by Genya Rosenfeld-Berger
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Simon Godfrey
Upon the Germans' entry into Brody, I was left alone with our three years old son, after my husband was taken away on Pesach, together with other Brody townsmen, to build airports in Bessarabia. I sold everything we owned in the house in order to survive,. I sensed the approaching disaster and started to prepare my child for living among the gentiles. I only spoke to him in Polish. I changed the names of all of our relatives to Christian names, and eventually, a Christian woman in Podkamen agreed to keep him for what remained of our money. I missed my son very much and went to see him from a distance. I climbed on the fence of the house just to hear his voice. After several weeks, when I finally dared to visit, he had already forgotten the names of his relatives. After the ghetto was sealed off I sent money to that Christian woman.
Four weeks before the ghetto was liquidated, a Jewish boy was discovered at a Christian women house. In order to frighten the Christians who held Jewish children, and to deter us, the Germans lead the captured boy, and the Christian women who hid him, around the ghetto and finally killed them both.
Afterwards, the Christian woman brought my boy back to me because she was scared of the Germans. During the night before the liquidation of the ghetto I hid in the cellar of the Yudenrat together with my son, my mother and several other Jews. After I helped in organizing the cellar, I went up to the attic of the neighboring house, where, for the previous four weeks, I had saved some food scraps from the deserted houses of the ghetto. The suffering of the children in the cellar was indescribable. They were hungry, lived in awful filth, and were shivering from the cold.
After four weeks, when I left to look for Christian acquaintances, our bunker was discovered, and everyone was killed. In desperation, I went to the assembly place for Jews in the old Polish army's barracks. When I arrived, I heard that a roundup would take place there the next day. I ran away at night and hid in an open field. The following day, all the people in the old Polish army barracks were eliminated.
In September 1943, I went to see my Polish neighbor Valchak, the chimney sweeper in the city and he gave me some clothes. I cleaned myself up and stayed over in his attic. After a few days, he found me another hiding place in his firewood shed. During very cold days, he would bring me into his house, despite the fact that a Ukrainian policeman Lozovoi, an infamous murderer, lived across the street. Until the beginning of 1944 I remained with him but when the battle front approached, the population was forced to leave the city. Valchak moved me to another location together with his family and hid me. When the order to abandon the city was issued, he told me to leave without him as he could not help me any longer. The city was heavily bombarded by the Russians.
I left wearing Christian clothes that the Gentile had prepared for me. I met two Jewish acquaintances and together we approached the front. The Germans captured us but mistook us for Christians and forced us to work in their kitchen. After several weeks, they transferred us together with the rest of the Polish women to the Yanov camp in Lvov. I escaped from there and hid as a Pole until the liberation
by Pessya Loewy
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Simon Godfrey
When the Second World War broke out I was in Warsaw with my husband, daughter and two sons. In November 1939, I decided to travel back to Brody to check on my house and the house of my father in law, Yaakov Loewy, who was nicknamed Yaakov the Observer as he was the supervisor of the ritual slaughter.
I took my daughter with me, and with great difficulty, while risking our lives we managed to cross the border between the Germans and the Russians near Pshemishl. Brody was controlled by the Russians at the time. I found everybody at the house, however, the militia warned us that we would need to leave Brody and go to Russia, since only the locals were allowed to live in the city. It was possible for me to receive a local ID certificate, as I was born here, and married and had my children. My husband and his family had also been in Brody for many generations.
I walked around the city park the whole night, but I could not make my mind as to what I should do. If I decide to get a local ID, I would not be able to go back and see my husband and my sons again, as they lived across the border. While still debating with myself, I received a letter from my husband, telling me that he was involved in commerce, and asked me to cross the border if it was possible and come back to him with our daughter. I cried the whole night. I felt that I was breaking apart, without the ability to make any decision.
The next day I did try to go back across the border near Pshemishl, but everybody who came with me to the border had to go back. The Germans simply did not allow anybody to cross.
In Brody, they began to expel the foreigners in the middle of the night. In the meantime, my younger son arrived form Warsaw with a neighbor of my husband. After a while, my second son came by himself. I arranged for the children to sleep at a village with an acquaintance and I slept away from the house to avoid deportation. The one night that I stayed in my father in law's house, they woke me up in the middle of the night to deport me. I was astounded. Fear got hold of me, and without knowing what I was saying, I told them that my children were sleeping in the village. After a short while, they brought the children and the four of us were deported to Siberia, to the end of the world. We were convinced that our life would end over there on the prairies and in the jungles, while in Warsaw the war would end and my husband would survive alone without the family he loved so much. The bitter truth was completely different. The deportation from by my birth place, Brody, was also our salvation. Despite the suffering, hunger and humiliation which were part of our life in different places in Russia, we survived. However, my husband who stayed behind in Warsaw did not escape from the Germans. He tried to escape from the Germans on three occasions, but they caught him each time. Perhaps he saw it as the hand of G-d's in whome he believed so much. He perished along with millions of Jews at the hands of the murderers.
by Fanya Zorne Laufer
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Yocheved Klausner
(Fanya was born on May 9th, 1928 in the village of Dubya near Brody. When the war between Germany and Russia broke out on June 1941, she was 13 years old. She has just completed the seventh grade in Brody's elementary school. From that point on, her life became a long saga of suffering and torture by the Nazis and their collaborators, the Ukrainian fascists. This talented and pretty girl grew up among these people. She survived miraculously.
As it turned out, Brody had its own Anna Frank. We bring here the first part of Fanya's diary, which describes the period until her escape to the forest, where she lived under inhumane conditions before she was liberated by the Red Army in the summer of 1944).
The End of June 1941
Joyful and full of bright hopes, I completed the academic year at the school in Brody with very good grades in my report card. I went home to my parents in the village of Dubya in order to spend the summer vacation with them. My parents owned a beautiful and well-organized farm. My father was an able farmer with a lot of knowledge. He loved his work and worked hard in the fields. He raised beautiful animals, and my mother took care of the flower garden and the orchards. Our trees bore plenty of fruit: apples, pears, plums and cherries.
During the summer months we used to invite various guests to our farm. This time, my parents allowed me to invite my best friend, Miryam Halbmilion, from Brody. However, it was not to be. My joy did not last long. The war descended on us like a thunder from the sky. The Germans invaded Russia.
Beginning of July 1941
I was engulfed by fear. The Germans reached us. There was no place to escape. Father was comforting us, saying that the devil may not be as bad as people described it. After all, I'm just a farmer and an agriculturalist he said. The German army entered our village. The Ukrainians, jubilant and overjoyed, welcomed the German army with bread and salt. The priest marched at the head of the parade, the rest of the villagers following him. They were holding national flags. It looked like a religious parade of the church. They were convinced that the Germans would give them a country of their own a fascist Ukrainian country.
I stood behind the fence, with my father, and looked at them. Mother did not come out of the house. My heart shrank from pain. I was not scared though. I was never scared when I was with Father.
The young and healthy looking German soldiers were riding their military cars, full of Nazi pride and they were singing. For now, they did not know who we were, but they will know in no time. We were only five families in this small village. We were all farmers. What was awaiting us? Our village was mostly populated by Ukrainians. They were nationalists, radical and anti-Semitic. They threatened us, not once, that they would slaughter all the Jews when the time comes. We would be the first ones to be killed. This would be their victory.
The First Night with the Germans
Evening descended. Singing was heard in the streets. The German soldiers were drinking and dancing with the Ukrainians. There was a dark and eerie silence in our home. All of a sudden, German soldiers broke into our house, accompanied by local Ukrainians. The collaborators pointed at us and yelled Jude. They have already managed to learn the word.
Ah, das sind verfluchte Juden. Gold! Brilianten! (Ah, these are damn Jews. Gold! Diamonds!" They searched the whole house, turned everything upside down and took whatever they liked, even the rice stock. They looked at me as if I was an animal in the circus. Hey Hans, shau, hier hast du eine kleine Jüdin sie sieht doch aus wie eine Aryen, eine hell blonde Jüdin (Hey, Hans, look, we have here a little Jew girl who looks like an Arian with bright blond hair!). He pulled me by force by the hair, to the middle of the room. I burst into tears. Mother and Father came to my help. Gut Gott, jezt haben wir keine Zeit zu euch, wir müssten nach Osten. Ihr Juden seid shuldig das wir Krieg haben (Good G-d. We do not have time for you now. We must continue eastward. You Jews are to blame for the fact that we are at war). They left our house slamming the door. We breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like the longest night of our life. We did not put on the light. We lay down to rest in one room, just in case they would come back. We wanted to be together.
Independent Ukrainian State
The German army advanced eastward. There were no Germans left in our villages. The conquest authorities allowed the Ukrainians complete independence. The yellow-blue flag was displayed on every house. The Ukrainians were sharpening their knives. Horrible rumors spread. A pogrom against the Jews took place in Lvov. Thousands of Jews were killed there on July 1st-2nd. Thousands were slaughtered and murdered in Zhelechov. Our brethren were being killed mercilessly everywhere.
The Ukrainian peasants entered the towns, robbed whatever they could put their hands on and returned to their villages with carts loaded with Jewish property: bedding, carpets and even a piano which I saw loaded on a cart in our own village. The Ukrainian fascists were going around in the streets with Jewish blood on their hands. They murdered any Jew they captured. Good Ukrainians did not exist anymore. Where were the decent people?
