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Introduction to the Book

 

[Page 7 - Hebrew] [Page 12 - Yiddish]

Oh, Tluste my tiny little town
(From a ballad by Shimshon Meltzer: “Meir the musician became a commissar”)

by Shimshon Meltzer

Woe Tluste, my tiny little town
Woe, that you fell at the hand of a conqueror,
without a crying telegram, without
knowing if you were sentenced to fire or bombs.

Kotov and Kitev were mentioned a lot,
Śniatyn–Założce a city among cities;
and even Zaleszczyki – it is so close!
and only you, only you were left in the dark.

And also the printer forgot to include
you in the big map, to point you with a dot;
like you were a little enclave,
like you never existed in the world!

You exist and you live in my heart,
and sometimes my heart escapes to you;
and in you my father, brother, sister–in–law, sister,
and brother–in–law, waiting for a letter.

And in you my father's ramshackle house is standing,
and the acacia tree is turning green in the garden,
a bucket is lowered to a well in the yard,
and the spinning wheel is whistling and creaking….

I will remember to the day that I die
the creaking coming from the well!
and if the truth is allowed to be told,
it woke up the child (me).

Awaken, he can see the green acacia tree
through the wide eastern window,
and a soft morning sun is looking
between the branches at the smiling baby ….

Childhood is homeland! And there is no difference
if we saw her, here or there;
and she is the kernel of the wide open space
and she is the center of the world.

So, it is no wonder, and why should we deny?
We can candidly say that all of us
keep the town of our childhood
in a secret room in our heart. Always and always!

Always and always, for she is the station
from which we left for our first journey,
and her name will be displayed at the last stop,
on the day that we finish our last journey…

Everyone to his town – and I'm to my town!
Even if she is not Vilna, nor Brody,
I dedicated a place for her at the beginning of this poem
and I shall not betray her memory at the end.

Why should I deny you and why should I be ashamed
of you, Tluste my tiny little town,
and the acacia tree in your garden is roaring,
and a bucket is lowered to a well in the garden …


[Page 8 - Hebrew] [Page 13 - Yiddish]

Tluste My Little Town

by Leah Ilani–Sternlieb

A long street continuing to the entrance of town, orchards loaded with fruit on both of its sides. A Polish school that summoned its students to class or to a break with its big bell – this is how I remember my town.

Streets full with people dressed in their Sabbath clothes, the preparations on Passover eve by the doorstep. The Purim actors dressed in their colorful customs at their grandfather's home, the train station platform waiting for its passengers and always concealing a surprise, the clatter of wheels transporting a person's hope far away from town, to the big world. Modest small houses, some of them new and some leaning to fall, and inside them the busy daily life with its joy and worries.

I was a girl at the time when my parents decided that their children should receive their Hebrew education in Eretz–Yisrael. And they said, and they did. Close to my graduation from elementary school I separated from my small town and we sailed to our homeland, to Eretz–Yisrael.

On that day no one thought that the day would arrive and a hidden corner in a remote part of Poland, the one that we left, would be slaughtered by fire.

We lived among the gentiles, but my little town had a Jewish identity. Each holiday and Jewish festival sunk their mark on her. Not once it looked to me that the gentiles who lived among us were happy when our holidays arrived, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the Jewish holidays together with us. I remember the “Sabbath gentile woman” who knew how to “give judgment” in Kashrut laws, and I remember the gentile who answered Amen to my grandfather's “Hamotzi,” knew the exact hour to light the Sabbath candles, and the date of a certain holiday.

And I remember that spacious hut, the “Gordonia” club house that was too narrow to accommodate the tens of teenagers who met there for pioneer Zionist activities, all of them looking forward to the happy moment, the moment when their turn would arrive to emigrate. The sparks of love and friendship penetrated through its windows on the long winter nights, while we weaved through conversation, song and dance for our future in the wonderland, in Eretz–Yisrael.

