with my father and three of her daughters who, after their marriage, also had households in Suceava. She was a special woman who lived with us until 1936. Much of the family's life revolved around her.

I remember that during the years when she was already old, I accompanied her to Rabbi Ḥaim's synagogue. We walked slowly together, with breaks, because it was already hard for her. Every Saturday night, the family gathered at our house. The children arrived early because we were friends and grew up together. All the children, the younger generation, learned Hebrew. My father taught me the [Hebrew] alphabet. Later,

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I had as teachers: the late Sarah Schaechter, Miller and Carten who taught all of us. The boys also studied in the ḥeder and we were, of course, in the Hebrew kindergarten with “Aunt” Isolis.

When the exile and deportation began, we, the Gott and Rosenberg families, were among the first to leave. After us, the Pasta, Pelz and Davidovici families were expelled. Days later, we all met in Mogilev, about 17 people, and stayed together for a few months. We were soon caught and sent to the Convoy.

I remember somewhat the places we passed on foot, we slept in empty cowsheds of the kolkhozes (the cattle were confiscated by the German army). At the last stop, Varentsyantsa, there was another Jewish family, and we were all housed in one room. The next day, we were caught. Some of us came to Verkhovka then under German control, and we were returned to Romanian jurisdiction. That night, a heavy, freezing rain fell on us. My cousin, Ḥaim, who had turned 16 that day, took shelter with some of the family, but it was too late. That night, he died of angina and a high fever. It was one of the hardest moments. The next day, Ḥaim was brought for burial. He was the first death, but later that terrible winter more and more perished. In the spring, his parents, who died of typhus, were buried in the same makeshift cemetery.

Around Passover time, we arrived in Shargorod, an area that was more organized and orderly, and thanks to that, we survived.

The way back to Suceava was long and difficult. After a while, I went to Bucharest to study at the “Kultura” agricultural school. From there I emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in 1947 via Cyprus. I have been living in Israel since January 1, 1948. In 1949, I married Yosef Werner Schiff, a farmer from Kfar Bialik. My two sons, Gadi and Uri, and their families live here since then.

 

Zalman Schaechter's Stories

A personal story from the period of the Jews' persecution

One Shabbat in December 1940, we were seated, as usual, at my aunt Hannah Klueger's, whose home was warm and always open to guests. We were 11 youths and 12 adults. Among them were Dov and Tanya Barhad, who were already engaged, Kalman, Shoshana and I, Avraham-Moshe Zlochever and his sister Tsipora, Feigle Stekel and her parents, Moshe Ostfeld, and Yehudit Fuhrer.

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Zalman Schaechter

 

Toward the end of that Shabbat, several police detectives came in; instigated by some informers and said to us in Yiddish, “A Gita woch!” (Have a good week!) and saying nothing else, ordered us to immediately take out our IDs, arranged us in pairs, couples, and took us to the local police.

The interrogators put us in a few rooms and ordered us to lie on our stomachs with our noses on the floor, and forbade us to talk among ourselves. This was about 19:30. After about an hour, they took us out to the interrogation rooms, one after another. We heard our friends screaming from the pain of the beatings by the interrogators. I was taken for questioning and immediately started with a slap in the face and accused of communism. Communism was then forbidden in Romania, but Jews were accused of being communists.

They beat me hard for about an hour and a half. They promised to stop beating me if I confessed to being a communist. One investigator demanded to know the explanation of the verse, “that is written in your Torah... 'It is best that the even the best of gentiles were killed'.” I said, “I didn't know, and that it was not intended for our own period.” One interrogator told the other that I knew the meaning and did not want to answer. They continued with the beating, and another warned me, “Now we are leaving, but in the morning, you will be ready to talk; we will crush your head between two chairs, and then you will certainly speak.”

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Naḥman Schaechter:
[ritual] slaughterer and circumcizer

 

I could only think about the respite I would have from the beatings and stress, and a way out of this place. At 2:00 a.m., members of the Iron Guard arrived, because they heard that there were Jews in the police station and they could unload their tension on them. They came in and checked our IDs. They saw from my picture that I was a yeshiva student with long side-locks. I was lying on my stomach on the floor when one of them wrapping his fingers around my side-locks and pulled me up by them and dragged me down the corridor to the interrogation room, where he kicked me hard from behind. When we got to the room, he ordered me to lower my pants and underwear. Three other thugs were standing in the room and started beating me with a belt and hit me with its buckle. They did not stop saying I was a communist.

I did not feel any pain anymore and begged them to stop because I was about to faint. They hit me with a gun in the head and teeth. So, with bruises all over my body, they took me back to the room. In the morning, when they came to take me for further interrogations, they were told that I had received my dose at night, so they left me alone.

Two days later, we were sent to the city of Iaşi, to a military prison, because we were defined as “dangerous prisoners.” Two local policemen guarded us on the train. On the way, Jews were thrown off the train through the windows while it was traveling. Suddenly, two thugs appeared and demanded to take Dov Barhad and throw him out of the window. The policemen refused to give us away and said they had to hand us over [in Iaşi].

When we got to the prison, they housed us with other prisoners in a large hall. Altogether we were about

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48 in number. The hall had no furniture other than beds with no mattresses and no [spring] nettings, only an iron [frame]. We lay on the floor, droplets of acidic [water] dripped from the ceiling.

After two days, we were released because of bribes paid by the city's wealthy. So, the trial was postponed for several months. The trial resumed in Bâcu. Two of the best lawyers defended us until we were finally released. At that time, Jews were employed in forced labor, and a few other young men and I were employed in immersing train ties in tar water so that the wood would not rot.