My father was very sad. He had believed in his good neighbors. However, Mother kept repeating I always knew it would end up like that. I told you to throw out everything and leave. Every night
we expected that they would come to slaughter us. My Ukrainian friends consoled me: When they come, we would not let them kill you. You are like one of us. You do no look like a Jew. I asked Marinka when that would be, and she told me that the village council has not made a decision yet, but it would certainly come. According to her there isn't any mercy for the Jews, because you are sucking our blood.
Yesterday night they slaughtered all the Jews in the neighboring Podhorza. Nobody survived except one baby girl who was crying in her crib, but not for long. One of the murderers came back, took her out of the crib, and smashed her little head on the wall. He boasted about his heroic act himself.
We waited for our turn. We did not sleep at night. We walked around dazed. This continued day after day, night after night. During the day, other people came to talk about the situation. Everybody was desperate. The young people went out to sleep in the field. One of them tied himself to a tree. Father did not want to go out of the house. I am not afraid to die he claimed. So we were just sitting down idly and waiting.
The end of independent Ukraine arrived one bright day. The Germans reconsidered and took back the control of the government from the Ukrainians, who held it for three weeks. The Jews breathed a sigh of relief.
A company of German military gendarmes arrived in Brody. Its commander forbade murdering Jews. Our Ukrainians regretted the fact that they have not seized the opportunity to eliminate us earlier.
Beginning of 1942
The Germans spread all over like locusts. They visited us and took everything. They also stole cattle and wheat from the Ukrainians. We stole some of the wheat that grew in our own field to grind at home for a loaf of bread.
An order to wear a white band on one's sleeve was issued. One could not get out of the house without it. A gentile girl passed me a note from my best friend, Miryam Halbmilion in Brody, asking me to come visit her and perhaps bring some food, as she is dying from hunger in the city. Mother gave me two young hens, the last ones we had left, a bit of flour and peas. I went to Brody dressed like a Ukrainian Shiksa - [A disparaging Yiddish term given by the Jews to a non-Jewish woman or girl, derived from the Hebrew word Sheketz meaning an object of loathing. MK] going barefoot, with a long skirt and black head kerchief.
Visiting the City
I did not recognize the city. Ruins were everywhere. Broken window-panes, and the windows covered with pieces of wood. Brody, which was previously a bustling city, was now full of German soldiers. Here and there one could find a Jew wearing the yellow band, passing by. The faces were hungry and frightened. I found Miryam at her home. The food I brought was priceless these days. Miryam was now mature and somber. When we completed our academic year, we were joyful and mischievous. We both changed so quickly. A person does not recognize his / her friends anymore. Miryam's parents asked if there were some decent people left in our village, whether it would be possible to live with them for a fee, since they are talking about establishing a ghetto in the city. My response to them was negative.
I came back home, more broken than before. I found out that in Lvov, a ghetto has already been established in Janovski Street, and a forced labor camp was operating in the Latski Village. Thousands of Jews were killed there day by day. They beat, mainly the young ones, and they murdered everyone. Whoever managed to get out of the camp was either a cripple or sick with typhus. In most cases these people died shortly thereafter.
At the end of the summer, they took me and my entire family for hard labor duty in Polvork. This place used to be a farm of a rich Pole by the name of Pilatovski. Upon the arrival of the Red Army, in September 1939, the authorities nationalized the farm and converted it to a Sobkhoz (a Soviet farm), and now it served as a labor camp. We and several other Jews from the surrounding areas worked in the camp. They added our own farm land to the camp. We were working in the camp without any wages or food. The Germans did not care how we lived and how we survived. The Ukrainians' task was to guard us.
My father worked with the animals and the horses and my mother worked in the field. I had some luck, due to my young age. They assigned me to work in the chicken coop and the pig sty, and when needed, also in the kitchen of the German who managed the camp on behalf of the Nazi conquest authorities. The work was above my ability, but it had a positive aspect. I would steal potatoes from the pigs' food and some produce from the kitchen and bring them to my family. By stealing the food, I saved them from dying of hunger.
The German manager's wife caught me once, holding a pail of spoiled pears. She told me: You are lucky. If my husband would have seen it, you would have been eliminated.
They have already intended to kill me. I was saved by a miracle. One old horse died. I was ordered to cut its meat and cook it for the pigs. I was desperate, as I did not know how to do it. I felt nauseated. My cousin, Khanokh Zorna, who also worked in the camp, noticed and came to my help. I cooked the meat and gave it to the pigs. The following day, the two largest pigs died. What a disaster! The Oberleiter [supervisor. MK] came over and yelled: Du verfluchtes Schwein, das ist ein Sabotage, du wirst bei mir krapieren, ich mus dich töten! (You damn pig, this is sabotage. You will now breathe your last breath. I must kill you!). He had already drawn his gun. Fortunately for me, a Polish manager, August Liya, appeared at the same moment and told the German that I was not at fault. He told him that the horse was probably sick before it has expired and it had not been a good idea to feed its meat to the pigs. He managed to convince the German who let me go.
I did not find it necessary to tell my parents. I did not want to frighten them. They were happy to hear that I was fine and that I have enough food to eat.
People were saying that the ghetto was ready to receive people from the city's environs. Brody's Jews already resided in it. They were suffering and dying there from hunger and illnesses. Now it was the turn of the people from the city's environs. We thought that since we may be considered needed workers, the Germans would leave us in the farm. But no: they did not need us. They wanted to annihilate us.
The order to move us to the ghetto has arrived. The righteous Pole, Maria Liya, offered my mother to hide me, despite the fact that she could face a death penalty for saving the life of a Jew. She found for me a hiding place in a nearby Polish village. It was clear to all of us that anybody who would not find a similar hiding place would perish. The Ukrainians were joyful and told us: Now you would join the Himmelskomando (The heavens department in sarcasm).
I said good-bye to my father in the middle of the night. I had the feeling that I would not see him again. He caressed my hair and said: You go Fani. At least, maybe you would be the one to survive. Mother gave me a small package.
The righteous Pole woman told me that all the Jews would be moved to the ghetto in a few days. I cried and asked to be brought back there, to my parents. I wanted to be together with them. I wanted to face our common fate together. But they would not allow me to go.
by Malvina (Mishka) Lillian-Dembinsky
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Yocheved Klausner
When the Germans entered Brody, nobody imagined what kind of dangers we were facing. Despite the rumors that reached us about the Nazis' horrors, nobody believed. Refugees that passed by or friendly Poles told us about the terror in the neighboring towns, but we, the Brody people, could not believe them. There were plenty of opportunities to retreat with the Red Army before the arrival of the Germans, but only a few did that. Most of the people remained in Brody, believing that Brody does not face any danger. The city elders claimed that the righteous of so many generations that were buried in the old Okopisko cemetery, would certainly protect Brody. People thought that life would return to normal under the Germans, who promised complete freedom and re-establishment of cultural life, after the fall of the communist regime.
The Germans knew how to entice the intellectuals to organize the cultural life in the city. This is how they managed to gather the best spiritual intellects in Brody and annihilate them. The first Jews to be taken were the ones who worked in the Russian offices, among them, Lipa Halpern, the son of Leizer Halpern. There were only a few individuals who did not believe the Germans and proceeded to commit suicide. One of them was the pharmacist who worked in Kalir's pharmacy.
Among the victims who did believe the Germans were: David Worm, religion teacher, the sister of Dr. Bogner, a physician who now lives in Australia, the wife of Kuba Schwartz, a pharmacist, engineer Streicher and his son, Professor Shvedron and his wife, Dr. Shmider, Spillman, Dr. Lifschitz, Dr. Mendel-Leib Chachkes, a religion teacher in the State High-School, Dr. Blig and Dr. Dolek Lifschitz.
There were those who did not believe the Germans and did not report to the meeting as ordered by the Germans; among them were the finance consultant Lilian Leon, Professor Dr. Bernhaut, the lawyer Horn and more. Although the intellectuals were taken to an unknown location, nobody believed that they were annihilated, until the Poles, who saw the event with their own eyes, gave a description of how the victims were murdered in the forests of Brody.
During the same time, Brody Jewish community was ordered to organize a Judenrat so that the Germans could accomplish, through it, anything they wanted from the Jewish residents. Lawyer Horn, whose brother is now in Israel, Ponikver and others joined the Judenrat. At the same time Jews were ordered to wear a band with the Star of David on their sleeve. A Jewish police force was also organized in the city following an order issued by the Germans.
The second phase began by confiscating Jewish property, especially furs, jewelry and other valuables. Sadly, there were cowards among us, who showed the Germans where to go and who to take from. The order was: whoever does not surrender their valuables faces death. This was when people still resided in their homes.
Three Aktzia's took place during the years 1941 1945. There is no need to explain the meaning of this word here. When the call: Jews, run away! Aktzia! came, one day [20th of September 1941. MK] early at dawn, everybody knew what to expect. Anybody who was captured during the Aktzia by an S.S. person disappeared forever. Whoever succeeded to escape and hide was temporarily safe and free to move about again. Among those who were caught during the first Aktzia were the members of the Rogovski family. The Nazis and collaborators robbed and ruined whatever they could put their hands on.