And, in one of the alleyways, in a one story building, we nursed the first nectar of our Hebrew awareness. There, our Halutz [pioneer] teacher, Mordechai Spector of blessed memory, taught us our first Hebrew words. There we met for the first time, almost face to face, our patriarch Abraham who was standing next to the three angels waiting to serve them. There we witnessed the sacrifice of Yitzchak that shook our little hearts, not knowing that the day would come and thousands of martyrs, the purest sons and daughters of Abraham, Yitzchak and Yakov, would be sacrificed in this place.

And there, in the corner of the small room, stood a bookcase loaded with Hebrew books, children's books that I craved and swallowed like a firstborn before summer. I retained from them my first admiration to Zionism – the love for my nation and my homeland.

A small town, a typical Jewish town, with its joy and sadness, masters and beggars, a beloved corner that encircled the days of my childhood with a halo of holiness.

Voices will no longer penetrate from its synagogues, the melody of the Heder boys will no longer be heard, and the stories of Avraham Avinu and his children will no longer be told in a lively Hebrew…

She is empty… empty from her Jews, empty from her Jewish character. Only the headstones in the abandoned Jewish cemetery, only the floor tiles and the walls of the silent homes will shout the cry of a grieving orphan, of a deep–rooted Jewish town that lost the sons who built her.

 

tov008.jpg
The Hebrew School with the teacher Mordechai Spector
(The writer of the article – second to the teacher's left)

 


[Page 9]

The Organization of former residents
of Tluste in Israel

by Shmuel Fiderer (son of Moshe)

 

tov009a.jpg

 

The “Organization of former residents of Tluste and the vicinity in Israel” started its activities in 1952. Its goal was: giving assistance to new immigrants from our town, the few survivors who managed to save their lives during the Holocaust or those who came from Soviet Russia through Poland.

The founding committee included the following members: Yosef Shechner (son of Yitzchak) z”l, Yosef Shechner (son of Antshel) and Shmuel Fiderer. We prepared our bylaws and presented them to the authorities in order to obtain a legal status for the organization.

Our first general meeting was also the first memorial service for the martyrs of our town. All the members of our town, who were in the Israel at that time, participated in it. A committee of seven members, from Tel–Aviv and Haifa, was elected: Yosef (son of Yitzchak) Shechner, Meir Sternlieb, Dov Pfeffer, Dov Hernes, Yisrael Gertner, Yosef Schechter, and Shmuel Fiderer. Yosef Shechner z”l was unanimously elected as chairman of the committee and he began fruitful work, which has brought great benefit to the members of our town in Israel.

We founded a charitable fund to provide financial aid to new immigrants and the veterans of our town. For the establishment of the fund we were only helped by the members of our town in Israel. Their participation was active and most generous. The amount of money that was collected enabled us to give a loan to each person who needed it. The committee members who were the most active in the establishing of the fund were: Misha Shadmi–Goldhaber and Natan Maymon.

Since the first memorial service in 1952 we hold a yearly memorial service for the martyrs of our town. The date of the memorial day was determined by the date of the “Great Aktzya” in Tluste, 22 Iyar 5703 (27 May 1943). The yearly memorial service is held in Tel–Aviv or Haifa. Only once we held the memorial in Jerusalem during the dedication of the memorial plaque for the martyrs of our town in “Martef Hashoah” [the Holocaust cellar Museum in Jerusalem].

Among the other activities of our organization we especially need to note the planting of a grove in Yaar HaKedoshim [the martyrs' forest in Jerusalem] in memory of the martyrs of our town. The grove was planted by the “Pioneer Women” organization in the United States in honor of the public activist Mrs. Miriam Rosenbaum–Miler (daughter of R' Shneur Rosenbaum), and according to her request it was dedicated to the memory of Tluste's martyrs.

For our many accomplishments we thank our friend, Yosef (son of Yitzchak) Shechner z”l, who served as chairman of our organization until his death. He was devoted with all his heart to the matters of the organization and was always ready to help to the best of his ability. We will always remember him as a symbol of dedication and a model to those who continue the cultural activities of our organization.