 

In memorial to Grandfather Naḥman, ritual slaughterer and circumciser

I am reluctant to appreciate the praise of the late grandfather, who was a slaughterer and supervisor, and circumciser. He was privileged over the decades of bringing most of the children of Schotz into the covenant of the Patriarch Abraham.

When I come to write about Grandfather, the most important thing I remember is that he was a man who respected people without distinction. Grandfather R. Naḥman spent all his life practicing Torah, even in the slaughterhouse, between one slaughter and the next, one could see that he did not waste a moment and was always busy studying the Zohar.

His close friends were: R. Asher Reicher, R. Elimelech Singer, R. Eliezer Alter, R. Alter Kostiner, R. Aharon Leib Bessler and other Torah scholars. He was in consultation with the Honorable Rabbi Meshulem Roth, as well as with the Dayan Rabbi Gershon Stettner.

About the great regard everyone had for him, we can mention that when he came to Rabbi Yisrael of Vizhnitz, the late Rebbe would stand up for him, “Behold, R. Naḥman has come.” He passed away on 2 Marcheshvan 5698 (October 7, 1937).

 

My Aliya to Eretz [Israel] on the Ḥannah Szenes illegal immigrant ship

At the end of November 1945, we were transferred from northern Italy, from the environs of Padua, to a quarantine camp in the south near Bari [Italy]. On the evening of December 12, five British army trucks, covered in tarpaulins, arrived as a kind of military convoy carrying members of the Brigade. They took us back to the north near the port of Magenta, a four-hour drive by some devious route.

Before our departure, we had a farewell feast, but I did not eat because it was not kosher. At night they brought us to the beach, to a hidden place, the ship anchored at sea with signal lights. The sea was stormy. We reached the ship by boats and boarded using rope ladders.

The 250-ton ship was overcrowded and in the ship's hold there were beds on three levels

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made of iron pipes and stretched canvas about four to five {md: meters or people?} in width and passages between the rows. Water was rationed, as were the biscuits and sardines. The sewer was clogged so, there was a duty-roster to clean the feces from passages. Those who were not willing to clean were punished and tied to the top of the mast as well as slapped.

As mentioned, the sea was very stormy and the non-religious members asked us, the members of the religious Bnei Akiva, to pray. We moved the barrels of fuel from place to place to balance the ship. As we approached the shores of the country, planes guarding the shore were circling above us. When we reached Haifa, the lighthouse on the Carmel shone on the sea and we continued until after Nahariya. The Haganah invited the English for drinks, to celebrate the 25th of December; Christmas. The ship ran aground and leaned on its side, and could not reach the shore. They gave us life jackets, but there weren't enough for everyone. There was an argument between me and my beloved fiancée, today my wife, who would jump first. She claimed she had nothing to lose because her entire family had perished in Auschwitz, and that I had a family, and that they would eventually come to Eretz [Israel].

The first to jump tried to get to the shore by boats, but the boats overturned because of the storm. On the shore they turned a boat over and tied a rope from the ship to the boat. Using the rope, we arrived soaked to the bone. Buses arrived and took us to the surrounding kibbutzim before the English sobered up from their drunkenness. I was transferred to Kibbutz Ramat Yoḥanan, and my fiancée to Kibbutz Usha. There was no one left behind in Nahariya. They left a sign on the ship with the message, “We arrived ashore, 250 illegal immigrants, on this night, despite the wrath of our enemies.”

The next day, [Jewish] Agency officials came to register the immigrants and sent us to Kfar Ḥassidim. Me to the Zamir family, and Ahuva to the Wahlberg family. I received pants and a shirt from the Agency and Ahuva a skirt and house-dress. About three weeks later, I got married at my uncle's house in Haifa. There were about 20 people at the wedding. I received a tent in Kiryat Shmuel and there I stayed on my wedding night.

Today, I live in Kiryat Shmuel, in a fairly spacious apartment. My family numbers about 35 people. Unfortunately, one is missing as he fell in Lebanon on 23 Sivan 5756 (May 13, 1996).

A note from the Editorial Board: Yishai Schaechter, obm, appears on the list:

“The Fallen of Israel's Wars.”

 

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Shmuel Schaechter's Story when Elected “Distinguished of the City”

(From a local newspaper)

Shmuel Schaechter, 79, was born in Schotz, Romania. He graduated from a yeshiva high school and tried to emigrate to Israel, but failed and only succeeded a year later. Upon his arrival in Israel, he enlisted in the IDF and, after his release, worked as a construction worker. He was later accepted into the Ata factory and worked there for 25 years until 1985. During those years and also, as part of his work at the Soglowek factory in Nahariya, where he worked until 2001, he integrated as many new immigrants as possible into the workforce.

Twenty-three years ago, Schaechter, a married father of ten who lives in Kiryat Shmuel, turned his home into a foster home. Thus, his house became a warm, loving and caring refuge for many children. Sometimes, over 10 children were staying in his home from toddlers to 18-year-olds.

The Schaechter family believed that they could thereby help shape the children's character, giving hope, warmth and a listening ear to those who found themselves in difficulties and homeless.

Following his meetings with the needy, Schaechter built an oven in his courtyard for baking special matzos, so that those who could not afford it could bake matzos for Passover, without charge. Thus, every holiday, about 1,500 matzos are baked in the family's home, and distributed to the needy by holiday eve. Also, there were quite a few families who stayed at the family home for the evening holiday [meal or seder].

Schaechter and his family assisted the residents of Kiryat Shmuel in need of holding events such as bar mitzvahs and weddings; all voluntarily: the food, dishes, decorations, and even the tables and chairs, was provided by the Schaechters.

“There are other people who deserve it,” Schaechter said in response to his being honored, “I did a lot for Kiryat Shmuel, but I did not look for this, so I was surprised. My wife and I worked hard all these years, starting a wonderful family, and they sent us children with problems. All without compensation.”