The second Aktzia occurred just a short time after the first one [October 2nd 1941. MK]. It was not very different from the first Aktzia. Many people were taken away, and those who remained were happy they were still alive. We lived on Okrenzhna Street in Mrs. Streicher's house. This was after her husband was taken away from her. The lawyer, Dr. Horn, lived downstairs. When the cry Aktzia was heard, everybody ran away from the house to hide. I managed to find a place to hide in the attic of the house of a Polish woman just across from our house. Through a narrow crack, I saw the Nazis taking Dr. Horn and his wife, Hefner's wife with her children and several other Jews who lived in our street. They were all beaten brutally and were taken to the market. In the evening they were loaded on the train cars destined for the death camp. After a day of shooting, screaming and fearing death, we went back home. Amidst widespread grief, we were happy to see that none of our family was missing. We were given the authorization to continue living.
Some despicable acts were done by the Ukrainians, who offered to help but ended up deceivingly squeezing out the last pennies from the Jews. Then the third Aktzia took place. When I heard, a day in advance, about the preparations for a third Aktzia I decided to run away from Brody and hide in Ponikva's forests. I walked around the forest, alone with a baby and just a bit of food in my back bag. In the forest we felt good. Peace and quiet descended over the entire forest. I did some thinking during my time in the forest. What would I do if I would not find my mother and father alive when I am back? If they are dead, what do I need to live for? I decided to go back. On the way, I found out that the Aktzia ended. Once again I was lucky to see my parents and the rest of the family alive.
During every Aktzia, the Nazis selected the young people and sent them to forced labor camps. Leon Blaushtayn (may his memory be blessed) took on himself the difficult and dangerous task of establishing communication between the laborers and their families. He also passed food and clothes packages to the camps.
On December 1942, the Nazi oppressor declared its intention to transfer to the ghetto the Jewish population from Brody and the towns and villages - Vlokhi, Ponykva, Podkamen, Hotsisko, Brodskaya, Ponykovytsya , and other places. The area around the big synagogue was declared as the ghetto area. Most of the Jews, my parents included, were transferred to the ghetto. I decided to hide in the Polish village of Hotsisko In Rodeskaya. I assumed that I would be safer among the Poles. However, two weeks later, thugs descended upon the village and pulled out the hiding Jews from their beds. During the previous two weeks I was convinced that I was the only Jewish person in the village. They brought us all
to the police station. During the investigation we were all brutally beaten. Later on they loaded us onto horse drawn carts and proceeded towards the place where they intended to execute us. However the murderers changed their minds on the way to that place, and decided to hand us over to the Brody police, which was then controlled by the Ukrainians. The police contacted the Judenrat and asked for a collective ransom for our release. Since my parents did not have enough money to pay for everyone, we faced the danger that they would execute us all. Among the arrested people were Preminger and his wife. After tedious negotiations, the Judenrat succeeded in securing the ransom and its representative, Ponikver, came to the jail house. The police released us and transported us to the ghetto. This is how I met with my parents once again.
Fear prevailed in the ghetto. People slept in their clothes. Thugs would enter the ghetto daily but unexpectedly, and started shooting with no provocation. Hunger also took a terrible toll. I saw my father suffering from hunger. I heard his groans at night. The crowding was horrible. Twenty people lived in one room. In our room, we also had Lazar and his wife, Halpern and his wife Lilian, as well as Mrs. Streicher. Crowding, lack of minimal hygienic conditions and lice resulted in total deterioration of the morale. Quarrels erupted everywhere for insignificant reasons. A typhus epidemic was eminent. People got involved in all sorts of dubious dealings just to get some food in their mouth. Mrs. Beskes tried to earn a living by baking cakes, often made of moldy flour.
Some people managed to escape from the ghetto. There were some who built underground bunkers in the ghetto for the purpose of hiding in them when the time of Juden Frei [Nazi term for making an area free of Jews. MK] would come. We knew that the end was coming. The sword of Democles was hovering above our heads. Rumors spread in the ghetto that a partisan group is being organized. Only a few managed to join them though. There were some who secured hiding places under the floor with Polish families. These Poles put themselves in great danger for protecting Jews. Gunshots and murders became a daily routine. I recall a funeral of a person by the name of Goldstein, who died of natural causes (just upon moving into the ghetto). They organized for the funeral to take place outside the ghetto, with a permit from the authorities. I remember saying to myself, how human this death is. At least people know where he was buried. I recall another horrible story about an Aktzia of infants. The Germans loaded three trucks with infants in order to murder them. There was a huge thrill in the ghetto when one of the trucks came back. We found out that the order was to execute just a certain number of children, and return the rest back to the ghetto. This was a demonstration of the infamous German order.
In the area of the Polish former military barracks, across from Royekovka Park, a forced labor camp was established for young people who were able to work hard physical labor. People who succeeded to join this camp were very happy! There was some freedom of movement in there. Through these people we got all sorts of news from the outside, and from the front, and sometimes even some material aid. They provided the only communication with the outside world. One time, a few youths managed to escape from the camp. They were captured by the S.S and were brought back to the camp for execution. Yona Tsukerman was among them. When his mother heard about it, she arrived at the camp accompanied by a representative of the Judenrat, and started to kiss the feet of the murderers. However, nothing helped. They killed him in front of her eyes. There was no room for any pity in the heart of these predators.
After some time, we found out that a new Aktzia was imminent. Panic ensued. People started to hide in all sorts of hiding places, inside the ghetto and outside. Myself, my son and my father escaped to a place outside the city, which I knew to have had a hideout under the floor. It was an empty house near Vali. We barely got into the pit and placed the cover on the opening, crowding inside with the feeling that we have managed to evade the danger, when we heard people running, screaming and the noises of gunshots. After about three hours, we started to suffocate because of a deficiency in oxygen. It was an awful feeling the feeling of death by suffocation. It was clear to me that we would need to leave the hideout at any price; otherwise we were destined to die a slow and torturous death. My father tried to carve a crack with a knife, but got injured and failed. I decided that it was better to die from gunshots and started to yell for help. Several people, who heard me, rushed to open the cover and pulled us out half dead. These were Polish acquaintances of my father. They explained that the Aktzia was not oriented toward the Jews this time, but toward young Poles. The Germans intended to capture them for forced labor. The Poles took me and my child and hid us in the near-by deserted synagogue. I saw all the destruction and the torn Torah scrolls which were thrown on the floor. I stayed at the synagogue until the evening hours and went back to the ghetto.
Things were about the same until spring 1943, the day which was declared as the ghetto elimination day. From time to time, we heard about a neighboring town becoming Juden-frei, but we just continued to live with the hope that disaster would not reach us. This was, of course, a false hope. It did reach us. When the news arrived, people started to react in all sorts of ways. Some remained apathetic and did not even try to find a place to hide. However, most of the people scattered around in various holes which they had prepared in advance for emergencies. Most of the prepared hideouts were sufficient for hardly two or three people. But more people occupied these hideouts. In most cases, food and water was sufficient only for about 24 hours, so people knew that they would not last long. There was also the problem of small children. People refused to accept them for the fear that their crying would put everybody else in danger.
A hideout was prepared for the residents in the yard of the house we lived in. I went in with my son. Other people were - Pepa Frenkel with her son, Sonya Frenkel with her parents, the wife of Hesyu Memot - Sofiya nee Halpern and her son and some others. We heard dogs barking, gunshots and yelling. Early in the morning, we started to suffocate from lack of oxygen. I knew that I would have to leave the hideout. We sneaked out and managed to reach our house and went down to the cellar. We waited in the cellar for a few hours when I heard someone calling us. My husband arrived at the house. He had been in the labor camp of Royekova the whole time. He told me about the extermination of the ghetto. S.S. people and the Ukrainian Police participated in the operation. They were going around and pulled out the people discovered by their dogs. They proceeded to shoot the people in groups and burn their bodies. While this was going on, Jewish members of the labor camps were sent into the ghetto with carts, and ordered to take out from the ghetto anything of value, including food, coal and clothing.
I left my son with my parents with the hope that if I save myself, I would be able to save him and them as well. I joined a forced labor-group pretending to be one of them, and managed to leave the burning ghetto.
Poles were standing on the two sides of the road watching with pity in their eyes. On the way to the camp, somebody told me that they found the people who stayed with me in the bunker.
I remained in the camp for three days. The situation in the camp was horrible. They beat-up people daily. In order to scare us, they would also kill two or three people daily and hang them. In spite of all that, I managed to escape from the camp on the third day. I arrived at the house that I used to live in and entered the adjacent house where a Polish family by the name of Lokashchkevich lived. They knew my father, and despite of the danger involved, they accepted me under their protection. They kept me for more than a year until the end of 1943. During all of that time, about twenty Jews, among them the daughter of Professor Shvedron, were hiding in a hiding place in the adjacent house.
At that same time, rumors about the final elimination of the ghetto and the execution of people who were captured, reached me. I also found out about the extermination of the Bezhezhin Jews, among them Dr. Izidor Lilian, his wife and son. Later on I also heard about the annihilation of the Royovka's labor camp. Some of the people were executed on the spot, and some were sent to a concentration camp.
