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“What We Ourselves Experienced”

by Khayim and Bina Gasthalter

Translated to Hebrew from Yiddish Rivka Kviatkovski a partisan and a Yiddish author

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Rafael Manory

On 22 June 1941, at five o'clock in the morning while most of the city residents where asleep, a few loud bomb–like blasts were heard, immediately followed by the humming of airplanes. I jumped off my bed. That night I slept at my sister's, who lived in Furman's house. The house was located in the center of the market square, so I immediately noticed Russian ambulances transporting wounded soldiers. I asked a friend of mine, commander Kuznetzov, what has just happened. He answered that these were training exercises, as he really did not know the truth at that time. A short while later, I happened to meet an army captain whom I knew, and he said that the loud noises were German airplanes that dropped bombs on the airport that was located near the city. A big commotion commenced, as soldiers, cars and tanks begun to swarm around the city. A general mobilization, from young to old, was announced. Some Jews begun to bundle up their belongings, and ran away eastward, toward the Soviet Union. I got a recruitment order to the Red Army, under the signature of the city commander, Navlichenko, who was later exposed as a traitor, working for the Germans during their conquest period and was rewarded by them with an important position in the city of Lvov[6].

All the new recruits were ordered to gather in the castle–square (Schloss–Platz), which was located in the center of the city, where the road to the village of Smolno[6] began. Several hundred Jews, a few Ukrainians and some Poles gathered in the square. They held us there until very late at night. They gave us some canned meat and some bread rusks to eat, but we were ordered not to eat the food until we got an order to do so. And indeed, we did not touch the food, as no order was ever given.

The order to leave the castle was received at midnight, June 23rd. They arranged us in a formation consisting of several lines. They did not tell us where we were going, only that we needed to be ready to leave. All of a sudden, a gunshot was heard from beyond the wall of the castle. As a result, the Ukrainian recruits started to riot because they were waiting impatiently for the arrival of the Germans. The young commander ordered us to leave the castle ground, so we started to march. As I was familiar with the surroundings, I realized that we were marching toward the town of Radzikhov[6]. A break was announced in the middle of our march. We stopped at a small forest. Our commander tried to call somebody but did not get through because all the lines were already disconnected. We lay there until the next morning. We saw the helmets of Ukrainian soldiers who were escaping from the front. At approximately eight o'clock in the morning, our commander ordered us to retreat quickly. At this point, we started running rather than walking. We soon found ourselves back on the grounds of our city's castle, where we started. We were held in the castle until three o'clock in the afternoon, when we were ordered to march again, this time toward the town of Leshniov[6].

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Very near the town there is the forest of Leshniov, and that's where we were ordered to stop and rest. We then continued our march toward Leshniov. On the way, a few men's legs gave way. Suddenly, the commander Navlichenko approached one of them, my friend Mamut, who owned a tobacco store on Gold Street (Gold Gas), drew his revolver and asked him why he was limping. My friend told him that his legs could not carry him any longer. The commander asked him to take off his shoes. When he did, his feet were bleeding. The commander had pity on him and did not shoot him.

At about half pass four in the afternoon we reached the vicinity of Leshniov. We were told to lie down on the ground. That was where I got my assignment to join the artillery corps. We waited there for additional orders. At around five o'clock in the afternoon, a German plane was seen flying above us. Our commander ordered us to shoot at the plane with our rifles, which we did, and the plane disappeared. A few minutes later, we heard the rambling of a large number of bombers approaching. They proceeded to bomb the entire forest where we stayed. Forty bombers came, dropped their bombs and disappeared. Forty more bombers came and continued the bombing. Alternating squadrons of bombers continued to bomb the forest for three and a half hours. I really do not know how I managed to get out of that hell alive. A splinter of wood was peeled off the butt of my rifle, probably because of a shrapnel hit. At around seven thirty, when the evening fell, the bombardment ceased; however, Messerschmitt planes, with machine guns, continued to shoot from their machine guns once and a while. They apparently were looking for anybody who got out alive from the bombardment. They flew over the pine treetops and showered the forest with hails of bullets. At around eight o'clock, silence descended on the forest. I got out from behind the bushes and crawled in the dark. I noticed that somebody else was crawling in the forest and asked in Russian: “Kto idiat” (who is walking?). When I approached, I saw that it was my friend Schwartz, who lived in our city on Leshniov Street. We walked together in the dark, stepping on bodies of slain soldiers. We even met some Russian soldiers who told us that they want to wait in the forest until dawn. I told my friend that my brothers live in the village of Boldury[6] near Leshniov, and that we would better go to see them because there was no point in waiting in the forest for the Germans. I was also afraid of the Ukrainian gangs, about whom we heard that were trying to make the German takeover easier for them. We also did not know what direction the Germans were coming from and realized that we cannot rely on the Red Army, which seemed to be dazed and stunned.

We walked through the forest until we found the road that crossed it. We turned right and arrived at a village. A farmer, whom we happened to meet, told us that we arrived at Vyrov[6], a village adjacent to Boldury, our intended destination. A few Ukrainians were already roaming the area and one of them suggested that we hand him over our weapons. Since I spoke fluent Ukrainian, I told him that we needed our weapons for the same purpose he needed his. At that point, I wanted to reach a shelter as soon as possible, as I did not want to fall into the hands of the Germans as a war prisoner and as a Jew. We arrived at Boldury and found my two brothers, Hermann and Benyamin, at their homes. Hermann told me that the Russians did not recruit him but said that Benyamin was recruited. Benyamin's group of recruits was brought to the village of Gaya Satrobrodskaya[6] and was told to wait there until a certain date. They were told that they could return home if nobody would come for them. My brothers were very happy to see me. They gave me civilian clothes and told me that the Germans may show up at any moment. However, as the village was already surrounded, there was no sense in escaping. We went to sleep with one of my brothers who lived in the village. My other brother lived in a flourmill, and he said that various people visit the mill, so it would be better for us not to stay there.

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During the following day, on Friday, we saw only village residents in the village. On Saturday morning, Simkha Schwartz and myself woke up went to the camp where my brothers now stayed. Along the way, we spotted a company of the Red Army, about twenty people, dragging a wheeled canon. I suggested to my friend that we avoid passing by them, take a shortcut around, and exit by the bridge near the mill. That's what we did. However, we did not notice the two Russian officers who were standing on the bridge, holding a map. They told us to wait, and then started to question where we were coming from. We told them that we were Brody residents and showed them our papers. They asked us if we were from Brody why did we come to that area. I told the officers that I have two brothers residing in the village and that we came to be with them since Brody was bombarded the previous day. One of the officers acknowledged the fact that Brody was bombarded, but questioned our traveling going westward from Brody, toward the Germans, rather than eastward. They also suspected our short army–style haircuts. My brother Benyamin showed up during this discussion and confirmed the fact that he was my brother, and that we came from Brody. The officer told him, that if he was my brother he should go and stand with us. He called a soldier and ordered him to hand us over to the officer located in the forest. He did not mention any names but added in Russian the words: “nyemedlyeno rastrelat” (Shoot them immediately). It was not difficult to see why we became frightened. The soldier brought us to a higher ranked officer and told him the words, which I will never forget: “Komandir Nikolai prikazal nyemedlyeno rastrelat” (“Commander Nikolai ordered to shoot them immediately”). That officer was bearded, and his cloths were sullied. He sent the “red soldier” who brought us back to his unit, looked at me and asked: “How did you end up here?” I have to mention here, that I worked as the manager of a restaurant in Brody, which was located where the known Klapper restaurant once was. This particular officer visited the restaurant daily. Our staff, under my supervision, always treated him nicely. He kept saying that the restaurant deserved to be highly praised. Since he recognized me, he released us immediately, and provided us with certificates forbidding Russian military personnel from detaining us. He also stated that they need to detain Ukrainians rather than Jews. This is how we were saved from a sudden death. We returned joyfully to my brothers, who have already given up on seeing us alive again. Our joy was short–lived though, since during the following day, the first Germans entered the village of Boldury. This was when all the troubles started–rapes, aktzias, murders, typhus epidemics and many other horrors beyond the comprehension of a regular person.

It was Sunday, when a guard of German soldiers riding on their horses entered the village. Two of the soldiers arrived at my brother's yard and one of them asked:” Are you Jewish?” When my brother acknowledged that he is, the soldiers ordered him to hand over two chickens, which were strolling around in the yard and, then continued on their way.

Later, we talked to the village farmers who had already made it to Brody and back. They said the Germans conquered the city two or three days before. In the meantime, the Ukrainians have already established their own police force in the villages, in order to enforce their regime. The farmers told us that, in the suburbs of the city, Ukrainian policemen and German soldiers have forced Jews to work in variety of jobs. I feared to go back to my apartment, which was located on 7 Kalir Street, where my wife and her family remained, because I was told that they were asking for papers from people on the roads. I was told that Jews were not allowed to stay away from where they resided. My brother knew a young gentile who served with the Ukrainian police, and he

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agreed to travel to Brody and tell my family that I was alive and well, staying in my brothers' village. The gentile went to Brody but found my apartment locked, because my family, when they saw a Ukrainian policeman knocking on the door, refused to open the door for him. They simply did not believe his story. I found out about it when my brother asked the same policeman to bring me back to my home in Brody.

The Germans have been only a few days in Brody, but the city did not look like its former self. One could not see joyful Jewish faces anymore. Only a few Jewish women, whose husbands were taken to forced labor camps in various places, could be seen passing and going in the streets. Anybody who was not taken to work hid in their home and did not go out to the street. A few days later, the entire intelligentsia–engineers, lawyers, high school and elementary school teachers, was ordered to register with the Gestapo, which was located in Shkolna Street, in Derbitz's house. The order stated that the Gestapo needs the intelligentsia's cooperation in establishing the new city leadership and regulations. The Germans claimed to have designated intelligentsia to be the representatives of the Jews and therefore they had to report to the Gestapo. People did not understand the meaning of the order and started to congregate toward the Gestapo's building, not guessing that it would be their last trek. I passed through the corridor of the house, where my apartment was located, when I happened to meet my brother's friend Hirsh Tritt. He told me that he received the invitation by the Gestapo but I advised him not to go. He listened to my advice and went back home. I am not sure about his fate after that. We found out that none of the intelligentsia people, who reported to the Gestapo, returned home. Their fate was unknown. Some people claimed that they were sent to forced labor camps in Germany. Some other people claimed to have seen them being loaded onto train cars to an unknown destination. A few people even said that some of these people wrote home, and they were alive and well, working somewhere. Only after the liberation by the Red Army, their mass grave was found located not too far from The Jewish cemetery, near the Leshniov Forest. The damned Germans murdered and buried all the Jewish intelligentsia during the same night they have gathered in the Gestapo. They simply transferred them all to that location and shot them all.

A short time later, the Germans established the Judenrat (Jewish Council), which was alleged to be the Jewish leadership for the city. In reality, this was a body, which conveyed and executed the Germans' orders and instructions. The Judenrat was initially located in Shkolna Street, and its first president was the former bank owner, Hermann Blokh (the son of the community leader and the commerce and rail advisor, Eliezer Blokh). His presidency lasted only a short period because he was a too decent man. After he told them that he could not execute their orders, the Germans hit him in his face until he bled. After his resignation, he was replaced by a person called Itzi Katz, who seemed to enjoy executing the murderers' orders. Prior to the war, Katz was a municipal clerk. One could learn about this person's character, from the fact that the city Jews wanted to contribute candles for the synagogue when he left the municipality, still during the Polish regime. The manager of the Judenrat's department of labor was a Jew by the name of Holtszeger. We did not derive any pleasure from him either, nor did we from his replacement–Benyu Ponykover. We actually did not derive any gratification from any of the people who assisted the Germans. A Jewish police force, which was attached to the Judenrat, was also established. The policemen were equipped with rubber batons, wore blue uniforms, and a Star–of– David made of tin was pinned on their coats. They did not usually cause any troubles for us, except their commander Rubin, who was previously a baker who was cruel to his victims. People said that he ended up being shot by Jewish partisans who encountered him in the forest.

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The Germans published new decrees often. Every Jews was required to wear a band with a blue Start of David on her or his arm. Initially, it was made of cloth. Later on, the Jews were ordered to wear a white band made of plastic–like material with a blue Star of David and a red number on it. This was actually a half–band and was worn on one's arm. Whoever removed the band was condemned to death. Later on, the Jews were ordered to hand over all of their furs. Whoever was found to own one after that was executed. This was the reason why they executed Dr. Chachkes. He did not hand over a fur, which was later found in his house. Jews were forbidden from walking on the sidewalks. Every action that contradicted the language of that decree carried with it a brutal beating. Most of the time, the city central command's deputy officer – by the name of Fogell, participated in these beatings. These orders were issued by the national headquarters, which was located in the city and headed by an officer by the name of Weiss. The head of the German gendarme was an officer by the name of Daun. He was an infamous murderer who wore red boots. Only a very few people in the German gendarme, were decent. As we later found out, some of them alerted people about future events ahead of time, such as when would be an attack on the ghetto or when we would need to be particularly careful. Especially cruel were the people of the Ukrainian police, who beat and robbed the Jews, even when they have not received any order to do so. Among the Ukrainian policemen was a fellow by the name of Lazovyou who murdered Jews whenever he had a chance. Two more fellows by the names of Stoliar and Pendzyuk were as cruel as he was. These were the worst among the Ukrainian policemen during the German regime. People searched for them after the war, but could not find them. Perhaps they ran away with the Germans to Germany.