 

Freddy (Roth) Shani's Story

My name is Ariel Shani, formerly Alfred (Freddy) Roth. I was born in Suceava in 1926, to Sali and Yosef Roth.

My mother, Sali (née Strassner) had a hat shop on Suceava's main street, Regella Ferdinand. My father was a partner in a hat factory in Czernowitz. He would be constantly

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going to Czernowitz and return home in Suceava, usually toward Shabbat, and sometimes we would go to spend the weekend with him in Czernowitz.

 

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Arial-Freddy (Roth) Shani

 

At first, we lived in a one-family house on 'Vasile Bombak' Street parallel to the main street, behind the “Ramer” deli. My parents were busy, so I was always in the care of a housekeeper, a Ukrainian-Romanian named Frosina. Additionally, my three aunts took faithful care of me. Sabina was the oldest of them. She was the wife of David Hausvater, the manager of the Polish bank, where she also worked as a clerk, as well as Rita (later Rosenthal) and Irena (later Riegler).

When I was five, we moved into another apartment in a house that belonged to the Altman family, on Petro Rersh Street, opposite the Jewish Community House of Suceava and the Maccabi and Beitar meetinghouses. My grandmother used to live not far away, in a beautiful house with a very large fruit tree garden on 'Itzkner Strasse.' I spent a lot of time with her playing games and climbing the trees together with Freddy (Pachko) Eidinger, who lived next door. All this after the hours in Blanca Isolis' Jewish kindergarten. We called her “Auntie,” She was beloved by all of us. We learned there to dance the Hora and sing in Hebrew and feel Jewish pride. Sometimes I would go after kindergarten hours to a good friend of mine, Gidi Neuberger, when the maid would come to take him and his little brother, Lexi, home.

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Sali and Yosef Roth (1927)

 

At seven, I began elementary school. I remember that Aunt Sabina Hausvater took me to school, to get to know the school and the teachers. We sat there on a bench, and next to us sat the late Zelig Fuchs (later Gil Sha'al) with his mother, the late Mrs. Mina Fuchs, and listened to the school principal's explanations about what awaited us from the beginning of school studies to their completion. My four years at the elementary school passed peacefully. We comprised many Jewish students in the class, so we were not so afraid of antisemitic phenomena from the Romanian students. There was an older boy, Alter Fliegman, in my class who would beat up and lord it over the Jewish and Romanian students in the class. One day while in third grade, I rose up. I had a fight with him during class recess and beat him. From then on, we were not afraid of Alter.

Later, I advanced to the Ştefan Cel Mare High School and finished three classes, with severe problems of antisemitic persecution. Some teachers were antisemitic, such as the Moldovan teacher, and this was also felt by the Romanian students who abused us during breaks. Initially, we were four Jewish students in a class of 40, but only three of us were left. There was Gideon Neuberger, Jacqui Spiegel, myself and a boy named Spector, the son of the chief cantor of the Great Synagogue of Suceava.

I was seated next to two Romanian students, one named Turtorian, who was an adult because he was never promoted every year, and would snatch the sandwich I had brought from home from me. In the end, I asked my mother to give me money instead of a sandwich and I would buy two rolls from the school janitor

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and give one to Turtorian, so I could eat my mine in quiet.

The situation in Romania became increasingly difficult for the Jews. My father had to liquidate his business in Czernowitz and helped my mother in the store. Just after I started going to fourth grade, we were called to Sternsky, the high school secretary, who informed all the Jewish students that the school was now off limits to us. We then also wore the yellow Star of David. That is how my studies at the Ştefan Cel Mare High School in Suceava ended.

I was looking for employment and my father spoke with the brothers Karl and Yaakov Grossman, owners of a large iron smithy in Suceava, who agreed to accept me as an apprentice. I started working; learning iron working from Karl and auto mechanics from Yaakov. And at that time, the Italian army was camped in Suceava. They came with many vehicles that needed care and repairs. The Italian soldiers would come to Jacob Grossman's workshop and while working in the workshop for them, they would be nice to us and even gave us gifts. One day, I suggested to a group of five Italian soldiers to visit the “Cetate” site in Suceava, where there were ruins of an ancient fortress. At first it went very well until a group of young Romanians appeared, who beat me and demanded that I leave, while explaining to the Italian soldiers that Jews could not come to the Cetate and offered their services, but the Italians also left.

Because of the Cetate in Suceava, Freddy (Pachko) Eidinger and I had, while in high school, a gang of children, which we organized as a military unit. Our war was against a rival group that was run by the brothers Yankele and Marcel Dickman. Yankele, the younger brother, headed the gang, and with them was also Benno Nachgeher, an older and stronger guy. In my gang, there were some brave guys like the aforementioned Alter Fliegman and another powerful guy named Avrum Weissler. Pachko also recruited the son of a tailor named Shtelzer, who lived in his house. He offered to build a machine for us that could shoot arrows for 20 Lei. He made the arrows out of iron rods from old broken umbrellas, to which he sharpened one of the ends and installed a device with a spring to fire them. However, it turned out that the device was ineffective, because the range of the arrows was only a few meters, and they barely harmed. And so, we had small clashes all the time, throwing stones and beatings, until one day we decided we would close the account between the two gangs, in a war that would take place between us on Saturday afternoon, in the Cetate. At the appointed time, after lunch, I ran away from home and found Pachko already on top. He wore a triangular cardboard hat like Napoleon's, as befits one of our generals. We started the “war” with the opposing gang, but suddenly I saw my mother from afar,

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and with great anger, she took me out of the trench I was hiding in and firmly dragged me home. I think Pachko also left then and so the war ended and Yankele Dickman's gang won. A few days later, I contracted arthritis (because I was lying in the cold and wet trench) that lasted for several weeks, and my late mother was fairly cross.