One day, S.S people arrived at a house of a Polish woman who hid Jews. They executed the Jews together with the rescuer woman and her daughter.
The city of Brody became Juden-frei.
Among other stories, I heard about a little girl going around in the street holding a sign with the words I am Jewish written on it. This is how a Polish Judge who hid her for a while sent her out. She was Lela Lifshits, the daughter of Dolek and Hela Lifshits.
In the fall of 1943, when the front approached Radzivilov, an evacuation or deportation order for the entire population of Brody was issued. This is when I saw Brody for the last time. Disguised as a Christian, my saviors and I managed to leave Brody ruined, bombed-out and bleeding.
by Raphael Shalev (Fulu Shlinger)
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Rafael (Fulu) is the third son of Yaakov Shlinger, the eldest son of Elazar and Malka (Mala). Yaakov was born in 1895 in the village of Berlin near Brody where his parents moved from Brody to manage a store and an Inn.
Yaakov had a brother named Yarom and three sisters Golda, Khanna and Leah. In 1905, the family returned to Brody and joined the grandmother Mala, who lived on Leshnover Street, near Lendgevirts' flour mill. Elazar, the grandfather, was killed during one of the invasions by foreign armies during the First World War. Yaakov Shlinger studied in a Kheder [a religious school for Jewish boys common until the end of the 19th century. MK], and later on was a pupil in the Jewish elementary school in Brody. During the First World War he served in the Austrian army and was discharged at the age of 23. He and his brother, Yarom, worked in flour mills: Yarom at Lendgevirts' and Yaakov at Lifshits' (which was located on the other side of the city on Lemberg Lvov Street). As his first wife, Yaakov married a wealthy farmers' daughter from Ponykva, whose father used to bring agricultural produce from his farm to the market in Brody. Yaakov's eldest son Elazar was born in 1924. Unfortunately, Yaakov's first wife passed away in 1927 immediately following the birth of their second son Yitshak. In 1928, Yaakov married, for the second time, a wife by the name of Sima (Fulu's mother). Sima who was born in 1901, was the eldest daughter of Menakhem Krem who lived in VallaMala and was a painter, specializing in painting and decorating of synagogues. He and his brother were professional painters, but they also served as the Gabai's [synagogue's administrators. MK] at the synagogue of the tailors on Krupna Street. Sima became on orphan at the age 16 after her mother's death, and she was tasked with raising her younger siblings, her brother David and sister Sheindel. Her father, Menakhem Krem who was a soldier in the Austrian army, moved to Vienna with his family when the First World War broke. They returned to Brody at the end of the war. David joined the Russian Red Army forces on their retreat, and later resided in Kiev. The family lost communication with him. Sheindel married at a young age a person by the name of Knark who served as a travelling agent in Lamberg (Lvov), representing a business firm. They lived with the grandfather Menakhem Krem. Shandel's son, Genik, was born in 1930. Sheindel worked as a seamstress and embroiderer of needlepoints, tablecloths and napkins. At a certain time she separated from her husband, and since then, Genik was raised alternately by his grandfather and his aunt Sima. Sima's eldest son, Fulu, was born in 1930. Meir (1933) and Ira (1937) were born after him. Yaakov (Yekah) and Sima Shlinger lived on Ogrodova Street (in a suburb of Brody close to village of Polvarki Mala). The family of Barukh Hokhberg, who produced and sold milk products, was their neighbor. The family of Barukh's eldest daughter, Adela (who was married to Yarom Shlinger), and the family of Golda (the sister of Yarom and Yaakov) were also living in the same house. Fulu spent long hours playing in Hokhberg family's yard, especially with Rivka, the daughter of Adela and Yarom, who was his own age. In 1937, after Arye was born, the family of Yaakov Shlinger moved to a bigger apartment on 11 Kalir Street,
in the building owned by the metalworker Fogel, who also lived in the building along with three other families and the family of the gate keeper. He and his laundrywoman wife lived in the backyard.
At the age of 14, Leizer, the oldest son of Yaakov Shlinger, began serving as an apprentice with the shoemaker Munyo Kahana. Fulu and his brother were also students in the Jewish school as well as at the Kheder on the Shul Street (a street named after the large Synagogue [shul means synagogue in Yiddish.MK]). Yaakov was working very hard and managed, just barely, to provide for the needs of his family. A laundrywoman, Zushya, who arrived once a week from the village near Smolno, used to bring fresh farm produce milk, eggs and cheeses. The family went to the Turkish bathhouse, once a week, near the large synagogue. The family used to go on vacation, once a year, to the village of Kolpin near Ponykva. Yaakov used to purchase jewelry for Sima to cheer her up. Before the holidays they bought clothing for the entire family. During the year they used to fit various items of clothing and pass them up from the big to the small children. Before the winter, they would buy firewood and coals and stored them in the storage located in the yard. The Waterdrawer would bring the water from the well in the street, located across from the house. They used to visit Grandmother Mala often. She owned a small single story house on Leshnover Street, with a sparkling wooden floor, fancy and shiny furniture, with many embroidery pictures that were hanging on the wall. She earned a living from a small pension provided to her after her husband was killed. Her two daughters, Kahana and Leah, lived with her. Yaakov and Yarom helped her with the chore of buying necessities and various other chores. They used to go on walks on Saturday mornings to visit Grandfather Menakhem Krem and to slide down the walkway in MalaValy.
The Shlinger family's routine was interrupted abruptly by the heavy bombardment of the city at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Many people got hurt and countless houses were destroyed. The tenants in the house where the family lived, barely managed to clear the building's cellar (which served as a feathers' warehouse) when the war started, but did not have the time to stock food and other supplies. The Soviet Union's forces invaded the city a few days later.
Under the communist regime, the privately owned flour mills became cooperatives. So did all other businesses and workshops. The Polish language and studies of bible and religion were banned in the schools. Studies were held in Russian and Ukrainian. The young children were taught to be pioneers and the big children Komsomol's [The Communist youth league. MK]. Life in the community was conducted under a strict discipline. The religious life ceased and most of the synagogues were closed. Food supply was severely curtailed, and acquiring any food involved spending long hours of standing in numerous lines, which family members actually took turns to do. Many products could not be procured at all. The city was congested by the many refugees from areas conquered by the Germans and people who were deported from Germany and Austria. Over time, The Russians deported some of them to the Soviet Union and drafted many people to the Soviet army. The sons of Yaakov Shlinger from his first wife were among the drafted youths. Neither was seen after the war. On the top of this chaos, a major intercity highway was being constructed through the city at the time. The traffic on this road was horrendous, particularly because of numerous military transports. Grandmother Mala was ran over by a vehicle and killed on this road.
The war between Germany and Russia started in 1941. The German air force bombed the city heavily. The Shlinger family found shelter in the cellar of the building. Again, many houses on the street were burnt or destroyed. Following the entry of the Germans into the city, Yaakov
and his two eldest sons were ordered to report for a forced labor duty (laying underground telephone and power cables). The studies at the Jewish school were terminated. Severe economic distress found its way into the house. Food was rationed. Yaakov suffered from severe edemas in his legs due to the work hardship combined with undernourishment. There was no other choice but to barter clothes, shoes and other items with gentiles from the neighboring villager for food.
In order to ease somewhat the family economic distress, Fulu (who was below the recruiting age for forced labor) was sent to work with Yaakov's friend, Mr. Kut, who was the grains supplier to the flour mills where Yaakov and Yarom worked before the German conquest. At the beginning, Fulu just worked a few hours per day on the farm. Later on, he stayed overnight with the Kut's, fed the animals, cleaned the stables and the cowshed, accompanied the cows to the pasture, and helped in all other field work plowing, seeding, watering and harvesting of grains. Despite of his young age (just 1112) he was quick and diligent and Mr. Kut was extremely pleased with him. Fulu would go back to Brody in the evenings when he completed his work early. However, when he finished late, he had to stay in the village for the night due to the night curfew imposed on the Jews. When he would arrive home, he had to witness the economic distress of the family, gradually deteriorating to a lower and lower level without the ability to be more helpful.
During the first aktzia (on September 1941) , Yaakov, Elazar and Yitskhak were sent to Belzec on the first transport of Brody's Jews. Yaakov's brother Yarom, was also in this transport. Sima Shlinger with her two youngest sons Meir and Arye escaped. At the time of the aktzia she was visiting the house of her sisters in law on Ogrodova Street. After the husbands were taken, she moved to live with her sister in law Adela.
The women of the family along with their children were captured during the second aktzia (October 1941) , because somebody informed on them. They were all sent to Belzec in a transport. Only Mrs. Hochberg, Adela's mother, escaped. During the search of the house she hid in a shelter she found in the yard. She was left all alone.
During the two akzias, Fulu stayed in village of Polvarki Mala, hiding among the beet bushes in the field. A thorough search was conducted in the village itself during which all other Jews were found and sent on the transport to Belzec. Fulu received help from Mr. Kut and his family. By helping him they put themselves in great danger as villagers used to inform the authorities about violations. When Fulu sneaked back into the city after the second aktzia, he only found Mrs. Hochberg. She gave him a package with the family pictures and some mementoes (all of which were burnt later at the end of the war when the Kut family's house was damaged in one of the bombardments).