A sizeable portion of the Jewish population consisted of youths who could endure hard work. The Germans announced that they need workers to send to the Latzki forced labor camp near Zolochov[6] to dig for coal, which was discovered there. However, in the notice, it was announced that the workforce would be replaced every two weeks. I too received such a notice, but decided not to report for work and to escape to the village of Holoskovytza[6], located just eight kilometers from Brody, where my parents lived. I hid there in a barn's attic enveloped in hay for several days, until I was notified that it was safe to return to Brody when calm returned to the city. I heard repeatedly that the people who were sent to the Latski Camp worked extremely hard. Jewish workers were also sent to the Poluchov Camp near Zolochov[6], some of whom were released and replaced by others. However, the returnees were so worn out from their hard labor that they could not walk back to Brody. Our neighbor, Michael Gotlieb, told me horrible stories about the labor camps. In Latski the Ukrainian policemen, who guarded the camp, cruelly beat people who worked in hard labor. For their subsistence, they only received a small piece of bread and water. Nobody ever came back to Brody alive from Latski.

I would, from time to time, remove my armband, and go to the village of Holoskovytza, to bring some food from the village for us and our neighbors. These included Meir Hart and his father in–law R' Yankele Hurwitz, as well as Mordekhai Roth, the Gotlieb family, the painter Skald, Moti Schwartzwald and Selka Friedfeld nee Wachs. All these people lived at 7 Kalir Street. Before the first aktzia took place in the ghetto, an old Christian woman, who previously served at the Neumann family on 3rd of May Street (Neumann had a tool shop there), advised me to run away from the city. She knew that my parents

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lived in Holoskovytza as she was herself from that village. She heard from other Christians, who had connections with German officials, that a pogrom was imminent. I rather believed her but did have some doubts too, although I knew that with these murderers, any rumor might have some truth in it. I told the story to all of my acquaintances. Some laughed at me, others said that it was possible. In any case, I decided to leave town with my wife. It is worth noting that initially, when a rumor about an aktzia began to spread, we did not really understand the meaning of that word, however, we did assume that they would capture Jews and send them to camps, and would possibly shoot some on the spot. I did not ponder about it much. My wife Bina nee Ordover and I left the city. We removed our armbands and walked toward Holoskovytza. This was on Thursday. A Ukrainian acquaintance from the village came to us on Saturday and congratulated me for being lucky. He told me about a pogrom that was taking place in Brody, where they shoot Jews in the streets. He told us about the wife of our acquaintance, the photographer Boksdorf who was seen lying dead on Kolejowa Street. All the Christians in the city knew her as they all came to have their photographs taken by her husband at their shop. The Ukrainian acquaintance also told me that some of the Jews were taken to the train station, possibly for sending them somewhere. He advised me to hide somewhere, since nobody knew what would happen in the villages. We went to a Christian acquaintance that allowed us to hide in the hay in the attic of his barn. We laid down there during the whole day and went back to my parents at night where we stayed until the following morning. The Christian acquaintance told us later on, that quiet returned to Brody and that it was safe to return to the city.

Upon our return, we heard that shots were fired in the streets. Many Jews were killed on the spot and many have been transported to Belzec. The quiet lasted a while, however more Jews were taken for forced labor. Some of these people worked in growing lanugo. I always tried to avoid going to work, as I did not want to be under the supervision of the oppressors. However, this was not easy, since it was forbidden for men to wander around outside. The Germans did not have accurate information, but one had to be very careful. As mentioned above, we lived on Kalir Street, in a house owned by my wife's grandfather Bitaticher. This was a single–story house, with many apartments on the first floor. I tried to find a place where a hiding shelter could be established. I noticed that under the floor, in the corridor, there was a round dome–like protrusion. I pulled two planks off the floor and saw that there were no bricks underneath, just sand. I cannot express my joy at this discovery. With a stick I checked and found that the thickness of the sand layer was 80 centimeters and sometimes even less. I thought that by removing the sand, we could build a hiding shelter for several people. It would not be a tiny achievement if we could arrange for a shelter under the floor. I took the idea from thought to reality. I waited until the evening, told my secret to Moti Schwartzwald, and decided to work on it together. I removed the sand and he carried it out to the yard and deposited it in the storage shed. We obviously needed to be very careful, as the shelter was only big enough for five or six people. We had to be very wary of children and even youths. The Germans and the Ukrainians often threatened children with their revolvers trying to force them to tell where Jews were hiding. They often succeeded to extract the secret out of them.

We worked until midnight and completed the hideout. We went back and fastened the floor planks. I created a cover made of a box filled with sand. This was to make sure that if somebody stood on the cover, it would not sound like an empty container. The cover rotated with the help of a screwdriver positioned diagonally.

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It was therefore very difficult, or almost impossible to discover it. I positioned a table on top of the two planks. One would enter the hideaway by opening the cover. The table would remain as it stood. Later on, we realized that it was practically impossible to discover this deception.

The entrance to the hideout was through our kitchen. However, in our apartment we had two rooms. I camouflaged the entrance to the small room with a large buffet cabinet. When the Germans would search the house, they would move the cabinet and yell: “These damn Jews have already gotten out”. They would not bother to search any further. I hid in the hideout below the floor and placed the cabinet in its place when the Germans came to take men for forced labor. Moti Schwartzwald also hid under the floor. As mentioned above, I had two brothers that resided in Boldury, a village near Leshniov. They leased the mill and pools there. The estate owner was a man by the name of Rudolf. My wife suggested that, with the help of my Christian acquaintance, she could travel to Boldury to find out how they were doing. Since any travel by Jewish men was dangerous, I agreed and she went on her way the following morning. At noon of the same day, shots were heard in the street. Through the windows, we saw Jews being led by German soldiers with helmets on their heads, loaded with ammunition and hand grenades on their belts, as if they were going into a battle. Ukrainian policemen holding rifles accompanied them. With one leap, we all jumped into the hideout – Moti Schwartzwald, his wife, their sister in law Sela Friedfeld and my wife's grandmother, Mrs. Bitaticher, and I. However, after getting in I realized that I left a crowbar at the door blocking the entrance door to the house. That would tell the searches that somebody was in the house. I jumped out and told Moti to close the cover behind me. I wanted to remove the crowbar so that the searchers would not be sure whether there were people in the house or not. I was at the door in one leap but heard the Germans at the adjacent house, the house of Schutlender, and some heavy footsteps approaching our house. I was afraid to enter the hideout again for the fear that it would be discovered. I noticed a small opening in the wall through which the chimney cleaners swept out the soot. I entered the chimney and listened weather there was anybody in the corridor. Since there was a total silence, I continued to climb. I was pleased that I could crawl from one chimney to the other, as the chimneys for all the apartments were connected via one main channel built to conduct the smoke. I was certain that even if somebody would look into the chimney, he would not be able to see me. However, my self–confidence evaporated and fear grew when, while moving my arm, I touched another human being who preceded me in hiding in the chimney. I soon found out that this was one of our house's tenants, whose full name escaped me. I only recalled his nickname–Leib the Tregger (Porter in Yiddish). He became frightened of me initially, but after we recognized each other, we just sat down quietly and even smoked cigarettes together. We heard shouts and shots coming from the street and discussions in German and Ukrainian coming from our apartment.

Later on, we found that they did not take anybody from our apartment and the quiet returned in the evening. Whoever stayed in the hideout came out. The house tenants gathered and we closed the main gate. My chimney–friend and I were black all over. We boiled some water and showered. We ate and told each other what happened to us during the last few hours. It turned out later that the event of the last few hours constituted what was later be known to be the second aktzia. We were told that the captured Jews were taken to the train station and transported to an unknown location. The rumors said that they were taken to Belzec.

There were no more kidnappings or shootings. However, a decree was announced that a ghetto would be established in Brody and that all the remaining Jews would have to reside within its limits. The Rynek (market place in Polish) was excluded from the ghetto; however, the ghetto included all the streets behind it to Podzmecha Street (under the castle of the Potoski's). Kalir Street (to just after the pharmacy of Leon Kalir, and to the slaughterhouse on the Railroad Street) was included in the ghetto.

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People started to sell all of their belongings to the Christians in the city and its environs in an effort to bring some food to the ghetto. A sale meant getting nothing or close to nothing. Valuables sold for insignificantly low prices. A suit or golden watch brought hardly five to ten kilos of flour or several dozens of eggs. When the sellers tried to bargain, the Christian buyers would say: “The Germans would shoot all of you soon, and we would get anything you own for nothing”. However, the Germans did not allow Christians to steal Jewish property. There were even some cases when the Germans shot to death dishonest merchants.

The flurry of activity associated with the establishment of the ghetto was extensive. They planned to house in the ghetto, not only the remaining Jews of the city, but also the Jews from all the nearby settlements and villages. All Jews from the city environs were ordered to leave their localities and come to the city. The Germans allocated Kalir Street for them, and the residents on Kalir Street were forced to relocate to other streets. They packed 12–15 people in one room. We were ordered to settle in Brafer's(?) house on Shpitalna (Hospital) Street. The Kandel family, Katz, the family of the leather merchant and Avraham Parles (a Russian Jew) already lived in that house. Beside them and us, the Sklar family, Yosef Schwartzwald and his family, as well as the Donner family (Berish Donner's son), the cutter's wife, son, and my wife's grandmother Sheva Bitaticher, were also ordered to settle there.

In locations marked as the entrances to the ghetto, the authorities stuck poles and posted on them large–letters signs in Polish and Ukrainians: “Stop! This is the Ghetto Boundary!” From the Christian side of the sign, a warning was that entering the ghetto was punishable by death was posted. The warning on the Jewish side stated that leaving the ghetto was punishable by death. Despite of the warnings, as I would describe below, many people left and entered the ghetto daily. They have done so not because the penalty was reduced or because they did not feel that it was real, but because of the hopelessness and the apathy it caused, and because life was considered worthless despite the fact that everybody wanted to live.

My wife and I decided to sneak out of the ghetto as soon as possible. I could not get used to the fact that I would have to live in confinement and wait for orders by the Germans and the Ukrainians. Indeed, it was not difficult to guess the purpose of the ghetto, where most of the remaining Jews were to be concentrated. We could not think about fighting our enemies. This was impossible especially because of the fact that the intelligentsia fell into the trap of deceit and was completely annihilated. Also, the Jewish power diminished as a result of the two aktzias that took place unexpectedly by the armed Germans and Ukrainians police forces, assisted by auxiliary guards, firemen, and alike, thus eliminating the possibility of an uprising.

I began to contact Christian acquaintances, residents of the village of Holoskovytza. I found a Christian Pole, Mikolai Magratich who told me that he discussed our matter with his mother–in–law Hanka Kaval, who knew us as honest people. She resided outside of the village and was willing to hide us even without payment. When I had some money, I gave it to her so that she can prepare firewood for the winter, the height of which was expected to arrive sometimes between December 1942 and January 1943. I told her that we would move to Holoskovytza shortly thereafter. Upon hearing of our plan, my friend Moti Schwartzwald asked if he could accompany us. His wife refused to leave the ghetto as she wanted to stay with her sister and placed her fate in the hands of God. I contacted the Christian women and she agreed to have Schwartzwald join us. We decided to leave Brody on Saturday evening so that we could

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reach the village on the same night. On the planned day, we left the city and walked toward the Gayuvka (guard's hut) in the forest near Kosachyzna[6]. I was very familiar with the road and we arrived at Holoskovytza in no time. When we reached the Christian woman's house, it was already dark outside. I peeked through the window and observed that she was home alone. She was happy to see us and made the table for us. She then proceeded to bring us to a small compartment she prepared for us. Its size was about two and a half meter long and about one meter wide. She placed a wooden stove in the corner with firewood ready to be burnt. My wife liked the place. However, Moti Schwartzwald murmured disappointedly: “so be it; we'll see what will our fate be”. The Christian woman placed two straw mattresses for us on the floor. We got used to our situation there. It was, from all points of view, better than in the ghetto, since we had the feeling that we had more freedom despite being confined to a small room. We stayed there for a few days. Our Christian woman told us that she heard other Christians saying that the barbwire fence around the ghetto has not been opened yet. However, she heard that they would open it in a short while.

Ten days after we entered our hideout, Schwartzwald began to regret his decision to join us and he told me: “Khayim, if you would bring me back to the ghetto, I would move back there”. He stated his reasons for his decision. First, he was not used to the peasants' food. Secondly, in the ghetto, Jews were still sleeping on regular bed sheets, while he could not get used to sleeping on the straw mattresses. I brought him back to Brody one evening. This was a very difficult thing to do. I did not know exactly how they arranged the ghetto and its guards. I was also afraid of encountering patrols that would be looking for victims for the Germans. We arrived all the way to Smolno[6], and observed a floodlight illuminating the railroad trucks leading from Brody to Lvov. Floodlights were used, because somebody blew up the tracks between Zabolottze[6] and Ponykovytza[6]. The floodlight moved back and forth. When it started to move right, we ran following its beam. When it stopped to switch direction to the left, we fell on the ground. We repeated this process three times until we got out of danger. At that point, we had to get into the ghetto. When we approached the ghetto, we saw that a Jewish policeman standing at every entrance, however, the ghetto itself was not illuminated. The Jewish auxiliary policeman asked in German: “Wer dort?” (“Who is there?”). I answered in Polish:”Czo Chcesz” (“What do you want?”). My main fear was that I would be arrested and then I would not be able to get back to my hideout in the village where my wife remained, as she was not very familiar with the area. After we got into the ghetto, our acquaintances in the ghetto were happy to see us. I did not find any significant change compared to what the conditions were when we last left. We parted ways and I went on my way back to the village. The previous scene with the auxiliary policeman repeated itself. He asked me in German, I answered in Polish, and I got out of the ghetto. The same scene with the floodlight repeated itself near Smolno[6] as well. The floodlight illuminated and I avoided it. My way back from there was easier, since I was only responsible for myself. I was back in my hideout after a short time.