Next to us, on Petro Rersch Street, there was a house full of the Germans in Suceava and from my balcony I could watch what was happening there, and how it gradually turned into a nest of Nazis. They would arrive dressed in the brown shirts and swastikas. There were salutes, greetings of “Heil Hitler!” We did not know exactly what it meant even though we felt it was getting dangerous. However, even before our deportation to Transnistria, there was less activity in the German home because many of them packed up their belongings and emigrated to Germany.

In the deportation of 1941, the exile of our family to Transnistria took place in two stages: In the first stage, my grandparents and the two young aunts left. On the second day, my father, mother, myself and Aunt Sabina Hausvater and her husband left. We went through all the tribulations until we reached Mogilev, which everyone has probably already described, so there is no point in repeating them. From there, we were sent to the Shargorod ghetto, and we all settled down into one room in the house of a Jewish family. We were five people in that room: The Hausvater family; Sabina and David, and my family; my father, mother and I.

From the very beginning of our stay in Shargorod, we saw all the horrors and everything that was happening in the ghetto. People died of hunger and typhus. The three of us sickened: my mother, my father, and I. When I woke up and got up on my feet after the illness, I realized my father had died of typhus. He was 41 years old. My mother was still ill and unconscious. So, I took care of my father's funeral and placing his tombstone on my own, thanks to the fact that luckily, we still had a small financial reserve. I was only 15 years old.

My late father established contacts with the manager of the flour mill in Shargorod. He was a Ukrainian-German named Julius Moore, who, after the war broke out and the Germans occupied Ukraine, wore the swastika, joined the Nazi Party and was appointed director of the largest flour mill and oil station in the region. They had dozens of employees and several branches. The man was very rich and because he had no supervision; he did as he pleased. Luckily for us, my father had befriended him and offered to bring him all kinds of things he wanted to buy from the Jews in the ghetto who were interested in selling. Julius would not pay us with money but with flour or oil, which we sold directly to people. Julius bought various things from us, from gold coins, jewelry, sums of money, plates, special walking canes, coats, sweaters for his wife and granddaughter. The people in the ghetto, were paid in money or flour, as they wished.

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He would always have demands and orders, or he would send my father and me to visit his wife, and she would say what she wanted to buy, embroidered table clothes, pillow cases, special beautiful things that they had not seen at all in Ukraine before the war. Sometimes I would accompany my father to his meetings with the German Julius Moore, so I knew all about the transactions and indeed, when my father passed away, I went to him alone and told him. He was nice to me and offered me two things: First, to continue to bring him the things he orders. Since I told him I worked before the exile in an iron smithy, he said that the blacksmith who makes the hooves for horses needed an apprentice to work with him, to work the bellows and help with the work. He suggested I go to work with the blacksmith and told me that the Jews should also learn to do physical work and not just sell gold coins, and since I no longer have a father, he was offering me a good job. He ordered the storekeeper to give me three-quarters of a pod (12 kilos) of flour per week for my work. He said that if the blacksmith was satisfied, he would raise my salary for a full pod of flour per week, which was a nice income at the time. In total, three people lived off it, I, my mother, and Aunt Irena, who joined us. Uncle and Aunt Hausvater had some more financial reserves and survived during these tough years in Shargorod.

In 1943, there was a hunt by Romanian gendarmes accompanied by the Jewish Capo police officers, who hunted people who were to be sent to forced labor in German camps in Transnistria. Unfortunately, I was caught by them and could not get home anymore. My uncle Hausvater, who was a close friend of Dr. Teich, the head of the almighty Jewish community in the ghetto, asked him to take me off the list, because I was also the youngest among them, about 16 years old, but he failed. I do not know if Dr. Teich refused to take me out or really could not help. After traveling for two or three days in cattle cars, we reached the Bug River, in a place called Trykhaty, where the Germans built a huge bridge over the river. There were two German companies that worked on it. One, “Munirbau,” did all the columns and concrete work. The other, the “Kruppstelbau Company,” assembled the bridge. After sorting, I joined a group that was supposed to work at a height of 16-24 meters to bolt the screws of the metal parts to assemble the bridge. It was a very dangerous job because there were practically no safety measures, such as life jackets or safety ropes. There were two extremely cruel German supervisors, one named August and the other named Heinrich who, whatever you did, good or bad, would give you a kick or a blow. The work was from 7 in the morning until dark and the food was almost non-existent: A sixth of a bread loaf and two plates with some yellow soup that they called “hirzen-suppe,”, a kind of yellow porridge that caused diarrhea. Of course, if you did not

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eat your bread soon after receiving it, there was a 99 percent chance of it being stolen even by your closest friend, because everyone was hungry. Our shoes were torn. But then someone invented a patent: the camp we slept in at night was previously a cement warehouse, and after spilling the cement, they left the thick paper bags in the warehouse on the floor under the beds. These sacks became an important and very expensive item, because we learned to fold them on our feet and tie them around with string. That is how we put on 'shoes'. There were those who did not make them thick enough and would sit there for too long without making enough movement with their feet, so the cold would penetrate to their feet through the paper, and over time, their toes froze. But this was not a reason for stopping construction work on the bridge.

I was in this place for about 14 months, until one day I heard that the bridge over the Bug was about to be ready, but in the meantime, the situation for the Germans on the Russian front was terrible. We would see the wounded German soldiers, who came back from the front in their thousands, and also Romanian soldiers who came back from there. Once as I sat on the bridge, I saw Romanian wounded coming from the front, and among them I recognized a wounded Romanian officer from Suceava named Lidvinkiewici, who had a meat store, and he himself was married to a Jewish woman named Lechner, who was not sent to Transnistria but remained in Suceava together with Lidvinkevici's family. I could not approach him and decided there was no point in that.

