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[Page 155]

Chapter Three: Testimonies to the Holocaust

Correspondence between Shlomo Bardach in the Brody Ghetto
and his Sister-in-Law Dora Bardach in Switzerland

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Rafael Manory

The following are photocopies of two postcards, out of a collection of thirty-five postcards, that Shlomo Bardach sent from the Brody Ghetto to his sister-in-law Dora Bardach, who stayed in Switzerland during the war. Although, the responses by the addressee did not survive, the content of the postcards in our hands attests to a relatively active correspondence. The correspondence lasted from 29 April 1941 to 28 December 1943. Three postcards were written in 1941, 18 in 1942 and 14 in 1943.

Among the postcards in the collection there is also a letter, from 24 January 1943, as well as an acknowledgment for receipt of a package sent by “Kajotes,” a business for marketing food products in Lisbon.

The content of the postcards is identical and attests to the emotional and physical distress of the sender, which is worsening from day to day. Shlomo Bardach felt the end was imminent, and his cry for help is mixed with a feeling of despair and surrender to his fate.

When the date of the Ghetto annihilation was approaching (21 May 1943), the content of the postcards became even more desperate and depressing. The loss of hope is reflected both explicitly and through hints hidden between the lines. The writer's distress is expressed by the assertion: “My fate is gloomy, I am miserable and wrecked” (a card from 1 April 1943). Four days later, on the fifth of that month, the content of the card is condensed into three sentences only: “ I wish to inform you about my presence. May His goodwill be that I would be able to write you again in the future. In the meantime, be happy and healthy. May I remain in your memory forever…”

The way of this collection preserved was unconventional. In the beginning, Issachar Bardach, the husband of the addressee Dora Bardach gave the postcards to Mr. Mendel Zinger, of blessed memory. Because he did not make use of the collection's findings within a reasonable time, the photocopies of the postcards were transferred to Issaschar's cousin, Mr. Avraham Bardach, a member of Kibbutz Kabri in the Galilee. This is the place to express gratitude to Mr. Avraham Bardach, who through deep understanding of the historical value of this unusual primary source that revealed to us a not-insignificant fragment of the suffering of the Jews in the Brody Ghetto between 1941–1943, took care of handing the collection over to the Organization of Former Brody Residents in Israel. This helped in adding an important element to the content and quality of this memorial book.

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“From a Letter to the Editor”
(Received 23 June 1993)

by Shmuel Stoianover and Raphael Shalev

Translated by Moshe Kutten

“We need to emphasize that collaborators participated in all of the actions of the annihilation of the Jewish population in Brody and its environs. Ukrainian collaborators were active in Brody. They played a major role in all the actions. In their enthusiasm to hurt and kill Jews, they were even worse than the Germans. Without their help, The German murderers would not have succeeded to annihilate the masses of the Jewish nation so quickly and so easily”.


[Pages 159-168]

“The Last Days of the Community”

by Kalman Harnik

Translated from Yiddish to Hebrew by Yaakov Netaneli-Rotman

Cited from Nathan Michael Gelber's History of the Jews of Brody:
“Mother Cities in Israel”, Vol. 6, Mosad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem [1955], pp. 397- 406

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

At Dawn, on the 22 of June 1941, we awakened in panic, to the sound of the horrendous thunders of a bombardment. The war between Germany and the Soviet Union had begun. Eight days later, the city of Brody fell into the hands of the Germans. We spent the eight days in the cellars and hideouts. Whole blocks went up in flames and people were killed in the streets;however, all of that was an innocent children's game compared with the events which would follow.