From that time onwards, only my wife and I were sitting in the shelter. Daily, at noontime, the Christian woman would allow us to leave the hideout and enter her house. As I mentioned above, her house was located about six hundred meters away from the village wall. When she saw anybody approaching the house, she would warn us and we would just enter the hideout. Our luck did not last long. About a month later, our woman landlord came back from the village, where her children lived. She told some of them about us (not all of them, as some were scared of us). She proceeded to say that, in her opinion,

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we should leave her house for a while because of that. She also told us that the mail carrier, whom she met on her way back from the village, told her that a search would be conducted in her house a short while later. There was a reason for the intended search. The landlord's cousin was sent to Germany to work and he escaped without permission. The Germans requested the Ukrainian police to search the houses of all of his relatives. The mail carrier was in contact with the village authorities, and this was how he learned about that. This was not good news. It was in the middle of winter, the fields were covered with snow and the time was eleven o'clock in the morning. We could not leave during the day, as all sorts of people were roaming around, including the Bandroviches who ruled the countryside and were known to kill Jews. I planned to stay until the evening and then try to enter the city. We knew that the barbwire fence was already in place but we did not have any other choice. Nobody showed up in the house that day, so we left the warm hideout compartment in the evening, anguished and fearful, and walked back toward our city. When we arrived at the hut of the forest guard, we decided to turn to the guard, whose name was Prishchevski. I knew him very well from before the war, and decided to ask him to let us stay in his hut until the morning. I only found his wife in the hut. She stated that she could not take the risk of hiding Jews on her own, a crime punishable by death. She suggested that we wait outside until her husband comes back, as he was expected to arrive back shortly thereafter. It was as she said. When he arrived, we proceeded to greet him. He greeted us back, but was not very happy to hear our request. He claimed that the Germans frequented the forest to search for Jews. He said that for that reason, hiding inside his hut was out of the question. I understood that he allowed us to get into a closet that was standing in the yard. I thanked him for that and we got into the closet quickly. There was severe frost and snow outside. The closet was loose and fractured, and the wind penetrated and pushed in a great deal of snow through the cracks between the planks. I collected some hay and created a pit–like depression and we laid in it to sleep. We covered ourselves with a blanket, given to us for the road, by our woman landlord. We soon felt warm but could not fall asleep because we were worried about how to enter the ghetto.

As we observed the first light of dawn, and could hear the clatter of the farmers' wagons travelling to the city, we started our progress toward the city. We were careful to lower our faces to avoid recognition by the Christians and we arrived at the Railroad Street. We have already seen the barbwire fence of the ghetto when we arrived at the slaughterhouse. I noticed that the fence consisted only of three loose wires. I stepped on the lower wire and lifted the other two, so both my wife and I could enter the ghetto. We found unbelievable hunger and distress in the ghetto this time around. There was no food distribution at all, and the food was meager even before that. Prior to the establishment of the ghetto, one hundred grams of bread per person was distributed. The people were standing in lines to get it. One line was designated for the Jews and another for the Christians. They would often serve two Christians before they serve a Jew. Deputy Officer Vogel, from the city headquarters would often appear at these lines and hit everybody on their heads, claiming that the line people were forming was not sufficiently straight.

We had to go back to the same house we lived in previously because we did not have any other choice. We received orders and decrees, through the Judenrat, daily. On one day, the Judenrat person came in and begged: “Have a pity on us. The Gestapo demanded that we give them ten kilogram of gold, otherwise they would exterminate the entire ghetto”. Everybody gave whatever they had–rings, watches and such. The following day, a decree was issued that the Jews should give the S.S. so many kilos of leather, otherwise they would kill

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one hundred Jews. Orders were piling up, one order on the top of the other, often in a form of an enticement. For example, they would offer, that Jews who would secure a permit to wear the letter W (short for Wermacht, meaning–“in the service of the German military”) could leave the ghetto and work outside. The person overseeing the work for the Jews was the former delicatessen's owner by the name of Holtszeger. Everybody tried to get the letter W, and they all were willing to pay for it with the last remnant of their property. This was how a whole enterprise called Altstofferfassung, “collection and packing of old rags,” was formed. The manager of this enterprise was a Pole by the name Miklaszewski. One would need a lot of luck to be accepted to work there. Most of the workers were occupied with the collection of scrap iron and rags. Whoever succeeded in being accepted there, his work would have been much easier than any other type of work. A person, who worked in collection, received a can from Miklaszewski, with the name of the enterprise and the name of the authority (Genneralgubernement – General Government[1]) printed on it. I have succeeded, thanks to a large sum on money, to get a can for myself from Miklaszewski, and like any other can owners, managed to avoid being kidnapped to do other type works. I was also allowed to get out of the ghetto, which offered me the opportunities to get some food from the outside and bring it into the ghetto. As I mentioned, the can owners were tasked with the job of collecting scrap metal and old rags. Whoever managed to collect 400 kilos of scrap metal and 100 kilos of rags was allowed to move freely for the rest of the month. The collection point was at the former scrap metal warehouse owned by Katz, on Wesola Street (behind the town hall). Katz was also employed by Miklaszewski and was provided with that auspicious can. The Jews who were employed in this enterprise, managed somehow to collect the required quantity. If they were not successful, they would have had pay a penalty at the collection point, so somebody else would be able to complete the quota. Miklaszewski himself behaved honestly. He often warned us when we should be careful, as he was dealing with the Germans. His best friend was the teacher Harnik whom he hid along with his family. The rumor said that he also hid the rabbi of the city, R' Moshe Shteinberg, who now lives in New York. The Rabbi himself also owned such a can. Altogether, about forty to fifty Jews were employed by this enterprise.

I did not trust the Germans, despite the fact that I owned a can, and tried not to wander around too much in the streets. In the meantime, a typhus epidemic began to spread in the ghetto, and this was the worst of all calamities. People fell like flies in the streets. My mother, may she rest in peace, became ill with that disease. Only a physician who resided in the ghetto was allowed to treat the ghetto residents. A young physician, by the name of Dr. Korlandski, resided in the ghetto. However, his diagnosis was useless without a medicine. He would write a prescription, but to get the prescription filled, one had to go to the pharmacy, which was located outside of the ghetto in the Christian side. In order to get there, a special permission had to be obtained from the Judenrat. The Judenrat would simply accumulate a large number of prescriptions, as a walk to the pharmacy was only allowed for a small number of times. I decided to fetch the medicine for my mother quickly by myself. I had done it many times before, when I sneaked out of the ghetto by stripping off any sign of being a Jew, which the Germans imposed on us. I went to the pharmacy and received the required medicine. The pharmacy was located in the market square used to be owned by Leon Kalir (who was the head of the Jewish community in Brody). A Christian pharmacist, who treated the Jews decently, owned it after the ghetto was established. People said that he was a Pole from Krakow. He was tall and blond and so was his wife. The pharmacy closed one day and the couple disappeared. They have been exposed as being Jews who had Aryan papers. People said that a day before they disappeared, a Christian customer

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who recognized them entered the pharmacy and asked them what they were doing in Brody. This guest did not report them to the German authorities, but the couple did not reopen the pharmacy in the afternoon, and left Brody in a hurry. The customer, most likely, came from around the city where the couple resided before moving to Brody.

My mother recovered from her illness and was already out of bed, but the typhus epidemic continued to cause havoc. I became sick as well, and lay down feverish in my bed. I recall, through the fogs of a dream, that my wife and her grandmother, pulled me out of the bed, dressed me up, and while holding me near the window, explained to me that German officers, accompanied by Ukrainian policemen, were breaking into houses and shooting anybody they found lying in bed. They claimed that by doing so, they prevented the disease from spreading to areas outside of the ghetto. Indeed, a short while later, two German officers barged into our house, with drawn handguns in their hands, however, when they realized that all the beds were made, they left. Several tens of Jews were shot to death in the ghetto that day. The murderers provided the ghetto with a cart, which we called “Kechet'ke” (A small coach in Yiddish), with which the bodies of the dead were taken out daily to the cemetery. It is difficult to portray this repulsive event to anybody who did not experience it. I certainly do not have the energy and the ability to describe that atrocious sight, nor can I describe well other horrific events.

Since rumors began to spread that the Germans were planning to exterminate the ghetto in a short while, we decided to build a hideout for ourselves, similar to other hideouts in all other houses. The Barter house, where we lived, had a tinsmith workshop with scraps of sheet metals and tools scattered around. There was a large cellar located beneath the workshop where we arranged the hideout. The cellar, which was to be accessed through a tall ladder, could house about 25 people. Some people had to remain above to camouflage the hideout's entrance, and I looked for a smaller hideout where people who stayed behind could escape and hide. The house had a small yard, where a small storage shed, with long wooden planks, stood. The planks were the same length as the planks of the first floor storage. I arranged a hideout by placing a floor stretching between the storages, at a height of about 80 cm. This was big enough to hold about five to six people. We could close the small hideout by placing two planks, which were very difficult to spot from the outside. The small hideout could be accessed through a small ladder. Two guards stayed awake from among us at night at all times, in order to allow all others to sleep and avoid having our foes surprise us with a sudden assault. These were the conditions under which we had to live in the ghetto. In the evenings, we gathered and discussed politics and other matters. During these discussions, a person by the name of Mr. Olzker (I forgot his first name) was adamant in his claim that Hitler's defeat was near, and with it, our freedom. Some people joked, particularly during the battles around Stalingrad, that there were rumors about Hitler renting a two–room apartment with a kitchen, so that he could return to his previous craft [casual laborer–MK]. Despite the later denials of people who were involved, I saw with my own eyes, that some of the people hiding were busy doing other things.

I sneaked out of the ghetto from time to time. I had a Christian acquaintance, who worked, before the war, at Neumann's tool shop on 3rd of May Street[2]. The Neumann family did not remain in the city, and the Christian woman lived in their house. She was an old woman, about seventy years old, very observant in her religion. She was a native of the village of Holoskovytza6], where her married children, were still residing. We called the old woman “Babchu” (grandmother). She told me that if I ever needed to hide for several days, I could stay with her. I visited

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her weekly and would bring her gifts, some clothing or something else, and thanked her for willing to help me in time of need. One time, when I came to visit her, she advised me not to stay in the ghetto, because she heard that the Ukrainians were in town, headed by a person by the name of Lufatinski and his son–in–law, the priest Demchinski. These two appealed to the German authorities from time to time, requesting to rid them from the Jews. Since she heard about them from several people, she warned me to leave the ghetto. There was another story associated with that woman. In one of my excursions outside the ghetto, I walked on Kosciolna Street (near their church), when I happened to meet a Christian by the name of Barachek who told me to get off the streets, because a pogrom has begun in the ghetto. Without any hesitations, I went into the old woman's house on 3rd of May Street and asked her to hide me. I also asked her to go out to the street and find out what was going on in the ghetto. She agreed and put me in one of the former stores located in the house under her apartment, and went out to the street. When she came back, she told me that there were horrible shootings on Kalir Street. Jews were being transported on trucks toward Stary–Brody (old Brody) which was a western suburb of the city, on the main road from Brody to Lvov. She did not know exactly where they were being transported from there. A short while later, my wife, who miraculously survived and escaped from the ghetto, came to my hideout. She told me that two Jewish youths, one by the name of Lerner from Leshniovska Street and another by the name of Mikolintzer, escaped from the ghetto to the Leshniov forest located just outside of the city. They were hoping to hide there, or to organize a group of other ghetto's escapees. Germans who were in the forest captured them, brought them to the city and delivered them to the Ukrainian police, located on Kosciolna Street, in the former magistrate building (town hall). The Germans who brought the youths did not check in their pockets. One of them had a handgun. Just as they were handing them over to the jail guard, whose name was Timchishin, as he was about to close the jail gate, the owner of the handgun shot the guard and killed him. The two youths escaped from the jailhouse, and because the hour was eleven o'clock in the morning, they realized that they would not be able to run away from the city. Therefore, they escaped into the ghetto, to its main street of Kalir, entered house no. 7, which was our former house, and asked the residents to hide them. The Jews who lived in this house were the ones who were deported from the village of Ponykovytza, while my parents lived in the adjacent house. The residents of the house allowed the youths to hide in the hideout, which I built under the floor of the first floor. Soon enough, German and Ukrainians encircled that house and the houses around it. They shot every Jews they encountered, and demanded that the residents hand over the youth to them. However, no one responded to this demand. At the end, the commander of the German gendarme, whose name was Daun, entered our former kitchen. The youths, who were hiding underneath, most likely recognized his voice. They lifted the planks covering the hideout and one of them shot at the commander, but missed. The commander threw a hand grenade into the hideout and the two youths, the heroes of our city, were killed.

During the commotion, my wife managed to escape, and crossed the barbwires to the other side of Podzamche Street and reached me. At two o'clock in the afternoon, the Christian woman told us that quiet returned to the ghetto, and that some Jews were seen walking around. My wife stayed with the old woman, and I returned to the ghetto to check on my parents and my wife's grandmother. Our neighbor, Michael Gottlieb, whom I met on my way, told me that my father was alive. I took that as being told that my mother did not survive.

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It turned out to be true. When I returned to the ghetto, I went directly to Kalir Street, where the calamity happened. My father was alone, and he was crying his heart out. It was difficult to calm him down. I was also crying. Our former house was soaked with blood, including its staircase, all the way from top to bottom. The few that have miraculously survived, as they hid in various hideouts located in the yard and in other houses of the ward, told us the details of the pogrom: The Germans encircled the ward where the house into which the youths escaped was located, and shot everyone who came out of house no. 7. Then they entered the house and shot everybody they encountered in the house and near it. Even the firefighters took part in the murders alongside the Germans. The firemen pounded anyone they encountered with their axes, and killed them.