My work was across the Bug, where Krupp had their workshops. At night we would return to camp accompanied by soldiers in German uniforms, but in fact they were Ukrainians who served in the German army, the “Vlasovetches.”. They would take us back to the camp, where we would spend the night in the storerooms. There were hundreds of people there who slept in beds stacked three levels high, one above the other. Actually, these were not individual beds but rows and rows of boards (fritch) so that everyone had some kind of corner on them, and more than once there were quarrels between people who would invade someone's corner, and of course, whoever was stronger would win. I made friends with a few people in this camp, but it was hard to sleep at night. Morning came with its wake-up call and going to work again in the bitter cold, 10-12° C below zero.

One day I heard that the work on the bridge was going to end. “Kruppstelbau” was opening another place of work deeper in Ukraine, in Kirovgrad. They announced that in the coming days, some of the Jewish workers would be transferred there. So, I tried to escape from the place. I learned that about 4 km from our camp in Trykhaty, there was a railway junction with a Romanian supervisor, called “Picker,” and his job was to route the trains that passed there toward Odessa and into

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Ukraine. They said that this man was a Jewish sympathizer and tries to help, especially if they bring him money or a gold coin or the like. I had neither money nor a gold coin, but I had a beautiful long coat, which belonged to my father, and which, fearing it would be stolen, I entrusted it to David Scherzer, the tailor from Suceava, a friend of one of my young aunts. The director of the German camp, a cruel and drunken SS man called Hakele, took him and gave him a sewing machine and a small cubicle near his offices, and assigned him sewing and repair work for him and for all the Germans and the supervisors of the two companies, Munierbau and Krupp. David Scherzer had a German wardrobe there, and he agreed to store my coat there with the Germans' clothes. When I decided to escape, I went to David at night and took my coat, and then I hid for three days inside the camp until the furor died down, after my foreman Heinrich reported I had not showed up for work and they started looking for me. To hide, I slipped under one of the lowest of the three-story beds in the camp's enormous dormitories and lay there quietly. I knew that in past cases, when things like this happened that people did not show up for work, Hakele would come with Ukrainian soldiers and they would search the camp. Indeed, the next day, Hakele appeared with two Ukrainian soldiers and also accompanied by David (Dovedel) Fallenbaum, whom Hakele had taken on as one of his assistants. They started rummaging and searching the camp but did not find anyone. Then Hakele took out his gun and fired several bullets under the beds. And he also fired in the direction where I was lying, but that I am alive today is a sign that he did not hit me. At night, when the camp was filled with people and no one knew who was who, I would go out and look for something to eat, and since I had several Marks, I could buy some bread from different people, and so I held on for three days, and on the third night I walked east and crossed the camp's barbed-wire fence, along the train tracks that led to several carriages, one of which housed the Romanian Picker. Indeed, after walking for about five kilometers in the snow, the papers on my feet got wet, and I was almost barefoot. But since I was walking, I did not feel the cold of the snow so much, and I ended up at the cars, one of which was lit up and there was the Picker, a Romanian of about 45 years, dressed in a Romanian railway company uniform. I told him I had run away and heard that he could help, and I asked him very much to help. Then he asked, “How much money do you have?” I said, “I don't have money but I have this coat.” I took off the coat. He looked and inspected it, saying, “Well, it's not worth much but if you've already come, then I'll take the coat.” He put me in some carriage and locked me in there. He kept me closed in the car for a few days. He brought me food, a bucket for my personal needs. I did not leave there for several days. One early morning

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he told me he had a train going to Odessa, and there were some sick workers there who had been released from Munierbau and Krupp and he could get me in among them. I got on this train, which traveled for a few days. We ended up in Odessa, and from there, it went to Mogilev.

In Mogilev, we were greeted by members of the Jewish community, where Pachko Eidinger's father also worked. He saw me, recognized me right away, and took me home with him. They fed me, and I spent the night with them. I was full of lice and wounds all over my body. It is not clear to me to this day how it did not disgust them, but then, there were many like me and I was not anything out of the ordinary. Mr. Eidinger also gave me some money that the community had collected. Pachko told me that there was some kind of activity by the Zionist Youth movement in Mogilev, perhaps also in Shargorod with Maffi Schaerf. Eventually, I returned to Shargorod and found my mother and my Aunts Irena and Sabina. My grandparents, who, in the meantime, had also arrived in Shargorod, died of typhus and old age.

After they treated my wounds and I recuperated a bit from the situation I came back with, I went and showed up again at the German Julius Moore's flour mill, and told him I had been released from work and was proud that I had helped build a bridge over the Bug for the German army. Without hesitation, he put me back to work with his blacksmith and also ordered many things from me. I started searching about in the ghetto among the Jews for anyone who wanted to sell such things. There were also all kinds of merchants who, if I needed an item that was not available, they would bring it from another ghetto, for example, from Murafa. Anyways, I would always bring Julius what he wanted. He also told me that someone had tried to fill my place and came to him to offer him all kinds of bargains, but he refused. I later found out it was Mr. Kolber, from Suceava. Anyways, I immediately started working with Julius and making money kept me going until I was liberated. When the Russians entered, Aunts Sabina and Irena immediately fled toward Mogilev and continued on to Suceava. My mother and I were not ready for the journey yet, and they also said that it was dangerous for me to go, because on the way, the Russians grabbed young people for their labor camp in Donbass. They all advised me to wait longer in Shargorod and work in the flour mill. We had a livelihood, so we waited for things to clear up and remained there for almost a year. When I received a message from Freddy Eidinger from Mogilev that his friend, Motti Alberton, and several other Jews had organized a convoy so that the Jews of Bucovina, who remained in Transnistria, could return to their homes, my mother and I also set off. We arrived safely in Suceava. Firstthing, my mother took back the store and everything that was inside. My Aunt Sabina, who arrived before us, found our apartment, and some of the furniture we had left. By the way, just before the exile, we moved into a house that bordered with the large 'Fronkol' estate, in the square next to the Ştefan Cel Mare High School. Our apartment