On the same day, 1st July 1941, the roars by the Ukrainians: “Heil Hitler”, in a hurry to festively greet the conquering Germans, arose in our ears. These same people, who just yesterday seemed to be the most enthusiastic supporters of the Bolshevik regime, were the first ones who found a common language with the “Deutsch”. They were the ones who offered themselves to the Germans fully, and executed with blind obedience the plans the Germans had in store for the Polish people, with added zealous hatred for the Jews. They turned their back, from the first moment, to their former friends and acquaintances, as proof that they were submissive slaves to the horrible race-theory. They enlisted the most corrupt and wicked among themselves as the public servants, for servicing the conquering Germans. Their service was totally in support of the “Juden Ohne Rechte” [Jews without rights. MK] plan of stripping away any human rights from the Jews and in full backing of the idea that the “Zum Ausrotten” [the eradication. MK] of the Jews must be done in stages of uprooting. These stages should include humiliation, defamation, slander, persecution, looting, and at the end, a complete and final massacre. Two devices were available to these psychopaths: the whip and the gun. The Ukrainians learned this lore in detail from the first day. First, they studied its main idea and then its conclusions. They introduced their own varied destructive versions, which were then executed with evil cruelty and German accuracy.

These crimes were carried out on us for twenty-three months. Twenty three long months lasted this hell. This is how it started: from its first days, the local German commander appointed a municipal administration. The former business-school teacher – Orishchin, was nominated to head it. The lawyer Dudchak was appointed to be the police commissioner (later on somebody by the name of Sokhovich replaced him). A former bank clerk, Boksah, was nominated to be the mayor; allof these nominations belonged to the civil administration. It seemed to us at the time, that the situation would not be intolerable. Jews who served in the independent Ukrainian army during the years 1918 – 1920 pinned hopes on this administration. In particular, Dr. Dolek Lifschitz, the son of Zigmund Lifschitz who was the owner of the flour-mill; Pesakh Husar, the fruit store owner from Goldengass Street, Dr. Feuershtein, the former secretary of the community of Bilitz, Silesia (he handed all of his property for safekeeping to a gentile woman who served as a housemaid in his home;

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after the ghetto was obliterated, he and his wife asked the maid for shelter, but she threw them out cruelly. Both of them committed suicide. Their seven years old son, Menakhem was helped by some individuals for a short period after their death, but he too perished) and Bertinski, a Jew from Lvov, who served as a judge in Brody. However, the fate of all of these people was similar to the fate of whoever remained in Brody (except Bertinski who survived the Holocaust and currently lives in Poland).

Tragi-comical was the situation of one Jew named Shprukh. While in captivity in Italy after World War I, he joined the Fascist party, which did not prevent Jews from becoming regular members, at the time. Equipped with the appropriate documents, Shprukh appeared before the German commander Wagner, who was quick to take the whip and teach the Fascist member how to distinguish between Fascism and National Socialism.

Dr. Avraham Glasberg was given the task to assemble the Judenrat [Ghetto's Jewish Council established by the Germans - MK]. Etel Lemmels' Beit Hamidrash was chosen as its seat. Hertz Buchbinder, the son of a Brody bookbinder, was nominated as the commander of the Ordnungs-Dienst – the Jewish Stewarding Service [or Auxiliary-Police - MK]. He was an officer in the Ukrainian army after World War I, and acted honorably as the commander of the Jewish Stewarding Service. Initially the Jewish council operated under the authority of the German municipal commander and later under the Gestapo.

The Jewish council was ordered to organize a daily work-force of 150 workers. They were also asked to assemble the furniture for the entire German administration. Starting 5th of July 1941, every Jew between the ages of 12 and 60 was ordered to wear a 10 centimeters wide band with a blue Star of David on it. Jews were forbidden to exit the town or ride the trains during the curfew hours between 4 PM and 6 AM. An exception was made for Mendel Reinhold, a Brody leather merchant, who travelled to Lwow several times to purchase leather for the gendarmes. Shopping for provisions for the Jews was allowed only between 12 PM and 2 PM. At that late time, most of the merchandise has already been sold and the stock in the market has already been depleted. This is the place to mention the horrifying Field-Gendarme Vogel, may he be remembered disgracefully, who abused every Jew he met, women like men. He hit them to prevent them from walking on the sidewalks…

At the same time, Jews were forbidden, under the penalty of death, from engaging in any type of commerce. However, they still had to pay taxes to the last penny. If a taxpayer violated the rule and missed the court hearing, the Jewish Council had to pay his / her debt. The council set up a special fund for this purpose.