My father told me how my mother was killed and how he happened to survive. After the pogrom in the house, which lasted about 40 or 45 minutes, the Germans ordered anyone who was found in the street or at home to climb onto trucks. Anybody who responded was taken outside of the city. My mother was loaded onto one truck, and my father on another. One truck had already left, however, the last truck with my father on it, did not go, as an order was received from the Sturmführer (Assault leader– RM) Vartzug, who was located in Zolochov[6], to stop the pogrom and called off all actions associated with it. This was how my father survived. I could not feel any joy in that.

Deep grief descended on the ghetto following the pogrom. About seven hundred people were killed that day. They were all buried in a mass grave in the forest of the estate owner Schnell, a few kilometers outside of the city. The Christians told us that the trucks brought the captured Jews to kill them where the graves were ready prepared ahead of time. They pulled out two people at the time, and the German policemen shot and murdered them. The Christians told us that the ground on the top of the mass grave moved since some of the people were only injured when the fell into the graves. These Christians were the people who covered the two mass graves.

This is the place to recall a story about four people who were injured during the time we still lived at 7 Kalir Street. Two Hasidic Jews brought over to our house the Rabbi of Yavrov, Rabbi Faivishi Rubin, the grandson of the Rabbanit Idilya (the daughter of R' Shalom Rokakh, the founder of the Beltz dynasty). The Rabbi wanted to live in this specific house, as it contained a Beit–Midrash {House of learning for Jewish studies– RM] that used to belong to my wife's grandfather, Rabbi Leibish Bitaticher. We welcomed him very warmly, and he stayed with us the entire time. Jews came to see him all the time, handing over small pieces of papers with notes (Kvit'lach in Yiddish), but he did not accept just everybody. He loved us very much and he kept telling us that nothing would happen to us, even during the most difficult times. Before the establishment of the ghetto, however, he said that he wanted to move with Rabbi Pini–Pinkhas Shapira. On the day of the pogrom, they led them both to the Schnell forest and killed them along with the rest of the Jews. This was on the 14th of May 1943.

Those who survived had to continue to endure the life in the ghetto. The families living in our house continued with the guard duty at night. I wanted my father to move with us, but he did not want to move from Shotlender's house that was allocated to him. He lived there with his good friend, so we were meeting and parting ways continuously. On 20th May, 1943, Avraham Parles (who was nicknamed Avram “the Rusisher”(Avram “the Russian” in Yiddish), was standing guard. At three o'clock at night, we heard Avraham yelling in his husky voice: “Wake up children, wake up, we are doomed!” I, and several other men, arrived at the corridor in one leap. We peeked through the windows and saw several people running here and there and yelling that German army units

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surrounded the ghetto. People tried to run away and hide. Everybody thought that other hideouts were better than their own. Some people ran away to their relatives or acquaintances, and there were those who hoped to be able to run away from the ghetto. People looked like fish caught in a net. We quickly led all the people of the house and Pini Korsower's relatives to the big hideout below the tinsmith workshop. I decided to stay up, camouflage the hideout, and then go to the small hideout in the yard. My wife accompanied me. Yosl Schwartzwald, his wife and his daughter Edzi who initially went to the big hideouts, decided to come with me to the small hideout as Yosl and I always stayed together. He took his cousin's wife and her three years old son with him, as her husband Fishel Schwartzwald (the tailor), was recruited to the Red Army before the Germans arrived, and was away from Brody. The issue with the child was not easy, as the small hideout was but a small chamber made of planks. However, we could not deny him access and managed to let everybody in. Schwartzwald and I remained at the gate of the house, and observed that fewer and fewer Jews were on the street, just like on Yom Kippur[3] eve, when the congregation would gather in the synagogues for the prayer of “Kol Nidrei”[4]. At the end, we saw a frightened woman running and yelling: “They are already marching into the ghetto!” We through a peek at the big hideout, which was covered with scarp metals, where forty souls were hiding, and jumped like cats into the small hideout. We lowered the cover down, warned the child to be quiet and listened to the activities outside. Initially we heard the footsteps of the soldiers and the orders yelled by their commanders. From time to time, we heard cries of people whose hideout was found and the ensued gunshots. We could also hear people talking in German in the lower floor of our house. Surprisingly the child, Shlomka, did not make any crying noise. Perhaps he understood what his cry would cause. We heard the Germans trampling the floors of the rooms, turning over furniture. They even reached the storage–shed, which was the continuation of the room where we were hiding. One German yelled: “Kamm, oben ist noch etwas da” (“come, there is something else up here”). They went up to the upper floor, which was the extension of the storage shed. We were then under their feet. Through the cracks between the planks, I could see their boots and their green uniforms. We heard a gunshot. They did this on purpose, to frighten babies, who would cry when they heard it. The child Shlomka did not utter a word. Although his mother held her hand over his mouth, he was remarkably quiet. A few minutes later, the Germans left the house. Later on, I saw that they marked the house with chalk, as a sign that they had already searched it.

We sat in the hideout until noon. We heard the sound of a trumpet, similar to what we used to hear from the army barracks. A few minutes later, we heard some orders being barked and the resulting soldiers' footsteps. Silence descended. We could not hear any signs of life coming from the ghetto. We continued to sit down in the hideout until nightfall without knowing what to do, since we did not know whether there were any guards still stationed around the ghetto. At the end, we decided to stay in the hideout until the morning. We ate some food that we managed to bring with us to the hideout. Ukrainian policemen and their families rummaged around the house in the dark. They were looking for the remnants of any properties left by the victims. Shortly thereafter, we heard noises of horses and carts, but they were blurry. We could not determine the language of the discussions. When the silence returned, I decided to come out from the hideout and investigate what happened. I also wanted to search the rooms for any leftover food. Etli Schwartzwald told me that she left

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five or six loafs of bread in their apartment. She baked bread in the oven for her family and other people. We were sure that we would find the bread, as neither the Germans, nor the Ukrainians were short of bread. Their hands were busy stealing more valuable things. The problem was that I did not know how to climb up to the top floor without being detected by our foes. I had another task of getting rid of our and the child's waste (we took special tools for that). I did not hesitate much. I raised the cover, jumped up, closed the cover and listened. There was a dead silence around. I then had to enter the corridor and climb up to the upper floor. However, the staircase was near the gate leading out to the street. I risked my life and hurried up the staircase. At the same moment, the wind rolled a piece of paper toward me. Its rustling gave me a shiver, as I suspected that somebody was following me. I climbed up to the upper floor and was happy to find the pillow cover with the six loafs of bread in it. I threw them out above the rail to the yard below, took some water in a container and several other necessities and returned to the hideout. I did not know what to do then. Approximately around four o'clock in the afternoon, we heard the rattling of carts and conversing voices. This time the exchange was in Yiddish. Despite of that, we decided not to come out until we knew for sure, what was going around us. At seven o'clock at night, quiet descended again, and it continued overnight. We sat down and ate. We tried to always, have somebody among us remain awake to guard and try to quiet down the snoring noises of the sleeping people, so that they would not be heard outside. The morning arrived again. At eight o'clock in the morning, we heard a noise of a commotion coming from the ghetto. We could also hear people taking in Yiddish in our own yard. I peeked through s crack in the floor and saw two acquaintances, honest owners of houses. One was Uri Leshnover who was a rug merchant in the city, and the name of the other was Landau. I opened the cover of the hideout, jumped into the storage shed and called: “Landau!” However, when they saw me they yelled at me: “Hide. You are bringing disaster on us!” I hurried up and returned to the hideout. I did not know at the time what the reason for their warning was.

Soon after that, I heard the sound of footsteps in the yard, and heard somebody calling my name: “Gasthalter! Gasthalter!” The person who called me was Landau. I jumped out from the storage shed, and my acquaintances disclosed the enormity of the tragedy. The latest extermination action by the Germans resulted in the sending of the last transport to Belzec. Following that action, the Germans declared Brody as being free of Jews. That meant that Jews were not allowed to stay in the city any longer. Some men survived the aktzia. They and the people, who came out of their hiding, have been assigned to a single Jewish auxiliary policeman for every five people. They were provided with a horse and a cart, handled by a peasant, and were tasked with collecting anything that was abandoned by the families who were taken away. Leshnover and Landau were willing to take me with them. They gave me a yellow piece of cloth to saw a yellow Star–of–David on my chest. I joined them in collecting the remnants of the Jews' properties and bringing them to the building, which was the former barracks of the 43rd Polish army battalion, across from the city park. I asked them to come back the following day, as I had to discuss this with the people who have been hiding with me in the hideout. They told me that women could not be seen in the street. If spotted, they would be killed on the spot. They apologized about hesitating to talk to me previously. They told me that they had to report to the Jewish auxiliary police about finding people who were hiding. The Jewish police people told them that we were allowed to come out of the hideout, and said they would try to help us as much as possible. We parted ways and I returned to the house, climbed up to the hideout and proceeded to describe the situation we found ourselves in to the people, who were hiding there with me. The question

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was, what would we do about the people who were staying in our main hideout. We could not have them join us. To do so we would have to walk in street. Even if we would have succeeded to do so, the Ukrainian policemen, whom Leshnover and Landau told us about, were roaming the ghetto and shooting anybody they were encountering. They could have caught us in our attempt to remove the scrap metals above cover. We knew that an inventory of food for several days containing rusks and canned food was prepared in the main hideout. As we were discussing the matter, we heard shouts and cries of children. We knew immediately that the main hideout was found. We were told later that Ukrainian policemen, who raided the houses and burrowed after gold, discovered the hideout with all of the residents in it. They transported them to the nearby fish market (Fishplatz) and killed them all on the spot.

The following people, who were hiding in the large hideout were murdered: Avraham Parles and his wife, the painter, Sklar, his wife and their daughter – Eva, the leather merchant – Katz and his two daughters, Pini Korsower, my wife's grandmother – Sheva Bitaticher, the two children of Yosl Schwartzwald, Israel Doner's wife and children. There were several other people whose name I did not know or I have forgotten.

The following day, we heard again the hustle of carts and the chatter in the street. I jumped out of the hideout and ventured very carefully out to the street. I saw the opened cover of the large hideout. I returned to our small hideout and went out to the street together with Yosl Schwartzwald, after we attached the yellow patches on our chest. We then accompanied the carts to collect the remnants of the murdered residents' belongings. My wife and the wife of Yosl Schwartzwald remained in the hideout, because the Ukrainian policemen were shooting women and children when they saw them. As we mentioned we were tasked with collecting the remaining belongings and bring them at noon to the barracks. We also had to sleep at the barracks at night.

The person who was responsible for the warehouse and the collected belongings was a young Pole native of Poznan, by the name of Roog. I was not enthusiastic about going to the barracks, as I despised detention and was willing to risk a great deal to avoid confinement. I also had to call on the hideout where our wives were staying, in order to care for them and bring them food. Schwartzwald and I decided to sneak out before the carts stopped by the barracks at noon, and to forage for food in the emptied apartments. We did find some food to bring to our wives and the child. We found bread and canned food and brought the food to the hideout. We stayed there until we heard the carts returning. The Germans in the warehouse were not strict in their inspection and examination. The Jewish inspectors pretended not to see, and thus we managed to slip out for several days. One day, we went to the hideout to visit our wives and came out again as usual when the carts came back. However, many carts and their former ghetto residents' owners did not show up in the afternoon. We knew that they did not hide anywhere, as there was no place to hide. That meant that, going back to warehouse could mean sudden death. I had to do something to escape this trap. I got out of the ghetto, went to old Christian woman and asked her to take my wife into her house. Despite her great fear, she agreed. I went back to the ghetto, and took a pillowcase and wrapped my wife's head with it. I walked her to the barbwires of the former ghetto and told her to go to the old woman. I wished her that she would not encounter anybody on her way and arrive safely at her destination. When she went on her way, I returned to the collection work.

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When the evening arrived, I did not have anything to do in the former ghetto, but I was worried about the people who remained in the hideout. Schwartzwald told me that he had a Christian acquaintance in the village of Ponykovytza[6] and that he and his wife would take his cousin and her son there. Thus, I went in the barracks that night while Schwartzwald went back to the hideout to his wife and cousin. We never met again, and I do not know their fate.

There were three hundreds Jews in the barracks. Ukrainian policemen, holding automatic weapon, or a guard of German gendarmes stood at the gate at all times. The commander, Roog, was a ravenous murderer. He killed two or three Jews every morning with his small pistol. He used to get drunk and shoot at anybody he wanted to. In the meantime, I got a message that my wife arrived safely at the old Christian woman's house. However, the woman warned me not to join her because of her fear of being caught. She told me that it was much easier to hide a woman and told me to stay at the barracks as long as possible. I accepted my fate and was content with the fact that my wife was safe. I spent the following several days in the horrible barracks where victims were claimed daily. That continued until the arrival of Sturmführer Vartzug who came from Zolochov[6] accompanied by another SS officer. They ordered us to get out of our rooms and take with us our money and any belongings we had. The Sturmführer spread a blanket on the ground in the middle of the barracks' yard and ordered us to throw on it everything we owned. I complied with his order. Commander Roog and the German officer went back to our rooms to check whether anything was hidden. A few minutes later, they called out a name of a person, I do not recall. A Yeshiva student, whom I did not know, stepped forward immediately. A few dollars and a certificate were found in his bed. The officer drew his pistol and killed him on the spot. He said that this was how they would treat any Jew, who would dare to cheat the German Reich.