[Page 634]

in this house belonged to a Ukrainian-Romanian widow named Dorna Štefanovići. Aunt Sabina found the apartment and some of our furniture that was in it and announced that we were alive and we were about to return. At the time of the deportation, my mother left a gold watch with Dorna Štefanovići, but she claimed that the watch had been stolen from her during the war. Still, she made our return and the apartment pleasant, and announced that if we could not pay rent, it did not matter. She helped us look for the furniture that had been taken away by all kinds of neighboring people and we went and collected them. My mother immediately opened her shop on the main street and even enlarged it with things we had not dealt with before.

I became active in the Zionist Youth movement, together with my two close friends, Freddy Eidinger and Boumi Stettner. A few months later, I was offered by the movement to move and serve as administrative director of the “Hanoar Hazioni” children's home in Dorna, where the general director was Ze'ev Jagendorf of the “Dor Ḥadash” movement. I stayed there for over a year, during which two classes of children who were there emigrated to Eretz [Israel]. Then I was asked to move to another children's home of the Zionist Youth in Gaggia, Transylvania, and to take over from the director, Rizo Nussbaum. I moved there and worked for several months until the Securitate in Oradea “invited” me several times and started investigations. One day, when they came to arrest me. I was absent because I was in Bucharest. The late Ikki Schaechter, the counselor there was arrested in my place. He was released, but we understood that this was the end, and the children's home had to be closed, especially since by then the whole movement had already gone underground. People dispersed, some emigrated to Eretz [Israel], and some activists and I moved to Bucharest, and stayed in an apartment that was made available to us by the Hanoar Hazioni movement.

Three of us lived in this apartment: Boumi Stettner, Freddy Eidinger and I, and then Sidi Fuchs, Pachko's wife, joined us for a short time. Later, they moved to Cluj. Freddy went to study medicine and both of us, Boumi and I, needed some kind of cover for our stay in Bucharest. Boumi went to work in some workshop that made shoe parts. I enrolled in the Russian “Maxim Gorky” University and took a crash course at a teachers' seminary, so that at the beginning of the school year in September, I might get a job in an [elementary] school or high school in the Bucharest area. It could have been an excellent cover and also a livelihood. We continued our relationship with Moshe Weiss (later Talmon), who was then in the underground in charge of all those who remained stranded in Romania after the borders and immigration opportunities were closed. We also maintained contact with Asher Ben Natan, who was a representative of the Mossad for Aliyah Bet and worked out of the Israeli embassy in Bucharest.

[Page 635]

There was a queue for the emigration of those who remained stranded and waited for some opportunity, such as a train that would come from Czechoslovakia and pass through Transylvania toward the port of Constanţa. In Braşov, the people would get off the train for a few minutes, and there our people, who were on the waiting list from all the Zionist movements, were waiting to join the group and board the train with them, go on to Constanţa, and board the ship together. The person who was in line with us was Boumi, and I was just after him.

One afternoon in September 1949, Moshe Weiss came to our apartment looking for Boumi, saying that he had to leave within half an hour for the train to report to Brăla, because in the evening there is a ship sailing along the Danube with merchandise. A local Jew from the movement recruited the captain of this ship to hide two people on board and bring them into the territorial waters of Yugoslavia, and release them there.

Moshe waited at home for fifteen minutes, and when he saw Boumi had not arrived and could not reach him, he decided and said, “Boumi isn't here, so you go!” I took a small satchel with a shirt, underwear, and a toothbrush and went to Brăla. I got to meet the man who put me on a small ship that pulled barges / rimmorekers with merchandise along the Danube, from Brăla toward Budapest. It was a slow journey because it was against the current. The captain hid me and two other guys in a cubbyhole next to the ship's engine rooms. It was closed on all sides but had a small opening, through which he brought us food and a bucket. We stayed in the dark and sailed until we were supposed to get to the place where the Danube gets narrower and but closer to the Yugoslav coast. There we were supposed to jump into the river and swim to the Yugoslavian shore. This plan went astray because he was informed that he had to wait to take another barge to pull to Budapest. This slowed him down and we arrived only after three days to the designated place for the jump, and in the middle of the day. The Romanian captain came and told us that there is a problem because we are now passing where we were supposed to jump, but it is noon and the sun is shining. People could see you on both sides of the river; both on the Yugoslav side and on the Romanian side. Therefore, there was no choice and we will have to postpone the operation for the night, but by then we will be approaching the “Porcile de Pierre,” the iron gates of the Danube, where the water flow is fast, with strong rapids, and the Danube there is also very wide, almost 800 meters. We were quite frightened because one of us did not even know how to swim. But the captain calmed us down and told us he would garb us with life jackets so no one would drown. You just have to make hand and leg movements, face toward the current and get to the left side, which is the Yugoslav shore, and under no circumstances let the waves sweep you to the right side, which is the Romanian side. Although we also did not know what would be waiting for us

[Page 636]

on the Yugoslav side, I believed that if Moshe sent us this way, the matter would have been sorted out by the Briḥa (Aliya B; illegal immigration) that was working in Romania. I later learned that this was a first attempt to open such a way, because on the Yugoslav side, he was waiting for those who would arrive in this manner. The late Shaika Dan, the Briḥa man from Nativ, who, in coordination with the Yugoslav authorities, was supposed to release and send us on to Eretz [Israel].