A few years ago, a plan to publish a memorial book for our community that has been destroyed was brought up. We presented our plan before our landsmen in the United States in order to include them in this project. Luckily a number of them came to visit our country. Among them were: Sabetai Gelband and his wife, Leo Valdman and his wife and Yoel Feldman and his wife. They showed great affection for this plan and thanks to the efforts of the Landsmannschaft chairman in the United States, the member Walter (Vave) Hausfeld, we received the amount of two thousand dollars for the publication of the book and a promise for additional funds. In addition to that we organized a successful fundraising campaign among our members in Israel. In this way we have achieved the goal we set for ourselves – the publication of a memorial book for our town Tluste.

 

tov009b.jpg
A group of members from the book committee with the guest from the United States, Mrs. Popa Eidelsberg

 


[Page 10]

The “Landsmannschaft” of former residents
of Tluste in the United States

by Walter (Vave) Hausfeld)

The day after my arrival to the United States, in the last months of 1939, I turned to the former residents of our town, Tluste, and signed up as a member in their association. I participated in all their meetings and saw their great activity in all areas on behalf of the residents of our town. I remembered how they helped the members of our town before the war and knew to appreciate their help. They donated thousands of dollars to “Gemilut Hasadim” in Tluste and every year, before Passover, they sent two thousand dollars to support the town's poor.

Finally we reach the end of the Second World War. At that time a letter arrived from Yosef Shechter and in it was a list of survivors. We convened a meeting of all the members of our town and I would never forget the moment in which the list was read and my brother's name was not mentioned in it. Later I learnt the details of his death.

At that time we established the aid fund of the former residents of Tluste and started to work vigorously. To our great sorrow there were only a few who needed our help. We collected large sums of money and sent many packages to the survivors. Our landsmen, Mr. Hirsh, excelled with his dedication to this work and Yoel Feldman, son of Gedalia Feldman from Vorolintza [Worworlince], helped us financially.

Later, a number of survivors arrived to the United States and a new chapter was opened in the activities our organization. Among others we decided to build a memorial for Tluste's martyrs in the cemetery so we can visit it the way we visit the graves of our ancestors. Lately we accepted the duty to help with the publication of “Sefer Tluste” so our sons would be able to read about the beautiful life of our town in the past and about her destruction in the hands of the Nazi gangs who inflicted destruction on all the Polish and Western European Jewry.

I want to mention that there are two associations of “Tlusteim” in the United States: “the veteran association” and the “young association” (that's how they are called). The veteran “Tlusteim” already lost their attachment to their birthplace. Their association is based more on the financial aspect and they do not participate in any of the activities for the benefit of the members of their town. When I received the “control” of the “young” group, I tried to unite the two groups, or at least tried to include the “veterans” in the aid activities, but I was not able to do so. They did not participate in the building of the memorial or help to finance the memorial book. They had one claim in their mouth – there is no need for this or for that.

With the publication of “Sefer Tluste” I want to express my hope that all the former residents of our town around the world will read it, learn about their origin and remember and know that we all came from the same place, from the town of Tluste, and we should not forget her all the days of our lives. May the word “Tluste” be a symbol of unity and dedication, brotherhood and deep friendship among the members of our town around the world.

 

tov010.jpg
A group of members from the “Landsmannschaft” book committee in the United States

 


[Page 11 - Hebrew] [Page 14 - Yiddish]

Preface by the Editor
Good and sad neighboring between Tluste and Horodenka

by G. Lindenberg

In the past twenty years the concept of “twin cities” took root in the world. Cities and towns, which were far from each other as east is far from the west, signed a friendship treaty and declared themselves “twin cities” with all that is involved in the matter: frequent visits, gifts when the occasion arises, and financial aid in time of need. This is a new custom for us, but we can assume that it has a foundation in the history of nations. Indeed, there were always towns that historical events bound inextricably, even though it was not always a connection of unity and friendship.