The realization of the “Final Solution of the Jewish People” actually started with the education of the Arians – the Polish and the Ukrainians. Besides hitting, looting and rape (rampant despite the race theory of the Führer), the Germans used films, newspapers and advertisement as education material, provided separately for the Germans, and separately for the inferior races in different foreign languages. Jews were depicted in this education material as the cause for plights such as plagues, thefts, fires and well poisonings. The Jews were also accused of being responsible for the results of the World War. The Germans accused the international Jewry of war mongering. Their conclusion was obvious…

On July 8th 1941, men and women were kidnaped on the city streets indiscriminately. 150 Jews were lined up in rows near Sancher's pharmacy. A German gang gave a “sample lesson” to the “Arian” mob how to treat the Jews. They were attacked with deadly blows. To the amusement of the spectators, they were led “only” for the moment, to

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the artillery barracks for forced labor. To prevent any illusions (by chance, I was one of the people who were led), one German shot and killed Yankel Shapira (a known mental patient) in our presence. The famous Dr. Kuten was beaten to the pulp, just because he applied directly to the cavalry-captain (Rietmeister). Dr. Kuten held in his pocket, at the time, the key to the clinics in which he worked and he mentioned this to the officer. A day later, on July 9th, the Gesatpo, headed by the infamous hangman Haupt Sturmfuehrer Krieger, appeared at the house of the Treibush family on Shkolna Street, and confiscated it. They placed their flag with the skull depicted on it, symbolizing murder. The flag was displayed on the house for two weeks.

On July 11th, again, 400 Jews are kidnaped in the streets, never to be seen again. At the same time, two teachers from the government high-school, Dr. Michael Friedlander and Henrik Friedlander, as well as Dr. Y. Kuten and Leon Bruchiner, a merchant of electrical products, were arrested. The Jewish Council was ordered to do the following: a) provide a list of all the people who are the city Intelligentsia, b) furnish the Gestapo headquarter and provide clothing to all of its clerks, c) hand over, in a few days, a contribution of 250,000 Zloty!

On the following day, the Jewish intelligentsia was assembled. They were lead to believe that they were supposed to prepare the plans for the establishment of the Ghetto. However, the German had other plans. For three days the executioners humiliated and ridiculed the poor people. At the end, they were led to an unknown location never to be seen again

A list of some of the people who were murdered is presented henceforth according to their profession

Teachers in the Elementary School

OFRICHTIG A. HARNIK Dr. FALIK
Mrs. BERMAN Mrs. LEMELMAN Mrs. A. KLAR
Sh. BERNSHTAYN A. MOSTISKER L. SHENHOLTS

Teachers in the High School

BOGNER LAURER H. FRIEDLANDER
D .VERBER LANDAU Y. FRIEDLANDER
D. VORM Mrs. SAPIR KAPIZA
TENNENBAUM Dr. FRIEDLANDER M. SHVEDRON
    SHPILMAN

Engineers

KAPLUSH ROGOVSKI STREICHER

Flour Mills Owners

LANDGWIRZ MARDER ZWERDLING

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Lawyers

Dr. OPEPPA Dr. AFROIKH Dr. HELLER
Dr. AMBUS Dr. GARFUNKEL Dr. PERMINGER
    Dr. KANFER

Pharmacists

BRAVER Mrs. FINKELSHTAYN RUTNBERG
Mrs. BRAVER FISHER (owner of Kalir pharmacy, native of Rava Ruska) Mrs. RUTNBERG
Sh. KAHANA Mrs. FISHER SHVEDRON
FUHRER Mrs. KREZISYA Mrs. N. SCHWARZ
Sh. FITSH   SCHTOCK
FITCH   Mrs. SCHTOCK

The people listed above were brought to the cemetery near the lime pit [Wapniarka in Polish) and were murdered there. Physicians were not taken in this “Aktzia” [Nazi German roundup MK]. It is worthwhile to add that during the execution of this horrible crime, Gestapo men went around the houses of the victims and looted their property.