They ordered us to return to our rooms, however, it was clear that our situation had worsened. The guards at the gate would allow us until that day to step out to the kiosk to buy cigarettes. They forbade us from doing so at that point. There were only men at the barracks, and some hoped that they would employ us for some time. Some were indeed sent, under guard, to work in various places, cutting firewood for the gendarmes on Jurydyka Street and similar other jobs. However, when we saw that they brought Jewish women and children to the barracks we understood what they intended to do with us. The guard at the gate was reinforced and both the German and Ukrainian guards began carrying automatic weapons. They should not have had to worry about any resistance by the Jews, not only in the barracks, which were located in the middle of the city, but also from outside of the city, since the city and its environs were emptied of the last of its Jews. In general, there was also no chance for any successful resistance by the Jews in the periphery towns and the cities, especially armed resistance, and in anywhere else in the Western Ukraine. The main reason for this was the collaboration of the Ukrainian population with the German conquerors. They acted hand in hand. The Ukrainians were eager to murder their Jewish neighbors, as the Jewish property would fall into their hands. Even the Poles, who hated the Ukrainians and even more so, the Germans, helped in the prosecution of the Jews. Here is one example, which happened during of the extermination actions in our city: a Yeshiva student by the name of Shraga, wanted to get out of the city, which was surrounded by Ukrainian police. A Ukrainian policeman, stopped him. What did

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Shraga do? With a quick motion, he managed to grab the policeman's rifle. A Pole jumped out of his apartment, at the same moment, hit Shraga on his head with a hoe and killed him. The Polish population assisted the Germans and the Ukrainians in battering the Jews every step of the way. In places where the Poles did stand with the Jews, the Germans failed in their prosecution. An illustration for that could be found in the village of Hochiska Brodska[6], where the Poles acted together with the Jews. The Germans did not dare to venture into the village, especially at night. The Germans were great heroes against an unarmed nation in its exile, particularly when they tricked it as they did in our city when they first killed the entire intelligentsia. In real battles, even in an uneven fight such as the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Jews were much more heroic, and managed to claim many victims among their enemies and to destroy war machines.

Indeed, Brody Jews fought in defensive and offensive battles in various places, in the forests and the fields, in groups and sometimes in couples. However, everything was finished after the extermination of the ghetto due to the assistance that the Ukrainians provided to the Germans. The brothers Drilikh, two youths with guts, collected around them a group of other youths. They dug a bunker in the forest where they had a machinegun. The Ukrainians, who were afraid to go to the forest by themselves, discovered them and reported them to the German authorities. The Germans surrounded the forest from all directions, and after a fierce battle, which lasted several hours, the Germans blew up the bunker and destroyed it. It was not easy to fight the Germans, the same way it was difficult to hide with the Christian population. First, anybody who hid a Jew risked being killed. Secondly, even if there were Christians who were willing to hide Jews, they would demand a small fortune for it. Many of them took the money, and after several days, they delivered the Jews to the Ukrainian gangs or police, or even killed them with their own hands.

This was how my brother Benyamin was murdered. A Christian who promised to hide him, took all the money from him, and later burnt my brother and his wife alive in a cowshed he hid them in. Christian villagers reported on my other brother, Yehuda–Tsvi, who was also called Hermann. They told the Germans that he was a politician who hated the Germans. He was arrested immediately and was brought over to the Gestapo headquarters on Lantski Street. I was told that no prisoner came back alive from there. My sister, Leah, and her three–year old son, Yehuda, lived in Ternopol. They had Aryan papers that a Christian acquaintance arranged for them. They stayed in the city during almost the entire war until one day when she encountered a Christian acquaintance from Brody who recognized her. Unfortunately for her, a Ukrainian policeman was just coming towards them. When he found out that they were Jewish, he killed them on the spot, first the child, and then the mother. Christian residents of Ternopol, who helped my sister without knowing that she was Jewish, told me the story after the war.

We now return to the barracks in our city, where the last of the city Jews stayed. One morning, the manager Roog, who did not have an apartment in the barracks, entered the barracks accompanied by the head of the police Daun, whom I have already described. Daun looked like Hitler, damn him, particularly because of his mustache. He said: “We will now witness what would be done with people who do not obey our orders”. He then opened a small cell and ordered the people who occupied it to come out. A woman and a child came out. I did not know the woman, but saw her working in the barracks' kitchen. Following her, Gringraz and other Jews whom I did not know came out. A woman by the name of Zeidwarm, who used to live on Gnesia? Street, and her ten years old son, was among them. Her father was in the barracks with us. The manager started to list all of the

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offences of these men and women – this person wanted to sell a ring near the gate, that person tried to escape, that women hid her son and more. They placed them at the wall and shot them all. The gendarmes, with automatic guns, stood at the gate, ready to shoot the rest of us for any sign of resistance. The shots were executed in a certain order. First, the children were shot and then the mothers. Daun ordered to load the bodies (thirteen altogether) on a cart, which was transported to the former ghetto, where they put the cart and its content ablaze. That happened on a Saturday. The following day we realized, based on the behavior of the administration, that we all were facing extermination.

We laid down to sleep at night, but sleeping was the farthest away from my mind. I came out to the yard, in which people were allowed to walk around until late at night. The gate was locked, and the guard was situated outside. I wandered around aimlessly. I reached the cellars of the barracks, and walked from one cellar to another. Brody people would certainly recall that when the war between Poland and Germany erupted, the Germans threw bombs at the city from their airplanes. One bomb hit the general hospital, one hit the house of Tsvi–Hersh Goldinshtein on Gold Street, one hit the house of Rabbi Davdili Manzon and another bomb hit the barracks. A U–bomb hit the other side of the barrack rather than the front, opposite the city park. The ruins of the bomb were still there and I noticed an opening through which I could see a streetlight that illuminated the alley. When I peeked, I noticed that I could stick my head through it. I stepped forward carefully, approached the opening, and listened to check whether there was anybody wandering around in the alley. Down the ally, it was less dangerous, first, because I was hidden by the ruins and secondly nobody would be walking around in a dead–end alley near empty cellars at night. I peeked again beyond the opening and realized that I could slip easily through it. I did not see anybody. I knew that the alley was leading to Dr. Horn's house. I did not hesitate much longer, took off the yellow patch off and slipped out without any problem. I went directly toward 3rd of May Street, where the old woman house was, and where my wife was staying. On my way, I encountered several German and Ukrainian policemen. I lighted a cigarette and thus hid my face as if to protect the lighted match from the wind, so that they could not see me eye to eye,. I used this trick several times until I arrived at the house. I hesitated to enter the Christian woman's house, since she hosted a student who ate at her table. I also knew that my wife does not stay in any of the rooms of the house but in one of the empty stores. The house had several entrances, which led to the stores. I stood near every entrance and whispered her name – “Bina!” How happy I was when I heard my wife's voice, opening the door. We closed the door behind us and exchanged our experiences during the previous few days. She told me that the old Christian woman treated her like a daughter. When she was alone, she closed the gate, called my wife up to her room, and fed her with anything she had. My wife called her “Babchu” and the old woman called my wife “my child”. We could not fall asleep after we told each other what happened. We thought about our fate. We also thought about how we would be able to overcome the difficulties that were lying ahead of us. I told myself, repeatedly, that we would survive the war and be fortunate to witness the fall of Hitler, damn him, something that every surviving Jew prayed for. We finally fell asleep. In the morning, the old woman came in and was happy to see me. She told me that I was fortunate to escape the barracks because she heard that the end of the camp was near.

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She brought us some food. We could see through the cracks of the old stores everything that was occurring in the street. We saw marching German soldiers and heard their singing – “hei–li, hei–li, hei–la, he–la”, and their anti–Semitic songs. The most frightening was the song “When Jewish blood is dripping over the sharp tip of the knife”. We had to hide and to listen to these songs quietly and helplessly. There was no shortage of scares. Searches were held, once and a while, with the excuse that Jews, ghetto escapees and refugees were hiding in homes of Christians. A Christian by the name of Shvalyuk, an owner of a sausage store, was murdered because he hid Jews in his house.

We stayed ten weeks with the Christian woman. However, a new problem developed–the trouble of the Banderovich Ukrainians. They got their name from their leader, Stephan Bandera, who murdered the Polish Minister of Interior, Pieracki and robbed a bank in Horodenka. He escaped to Germany before the war and hid there. (Editor's note: The author confuses Bandera's story here with that of his accomplice, Mykola Lebed. Bandera was in prison in Poland until the war started and was released by the Germans when they entered Poland. –RM). When the war erupted, as Hitler armies advanced into Poland, Bandera organized all the Ukrainian criminals who stayed in Germany as a private militia. After the Germans promised him that they would declare Ukraine as an independent country, with him as its head when they conquer Western Ukraine, he organized Ukrainians not only in Germany, but outside as well, particularly in Western Ukraine, and urged them to resist and strike the Poles. Even before the Germans arrived, Bandera's voice could be heard daily on the German radio: “Beat the Jews and free Ukraine!” Indeed, the Banderovich gangs would attack Jews in the villages and Polish farmers in settlements built before the parceling of the nobles' estates. This was the situation in Western Ukraine even before the war, during the Polish regime, and definitely much more so during the war under the German occupation. That triggered a huge Polish flight from Western Ukraine.

The Banderoviches came to the old Polish woman who hid us, after they have inquired how many rooms she owned, and announced that some Poles would come to live with her. We were therefore happy to hear from the old woman, that she talked already with her daughter who lived in the village of Holoskovytza[6], who said that she was willing to hide us and had already started to prepare for it. We decided to move there, although it was not a simple matter. These were summer days and according to the war regulations, citizens could only be in the streets until six in the evening, meaning only when there was plenty of light outside. Many Christians knew us in the city, but we did not have any choice. One day, the old woman dressed my wife as a Christian with a kerchief on her head, and went with her outside of the city. From there, my wife walked alone to the village, to the house of the old woman's daughter. My wife knew where the daughter lived, as we visited her before. I stayed with the old woman for several more days, and was almost discovered. They came to look for hiding Jews, but I miraculously hid under in the attic under the roof shingles, and the searchers did not notice me. Because these were the harvest days, I told the woman to buy me a new sickle and this was what she did. I left Brody and went to the village where my wife was, camouflaged by my wild–growing facial hair and with the sickle, which I carried on my back the way farmers did when they were walking home from the city. Deep troubles began immediately upon my arrival, troubles that continued all the way to the liberation.

I made my way to the village at night. I came to the house of the young Christian woman, and she brought me to the closet where my wife was and where she prepared the hideout for us.

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She placed a crate by the wooden wall of a closet, about eighty centimeters high and fifty centimeters wide. On the crate, there was a barrel, above which, she piled up hay, several meter high and wide. Inside the hay, she created a three–meter crawl tunnel, which we had to crawl through to reach the barrel, and the crate in which we stayed. If one of sat in the crate, the other would have had to lie down in the barrel. The crawl–tunnel was plugged with a hay sheaf so air could only penetrate through the cracks in the wall near us. It was not easy to find the wall, as we were surrounded by several meters of hay. During the nights, we were able to get out of our hole and lay down on the hay. The Christian woman handed us food after she removed the hay sheaf. According to an agreed–upon sign, “pss,” I would crawl out of the hideout and take the food that she wrapped with a kerchief. To say that these were difficult conditions was an understatement. However, we were content with staying like that to the end of the war. However, this was not to be. The Christian women sustained us for about two and half months. She kept saying that her husband does not know about us, but we knew that he knew very well. Until one day, when she told us, that we would need to look for another place to hide, because she was scared of her husband, and because she needed the hay to feed the animals. I begged her to allow us to stay a few more days so that I could try to find another shelter. I knew that this would not be an easy job, since only Ukrainians lived in the village. The few Poles who lived there were afraid to behave differently than their neighbors, and at the end of the day, they were not “lovers of the people of Israel” either.

The few days passed quickly before we were forced to leave this hideout. Fall's chill was already in the air, especially at night. We went to the fields and hid in a canvas field. The farmers made canvas out of this crop. This was a dangerous place, since the gentiles who were working in the fields could have discover us. We also had to endure the rain and the cold. Before we left, the Christian woman offered us to come to her house once every two days. We would come in the evening, and she served us food, and gave us some cooked potatoes and bread to take with us. We dared to go to her at night, even when she did not know about it. We were wandering around in the fields until the harvest. When the canvas, millet and corn were harvested and the clean–up completed, we did not have a place to hide. The fall began to turn into winter, and our worries about our fate, depressed us tremendously.

In the meantime, the Christian woman, who hid us in her barn, told us that her mother visited her and told her to warn us not to return to Brody, since all the Jews who stayed in the barracks were all taken to the cemetery and were murdered there. She said that eyewitnesses told her that some of the Jews who were led to the cemetery still had some money, which they kept illegally. When they realized that their end was near, they took out the money bills, tore them up and threw the pieces in the faces of the Ukrainian policemen. One woman, the wife of Hertz Bukhbinder (the owner of the shoe store), stood up and yelled in a loud voice that was heard throughout the city streets: “You murderers, the world will take revenge of you, Hitlerian animals and Ukrainian slaughterers. The Russians will take revenge of our blood that you have spilled for no reason”. The policemen remained silent and did not respond.