During the period that followed the second aktzia, it became more risky for Fulu to stay in the village. All the Jews were now concentrated in the ghetto which was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Mrs. Hochberg also moved to the ghetto. Fulu, who arrived at her house on Ogrodova Street, found it deserted and broken into, with all of the content robbed. Fulu continued to sneak into the ghetto and back to the Kut's to get some necessities and food. These helped a bit in light of the shortages and hunger that were widespread in the ghetto. At one point Fulu contracted typhus, which was rampant in the ghetto. His recovery from the disease was attributed to a special dessert, made by Mrs. Hochberg, from Hungarian plums she managed to procure through
an obscured method. The drink succeeded miraculously to reduce Fulu's fever, by accelerating the operation of the Intestines and clearing the digestive tract. Fulu continued stealth movements between the village and the ghetto.
During the spring of 1943, the city of Brody was declared Juden Rein [a term coined by the Nazis for a place free of Jews. MK]. Most of the Jews who remained in the ghetto were loaded onto cattle cars on trains leaving for Belzec. The rest were executed at the edge of the ghetto, near the cattle slaughterhouse on Shul Street. Ukrainian policemen searched zealously after a handful of Jews who still remained in ghetto, in the city or its environs. The Jews were considered subhumans who were condemned to die a cruel and tortured death…
Small groups of Jewish children managed to escape the ghetto and hide in the area of the village of Polvarki Mala. All of these groups were subsequently captured by the Ukrainian policemen with the help of the Ukrainian collaborators. Fulu also managed to escape the ghetto along with a group of five children. He was lucky again when his group was captured. At the time of the raid he was at Kut's house, waiting for Mr. Kut to come back home, at night as he usually did. But Mr. Kut did not come back until the first light of dawn. Fulu hid in the attic above the cowshed. He drank from the milk that he took from the cows, and ate the food leftovers off the plates of the dogs who knew him well. When he returned to his group's hideout he only found their scattered possessions.
He turned to a new hideout in Spitalka (a junkyard containing junk and leftover refuse dumped there after the main road construction). He found a shelter in a ditch along with some of his friends, Nunek, and Israel who escaped with his sisters his twin Chana and the elder sister, Rivka, who served as the group's leader and its spokesperson. The five orphans suffered from a prolonged starvation. Their bodies were reduced to bones and skin. Their scanty and tattered clothes were infested with Itchy lice, which they could not get rid of. They lay down around refuse of rusty tins and garbage. They labored in their breathing because of the dump's stinky smell. They experienced simultaneously despair and hope. They lived for the next minute and just wished to survive the day…
From their hideout, they could view the road leading from the village to the city. In the case of danger, they could retreat and escape to the fields and from there to Leshnov's forest. The escape routes were on trails which they knew well from the school's social and nature studies. At night they would go, one at a time, to forage for food. They risked being discovered during their travel and when they went in and out of the hideout. Being discovered meant a certain death to them and any villagers that would have helped them. Fulu used to sneak behind the back yard of Kut's house and wait there patiently, examining the surroundings and verifying that there are no strangers in and around the house. The housewife, Maria Kutova would usually go out to check for the reason of the dogs' barking. A swishing noise sounded by Fulu served as a sign. She would bring him something to eat but warned him that this should be the last time he would be allowed to bother them as he put them all in a great danger. When he felt that she would inform the authorities, he stopped to bother her family. He would wait until the dogs were released in the inner court. Mrs. Kut would bring the dogs their food and disappear behind the closed door. Fulu would then rush forward and grab some of the dogs' food. Luckily for him, the dogs knew him well and did not object sharing their food with him. He would only take a small portion of their food, and they would just friendly wiggle their tails… Hungry and shivering from the cold he would then hurry back to the hideout before sunrise to avoid being discovered. He would try his luck again the next day.
The children thought that none of the villagers discovered their hideout and continued to hide at the dump. At night, they lay on the cold ground waiting for sunrise, so that its dawning rays would warm their bodies a bit. The rays gifted by Gd, that nobody can rob them of penetrating, warming and reviving the frail and frosty body parts…. One morning, a loud voice woke them up and ordered them to get out of their hideout. They found themselves being led toward the ghetto, hurried up by the riflebayonets of the two Ukrainian gendarmes. They passed through the village, near Ogrodova and Polna Streets, and entered Kalir Street. They passed Fulu's house and approached the ghetto's fence. As they continued to walk along the streets of the ghetto they witnessed the destruction, broken windows and doors and thrownout belongings everywhere. When they passed along Shull Street, to the edge of the ghetto near the slaughterhouse, Fulu recalled his mother's words who promised him that he would survive this hell and his duty would then be to tell the world about what really happened. He would be the one to continue the family… So, he contacted his mother in his thoughts, requesting, in his imagination, that she fulfill her promise… The children understood that they are being led to their death; The stabbing by the bayonets hurrying them up, the awful smell of burning bodies, the screams, the begging and prayers of Jews pleading for their lives, mixed with the urging by Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators, did not leave any room for doubts…
As a routine procedure for the execution, the executioners would force a group of Jews into a house with a forcedin opening. They would then gun down the people inside. They would proceed to lead another group into the house to shoot them such that the bodies of the latest group would just fall on the top of the bodies of the previous group and so on. When the house was filled up, they would pour kerosene and set the pile and the house ablaze. They would then move to the next house and the process repeated itself… The five children went through the same process. However, two of the children, Fulu and Nunek were extremely lucky. The gunshot failed to kill them; they rose above the pile of bodies before the pile was set ablaze, and they managed to escape towards the swamps. Smoke rising to heaven and the last cries of Shma Israel accompanied them as they escaped two remnants that were taxed with the duty to preserve what they saw and eventually testify about these horrific acts.
Through winding and treacherous roads, with the blessed aid of the goddess of luck and the help of Providence, as well as by resourcefulness and survival aptitudes which were learnt and enhanced over time Nunek and Fulu succeeded in surviving the war unscathed...
After they were saved, they parted ways. Nunek was hidden by friends of his family in Polvarski Mala. He later met Fulu in a British confinement camp in Cyprus after their separate failed attempts to immigrate to Eretz Israel illegally [illegally because of the British refusal to allow Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel before, during and after World War II. MK]. They both arrived in Eretz Israel (legally) on December 1947. Nunek was recruited to the Palmach [an elite fighting underground unit of the Jewish labor movement force Hagana during the British mandate occupation of Palestine. MK] and was killed during the battles in the Jerusalem Corridor trying to secure the passage to the besieged city . With his death, another bud of Brody Jews was severed. After leaving Brody, Fulu joined an association of Jewish orphans LaMatara [On the Target MK] in Krakow, Poland. They crossed the border to Czechoslovakia as Greek refugees. They stayed in Prague for some time, and then crossed over to the area controlled by the Americans where they lodged for about a year. They crossed the Alps to Austria and arrived in Italy where they boarded the ship Moledet [Homeland. MK], which tried to illegaly break the British blockade. The ship sailed to Palestine but had to broadcast a distress signal prior to sinking. British destroyers towed the disabled ship to the Haifa's harbor. Fulu and his friends were transported on deportation ships to Cyprus. Eight months later, they immigrated to independent Israel.
The group was absorbed into kibbutz Tel Yitshak. They were all recruited and served in the Haganah. They fought in the battles of the Triangle [an area shaped like a triangle on Israel's eastern border with the West Bank mostly populated by Israeli Arabs.MK]. When the Hagana became part of the Israeli Defense Force, many of the group members joined the Israeli air force and were among its founders. Fulu served in the Israeli air force for many years as an airplane engines mechanic and inspector of the advanced jet engines. He served in the air force as a soldier and later on as a civilian until he retired in 1990.
In 1953, Fulu married Paula (Poli) nee Weiss, who immigrated to Israel from Galatz, Romania. She passed away in 1887 after a long and arduous illness. Their old daughter, Sima, was born in 1954, served in the IDFAir Force as a draftswoman. Their son, Yaakov, who was born in 1955, served (and continue to serve) as the IDF paratroopers' senior combat medic. He is an agronomist who specialized in the economy and business software of agriculture. He married Dina, nee Reuveni (came from Teheran, Iran). They have a son named Ehud (born in 1983), and a daughter named Shani (born 1986). Fulu's third son, Shlomo (born 1960), served and continue to serve in the professional arm of IDF, as an electric and electronic engineer dealing with electronic systems. He married Chana, nee Nahum (from Iraq). They have a son named Or (born 1991), and expecting another baby shortly.