But life is going on. Banishment followed banishment. The hope that the nightmare will end somehow was strengthened by all sorts of rumors. Some were even saying that the people who were taken away were alive and continued to work…. Al sorts of blackmailers and con-artists of many kinds were thriving, and they spread encouraging rumors. Civil and military emissaries were sent to the four corners of the world. Notes were sent over to Wiener-Neustadt [a city located south of Vienna. MK], Leipzig, Munich, Rovno and Hamburg. People were holding on to anything and any person and looking for help everywhere from any acquaintance of an acquaintance and spending the last pennies trying to find out about the fate of the kidnapped… At the same time, the graves of the kidnapped were only one kilometer away… Con-artists exploited again the prevailing confusion and swindled money or articles as if to help the poor prisoners… Jews simply could not believe in the truth… they did not even trust the underground newspapers. In fact, only in these newspapers, the reality was presented as it really was, but Jews were not willing to believe in it and were still waiting for salvation.

Following this Aktzia the calamity of the slave labor camps began. The camps were established in several locations such as Kozaki, Brody, Olesko, Sasov, Zborov, Plukhov, Latski and Yaktorov. Infamous angels of destruction rich in experience headed the camps. Every one of them utilized a unique method of tortures and other atrocities. Every one of them created a unique administration for extermination. Helping them were some Jewish people thirsty for blood-money.

These are the names of these evil butchers (may their name rot in hell): Lambo, Gz'imak, Fuchs, Rog, Hildebrand, Zaltsborn, Silaski, Klaus and Mantel. It is a pity that only one of these people

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– Gz'imek, was caught and convicted in court for his horrific acts. The rest of them continue their filthy lives somewhere. There is no imagination in existence which could even dream about the psychopathic abominations of these murderers.

The Jewish Council in Brody made great efforts in order to ease the pain and the suffering of the labor-camps prisoners. They sent them food packages and rescued the sick (such as Dr. Feuerstein). Thousands of people died from the inhuman suffering in these camps.

On 20th of September 1941, the horror of the first Aktzia descended on Brody. A few days earlier the German spread rumors about an Aktzia against non-Jews (Arians). Everything started at 5 o'clock in the morning. Shots were heard at dawn. At the end of the Aktzia, 250 Jews were killed and 2000 were led to their extermination. The Aktzia lasted a day and a half. The miserable victims were initially concentrated in the Ryneck (market) and from there, led in locked cattle cars to Belzec. Only one of them managed to escape just before the stop at Rava Ruska, Tsvengler, a rags merchant.

The second Aktzia raged on October 2nd, a day after Yom Kippur (in a note in the original article the author wrote that it was the evening before Yom Kippur but he was mistaken). The Aktzia claimed 2500 victims. Among the people who were shot to death was the venerable old teacher Nakhum Okser who educated generations of pupils in the elementary school. It is worthwhile to describe how this martyr died. Herman Blokh, Okser's former pupil, who was the acting head of The Jewish Council, hid his former teacher in one of the Judenrat's offices. A Gestapo bloke discovered him there and noted: “What is the number of years of grandpa? Does he still have any teeth?” He shot him directly into his mouth.

I just wanted to note that Mr. Okser told me personally that the silver treasures of the big synagogue were hidden in the cellar of the house for the elderly, which also hosted the city orphanage.