We knew then, that we could not go back to the city. We decided to find a hideout in the village, no matter what happened. We decided to contact a young Christian, about twenty–five years old,

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whom I knew as somebody who hated the Germans and the Banderoviches because he was a Communist. He was the cousin of the Christian woman's husband who hid us previously. His name was Harycz Mowczan. I waited for him, one night, in his the yard. He greeted me cordially and said: “Khayim, you did well by contacting me. I heard from my (female) cousin that you were somewhere in the village, and now that you have contacted me I would help you as much as I could.” The first thing I asked him to do was to secure a gun and a hundred rounds of ammunition for me. He did it during the same night. He told me to bring my wife immediately. When we arrived, he brought us to his hay attic above the cowshed. He did this without the knowledge of his mother. He was orphaned from his father and had a fifteen years old brother by the name of Alexander, and even a younger sister by the name of Olga. Harycz told us that we do not need to be warry about his brother, and his sister was too young to understand, but he was afraid of his mother, who was very frightened. Therefore, we stayed in the cowshed attic. Harycz brought us some food, although very little, because he himself was poor, and his family had hardly anything to eat. He would take me, in the evenings, to various places to forage for food. We searched and found some food in stables of other farmers. Sometimes we would find some flour and even chickens, which he would cook and bring to us. His younger brother would burn woods in the field to make charcoals and would bring them to us for our use. We could then cook in the attic, so that we would not need to contact other farmers to get food. Doing so would have meant an immediate danger from the hands of the Bandroviches who were ambushing Jews and shooting them.

We were told that there were two million Ukrainians, armed with all sorts of weapons, which they prepared for themselves upon Poland's defeat, before the Russians invaded Western Ukraine. Indeed, we saw tens of carts and horses being loaded from boxcars with all sort weapons. Harycz told us that the Banderoviches used to appear at night by the farms and take horses and carts as they pleased. In some cases, the farmers themselves were forced to go wherever there were ordered to. Sometimes, a trip would last three or four days. We also heard how they have bombed transports with German soldiers or their arms. They smeared the rail tracks between Brody and Zabolottze[6] with soap and shot at the cargo train loaded with German soldiers traveling to the front. The Banderoviches did that because the Germans broke their promise to help them establish an independent state when they invaded Western Ukraine. After the invasion, they told Bandera that there was no use in establishing the independent state as long as the war was still going on. They told him that Hitler would establish it only after the war. Stephan Bandera did not like that, so he and his followers went underground. Their moto became: “We hit the Germans, annihilate the Jews, prevent the Red army from invading and establish an independent Ukraine”. Indeed, they killed not only Jews, but also Germans and Russian partisans whom they encountered in the forests.

In the meantime, another Ukrainian nationalist by the name of Bulba agreed to collaborate with the Germans. He agreed to wait until the end of the war to establish an independent Ukraine. Bulba was a native of Volhyn, and his followers–the Bulbaches joined the ranks of the German army and fought shoulder to shoulder with the German soldiers them against the army of the Soviet Union.

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Their unit was named the S.S. Halichina. It included many Ukrainians, natives of Galitzia, not only from Vohlyn. Among the German soldiers, many other Russian soldiers deserted to fight against the Soviet Union. They were named Vlasoviches after their commander, Vlasov. These soldiers included former Don Kazakhs, as well some Georgians, who probably ran away from the Red Army. There were also Soviet soldiers who were taken prisoners of war, but did not want to die from hunger, like the rest of the Russian prisoners of war. I saw this with my own eyes when such a Russian soldier, who served in the German army, helped me, knowing well that I was Jewish. This was proof that not all of these soldiers were loyal to the Germans. However, the Vlasoviches were worse than the Germans.

More and more rumors began to spread about defeats by the Germans, but we were still far away from salvation. In the meantime, we stayed with Harycz, who treated me like his own father. He had consoled us that we would live to see the end of the war and that our life would improve. When we asked him how we would pay back for his dedication and effort, he would answer that his reward would be seeing us alive and well with these horrific days behind us. We stayed with him for eight months. Nobody besides his brother and sister knew about us. However, the peaceful stay did not last much longer. Harycz himself was very poor, and had hardly enough for his family, especially before the harvest. We, therefore, were going to nearby villages to look for food. At one time, we went to the village of Hlushyn[6] and entered the barn of a “Volk–Deutsch” (Christians whose ethnic background and name were German. These people enjoyed some privileges, despite the fact that they spoke Polish or Ukrainian. They “proved” their Germanism by prosecuting the Jews). I stood on guard outside, with the pistol in my hand, and Harycz began to bring out things from the barn. At first, he brought a fur and told me that I would be able to cover myself with that fur in the winter. Then, he carried out a sack of flour, and later on, a few other minor items. We then realized that the objects would be too heavy to carry, since we had three kilometers to go back to Harycz's village. Harycz did not hesitate for long. He asked me to wait a minute for him, went into the barn and brought a horse out. We placed the items we took on the horse's back. Harycz also found a hunting rifle, which he also took, the kind one use to hunt in the fields. We blocked the gate to the yard of the farmer's house, so that we would be able to know if anybody would hear us. We went on our way back toward Holoskovytza[6] village. When we approach the village, we heard some gunshots from the direction we came from. We unloaded the horse, freed it and spurred it to go back to his barn. We left all the objects on the ground, and started to hurry. Nobody noticed us, so Harycz suggested that we bring the objects to a neighboring farm and hide them in the barn, and come the following day to fetch them. We covered the objects with hay, however we took with us the fur and one chicken. Since we could not get hold of a kosher butcher, we ate from Harycz butchered chicken. We went up to the Hirka (attic), talked a bit and fell asleep. The following day, their Sabbath, Harycz went out to the street and came back to say that we should calm down, because he did not hear anybody talking about this matter. We fetched the objects, brought them over, and camouflaged them with hay, so that Harycz's mom would not find them. Among the items, we had a pack of fine tobacco leaves (Virginia). We untied the drying tobacco leaves bunch from the strings

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tied by “Volk–Deutch”. They were dry enough. We covered them with hay as well.

On Monday morning, Harycz went out to the village and all of a sudden, I heard Germans shouting in the yard. I peeked through a small crack in the hay roof and saw the head of the German police from Brody accompanied by a farmer, whom I understood to be the “Volk–Deutch” whose farm we visited two days ago, and a German soldier. The head of the police had an automatic rifle with him. The other two were equipped with regular rifles. Harycz's mother was very frightful. She came down running with her two younger children. The “Volk–Deutch” yelled at her: “Where is my tobacco and all other things, that you son stole from me”, and slapped her in the face. When I realized how big of a trouble this was, I did not hesitate for long. I enlarged the hole in the other side of the roof and jumped to Harycz neighbor's garden. I told my wife to hold on to the wooden frame of the roof, and held her so that she would be able to come down too. We ran into the gardens that were stretched behind the farmers' houses. Our luck was that the policemen were too busy with the tobacco leaves they found hidden under the hay and the fact that we were not seen by any other farmer (according to what Harycz had told me later). We ran into the fields and saw that several tens of farmers run after us. We even heard somebody calling me by my first name: “Khayim, Khayim”. I got scared and started to run even faster, until I lost my wife behind me. When I got tired of running in the wet fields and the swamps, I saw myself near the village of Ponykovytsya. I was afraid to return and farmers who went by me looked at me puzzled and asked where I came from. I told them that I ran away from Germany, where I was send under Germans' order. As many Ukrainians used to run away from there, and because I spoke fluent Ukrainian, they believed me, welcomed me in and fed me. I could not stay long there as there were people who knew me to be Jewish in that neighborhood. I remembered that, in that village, there was a Christian by the name of Miro Omluk, native of Holoskovytza[6], who married a woman from Ponykovytsya and I knew him as a decent guy. I went to him in the evening and told him my story. He welcomed my nicely. I asked him to go to Holoskovytza[6], and let me know what happened to my wife. He promised to do so the following day, as he was busy until very late at night. In the meantime, he brought me up to his hay attic and gave me a loaf of bread. The following day he went to the other village. When he came back, at eight o'clock at night, he told me what happened during the last thirty–six hours since I separated from my wife.

He found Harycz, who told him that he entered his yard innocently unaware of the fact that the Germans were looking for the stolen objects. A German saw him and pulled him into the house under his gun. The German began to question him whether he was the owner of the house. When he acknowledged, the German proceeded to arrest him, because traces of flour were found in his house and because the village farmers testified that all the evidence was pointing to Harycz. In addition, they found the tobacco in his house, and therefore found no reason to continue with their investigation. Harycz resigned to his fate and agreed with the investigator, however he asked to be fed, before they transferred him to the gendarmerie in Brody. The German sat with him in the yard, while the other two were busy with folding the tobacco, which was like a fortune to them and its being missing was strongly felt.

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Harycz took the food, jumped like a cat, and began to run with full speed away from the yard. When the villagers asked him why he was running so fast, he told them that the Germans were in the village and that they were kidnapping anybody they encountered for force labor in Germany. The villagers began to run into the fields. This was probably when I saw them, heard Harycz calling my name being called, and thought that they were running after me to capture me.

As he was running, Harycz met my wife, just as the villagers tried to rob her of her watch. Harycz stopped them from doing so by saying that when it comes to this watch, he should be the one to get it. Since he gave up on it, they should do the same. Harycz did not go back to the village that night, because of his fear of the Germans. However, he did protect my wife so that she would not get hurt. People ridiculed him as a friend of the Jews and even wanted to beat him because of that, but he was not a coward. He kept a long stick under his coat and warned everybody to stay away from him if they did not want to be shot to death. He fought with these villagers until the evening. He then brought my wife to Mirko's brother and told him everything. They brought her up to the hay attic and provided her with some food. They locked the door with a chain from outside. Harycz feared going back to his own farm, either to stay or the fetch anything. His main fear was that the Germans would capture and jail him because he ran away from them under their noses.

Based on Mirko Omluk's report, I went back to Holoskovytza to meet with my wife. Mirko could not transport me because he had some family business to attend. I had to walk back to the village through the fields. This was not an easy thing to do, since, at night, the Banderovich gangs were moving around on the roads and transporting weapons from village to village. Because the Germans did not wander around in the countryside, the Ukrainians could move easily. They had connections in every village and were also sending spies to investigate whether the road was available to transport weapons. That was the reason why I could not use the paved roads, and had to move stealthily through the fields until I got close to the village. I leaped over the stream, and found myself quickly behind Harycz's house. He happened to be to be in his yard at the time. When he saw me, he walked me to the yard where he hid my wife and opened the cowshed's locked door. My wife came down from the hay attic upon hearing the agreed upon sign, “pss”. When they saw me, she and Harycz started to probe me where I was and what happened to me. However, I was weak and exhausted from my last few days' adventures and my hunger, to the point that I got confused and lost consciousness. I fainted and fell on the floor. When I came around, I thought that somebody just hit me on the head and was proceeding to obstruct my mouth and choke me. I was sure that the Bandoroviches captured me. I quickly put my hand in my pocket and drew the pistol in order to protect myself. At that moment, I heard the voice of Harycz, who pulled the pistol forcefully from my hand as if to say: “This is very nice of you. We were trying our best to rescue you, and you want to kill us”. Only then, I saw that Harycz and my wife were standing over me, she was holding a bottle and he a spoon. He stuck the spoon in my mouth to allow some air into it and my breath recovered. They told me that they had to open my mouth forcibly when I fainted, and pour some of the vinegar that the farmer had around, to cause me to regain consciousness. We asked the farmer who hosted my wife for the last four days to house us both for another night so that we could find another hideout and he agreed to our request.

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German policemen came to Harycz's house to arrest him. However, he slept in his friend's house, rather than his house. When he heard about the search, he decided to hide in the city of Brody. The villagers did not like him and he feared that they would extradite him to his pursuers. His fear was justified because the villagers did not consider him a Ukrainian nationalist, and because he kept claiming that the Red army would retaliate against all of the German collaborators when it would take over. People said about him that he was a communist, and they hated communists as much as they hated Jews. Therefore, Harycz ran away to his relatives in Brody, and was coming once in a while to the village to inquire about his family and about my wife and me. He told us that we could stay in his house, because he was hiding in Brody, and therefore the Germans would not look for him in his house. He asked his mother to support us, to the best of her ability. We accepted his offer and stayed in his house. He would come, from time to time at night to visit us, and then went back to the city. The Ukrainians, who followed him, reported about his hideout in Brody to the Germans who went there at night and arrested him. The Germans made him an offer. They told him that he committed several offenses punishable by death or life sentence. However, if he would agree to travel to France as a German soldier and fight against the English, they would dismiss all charges. He agreed and left for France from Brody's train station.

The Germans' elation did not last long, because Harycz came back to see me three days later. He told me that when they transported him through Lvov[6], he jumped from the moving train and arrived home from there. He advised us to leave his house, as the Germans would now look for him. However, he planned to leave his home and go to his friends in the village. He stated that he would be more careful that time and would not wander around during the day any longer to avoid being seen by the villagers. We, on the other hand, did not have anybody to ask for a shelter. I decided to hide in the haystacks of other farmers without their knowledge. I had to secure food though, by any means possible. Some farmers agreed to provide us with food willingly, as long as we would leave their house immediately, as they were scared of the Germans as well as of the organized gangs of the Ukrainian nationalists.

We settled in a hay attic in a cowshed owned by a farmer named Josef Gilvuch, a Pole, not a bad man, whom I knew well. I did not want to tell him that we stay in his attic, as he would probably be scared to keep us on his farm. However, it was clear to me that if he would find us, he would tell us to leave his place, at the most, but would not cause us any harm. At nights, when the work at the cowshed ended, I would make sure that nobody was in the yard, and then jumped out of the attic and go to other farms to look for food. It was the winter of 1944, and we stayed in this attic for ten whole weeks without anybody knowing. Our lack was that the farmer did not need to use the hay from where we stayed, as he used hay from another barn, so that we could just stay without being disturbed. However, one morning, we saw soldiers with German uniforms in the farmer's yard. These were Vlasov soldiers. As mentioned above, these soldiers deserted the Soviet army to serve with Hitler's army. They brought their horses to the farmer, who was a blacksmith, for re–shoeing. Some of the Vlasov soldiers settled in the farmer's home, and held

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their horses in the cowshed. We listened to all of their conversations, as we understood both Russian and Ukrainian. We heard them cursing the Jews. We realized that we would need to leave this worthy hideout, for the fear that one of these guests would come up to the attic to fetch hay for his horses, and thus would find that and us would be our end. We waited until the evening, as it was impossible to get out during the day without risking our lives.