One survivor allowed for the continuation of the dynasty to be secured and woven into the fulfilment of the prophesy of the ingathering of the exiles in the land of our ancestors…
by Berta Landgeuertz Miasnik
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
My name is Berta Miasnik née Landgeuertz. I was born in Brody to my parents Eliyahu and Erna Langeuertz. Our family was distinguished and respected in our city. We owned a flourishing mill for grinding flour, buckwheat and groats. We employed many workers and clerks until the 1939 conquest of the city by the Soviet army. We used to sell our products, particularly the buckwheat, to many countries in Europe. We shipped our products through the ports of Danzig, and Gdinia [Gdansk. MK]. An hakhshara kibbutz called Kolsova was established in Brody. My father, of blessed memory, employed fifty of the kibbutz pioneers, who could not find employment anywhere else, in our mill. Brody was part of the Austrian empire prior to the First World War. During the war with the Russians, my father was drafted into the Austrian army. He was captured as prisoner of war and was sent to Siberia for several years. When the war ended, my father returned to Brody and married my mother, Erna, the daughter of Moshe and Brakha Levin. My parents had two children, my brother Yulek, of blessed memory, and I, Berta. Our family had a nice, cultural life. My father, Eliyahu, managed the flourishing farm and mill, and my mother ran the house and educated the children. My brother and I studied in the gymnasium until the Soviet conquest. My mother was active in many areas of charity. She also served as the chairperson of the school committee, was active in the orphanage committee and aided needy children and adults in several institutions.
When the Soviets came, they first nationalized all the mills, confiscated our entire property and evicted us from our house. We moved to live with Grandfather Moshe Levin. My father managed to run away from Brody just before the agents of the N.K.V.D, came to our house to arrest and send him to Siberia. After that, we continued to live peacefully with Grandfather Levin until the cursed Germans came in all of a sudden and conquered the city. As it turned out, our troubles have just begun.
During the first few days, the Germans requested that my father, along with several tens of community leaders, public servants, physicians, and businessmen, report to the Gestapo office. The Germans told them that they are planning to establish a separate Jewish district in Brody, and demanded that the prominent people prepare a plan for supplying food and necessities to the district. They called them to report in every morning and released them in the evenings. On the third day, none of them came back. They have never returned. Despite all our efforts and the fortune we invested in trying to learn about their fate, we have never succeeded in finding out where they have been taken to and what happened to them. When we realized the seriousness of the situation, we managed to procure a labor certificate for my brother Yulek, after paying a substantial amount of money, to work in a German firm that operated a vital factory for the Germans (Damn them). We thought that this employment would save him and us from extermination. However, even that did not provide any salvation. My brother was murdered during the first aktzia. Following the aktzia, when only I and my mother were left, we started to look for a shelter with villagers, acquaintances of my father, may his name be blessed. For a fortune-worth of cash, gold jewelry and furs, we found a hiding place with the families of Kravchuk, Shonvits, and Yemnik,
who kept and sustained us in their cowsheds, pit or even in the forest. We were driven out several times, often in pouring rain and when it was extremely cold. We did not know who else to turn to. We were frightened, filthy and sick without shoes or clothing. We wandered around in unfamiliar and foreign environs and knocked on doors of people we did not know. We were very fortunate not to be handed over to the Gestapo. This is, thanks G-d, how we survived. After the war, we helped the people who helped us. We sent those people packages and money. When the diplomatic relations between Israel and the Soviet Union were cut off, we continued to send them packages through Canada, England and the US. After the war, we found out the villagers who kept us, also kept Rabbi Shteinberg and his wife, as well as the Braun family.
After the war ended, we could not stay in Brody where my father, my brother, and other family members were murdered. We left Russia and crossed over to Poland. This is where I met my husband, Asher Miasnik. We got married in Vienna, and immediately moved to Israel where we established a home and a family. We have two sons, and now, thanks G-d, we are blessed with eight grandchildren. In the US, we have my mother's brother, Freddie and his sister Frida.
by Rivka Flumin (daughter of Rivka and Yitskhak Poliner,
and the granddaughter of Khaya and Shmuel Pepernik)
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
We were five children in our house, three brothers and two sisters. My parents were wealthy as they received a large inheritance that included fields and forests, from their parents. My parents owned a general store. Our apartment was rather specious. We had two servants, a man and a woman who worked at my mother's parents and continued to serve my parents in their house and fields. They were gentile Poles, but spoke Yiddish fluently.
My mother was the eldest of the five children, and thus was taxed with the burden of assisting in raising the other children. The Rabbi, who had taught my grandfather lived in my parents' house and was also teaching Torah to my mother's siblings. My grandparents' house was quite large and they allocated one of the rooms to be a synagogue. People from all over the city came to pray there.
The Russians invaded Poland in 1939 and the whole situation in city deteriorated. The Russians confiscated our lands and established Kolkhozes [Russian commune farms. MK] on them. Everything was run as a collective. This unpleasant situation did not last long. In 1941, the Germans entered the city and things got to be a lot worse for the Jews.
The Germans took all the youths to forced labor camps far away from home and have not returned them as of yet. There was a rumor that they have been burnt in Belzec, which was like Auschwitz on a small scale.
One day, the Germans took all the Jews in the city to Auschwitz. People stood in a wide square, and had to throw their gold and valuables into wooden boxes. My grandmother held a two years old baby in her arms. At one point one German came close to her and saw her earrings, hit her until she shed blood, and ripped the earrings forcefully from her ears along with the flesh. My grandmother fainted and the baby fell off her arms. My mother, who witnessed this shocking and horrific event, suffered a nervous breakdown and started to run away from the formation. She managed to find shelter in an abandoned warehouse and hide there. The Germans passed through the warehouse but did not search it thoroughly.
The rest of the people were taken on trains to the death camps and the crematories.
Four days later, the Germans proceeded to rob the homes of the Jews.
A few days later, my mother ran away to the village where our family still owned much property. The gentiles drove her away from the village yelling at her that she faces great danger. My mother ran away to the forests. She was only 15 at the time. She thought of turning herself in to the Mayor. The Mayor was an acquaintance of my grandparents and my mother thought that because of that they would just kill her without torturing her like they used to.
On her way (to the Town Hall- RM), she encountered a gentile woman who carried pales with water from the well and was walking on the trail in the opposite direction. My mother wanted to hide, but it was too late. The gentile woman saw and recognized her. She asked my mother, how she succeeded to stay alive and escape the ghetto unscathed. The woman's husband used to work for my grandparents' forests and fields. The woman was poor but she spoke to my mother and convinced her not to turn herself in to the police but come with her and perhaps she would be reunited with her family. She hid my mother in a barn, and provided her with food and water.
However, a few days later my mother had to leave her hiding place with that gentile woman, because the other gentiles in the village found out about her and wanted to turn her in to the police. The gentile woman was frightened because of the villagers' threats on her and her family members' life.
My mother hid in the forest. She was there by herself. The gentile woman came once every two weeks with some bread and potatoes. My mother ate just a little portion every day so that the food would last for several days. In the winter my mother found shelter in a bunker that was previously occupied by Jews who have been captured and executed. The bunker, which was also located in the forest, was very tight and small; one could only sit or lay in it. A tree was growing around the cover to the bunker and hid the entrance. My mother stayed in the bunker the whole winter. She only came out to meet with the gentile woman who gave her food. These meetings were held in the forest during snow storms. The gentile woman thought that the war would end in a short while and she hoped that my mother would reward her with a portion of the land and fields owned by my grandparents. However, as the war lingered on, the husband of the gentile woman's started to object his wife's continuing support of my mother with food. However, the gentile woman persisted in bring my mother food. She and her children had mercy on my mother.
Before the end of the war gangs of Banderovits Ukrainians, started to attack the Poles and they were forced to leave their villages and escape. Only then, my mother dared to get out of her hideout and meet Jewish acquaintances, who also came out of hideouts arranged and supported by Polish villagers.
In 1944, the Soviets returned to the area, and my mother left the forest, thin and frail, covered with frost bites. The Russians took care of her and healed her up. The Red Army took my mother all the way to Kremenets where she regained her strength. Over time she started to do business and even study.
At the end of the war, my mother met my father. They met in Brody in the market, after Father returned from the hospital in Tula, Russia, where his arm was amputated. They remained in Brody and started a business. They resettled and established a flourishing and successful life. Over time, they started to think about Eretz Israel. They traveled from Brody to Poland and registered there for immigration. They crossed the border to Czechoslovakia illegally, and in 1947 they went to Germany. They had to abandon their entire property on the way. During the period from 1947 to 1949 they stayed in Hofgeismar near the city of Kassel in Germany. [They made their way to Israel in 1949. MK]
by Bronia Roth
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
I would like to sketch the portraits of three people, my father, my mother and my sister.
My Father, Yones Rot. He lived in Shvabim (in Brody suburbs) and perished along with a group of Jewish workers who worked in the Engineer Lustman & Co. sawmill.
On May 21st 1943, the final extermination of Brody's Jews took place. The plant manager got an order from the Gestapo that in preparation for the Gestapo men visit to the sawmill the Jewish workers should dress festively and wait, in formation, holding their work certificate in their hand. The Jews did not really understand what was in store for them and reported to the plant yard according to the order. Suddenly, a Gestapo car appeared. The Gestapo men led the Jews like a cattle herd with sticks to a train boxcar that was already standing on the rail tracks and was already overflowing with Jews from the ghetto. The train was going to Belzec's gas chambers. A detailed description of this last journey was given to us by an eye witness, Mr. Marash (who now resides in Australia). He succeeded to jump off the moving train and this is how he survived.