 

The Ghetto Affair

Everybody enjoyed kind of a “vacation” break due to the preparations for the establishment of the ghetto. The date for completion was set for December 1st 1941, but was postponed to January 1st 1942. The area chosen for the ghetto included the alleys around the Hospital Street, the bathhouse and the Groats Street. The population in these old alleys was always sparse. Now, 15 thousand Jews squeezed into these scanty and narrow streets (before the war, the Jewish population in this area numbered around 7200 people). Besides Jews from the city and its environs, Jews from Sokolovka, Toporov, Radz'ikhov, Olesko, Lupatyn, Podgórze, and Szczurowice, some Jews from the Russian border town of Radzivilov and refugees from Volyn escaped to Brody and settled in the ghetto.

A barbed-wire fence surrounded the ghetto. Two gaps for exit and entrance were left open. The main gate was located near the Trit house. Above the gate, on the side of the ghetto a sign was placed, written in three languages [Yiddish, Polish and German MK]: “Halt. This is the Ghetto border. Exit without permission will result in death!” On the city side, the sign was worded

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differently: “The entrance for Arians is absolutely forbidden! Disobedience can result in imprisonment or a fine of 1000 gold coins”. Guards from the Jewish Stewarding Service, and from time to time, a Ukrainian policeman were stationed at the gate.

Victims fell in the ghetto from its first days. This is the place to raise a tribute to the forgotten figure - Mr. Kohel (he was a merchant and not a Brody native). While standing not far from the barbed-wire fence, the policeman Lozovi shot him to death. There was an old conflict between them, and now the murderer found an opportunity to take revenge. In response to the immediate intervention by the Judenrat, the head of the police said: “This is not a big deal; there is simply one Jew less…”

That Lozovi, a sadist and notorious murderer, spilled the blood of hundreds of Brody Jews. Many Ukrainians were like him: Zarnovits, Simyonuk, Pavlok, Kust and Buiko to name a few. From that point on, complete anarchy prevailed in the ghetto. Murder and massacre were allowed, since it was known that murderers would not be punished. On the contrary, they would probably receive a reward. Food rationing for the Jews in the ghetto was handed over to the official Ukrainian grocery company “Soyuz”. It was hardly implemented. It was absolutely impossible to get anything privately. Christians were severely fined for selling food to the Jews. A horrible hunger prevailed. Deaths were becoming more frequent by the day. The streets were filled with hunger-swollen people. Hunger-typhus was rampant. The awful distress and the unhygienic conditions were the direct major causes for it. Everybody tried to hide the severity of the situation from the authorities. In addition, the winter of 1942 was a very harsh winter. The rationing of fire-wood was ridiculously meager. People were forced to dismantle walls and partitions of wooden houses for heating. The horror-scenes that occurred during the distribution of firewood are indescribable. Starving, sick and miserably poor people were scuffling till bleeding, just for a small piece of firewood… The situation got worse and worse. The daily death toll reached 20, then 50. It developed into a normal occurrence. The underworld was floating up to the surface of the public eye in the ghetto, and along with it - horrible atrocities. Carnivorous survival instincts, violence and robbing of the last meager property were rampant in the ghetto and its streets for everybody to see. Wicked people, such as Reuven Meizler (a local thug son of a baker), or Zeinvil (a mentally disabled porter, a strongman native of Brody who was able to kill a person with one hit, whowas appointed as a Kapo to the slave laborers in the forced-labor camp in Kozaki, where he was cruel to everybody. He was later deported back to the ghetto), became the executioners of major operations of evil and sadism. Complete anarchy prevailed, in which the weak became the victims of every exploiter and muscleman. The situation became hopeless. The Jewish tendency to explain every natural event as a good sign, or to discover hints of hints of salvation and relief in reality, an optimism that many were hooked on for many days, even intellectuals and academicians, now disappeared completely. In its place, an astounding indifference, and total loss of the ability to face the challenge took over… It was impossible for the situation to worsen and to become more awful than that.