We sneaked out at dark, and went down from the attic, without knowing what to do. I recalled the Christian woman who told me once that I could seek her help again, when in trouble. We came to her house and entered the cowshed. I saw several Germans walking around in the yard, and therefore waited for her outside. When she came out of her house and saw me, she was horrified and told me that German soldiers were staying in her house permanently. I calmed her down by saying that my Jewishness was not engraved on my forehead and it was doubtful that a German would expect to find Jews wandering around in that village anyway. I asked her to allow us to stay for one night only and we would continue on our way the next day. She agreed because her heart would not let her throw us out in such a cold night that it was. She ordered us to climb up to the hay attic, and promised to bring us some food shortly. She only requested us not to show ourselves to her husband and children. Shortly thereafter, she brought us a hot apple bowl and a bottle of milk. After we revived our soul with the food, we fell asleep immediately. We woke up at dawn by thunderous sounds of firing cannons. These were the cannons of the advancing Red Army. All the farmers hid in their cellars, but our farmer was sitting in the cowshed on a wooden box. He was old and deaf. I peeked at him and saw him sitting and dowsing off. He would wake up a bit after every round, but would dowse off again afterwards.

At eleven o'clock in the morning, the cannons fell silent. We became hungry again, and the Christian woman brought us a kettle full of buckwheat and meat. She told her son–in–law, named Simko Kshonertztik about us. He knew us from before the war and he sent us the food. He scooped a kettle–full from a big pot of the kitchen of the German soldiers staying in his home and sent it to us. She also told us that at that point of time, as the German defeat was nearing, and the Red Army arriving soon, we would be able to stay by her for a few more days. We obviously agreed and settled down. However, the roar of the cannons stopped completely, and we understood that the German army advanced again. The Christian woman came and told us that she feared that the Germans would find us when they would come up to fetch hay for their horses. Her son–in–law came and brought us food. He also gave me another clean white shirt when he saw my torn one. We parted ways, thanking him for his kindness. I was clueless as to where we can go as there was nobody left whom I could ask for a refuge. I thought about going with another solution. I thought that we would go to other villages, and pretend to be Ukrainians. Since I spoke their language fluently, perhaps we would be successful. I hoped that, in the meantime, the end of the war would come and we would be freed. We knew that the Red Army was near, stationed somewhere between Kiev and Brody, but we were not sure exactly where things stand.

We left the village, just after waking up. We moved through a field and a meadow, passed the village of Vysotzky[6], and arrived at a settlement, which was formally inhabited by Poles who abandoned it. Ukrainians who came from the area of Vyshnivchyk[6] settled in it in their place. This was attractive to us. Vyshnivchyk was near Lvov, far enough from Brody, so I was sure that none of the settlers knew me,

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something we lack in villages near Brody, where many of the villagers knew me. We decided to stop by one of these settlers' home. I asked my wife to cover her head and her mouth with a kerchief, and not to speak a word, since her Ukrainian was not fluent, and any Ukrainian listener would identify her immediately. I entered the house and told the farmer that my wife had a toothache and that she was very weak. I told him that we would just like to rest for a while. The farmer accepted us warmly and asked where we were from. We responded that we were from the village of Holoskovytza, into which the Russians penetrated and burnt my house and farm. I told him that we had relatives in the Czech village of Zabolottze and added that we intend to celebrate the coming Easter with them. The farmer offered to host us for the night and we immediately agreed. My wife did not talk, only held her hand on her mouth as a sign for her severe aching. As my hair grew wild, the farmer offered me to cut my hair, as it was customary among the peasants to cut each other's hair. I agreed for him to cut my beard but not my mustache, which I wore to camouflage my look as a peasant. I hoped that none of my acquaintances from the before the war would recognize me with my mustache. When we arrived near the Czech village (called by that name after the Czech farmers who settled there during the days of Maria Theresa and Josef the 2nd, and were assimilated among the Ukrainians). We did not want to enter the village during the day and set down to rest on the side of the road. All of a sudden, we saw two horse riders. When they approached, we realized that they were German soldiers (field gendarmes). Their badges consisted of a silvery moon– shaped badge hanged via a metal chain. When they passed, they saw us sitting down, but did not show any interest in us. However, after they passed by us, one of them turned his head back toward us. I told my wife that if they would come back to inquire, it would be the end of us, because they had automatic rifles. I knew I could not defend myself, particularly when my wife was there as well. Luckily, they continued on their way, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

We decided to enter the village in the evening, but feared the return of the gendarmes, perhaps we would encounter them again and they would ask us who we are. Besides, a German soldier was standing guard at the entrance to the Czech village. He held a rifle on his shoulder and stood by a specially built guard booth. I asked my wife to walk in front of me without stopping. I did not wait for the guard to stop me but approached him first and asked him, in broken German imitating the talk of the local Ukrainians, for a cigarette. He gave me a few cigarettes and said: “Gai veiter, du Schwein” meaning “continue ahead, you pig”. This was how they nicknamed the Ukrainians. That was how my wife and I entered the Czech village. I realized that it was too early to enter a Christian home, especially on a Sunday. We passed through the village and arrived at another small village called Chishky. We felt more comfortable there. I asked one peasant, wether we may be able to stay there at night and he advised me to see the Soltis, or the village chief (The Jews used to call him judge). At first, we really did not want to take his advice. We knew that the Soltis maintained contact with the Germans, who actually nominated all the Soltises during their conquest. The previous ones, who served under the Russians, were usually gotten rid of by the local population. However, we did go to the Soltis on the account that I pretended to be a Ukrainian and hoped that my Ukrainian would not give me in. I left my wife in the yard, went in and found the Soltis at home and told him the same story

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I used before. I told him that we were running away from the Russians, who burnt my house and my property and added that we do not have a roof above our heads. I reminded the Soltis that we were entitled to receive sleeping arrangements for several days as refugees. He agreed with me, however he claimed that, according to the law he must see our identification papers. I told him that that would be impossible because all of our papers were destroyed in the same fire. He insisted that would be not be possible for him to help us because he claimed that all sorts of Poles, and even Jews were wandering around asking to be sheltered. He claimed that there were still many of them around despite the fact that they have been prosecuted during the entire duration of the war. He claimed that he must report any Jew he encountered with to the German headquarters. He claimed that it does not mean that we could not find arrangement for sleeping in the village, but he himself did not have the authority to help anybody who does not have papers. He suggested that we contact the German headquarters, which was near his house, and they would be able, after an investigation, to order one of the peasants to let us sleep at this house. I thanked him for the advice and told him that I would do that immediately. We went out of his house to try our luck, obviously not in the German headquarters. At the edge of the village, we went into a farmer's yard. It was already getting dark when we entered the house. At the house, we found a Christian woman, about sixty years old, whom we told the same story. She took a pity on us and asked us to sit down and she served us some food. She said that her daughter and son–in–law were visiting with neighbors and should come back soon. She said she was convinced that they would certainly not banish us and would accept her offer to allow poor people to stay with them. We asked if we could sleep in the barn, as the cold was not that harsh and that we were very tired from the road. I told her that our underwear's were already filthy, so that we would not be able to sleep on clean beds. My reason for that was of course different. I always tried to avoid sleeping in an enclosed room and preferred to sleep outside, for security reason and to keep an eye on any visiting Germans.

The old woman obliged and got us to the barn, we laid down, but before we fell asleep, I heard somebody opening the barn and calling: “Diadku, Diadku” (Uncle, uncle). This was how the locals called a stranger (same as in Yiddish, Fetter). I responded that we have already eaten, while holding the pistol in my pocket, as I did not who was calling. He identified himself and insisted that his mother–in–law told him that we had hardly had anything to eat, and therefore he prepared dinner for us. I thanked him and tried to tell him that whatever we had was enough, but he did not give up. I asked his permission to eat in the barn because my wife did not feel very well. I went with him and he gave me a bowl full of dumplings, which was considered one of the best meals, and some other food. I brought it over to the barn and we ate some of it. We left the rest for the morning. We stayed with them for two days when we decided to return to Holoskovytza, where I knew almost every farmer and every corner.

As we went on our way, we saw, from a distance, horse riding German guards passing by and had to hide repeatedly to avoid being detected. We arrived again at Vysotzky, and stopped by the farmer who hosted us previously for a few days. It was Easter evening, and he was surprised to see us as we told him that we were travelling to an aunt for Easter. We told him that we did not find the aunt at home, because she left for the holiday, to stay with her children who resided in Krasna[6] near Lvov. We had therefore to return. He gave us some provisions for the road and some of the baked goods that his wife made for the holiday. At the edge of the village, we entered another villager's house, and again told him about the fire etc... He offered us to stay with him for the night and we accepted the offer. As we realized that this was a very poor farmer, we gave him the baked food that we got

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and he enjoyed them tremendously. He told us that the Germans took, among other things, the crops that he harvested from his fields, and he and his family were always hungry. He was not able to feed us but agreed to host us at his house. We stayed only two days with him, because sleeping arrangements without a little bit of food, imposed hardship on us, especially in a village where we did not have any acquaintances and where it would have been difficult to get food by other means.

We arrived back at Holoskovytza when it was still daylight. I found a haystack in the field, which I really did not know why it was left there. Perhaps, the owner was no longer alive. We rested inside the haystack only for a short while, as walking later at night was restricted because of the state of war. We entered the village where an army headquarters was newly established, and as we were told that, it was located in the house of the priest, Penchinski. The name sounded Polish, but the priest was a Ukrainian and an infamous Jew hater. He preached on their Sabbaths from the church pulpit, even before the war, that the Jews were communists and that they murdered the Christians' god. We not only had to pass near the priest's house where the army headquarters was staged, but all the villagers knew me. My luck was that my mustache was a good camouflage, as were my mixed clothing, and my fur bonnet with its brown hair pointing outside. Even my mother, who gave birth to me, would not have recognized me. We decided that my wife would bend down as if she was tying her shoelaces if I happened to greet one of the farmers whom I knew with the words – “Slava Bohu!” (Glory to God!) and by taking off my bonnet allowing me to hide my face. We did that until we arrived at a pre–agreed place. It worked as we planned. We entered the village and I saw a cart moving toward us, carrying a villager who was nationalist and a known Jews hater. I greeted him as we agreed and he did not even turn his head and continued on his way. We made our way on the side of the backyard gardens bypassing the main road, until we arrived at the house of a Christian woman whom I knew belonged to an evangelistic denomination. I decided to tell her who I am and ask her for help. She told me that she does not live in her own house anymore, and I should better contact her cousin whom we do not need to fear. I knew where his house was. It was destroyed during the recent shooting exchange between the Germans and the Red Army. However, the barn was still standing. It contained a cellar full of straw and hay. I understood that we would be able to hide there peacefully. We went in and indeed found the cellar. We prepared a hard surface and lay down to sleep. The cellar was covered with two wooden planks, which preserved the heat. Food was something else, as it was not possible to get out at night. The Germans stood guard everywhere because the front was advancing closer and closer. We moved to Harycz's hay attic for two nights. He himself was not sleeping in his own house. I remembered about the evangelist women at the edge of the village and went to her house, one evening. When she saw me, she asked me what our needs are. I asked her if we could stay with her for several days. She responded that she was willing to share the best of the best of food with us. However, she could not allow us to sleep or stay by her because she lived at the edge of the village and the Banderoviches were visiting her often. She said that they would kill us all if they saw us. I thought that her reasoning was logical and I thanked her. She even offered me to let her know where I am staying, and she would bring me the food there. I told her that I did not stay more than two days in one location and do not usually make orders for food. I told her that I would manage my food supply myself.

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We left and went back to where we came from. During the night, I heard several gunshots and then quiet returned. I really did not understand the meaning of the gunshots at the time. However, Harycz came to me in the morning and asked whether I heard what happened with Henke Khileve (this was the name of the Christian woman I asked the night before to sleep by her). He told me that she hosted several Jewish families in her house, since the extermination of the ghetto, among them, Dr. Preminger's family, the Lishner family, and several other families whom I did not know. She took all of their property, and when she realized that the war was not ending, she reported them to one of the Ukrainian gangs and its people murdered them all. When I told him that I visited her just the night before, he held his head with amazement and told me: “You need to be very careful not to lose your life by such twisted acts”. He reminded me and added that not all people were named Harycz.

We knew that two other Jews were hiding in the village, the cousin of my wife, Benyamin Margrovitz, and his son. On those summer evenings, I walked around in the fields, my pistol in my hand – this was what I was instructed by Harycz to do. He would say: “Be ready with your finger on the trigger. If anybody asked you who you were, you should shoot him immediately and you would be the winner. If they would find the body later, they would be convinced that the Germans killed him. If you would allow a Ukrainian to approach you, you would be the looser”. When I was walking in the rye and wheat field, I saw a person leaving the trail and going down into the wheat field. I saw that this was not a figure of an adult, but of a youth, and I thought that he might have been Jewish. I started to talk in Ukrainian, and the boy stood up. I asked him if he was Benyamin's son and he acknowledged, all shook–up with fear: “Yes” he said. “I am Benyamin's son, Michael”. The boy must have been about ten or eleven years old. I calmed him down and asked him to bring me to his father. He brought me to his father who was lying down in the rye field nearby. The father asked me to find him some food. I went back and called Harycz and together we went to a farmer's orchard that was bursting with apples and pears. However, when we arrived, we found the farmer. We told him to lay down with his face toward the ground. In order not to offend him too much, Harycz climbed on a tree in the orchard of the farmer's neighbor. He put most of the fruits in a sack and we left the place. However, Harycz insisted that he had another sack. He suggested to leave the filled–up sack where we were and go back to fill the second one. He told me to take one sack for myself and one sack for Margrovitz. By the time we came back, the farmer woke his neighbor up and they stood there together in their white outfits. We did not want to fight with them, two on two, just for a few apples. However when we stood up, they thought that we were part of a gang of robbers and they started to run towards us. We allowed them to approach up to about ten meters from us. I saw that they do not intend to stop and shot above their heads. We then took the sack of apples and brought them to the Magrovitzs. We ordered them to run in the opposite direction from the one we came from. I went to my wife and Harycz went to his friend. My frightened wife asked me what happened and I told her that I really did not know. She told me that she thought that somebody was shooting at me. When things calmed down the next day, I told her the real story. Harycz told her that the villagers claimed that real robbers, apple thieves, robbed them and that they were idiots to run after them as they almost lost their own life for just a few apples. Since that day, I used to meet the Margarovizs, often, and help them as much as I could.