It appears that the towns of Tluste and Horodenka in Eastern Galicia were also twin towns. Fate tied them together during the last stages of their existence in the world. The saying that Horodenka and Tluste were like “a room and a small bedchamber” was popular in Horodenka. In the Horodenka book, Shimshon Meltzer is telling how Tluste's Jews escaped across the Dniester to Horodenka from the Russian invaders during the First World War. In the same book, Yitzchak Shapira is telling how Tluste's Jews helped the Jews of Horodenka to fulfill the deed of waving the lulav during the Russian occupation. First, they loaned them an ethrog for only twenty–four hours and later, the town of Tluste was able to obtain a second ethrog for its “sister” Horodenka from Chortkov [Czortkow]. When the tragic end of the two communities arrived, the community of Tluste was “rewarded” to be the last in line for a total destruction. Many of Horodenka's Jews found shelter in Tluste, and a number of them were also able to save their lives there. According to the book in front of us, the people of Tluste learnt about the “Aktzya” in Horodenka on the same Thursday at the beginning of December 1941. Afterwards, one of the killing pit survivors arrived to Tluste, the slaughterer's daughter who was lucky to remain alive. She commemorated her experience and hardship in a poem that was published in the Horodenka book.

When time arrived to place a memorial for the community of Horodenka, and a qualified editor was needed, the committee members were not able to find a better editor than Shimshon Meltzer, Tluste's poet, who was not just a man from the area but in a way also a Horodenka man. The editor kindly thanks him in the introduction to the book, and mentioned that during the year that he worked as a teacher in Horodenka, before his immigration to Israel, he had sufficient time to “love the town, its landscape and its people,” and thus he earned a citizenship, or at least half a citizenship, of that town.

I was lucky to be Shimshon Meltzer's helper and right hand with the preparation of the material for the Horodenka book. Thus, I was rewarded, when time arrived, to be elected as the editor of the book before us. In my work I did not have the personal knowledge of the town and her people that the editor of the Horodenka book had, and surely not his talent, knowledge and experience. But, I can say at the end of the work that, like him, I have done my work with trust and dedication, not less from what I have done in the Horodenka book. I want to express my gratitude to Meltzer, the poet and editor, for his advice and for standing by me during the entire period of editing this book. He also read all the material, corrected my mistakes, my facts, my language and style, in order to bring this book to a perfect and corrected form.

I must mention the detailed description of Dr. Avraham Stupp. It provides us with a full picture of the Jewish existence in the towns of Eastern Galicia and the special Jewish way of life in Tluste. This is one of the fundamental articles of the book before us, not only for its wide scope, but also for the important description of the way of life of the last generation before the holocaust. It is fitting to praise and honor the comprehensive testimony of R' Dov Glick that includes the entire history of the holocaust and the destruction of Tluste, with exact details and dates. This work is a testimony that was given to the Jewish committee for the research of the holocaust in Łódź, and the fruit of the dedication and excellent memory of the oldest former resident of Tluste who now lives in Israel.

I must mention with kindness the members of the publishing committee who worked hard collecting material and preparing the lists of holocaust victims. I must mention Mr. Shmuel Fiderer, who stood on his guard and made sure that the stories about the holocaust would not include shocking details that might hurt someone, and also the publisher, Mr. Natan Maymon, who collected all this extensive work. They, and all the members of the committee, should be blessed at the end of the project and they have a large part in its success.

And I will end with a quote from Meltzer's words in his introduction to the Horodenka book. These words should to be written in each memorial book:

“It is a sad task to write, edit and publish a book that is not a book but a headstone on a grave of a thriving Jewish community that no longer exists. It is a depressing and draining work that eats her workers, but as the Jewish proverb goes: “There's luck in unlucky.” Not every town was lucky that her descendents and survivors liked her so much and were eager to build her a written memorial and create a name for her in the history of the Jewish nation. And Horodenka won”

And now, also Tluste won.

 

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