In this chaos, a cruel and horrible terror took over. The workers in the plants outside the ghetto in the “Arian” side, provided the only “News Service” – the connection to the outside world. They left at dawn and returned at night. Many of them managed to smuggle

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a piece of bread into the ghetto. These “lucky” workers were safe from any sudden troubles or from various Aktzias. Everybody was willing to pay anything they owned for this certain “piece of paper.” An ID card with “a “stamp” on it was becoming the main purpose of one's life. The slogan was “One must get a place of work at any cost!” The firms Tod, Alt und Abfallstoff Eraffsung, workshops that worked for the Wehrmacht [German armed forces MK], or Wyklycky, Liegenschaft G. ,a firm that dealt with collecting recyclables and old raw materials and others, enabled its workers to get the ID. The details of the ID included a unique number identifying the holder as working for the army with a stamp: “Able to Work”. For that small card and a stamp, people were willing to give up anything: their money, property and even their self-respect. Their perception was that this was the only way for a person to continue one's existence.

When the authorities got hold of the news about the epidemic of typhoid fever in the ghetto, they closed the ghetto for one month and later on for an additional three months. Some of the firms built special housing units for their Jews outside the ghetto. Inside the ghetto, the mood became more and more desperate. There was only one desire - to escape from the ghetto and acquire Arian papers, or at least find a shelter for the children with Christian acquaintances, and thereby perhaps save them.

Up to 10 people crowded every room in the ghetto. Despite the crowding, everybody was so isolated! One was never left alone with his / her thoughts though. There were always many nervous and angry people around you. They all lived as communal tenants; however, everyone has finalized his or her plan and molded it in his thoughts. Everybody had a victim in the family, so everybody knew what to expect. Everybody was trying at least to find a way to save the children. Screams could be heard in the streets, day and night. Shots reverberated outside. There was a rampant SS person here, and the 18 years old murderer Lager-Fuhrer (camp commander) Rug (a Volks-Deutsch – a Polish citizen of German origin) was rampant over there. They forced you to think about salvation, to outwit and act…. At the time of danger, the bunker was one's only salvation. The bunkers were a story of their own. Most have gone through several stages: from a primitive hideout in the attic, or in a hut, to a sophisticated deep pit underground consisting of several rooms and even separate apartments. Some sophisticated bunkers contained food, lighting, radio and water. Some of the people managed to survive in the ghetto and come out alive. Such bunkers were dug out at the families Krsitiampoler, Braun, Katz, Stein and Brandon, all Jewish. A Ukrainian by the name of Borchak, a locksmith who was a communist before World War II, was one of the only Ukrainian righteous who did not stop from helping Jews. He saved many Jews by keeping them in a bunker he dug up in his house, printed fake ID's with false Christian names, and fake stamps that he kept especially for that purpose.

In order to save the children one had to hand them over to stranger gentiles. This is where I feel that it is my duty to mention some of the righteous Christians, those who helped Jews escape, or kept and saved Brody's Jewish children for years. They were undeterred by the dangers and the death penalty they had to face. The following is just a partial list of these people:

Yatsneti Miklashevski (a clerk in the tax office, who frequently did favors and charities), Timchishin, the former deputy governor of Brody, Homnyuk, Professor Buchkovski, Kist, Dr. Zavotski (the regional physician who went from one bunker to another

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to provide cure to many of the Jewish sick people and smuggled a substantial amount of money from the outside, everything under a life threat), and Mironko Borchak Lukanich (Ukrainian printer who was very truthful in his relations with the Jews, his father was a pig merchant), Kumornik – the executer of the court, and the Polish priest of the Christian community whose name escaped me.

My three years old daughter was saved by the Mikloshevski family. They hosted her for four and half years. They treated her like their daughter. Unfortunately, many such children were lost to the Jewish nation. I know of Liska Ambus, the daughter of the lawyer Dr. Yosef Ambus who lives today as a Christian in Yelniya (the meaning of the name is - The Hill of the Antelopes). All efforts by Dr. Mordekhai Weiss (a survivor who lives in Haifa), to save her through the Youth Aliyah were unsuccessful. I am sure that there are many of Brody's Jewish children who live as Christians in today's Brody and its environs.