At midnight we jumped into the water, which was very cold, it was the end of September, I packed my suit, jacket, pants, watch and shirt in a plastic bag tied over my head, and struggled with the waves with all my might. I immediately lost sight of the other two and did not know where they were. About 25 minutes later, I found myself on the shore. I wanted to make sure I was on the left side of the Danube, and I only calmed down when I realized I was indeed on the Yugoslav side and not on the Romanian one. I was shivering from the cold and started to dry out. Luckily, although the shirt was wet but my pants and jacket were not. While I was lying in the bushes on the Danube shore, I first heard dogs barking and the dawn was lighting up. Yugoslav Border Police soldiers appeared with German shepherds that surrounded me and barked but did not touch me. The soldiers shouted and signed to me I was to raise up my hands. They began interrogating me in Croatian, which I did not understand, but they acted correctly. In the morning, they brought me to their camp, where I received a very large slice of bread and cup of tea. They put me in a closed prisoner cell. I was led on foot from station to station. Everywhere I was handed over to the local guards, who, after a little rest or sometimes an overnight stay, took me further on. In one prison we came to, I found the other two companions who went along about the same route as I did. We were interrogated by the Yugoslav secret police UDBA, for nearly two weeks. They wanted to know who we were and where we came from. I told them I was an Israeli who had fled Romania to return home to Israel, and that we trusted the goodwill of the Yugoslavs and Tito, a friend of the Jews and a friend of Israel, to allow us to pass through and return home to Israel. I said that my parents are in Israel and that was actually true because, in the meantime, while I was in Bucharest, my mother emigrated to Israel. My uncle Eliezer Riegler (Irena's husband), one of Hapoel Hamizrachi's activists and a bank manager in Netanya sent her a quota passport that he got in Netanya, under another name of a native of Rãdãuţi. My mother just had to replace the photo on that passport with her own, and she left on the Transylvania with no problems. That is how she came to Eretz [Israel] with a British passport and certificate.

Later on, they brought us to a camp for political prisoners from various nationalities in a place called Zreòanin in Croatia. The camp was divided into three parts: A Greek part with all

[Page 637]

kinds of refugees who fled Greece; a Bulgarian part with Royalist refugees from Bulgaria; and a Hungarian part. They asked me which camp I wanted to live in. I chose the Hungarian part because I saw that there were some girls there, and in others there were only men. It turned out that I was not wrong because there were at least two girls there who were helpful in getting us through the difficult times.

We stayed in this camp for about 20 days. Our entire stay in Yugoslavia, prisons and camp, lasted 42 days. In the same camp, near the town of Zreòanin, all the refugees would work in all kinds of factories there. I was sent to a sawmill, where the work was hard with a lot of sawdust. Through the manager of that factory, who was Jewish, I learned that there were four Jewish families there, a small community of 20 people. The president of this congregation was a lady named Irma Nana. When she heard that I and two other Jews were in the factories in the area, she immediately went to the camp and got confirmation from the Yugoslav camp commander that the three of us would work in the community in cleaning jobs. She promised to come and pick us up every morning and bring us back in the evening. She organized a roster of the women of the community that every day one of them would come to cook us good food, take us out to the cinema or for a walk around the city. We spent about two very nice weeks there. They were terrified of the UDBA and the Yugoslav police, but I convinced one girl from the community who had to go to Belgrade to phone the Israeli embassy there from a telephone booth in the city; ask for Mr. Shaike Dan and inform him that there were three Jews in the camp in Zreòanin, including one named Freddy Roth. She promised to do so and indeed, about a week later, two Yugoslav policemen appeared in leather coats and asked us to quickly pack our belongings. That night, they took us by train to Belgrade.

We arrived in the morning in Belgrade, where they put us up at the Excelsior Hotel. At around 9:00 a.m., Shaika Dan appeared. He said he had been looking for us for 42 days. None of those who had been in contact with them at the Yugoslav Interior Ministry could tell him where we were, if at all. From the Briḥa of Romania, he received a message that we had left and he was already thinking that the worst had happened to us. But it ended well. He also spoiled us, gave us money; we ate a lot of Israeli chocolate that he brought us from the embassy. He arranged for us to take the train to the port of Split to sail on the Eujitsa to Israel. Since we were supposed to arrive somewhat late to this ship, the Yugoslav Ministry of Interior gave an order to delay the ship for 24 hours, and wait for us. Again, there was a very nice atmosphere on the ship. There were Yugoslav immigrants to Israel. There were also Jews who emigrated from Vienna and Budapest. Four days later, we arrived in Haifa on October 19, 1949. In Haifa, I was interrogated by someone who worked in the Briḥa named Rico and received an immigrant's certificate.

[Page 638]

Since my mother was living in Haifa, and had since married a longtime resident of German Jewish origin named Arthur Levin, I got a room there in their apartment and started looking for something to do with myself in Eretz Israel. I felt somewhat committed to the Zionist Youth movement in which I grew up and which sent me to Israel. So, I went to Tel-Aviv and presented myself at the office of the Zionist Youth, where I also met Zelig Fuchs (later Gil Sha'al obm). I was accepted by David Sha'ari, who asked me if I wanted to join Kibbutz Bama'avak or, since he heard I was an expert in youth guidance, if I would go to work in the movement's children's home for immigrants in Nitzanim in the Negev. I preferred the second option and went there. But after working there for about a week, I could not hold up and returned on the first bus to Haifa.