My Mother, Sharlotta Roth. She perished about one month after the annihilation of the ghetto. When the ghetto was annihilated, she managed to hide in a halfruined cellar, full of feathers, for seven days and nights. When the dust settled and quiet descended on the ghetto, she came out of her hiding. Since she did not have anywhere to go, she just trudged her way to the city and gave herself in to the Germans. They put her in the barracks of the Polish army's 43rd battalion (near Roykuvka) where other Jews, who were captured and brought up from other hideouts, were already jailed. She managed to escape through the back gate. However, she was spotted, by chance, by a young volkdeutsch [A Nazi term for a Pole with a German ethnic background. MK]. He brought her back from her escape route and jailed her, for several days, in a storage shed without food or water, along with another woman (a porter's wife) with a child. One morning, he shot the two women and the child in their head, in the middle of the yard, as a warning and punishment to anybody who tried to escape. The killings were witnessed by all other Jews who were ordered to stand around and sing. Nevertheless, some of these Jews managed miraculously to survive and they now live in Israel.
My Sister, Regina Roth. Even before the Second World War, as a young girl she was active in Zionist organizations. In 1937 she went to an Hakhshara camp [training for agricultural work in Eretz Israel RM] in BeilskoBiala to prepare herself for immigration to Eretz Israel. Unfortunately, World War II broke before she got her certificate (immigration permit issued by the British Mandate Authorities RM). She returned to Brody with her husband, whom she met in the camp. In 1940 a baby girl was born to them, and together they went into the ghetto. Her husband was recruited for forced labor at the train station. This is where he and his friends were murdered.
May 21st, 1943, was a bright and beautiful spring day, but a cruel and tragic day for the Jews of Brody. This was the day of the ghetto's annihilation. All the Jews were captured and were gathered in the Brody market square. There were many young women with children and babies in their arms, kneeling on their knees, surrounded by rows of Ukrainian and German policemen, and waiting, the entire day, for their transport to the death camp. Suddenly, my sister saw a drapecovered window that led to a cellar (in the house of the pharmacist Klemus). She told some men who happened to stand around her and they tore the fabric and enlarged the hole in the drape, so that several mothers with their babies could sneak into the cellar. Crammed into a very small room of the cellar, they endured pain and sorrow for several days and nights, feeding their babies with just a few sugar cubes. One night, having no choice, when the hunger and the cold became unbearable, they came out of the cellar. After getting out, my sister and her baby endured horrific and nerveracking experiences: They wandered around from a stable to a cowshed, hiding in pits and doghouses, until they managed to find a shelter with a lonely farmer family. A Polish woman, by the name of Matilda Galinovska, took care of them for several days. She moved the baby to the city of Lvov, under the care of Mrs. Vladislava Khoms(?), a known Polish public activist, who saved many Jews. My sister was afraid to follow her baby girl to Lvov. In 1944, when the Russians approached Brody, the Polish civilian population was evacuated, and my sister was identified as a Jew. The Germans shot her to death against the walls of the houses.
by Abraham (ben Khaim Noah) Shapira
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
The invasion of the German army on the 22nd of June, 1941, without of a declaration of war, surprised Brody's residents, the same way it surprised the Soviet army. The announcements on the German radio about the progress of the Nazi army, the broadcasts by the Soviet radio about the containment of the Germans and the roars of the airplanes foretold the future. Before the actual arrival of the Germans, German airplanes flew low above the city and bombarded its streets. Many Jews were killed then.
Upon the entrance of the Nazi army into the city, the German soldiers started looting Jewish homes. A few days later, they established a Ukrainian militia. The Germans and the Ukrainians began capturing Jews on the streets. Some of those captured disappeared, their fate is unknown to this day. A Judenrat was organized under German orders. Also established were forced labor camps in Kozaky, Pluhiv, Jaktorov, Olesko and Latski. The main type of work was in construction and widening of roads. The work in Kozaki was in a coal-mine and the regime was slightly looser. All the camps were surrounded by barbwires and kept under the watch of Ukrainian guards. In Latski near Zolochiv, the Germans established two separate camps: one for Jews wearing yellow patches in front and also in the back and the other for gentiles who were sentenced to hard labor; they wore a red triangular patch. Jews and gentiles worked together, but the gentiles were receiving much better treatment.
We started very early in the morning, at five o'clock, regardless of the weather, carrying tools on our back and under torrents of beatings by the Ukrainians. They often shot people and killed many. During the noon-break they would bring us soup. At the end of the work day, we returned to the camp and lied down exhausted, with our wet clothes, on our berths which were arranged in five stories.
Many people got sick with pneumonia and typhus, which were rampant in the Latski camp. They buried the dead on the hill. The Judenrat made sure to fulfill the quota for the camp by bringing in more Jews to replace those who died.
The commander of the camp, S.S. Obersturmführer Vartzug, often showed up during the night to review the feet of the workers. Whoever had dirty feet received twenty five floggings. We obviously did not have any means for washing ourselves. This was just one of drunken Vartzug's amusements.
One day, the Germans brought an old Jew and his wife to the camp. The drunken Ukrainians ordered them to dance. I do not know what their fate turned out to be.
If somebody managed to escape, his relatives would have been brought over to the camp to replace him regardless of their age. If an escapee was captured, he would be shot on the spot. Sometimes, they would hang the guilty one upside-down until he expired.
At night, one could only go to the restroom in a group and under the watch of the Ukrainian guards, who took that opportunity to abuse the Jews.
Every morning before going to work they would arrange us in a formation, and the Jewish commander of the camp read the names aloud, according to the list, in order to verify that all were present.
The Judenrat organized shipment of packages from the relatives in the city to the camp prisoners. The wagon owner, Moshe der Criemer (from Crimea), a WW1 handicapped veteran who had a prosthetic leg, used to come with his wagon and distribute the packages.
We did not work on Sunday. However, from time to time, they would gather and take the professionals to work in various other places outside of the camp. Some people were transferred to the infamous Yanovski camp. On day, they were looking for metalsmiths and carpenters. The Jewish policeman Mr. Mas, who knew me from home, hinted to me to declare myself a carpenter. I followed his suggestion. As a result, I arrived at Latski on Passover evening 1942. From there, a few of us, all professionals, were transferred to work for a German firm by the name of Hoch und Tiefbau whose manager was a German by the name of Vitelitski. Our job was to take apart homes of Jews after the aktzias. We loaded the collected the materials from the dismantled houses onto boxcars which were sent to unknown destinations. The conditions there were much better than in Latski's camp. After work, we lodged with local Jewish families who received us warmly. The carpenters, whom I worked with, knew that I was not a professional carpenter and assigned me to work on all sorts of tasks that did not require carpentry know-how. If the Germans would have discovered that I am not really a carpenter as I claimed, they would have shot me on the spot.
After the ghetto of Zolochiv, was established, we were housed in the old Polish army barracks and we continue our work from there. A short time before the final extermination of the Zlochov ghetto, the Germans encircled our camp. They proceeded to shoot and kill most of the Jews. A few professionals were transferred to the Yanovsky camp in Lvov. I managed to escape, avoiding a barrage of bullets, together with two other young men. We wandered around in the forests, bunkers, sewer pipes and the ruins of the houses in the city.
As the Red Army advanced, the front approached Zlochov. The Russians have failed to conquer the city for half a year, and many of the Jews who hid in the forests were killed. In 1944, I was freed by the Russians. After the end of the war, I moved to Poland and from there, with the help of the 'Ha-Brikha' movement, through Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Cyprus to Israel.
by ClaraKhaya Zhorna
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
Until the outbreak of the war in 1941, we lived in the village of Dubya near Brody. We owned a farm there. Following the arrival of the Germans to the village, we were ordered to report for forced labor in the agricultural ranch of Polvork, where the Germans transferred everything we ownedhorses, cows, vegetables, potatoes, and agricultural tools. Jews from various places worked in the farm including from Ponikva, Sukhodola, Yasyunov, Lokkhi (?), as well as a few people from Brody, who thought that they would be saved from being sent to the camps if they worked in the farm. The farm was organized as a forced labor camp, but the conditions in it were much better than in Latski camp or the coal mining camps.
In November 1941, The German S.S people ordered all the Jews to move to Brody. They established a ghetto in the city. Until then we struggled through very grueling work in the farm. One S.S person, Peshkin, was particularly cruel and we did not have anything to eat, since the German took everything we owned. My husband, my daughter Fanya, who was still a student at school, and myself worked very hard. Fanya worked with the hogs, and cooked food for them in large pots. One day, they brought a horse carcass for her to cook. After the pigs ate the meat, some of the pigs died. The S.S guard hit my daughter, blaming her for the death of the pigs. He hit my husband and me too. He hit my sister Ester Faier(?) so hard, that poor her could not go to work. They took her husband and her two children to the death camp in Belzec. They also took my older sister with her children and grandchildren. In December 1941, the Germans told us to move to the Brody's ghetto and take all of our remaining belongings with us, but what have we got left to take after the Germans have already taken our possessions? They told us that they established the ghetto as a Jewish city and that we would be able to live there. However, we knew what is waiting for us in the ghetto. There was one gentile guy at the farm, who told us to flee and not go to the ghetto as the Germans do not intend to keep us alive. His wife also helped us tremendously by bringing us food. She became friendly with my daughter Fanya and told her to go to an acquaintance of hers in the village of Yasyunov who was very poor but kind. She told my daughter that she would be able to stay with her. She said she was afraid to keep my daughter herself, but would send food to that woman to sustain my daughter. Other people told my daughter that she looked like a gentile, as she was blond with two braids, however, her parents would have to move to the ghetto. We loaded everything we owned on horsedrawn carts, said a tearing goodbye and went on our way to the ghetto. Our daughter went to Yasyunov.