In order to survive, or even just to exist, one had to have a “contact” on the outside. Only then, one could get work outside of the ghetto. Work could only be arranged through the labor bureau for Jews, which was located in Ostereztser's house. Mr. Holtzsetzer (a former vegetable storeowner who was the nephew of the former secretary of the Jewish community) managed the Jewish department of the bureau. Every Job carried a certain fixed price in gold. It was not possible to reduce that price, even by a penny, via bargaining, tears or begging. There was no use in trying. Nothing would have helped! The hearts of the clerks (even the Jewish clerks) were tough and sealed. That was when everything was quiet. During an Aktzia, the job certificate or any other certificate was worthless. The Gestapo did not honor any signature…

At one point, some good news started to arrive from the fronts. A slim hope was awakening. Maybe there is some hope? … Maybe we would survive and live to see other times... Youth groups met and decided to “break through and escape to the forests”. The authority got the wind of it and decided to respond. The government advisor, Dr. Weiss (a German, not to confuse him with the Jewish Dr. Weiss), along with the commander Vartsuk, ordered all Jews who were able to work, to gather on May 4th, 1942, in the barracks courtyard. 1400 Jews came forward for the census. The head of the police – Daum, Hildebrand (the head the Gestapo Jewish department in all of Galicia with a rank of Hauptsturmführer),, Rug, German police force, Ukrainian auxiliary police force, the security service headed by the Polish detective Shershen as well as the Jewish Stewarding Service – all were at hand to assist in the administration of the event. Three Jews were shot and killed right there on the spot. One of them was Tsukerman (a student with a Christian looking face and Arian papers. He was actually employed in Tarnopol, but came back to Brody because he was homesick). He was cut down along with the Halpern brothers from Rovno. The authorities organized quarantine camps from which one cannot move away.

Despite all that, there was an increased desire for the establishment of a group for self-defense. Engineer Feuerstein (not a Brody native), even assembled a machine gun at the Lamm machine shop. Several hand guns have been obtained as well. People made preparations for accelerating the establishment of the organization. Borchak and Jack (mentioned above) assisted in the preparations. Engineer Feuerstein served as the leader. Following him was Weiler (he became a partisan in the forests and managed to survive the Holocaust; he lives currently in Paris.

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He wrote a book about the massacre in Brody, which the Jewish Committee in Poland published in Polish). Also following him was Kopel Margolis (a 50 years old tinsmith). Linder, Halbershtadt, Shapira, Scheiner and Reinhold were already in the forest. Altogether, there were about 80 female and male youths, not all Brody natives.

On May 13th, 1945, two of them were arrested in the Leshnow forest and brought to Brody. When they were held in detention in the city hall, they managed to kill one policemen-firefighter and escape towards the ghetto… On the same day, as an immediate response, the ghetto was surrounded from all directions. A band of incited Poles and Ukrainians, headed by German gendarmes along with their infamous leader Vartsuk rioted and stormed into the ghetto. A massacre ensued. The infamous Brody hooligan – Kasianchuk, broke in and made his way into the ghetto holding a sharp ax in his hand, which he used to smash the scalp of anybody he encountered. One of his victims was Kopel Margolis. At the end, eighty people from the community were led to Shnelovka's grove and murdered there. (Kasianchuk was identified in Poland in 1948. He was arrested and brought to trial and was executed for his crimes).

On May 20th 1943 I received a notice that the entire Ukrainian police force went on alert. I penetrated the ghetto immediately and notified the leadership (Harnik was occupied at the time at Miklashevski – who managed a firm for collecting and packaging old garments).