In Haifa, my mother's husband, Arthur Levin, an electrical engineer at the Nesher cement factory in Haifa, arranged a job for me at its iron smithy, where I worked for about ten months until I enlisted in the IDF. I went through basic training, was selected by the military police by the sorting officer, where I made a military career, rising from first private to the rank of major. After the infantry and military police officers' course, which also included training at the Israel Police officers' school in Shefar'am, I served for eight years. I was the commander of several military police bases in Haifa, Tzrifin, Lieutenant-Commander in Tel-Aviv, and commander of the military police base in Beit Lid, in charge of order and licensing in all the Arab villages in the Tira Triangle, Tayibe, Umm al-Fahm, etc., which were under military rule.

Here I would like to interleave another segment , which relates to the chapter on my childhood in Suceava: While I was in my military service in Beit Lid at the end of 1956, something happened that took me back to that time, and my connection with Libby Schaerf obm.

At the end of 1934, when I was about eight years old, I once a week attended the gymnastics class of the Maccabee Suceava gymnastics for children my age, which was run by the instructor Egon Weber, who was also on the Maccabee Suceava football team, of which we were very proud. My father was on the board of directors of Maccabee Suceava Brigade, where he became friends with Dr. Wolf Schaerf, an attorney who was also a member of the committee. Dr. Schaerf told him about his son, Libby, one year older than me, and suggested that they hire a private instructor for Libby and myself to exercise at their home. My father was excited about the idea and they hired Bobby Tennenbaum as a private instructor in gymnastics for Libby and me that took place once a week at the Schaerf family home. So I met Libby, a very sharp and smart boy, round and chubby, who mostly liked to sit and read books.

We started exercising together. Before and after the gymnastics, there were also conversations that spilled over

[Page 639]

into a political direction. Libby was enthusiastic about Beitar, constantly showing me pictures of Jabotinsky, and Trumpeldor who said, “It is good to die for our country,” and “Two banks of the Jordan” and the rifle, the symbol of “Just so.”. I listened to all this, because at home I usually heard a different theory, both from my father and from my Aunt Sabina. They were general Zionists and thought that the goals of Zionism had to be achieved by nonviolent means. After a few months, we were informed that Bobby Tennenbaum, our guide, had decided to emigrate to Eretz [Israel] with two other friends riding bicycles. They toured Suceava and the surrounding area, collected donations and set out by bicycle toward Turkey and Eretz Israel. And so, my relationship with Libby ended and we rarely saw each other.

Later, after about twenty years, in 1956, when I was a major and commander of the military police base in Beit Lid, a company of military police reservists was handed over to me. I was tasked with training them for a week in grenade-throwing exercises at the shooting range in Givat Olga. One nervous reservist dropped the grenade in the trench where I was lying next to him, the safety pin already pulled out. I grabbed the grenade and threw it into the hole, but the range was too short that I took a lot of grenade fragments in my left arm. I was taken to Tel Hashomer Hospital and when I got to the emergency room, when I was lying on a stretcher and the doctor on duty treated me, I saw a figure in a white robe who seemed very familiar to me. I recognized it was Libby Schaerf who I had not seen for twenty years. He also recognized me and, of course, he was interested in what happened and immediately took charge and started instructing the doctors there. He himself examined me. I found out that he was a professor of cardiology, one of the best in the hospital. He quickly arranged for an operating room, was present during the operation. Immediately after the operation he came to my room, and we rolled out memories of our joint gymnastics with Bubi Tennenbaum. And then Libby told me, “I see that the world has turned upside down. I am the one who was a militarist all the time and dreamed of a military career in the State of Israel. Now I'm just a doctor here and I see you've become a heroic officer in the IDF and you've been wounded.” At the hospital, the doctor and nurses asked me if Professor Schaerf was a relative of mine. I replied, “We aren't relatives but we are both from the same village and that says it all.” It was a wonderful encounter; a big surprise for both of us. To my sorrow, he is no longer with us.

In 1957, while I was the commander of the military police in Beit Lid, two people appeared and presented security service certificates. They told me they had a record of me from the Briḥa, about my activities and that I had come to Israel via Yugoslavia. They invited me for a conversation, so to speak, in some department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the conversation, I realized it was not exactly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but an organization that dealt with special functions within the intelligence community.

[Page 640]

During the first two meetings I had with them, I found out that they wanted to offer me to enlist in the organization while being on unpaid leave from the IDF. At the first stage, after a few of their courses in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, to embark on an operation that was then one of most importance: the removal of Jews through Aliyah Bet from North Africa, mostly from Morocco and Tunisia. February 1958 was when I went on this mission. I worked in this position for four years in North Africa, after which I was assigned to other operational units. I took part in many interesting things, for which silence is still most appropriate.

While I was on this job, I married Drora Ziskind, who was also working at the time as a secretary in one department of our organization in Paris. We had two children, a daughter, Yosefa; a son, Sariel. Sadly, because of my various missions over the years, we had to take them from place to place, and from one school to another, but I think they both benefited. Each is fluent in French and English, and after our stay in Vienna, also partially so in the German language. My son, Sariel, served on the Galatz (IDF) [radio station]. After his release, he was a journalist for Ma'ariv newspaper, reporting from Brussels and Washington. Some time ago, he moved to another occupation, to the wine business. My daughter did her PhD in chemistry and genetics and currently manages the genetics laboratory in Beilinson Hospital. I have four lovely grandchildren.

After 29 years of working in the intelligence organization and nine years in the IDF, I retired at 59, and immediately started working in private businesses. I travel a lot, with my base in Brussels. Most of my business is in the Far East: Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea.

And this is the story of my life for the Schotz book. Que Dieu nous pręte la vie {May God give us life} (De Gaulle)

 

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