The head of the ghetto's Judenrat, Katz, told us to settle in a house that belonged to Trit on Shpiltalna Street. The Jews who previously resided in that house were captured and sent to camps. The former residents built double walls and hid in the attic, but they were all found and transferred to some place, only Gd knows where.
We moved to that house. We knew that they would take us to the camps sooner or later, but there was nothing we could do about it. During the aktzia we ran away to Ostrovchik. When Trit returned to the house,
we returned as well. Some people in the ghetto hid in the attics or in the bathrooms with their kids.
The Germans forced several people to dig pits in the Schnell forest. When they came to take my husband for the digging work, he was very sick so they did not take him. The Germans later threw Jews into the pits and buried them alive. Several people, who managed to escape, told us about what happened in the forest. Following every aktzia, rivers of bloods could be seen flowing in the streets. I was on Kalir Street the day after the aktzia. I saw blood on the walls, blood of murdered Jews.
Following the extermination of the ghetto, the Judenrat ordered all the people who survived to gather in one place under the watch of the Jewish policemen. The Germans selected some and positioned them on the right side and the others on the left side. They sent all the young ones to an unknown place. The husband of my younger sister, Shimon Foyerstein also disappeared. My sister and her children remained in the ghetto for now.
The Jewish policemen searched the attics all over the ghetto. They transferred the people they found to an unknown location.
The ghetto was exterminated on Friday, May 22nd, 1943. We did not sleep during the previous night between Thursday and Friday. People tried to flee from the ghetto. Anyone who had a bunker, did hide in it. I asked my husband to his view, on whether to flee or to stay. My husband said that we should not run away because the Germans would be looking for us after we leave the house. Only the Rubinstein family decided to flee and started to pack a few things because Rubinstein's sister had a bunker on Shkolna Street. I had the strong will to live. I also wanted to know the fate of my daughter, Fanya. I decided to try to run away from this hell at any price, even if they kill me in the street. My husband did not want to follow me. My sisters, who stayed with us with their children, had to remain behind because of their children. I went out and followed the Rubinstein family. When they lay down on the ground so did I. I followed them to Shkolna Street. There were no shootings on that street. The bunker we arrived at was more of a pit then a bunker and it contained some firewood and garbage. I entered the pit with them. Sixteen people were sitting on the shelter floor, all trembling with fear. When I entered, they started to yell at me that I entered a hideout that was not mine. However, the Rubinsteins acknowledged that they have lived with me together, so they allowed me to stay. It was very crowded in the pit, and very hard to breathe. There were little children, sick with typhoid fever, who cried all the time. When they cried, the adults yelled that the children must be strangled to death. However, the parents answered that the children would die with them. They said that they did not have the heart to choke their children, and thus the children stayed. The ghetto was in flames the whole night. We heard handgrenades being thrown into neighboring houses as well as shouts and cries. It was a horrible experience. I regretted leaving my husband and others, but I wanted so badly to stay alive.
I vividly recall the day of Brody's ghetto annihilation. The spring day of May 22nd, 1943 began with a grey dawn. The ghetto was wrapped in morning's mists. Silence descended on the ghettothe silence before a disaster. The fear that was hanging in the air, penetrated everybody's nerve cords. Nobody managed to sleep.
Even the children stayed awake. They sighed and wailed. Most certainly, in their small heads theyrevisited the experiences during the days of fear and hunger. The fear did not let go of anybody. It lived among us and inside us. Five families, about twenty people, stayed in a small single room. Everyone was immersed in his or her own silence awaiting for something horrible to happen. Then again, everybody hoped for this nightmare to end. A silent moan or a hearttearing sigh could be heard once in a while. I dared to leave my bed and take a peak into the street. The entire ghetto could be viewed from our window, as we lived on the upper floor. A few groups of people gathered around the barbed wire fence. I knew who they were: The Ukrainian police. I could see two cars and shadows of lines of cars circling the ghetto. They waited for the morning mists to clear, in order to start their last feast in the town called Brody.
Excited, I began waking everybody up. They all slept, one beside the other, on the floor: Dressup! Quickly! Faster! Perhaps we would be able to escape this hell; perhaps somebody could save her or his soul. Everybody dressedup silently. Even the children who wokeup did not cry. They felt the tense atmosphere and just pressed harder against their mothers' bosom.
The mist started to dissipate slowly and the light strengthened. I could hear the first shootings through the window. They came closer and closer.
I hurried everybody up. Faster! Faster! Let us leave the apartmentto the attic! We had an attic with a double wall in our house. It was discovered in one of the small aktzias, but… there wasn't any better alternative. Slowly we started to move toward the staircase, and began to climb, holding small bundles. Then, I had a thoughtthis is not a shelter. It was previously discovered too easily. I searched for my husband's handplease come with me, maybe they will let us enter some other shelter. One thought kept bothering meI want to live, to survive. I need to find a real shelter and to squeeze into it, even by force. I converted my thoughts into deeds and found myself in the street. I noticed people running across the street and joined them. In the adjacent alley a dilapidated house was standing. Its entrance was almost entirely ruined and was blocked by rags and garbage. People stood inline in front of the entrance to the cellar, entering one after the other, slowly and quietly. I took a step toward the entrance, and I felt a hand pushing me aside. An angry voice sounded: Stranger, what are you doing here? there is no room for you!. But my will to live was so strong, that words could not discourage or frighten me. I pushed myself into the musty cellar forcibly. The cellar was filled with people and duvets. When I was finally in, I breathed a sigh of relief. A storm was raving outside. Shots were heard as well as loud orders, sighs, moans and cries and explosions of handgrenades thrown into cellars.
We wait. Shma Israel!our lips are mumbling fearfully. What happens if they would discover us? Or perhaps they would not find us? Why would anybody search in such a ruin…? I wished that the main beam above would not fail us…. I began to notice the people who were sitting around me. All of a sudden, I heard a whispering sound calling me: Khai'che. This was the voice of a close acquaintance of mine, Henya, my neighbor's daughterinlaw. Hence, we did have some of our people here. I breathed another sigh of relief. Up above, the operation continued: echoes of shots, explosions of handgrenades and shouts of the
Germans and Ukrainians, filled with mad anger. The smell of gunpowder penetrated my nostrils and cries filtered into my ears. The screams of horror penetrated even here below ground.
A whole day passed, and the noises and voices did not subside. There were three little children in our shelter. The suffocating atmosphere and lack of air began to affect them. They began to scream. The adults cover their mouths, initially tenderly out of worry, and then forcibly and violently, out of desperation, just to force them to be quiet, even if it means forever, just to ensure that their cries would not be heard on the street level, so that they would not able to find us. The longawaited night arrived. I could not stop my thoughts. The entire time, I was thinking about how to sneak out of there, to escape from this hell through the open fields to the forest.
Up on the street level, things have quieted down. I approached Henya and offered to try sneak out carefully together and escape the ghetto under the cover of the night towards the fields and the forests. Since the barbwire fences have been removed, I hoped that we would be able, somehow, to pass out of the ghetto and then through the fields to the nearby village. I told Henya, that my heart tells me that the shelter will be discovered the next day, and this is why I am not willing to continue to stay in. For a moment, Henya was deeply in thought. Good, I will accompany you, but I need to tell my mother inlaw right away, since tomorrow, it may be too late. Her family tried to convince her not do it. They claimed that escaping the following night would better and that they would go with her then. I tried to hasten her decisionmaking process: Henya are you coming?. She decided: Yes, I am coming with you. She took a small bundle with her and said: Let's go. We started to squeeze between people and make our way toward the entrance. We began to hear people yelling behind us that if the Germans would catch us, we will be forced to tell our captors about the shelter. People yelled: Stop them! Don't let them leave! Henya, with a decisive movement, pushed the person who was standing in front of her, out of her way and said: You would not dare to stop us. Everyone is responsible for their own fate. We squeezed ourselves through the narrow opening with great difficulty. Henya whispered in my ear: Wait here for a moment. She grabbed a small pail, filled it up with water and went down again. I understood that she brought the water to the people in the shelter. After receiving the water, nobody dared to go out anymore.
We got out. The moon illuminated the whole ghetto with a melancholic light. The ghetto was burning. The smell of burnt bodies hanged in the air and filled the space. I could hardly keep myself from fainting. I kept saying to myself: Onward, quicker, onward beyond the ghetto's walls, move forward as far as possible toward the fields and the forests, away from the piles of bodies that we encountered on our way. It seemed that our escape from the ghetto was miraculous. We progressed slowly in a field of wheat, which was not very tall as of yet. It was time to consider our next steps and decide how and where to progress. The roads were very well guarded, to ensure that nobody escapes from the ghetto.
We left the burning ghetto behind us. Everything that was dear to our hearts remained there: our husbands, sisters, children and relatives. We knew that there was no force in the world that could save them now. We knew that we would never see them again. But what would happen to us?
Our actions were fed by a single thought: to live, to survive at any price.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 16 Dec 2017 by LA