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[Pages 533-535]

And There Was …

Shimon Kantz

Translated and Edited by Martin Jacobs

Translated by Irving Lumerman

“And there was …” And there once was a city, Tarnogrod, which took pride in its truth rooted in Jewish concepts, in its Torah scholars and dreamers of Zion, in those who dreamt of a better world and in those who, day and night, sat with meager daylight, with the light of an oil lamp, or a tallow candle, studying, quietly absorbed for hours in a saying of the Sages; and in the fools, water carriers, and coachmen who loved the very noise and commotion – all these things, which were the stuff of our legends, gone, vanished.

But everything related here in our memorial book about their heroic life and martyrs' death is far from being legendary. So too the beauty for which they yearned and which they achieved was no dream, the earth on which their cradle stood, the heavens which filled their eyes with light, the air, the scenery, the shadows of the dark woods, the sound of the flowing Tanew, the gold of the open fields, the storms of shining spring and the sadness of weeping autumns, the silence of snows in winter, the pain of endless distances, the blessed labor of a whole week, and the welcoming lights of the Friday night table were no dream.

The friendly candlesticks and the blessing Mother said over them, full of mercy and unbounded love with which she shaped our world, our lives, from the cradle until we left home for distant lands.

“Greetings, angels of peace”. This was the sound of father's singing, and as he sang angels from on high began to hover in the air and filled the house with song.

“By your leave, my masters” [1] – simple words pervaded with so much holiness.

“O King, the king of kings, return us to Zion” – Father's melody was full of inspiration and longing.

Everyone –

The simple Jews with the excited faces, having borne within themselves the pain of all sunsets and the plan for all sorts of business, of coaches traveling to fairs, with all Jewish aromas of weekday and holiday.

Those who have cleaved heavens with Torah and prayer, and lifted themselves up above grey actuality with songs, dances, and wondrous deeds.

Those who with songs, lessons, and lectures in the library and culture club have created and raised up a modern Judaism.

They all believed that there is an order in the world, until the dark night came and wiped it all out. Only the solitary few who survived weep by the rivers of the world over the great Destruction.

Every record which we have brought here, every picture of a Tarnogrod Jew, whether of individual figures or of whole families, is a brick for the tombstone of the former life in our old home, a reminder of the terrors, awakening, for us and for future generations, the lament for the third Destruction.

O, Jewish Tarnogrod, may our children, until the furthest generations, know how beautifully you have shone in our hearts and memories, how much we loved the heaven above you, which was like a prayer shawl woven from the prayers of our fathers and grandfathers. We loved your poor earth, the market place noisy with traders, with peasants on rustic carts, who bought less from the Jews than they sold, and looked forward to some Jewish fish, spiced with pepper, after a shot of brandy.

It was sad in the Jewish shops in the Tarnogrod market, but the Ten Commandments shone over them and ecstatic hasidic melodies were hummed forth from there.

And so the Divine Presence rested everywhere in that place, and now every wall there is like the ruin of the Western Wall.

O martyrs of the Tarnogrod Jewish community, only a few of your children survive, in various corners of the world, and wherever they are to be found, in Israel and in America, they carry with them not only the dark grief and woe, but also the desire that their children and children's children understand the spiritual elation of their grandfathers, read the simple words related in this book concerning that life and its dreadful destruction, and understand, feel, and suspect how many tears and how much weeping lie in these letters.


Translator's note

  1. The opening words of the Friday night Kiddush prayer. Return


[Page 536]

Do Not Sing

Translated by Martin Jacobs

Do not sing, do not play,
Please be silent, my lyre.
Do not sing, let no music be played,
For this day is an evil one for us.

This day is evil for us,
The days are days of mourning.
Be silent, lyre,
And thou too, O harp.

Days of mourning are these days,
The destruction of the people;
Do not play, do not sing
Let us place hand to mouth.


[Pages 538-539]

These I shall remember

Shimon Kantz

Translated and Edited by Martin Jacobs

Translated by Irving Lumerman

Difficult, immensely difficult, was the task of collecting and putting together the materials from the great tragedy, from the Destruction without equal which came upon the Jews of our town.

It is possible that here and there an error slipped in, or a detail not precisely in agreement with the reality of that time, or was minimized or exaggerated. The passage of time is at fault, the distance we have traveled, which from time to time leads to a warped picture.

It is possible that here and there certain details are repeated, but we wished all the more strongly to show the great world which was annihilated by the greatest Satan of all time.

A world of holiness and heroism, a world which was so lofty even in the days of the most terrible destruction, a destruction which had no equal in all of human history and which therefore truly appears beyond belief.

But here is the list of the names, of the hundreds in our town, murdered by the Nazi killers and thrown, shot but not killed, into the graves while still alive. The names of those whose blood will never cease to cry out and demand: “‘Yisgadal’, may the revenge of blood innocently shed be great.”

The great extended cemetery of their names, like the sanctity and bravery of their lives and their deaths, will be engraved in our memory for all eternity.

The names were collected by the editorial committee with great difficulty and it is not possible to take responsibility for errors and missing names. For every error and for every name left out we ask pardon.

The Editors

Note: ‘W’ after a name indicates a woman, ‘C’ indicates a child or children.

The names of the Tarnogrod martyrs were researched by N. Krimerkop, M. Sprung, Chaim Bornstein, Fayvl Koenigsberg, Chaim Shmuel Lorber, and Yechiel Hering

.

 

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