On May 21st, the last remaining Jews were transported to Belzec. Only a few survived. Leon Blaustein (currently lives in Kfar Vitkin, Israel) was born in Brody in 1900 and lived in town until September 14th 1943, four months after the liquidation of the ghetto. He worked in acquiring provisions on behalf of the “Juedische Selbst-Hilfe” [Jewish Self-Help. MK], with Vartsuk's approval, to eight labor-camps in the area. On the day of the ghetto liquidation, 21st of May 1943, Blaustein was placed on the train destined for Belzec, along with 1670 people. 120 people crowded each train car. During the journey, the SS entertained themselves by shooting into the packed cars… this resulted in wounded and slain people. In Blaustein's car, the passengers broke out through the barbed wire covering the hatches, and started to jump out. One of them crashed on the tracks, another was shot and killed. The voyage continued to gallop toward the darkness of annihilation. Inside, people decided to place two mirrors outside the hatches, so that the jumpers would be able to be warned ahead of time… Blaustein also took out a mirror from his pocket. A phrase was written on the backside of the mirror: “glupi mys'li-madry czyni” (“the fool thinks – the clever acts”). Right there, he made a quick decision: “I must jump!” As if following an order in the gym, with one hand he held the hatch located at the top of the train car, stretched his leg through the hatch and held the outside wall of the car with his second hand. He then bent over and jumped. Upon falling down he crushed his nose on the gravel and stood there breathless, a perfect target for a shot. The warning shouting from the train cars woke him up. He regained his composure and escaped along the tracks back to the deserted ghetto in Brody. There, he found a hideout and this is how he saved himself. Other people who saved themselves include Marash (a philosophy scholar who lives in Australia today) and Mrs. Hochberg, who was 15 at the time. Here and there, some Jews were kidnapped. They were assembled in the barracks and killed by shooting. It was said that the last entire Judenrat, which was headed by Icio (Yitshak) Katz was executed in Krasna. Icio was about 50 years old at the time, a former municipal city clerk. He studied law in Lwow and his father was a merchant. He did not treat properly the miserable people who

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were his subordinates. He was also cruel to the Jewish partisans who penetrated to the ghetto to acquire food, and sent them to labor-camps, a sure way for annihilation. People who were murdered there included Khaim Mordekhai Kharash, an honest and innocent grain merchant who loved scholars, did good deeds all his life, and always practiced charity. He was 54 years old when he died. It also included Dr. Betsalel Meles, a 54 years old devoted and loyal Zionist who supported the Hebrew language and its culture from his youth. He had a comprehensive general education, and was a member of the Academic Association “Tkhia” [“Revival” MK]. Also murdered was Leon Brutsiner. The above mentioned people were all members of the Judenrat, but they proved in their actions that they valued the good of the people as most important. Their major aim was to help, to save and ease the suffering.

Brody was emptied of its Jews. It became what the Germans called “Judenrein” [Free of Jews MK]. Hitler, damn him, achieved his purpose. Only about fifty Jews survived somehow in the bunkers and forests. They got out only in 1944.

 

bro168.jpg
Brody Ghetto, corner of Shpitalka Street

 

[Page 169]

“I Alone Survived of My Family”

by Gina Lantzeter

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

My name is Gina Lantzeter. My maiden name was Hochberg. I was born in Brody and lived there before and during the war. My parents Bernard and Diana Hochberg were murdered in the gas chambers in Majdanek, where they were taken during the Aktzia of 21 of May 1943. I was with my parents in the ghetto, and also on the train going to Majdanek. A short time before the train arrived at its destination, my mother threw me out through a small hatch in the boxcar. Fortunately for me, I was not killed, although I was hit by a bullet and was left unconscious. I returned to Brody, a thing that was not very easy to do in May 1943, but this is a story for itself. After spending some time in a forced labor camp, I reached some hiding places in which I stayed until the liberation. These hiding places were full of dangers, but I was lucky and survived. I also had a brother named Zigmond, who was six years older than me. He left Brody on his way to Russia during the early stages of the war, but I never heard from him again.

As far as our very large family – aunts, uncles and cousins – they were all murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.

My late husband, Henri Lantzeter was also a native of Brody. His father, Arnold, mother Ella and Ella's brother Shmuel all perished in Belzec.

 

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