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We went back to the barn in which we stayed most of the time, as we were afraid to stay by Harycz's . One morning, a truck with two Germans entered the barn. They started to fix the broken truck. The tires had no air in them, and other parts were broken. They worked on the truck almost the entire day. We could not move, or even cough. We were afraid that someone would step on the plank that served as the cellar's cover. The Germans left with the truck in the evening, but came back the next day. This time they did not work for long. The night finally arrived and we heard gunshots more intense than we ever heard during the entire length of the war. We also saw streaks of rounds on the horizon, but did not know what kind of a machine gun created such streaks. During the following day, we heard that these were rounds of katyusha. The shells also hit Holoskovytza and the village of Boratyn (about three kilometers away) and burned rows of houses. We also heard some shots and hand grenades, and realized that the fighting was in the village itself. We were very surprised and frightened when we heard a rustling sound above us and saw that somebody was lifting the cover of the cellar. We saw a soldier with the uniform of the Red Army (wearing the sickle and the hammer badge) sticking his head through the opening. He asked who we were and we responded that we were Jews. He stroked out head and stated the village has been conquered. I did notice some nervousness in his voice and asked him about the size of the conquering force that entered the village. He said that the force included a military battalion and two tanks. I understood that this might not be sufficient and asked him to leave us where we were and not tell the villagers, as our life would not be safe if they would find about our stay in the village. He went and camouflaged the cellar cover like it was before. A few minutes later, he came back and brought us smoking tobacco and bread, and promised to come back in the evening.

At eleven o'clock in the morning, we heard the rumpling of gunshots, shouts and explosions. We even heard the Red soldier, who saw us two hours ago, yelling: “Fani, ya vash”, meaning, “Sirs, I am yours”, which meant that he was surrendering to the Germans. However, they shot and killed him. Perhaps he attempted to escape to our hideout and did not have the time to do so. He died about two hundred meters from our hideout. Later on, we heard that a Red Army company with two tanks, with that soldier among them penetrated the village. However, Brody city itself was not taken. The Russians intended to bypass the city and first conquest all the villages surrounding it. However, the Germans reinforced their forces and took back the village of Holoskovytza. In the ensuing battle, almost the entire Red Army company of soldiers was killed. Only a few survived in the nearby village of Ponykovytsya and managed to escape through the forests and join their headquarters, which was located just a few kilometers east of Brody.

The following night, The Red soldiers came back and attacked the village where we stayed. The Russians shot katyushas onto our village of Holoskovytza from the village of Vlakhy,[6] which was located thirteen kilometers away. We listened to the shootings until we fell asleep. We only left a small crack in the cover above the cellar to allow for some air, and to know what part of the day it was. During the night, I saw light and thought that it was already morning. However, when I lifted the cover, I realized that the whole barn was burning and it was about to collapse. I yelled at my wife to get out, and we jumped into the yard. We entered the house, which was already in ruins and thought about staying in it for a while to allow us the time to think what do. I saw a bucket and thought it contained water we could drink. However, it was full of old peals of potatoes instead.

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A truck was burning in the yard with bullets bursting out it. We left the yard immediately for the fear that cannon shells could hit us. While we were walking in the village in the dark, we entered the yard of a farmer I knew. A German soldier stood there holding a rifle. He hinted to us to be quiet. He probably thought that we were local villagers. He pointed at the house and ordered us to get in. The house was empty. I was not sure what he hinted to be quiet about, but I guessed that the Red Army soldiers were already in the village fighting the Germans. This turned out to be true.

The night approached and we had to think about a place to hide. At night, it was difficult to recognize two poor Jews walking around amid so many Ukrainians. It was not the case during the day. The Ukrainians were eager to get rid of any Jews among them, when they realized that the Russian were getting closer and closer. Remaining Jews among them could testify against them and verify the stories about their numerous gruesome crimes. However, we did not know what direction we should go and decided to go in the direction where I knew some farmers. That was a mistake. If we would have gone the other way, we might have broken ourselves a path through the front to the Red Army line, but since we went the other way, we encountered a German guard and heard him call: “Wer ist?” (Who is it?). I responded: “Tzivil” (A civilian), and we were allowed to continue in our way. Dawn was nearing. I entered the farm of another acquaintance from before the war, a person by the name of Dimitriu Savitzki, without knowing, what would be his response. When he arrived a few minutes later, I whispered his name and asked his permission to hide in his farm until the shooting stops. He agreed, but told me to block the door, because Banderoviches were staying by him, hiding from the cannon shells. If they would see me, they would kill me. We did what he suggested as the dawn was already breaking. We blocked the door with a rod that he fetched and settled in the corner of the stable. Around ten o'clock in the morning, we heard knocking on the wall. We did not open. We heard somebody opening the door to the adjacent stable. There was just a person–tall partition between the two stables. We saw two figures dressed with officer ranked German uniforms on the other side of the partition. They were actually Vlasoviches . When they saw me, they gave me an order in Russian: “Otkroy” (Open). I opened the partition and they said to me, again in Russian: “Davai loshadi” (give us the horses). I responded: “Biri” (take). At that moment, Savitzki arrived. When he saw me standing with these two soldiers he panicked, not so much because of the horses, but because of us. He knew that if they find out, who we were, they would not only kill us but him too. However, to calm things down, I told him in Ukrainian (and I used a low voice): “These officers just want to take the horses”. He breathed a sigh of relief, however, he tried to convince them not to take his horses. They responded that they must have the horses, however, if he wanted, he could go with them, and they would give him two of their exhausted horses, which was the reason they had to replace them. Dimitriu understood that this would be better option than not having anything and he went with them. A short while later, he came back home with two other horses.

That brought new troubles. We blocked again the stable door and sat down, cuddled in the corner without asking Dimitriu's permission. The neighbors began to enter the stable to check on the type of horses the Germans gave Savitzki. When they saw us, we covered ourselves above our heads and pretended to sleep. They asked Dimitriu who he was sheltering in his stable. We heard him responding that we were poor people, residents of the neighboring village, whose house was burnt from all the shooting.

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He said that his family were good Christians and that they could not refuse to such a request. He repeated this response for the difficult questions neighbors kept asking him, until the night fell. At night, he brought us something to eat and told me: “Khayim, you would need to vacate the place. My brother is an enthusiastic Banderovich. He would kill you if he found you. There was no doubt that the Germans would do the same”. He was right, of course. I promised him to leave his farm at night. At nine o'clock at night, we left his farm to look for another hideout. We went to Savitzki's sister, whom I also knew. She welcomed us warmly but said that she was willing to feed us, but not to host us for the night. “Khayim”, she said, “I have children. They would kill us all because of you”. We had to continue to wander around grudgingly. In the meantime, a rumor was spreading among the villagers in Holoskovytza that my wife and I were burnt alive. The owner of the barn, Krawczuk spread the rumor. He saw his barn being burnt to the ground, when he left his farm, and he knew that we were hiding in it. This rumor spread among the people who knew us, and among people who were looking for us to kill us. As we found out later, that rumor actually acted in our favor, as people were not preoccupied with our fate after that.

When I realized that there was nobody else who would dare the hide us, I decided to go again to an elderly and God–fearing Christian woman, whose name was Palaishka, who lived alone. I wanted to get into her cowshed without her knowledge and hide there. We passed through several alleys, and arrived at her small yard in no time. I went to the cowshed and wanted to open its wooden door. However, I found it locked and thought that the old woman slept there. I pushed the door forcibly, took it off its hinges and fell, full length, down o the cowshed floor. When I stood up and returned the door onto its hinges, I heard somebody whispering. I approached and asked who was there. Mishka Margovitz , the son of my mother's cousin, whom I brought the apples to, responded. We were happy to see him. He was happy too, although he was very frightened initially. He stated that the old woman, Palaishka, was hosting and sustaining him. He also told me that when I moved from one side of the village to another, while we were staying with Stavtzki, the Russians conquered the quarter, he climbed over a truck left by the Germans and took several military blankets, shoes and other items and gave some of them to the old woman. However, when the Germans attacked again, Mishka abandoned the truck and instead of running away with the Russians, he stayed in the German controlled area. I asked him why he did that, and he responded that the Russians would return soon. The Russians indeed had eventually returned, however we met death, face–to–face, several times before they came. I asked Mishka about his father, Benyamin. He told me that a farmer once promised them a chicken so they went to the other side of the village to get it. They did that despite my warning to them not to do so, because the area was infested with the Banderoviches. The area was located near a small stream, which flowed through a meadow where the animals used to graze. The Banderoviches have been using the area to meet and communicate with other villages, and they held their underground meetings there. When the father and son where already on their way back from the farmer, holding the chicken in a sack, Mishka went ahead and his father followed him. They encountered several Banderoviches coming across from them. They passed the little boy and did not stop him because they thought that he was a small gentile boy. However, when they saw his father, with a sack on his back, they stopped him and started to talk to him. Based on his accent they understood that he was Jewish and that the boy walking ahead of him was Jewish as well. They went and brought the boy back and arrested both of them. They ordered them to sit down on the ground, with their face down, and with one leg

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attached to the other so that they could not talk to each other. They walked around with their pistols in their hands and one of them went to their commander to ask him what to do with the two. The messenger came back quickly holding two hoes in his hand and ordered them both to stand to walk, Mishka first, followed by his father. When they came to a small stream, they had to cross it over a plank. Mishka crossed the stream first. As soon as we was on the other side of the stream, he started to run away with all his might, through the grazing meadow. One murderer ran after him and managed to hold on to his coat. However, Mishka managed to jump into the stream. The Ukrainian murderer shot after him, but the boy stayed in the water without moving. His hand was only slightly hit by a round. The murderer thought that the boy was killed and did not want to get into the water to check. The boy heard his father's shouts when they killed him by hitting his head with a hoe. When the calm returned around him, he went back to the village and went into the house of a young Christian, by the name of Michael Yetzishin. The young Christian changed his clothes and hid him behind the stove. The elderly woman came in after two days and she put him in her cowshed, where all three of us got together. The elderly woman was very fond of the boy, because she had a goat that only ate from a Mishka's hand.

Mishka feared that if the elderly woman would see my wife and me, she would refuse to host any of us. As the size of the cellar was no more than 1 meter by 1.2 meter, we decided to sit down there only during the days and enter the cowshed at night. As far as food was concerned, we managed by me going out on my own to find it. I received food from some Christians, and my wife visited other Christian acquaintances. Mishka continued to receive food from the old woman. We spent several weeks that way.

A couple of Catholic Greeks, also adopted by the old woman, were staying in her yard. We were acquaintances from before the war and they saw us. The man was about forty–five years old and his wife was younger than him. The wife kept telling the old woman that Jews were wandering around in her yard and that it was not a healthy situation. I did not have any other choice but discuss this with them. I decided to pay them a visit in the evening. I wanted to ask them what damage we were causing them by us putting down our poor heads at night when all other doors had been shut off for us. I wanted to tell them that the situation would be worsening as the day of liberation was approaching. Movement of citizens would become more difficult. If that would be the case for citizens who were gentiles, it would be more so for us. Although Mishka advised me not to see the Greek farmer, whose name was Vasil Pozir, because he was known to be a very difficult man. Despite Harycz's advice I put the pistol in my pocket and went to see the Greek farmer at eight o'clock that evening. I greeted him with the greeting – “Dobri vecher” (“good evening”), as he was my acquaintance from before the war. I thanked him for inviting me in and asked him whether I caused him any harm to him or his wife. He responded fearfully that he does not know from anything. I told him to make sure that it stayed that way. I told him that I do not want them to mention us to the old woman. I reminded him that we did not have much to lose. However, he did. He had kids and owned a farm and some wheat fields. All of these could easily go up in flames overnight. When he heard me saying these things he started to tremble as if he was struck by high fever. He asked me if we needed anything, and I answered that we really did not need anything. I told him that we have everything we need, and we were part of a huge network of partisans with tremendous power. The only thing we need was for people not to talk about us. His wife asked to be excused and I told her to wait until after I left and to enforce it, I held my hand in my pocket. She understood the hint and obeyed. I greeted them a friendly good night and left their room. Mishka and my wife waited for me impatiently, because they feared that the farmer would hurt me. When I told them that everything was fine, they calmed down.

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The situation worsened day by day. It was difficult to get out, because the movement of citizens after six o'clock in the evening was forbidden according to the war regulations. Horses and German tanks were stationed in every yard. Field kitchens were established in the yards to prepare food for the front line. The Red Army was positioned east of Brody, in the sundew fields. Every travel and movement was made difficult by the German guards. There was no choice but to wait. Mishka decided to tell the elderly woman that we were also staying with her, and that she would need to feed us as well. She agreed, particularly after we explained to her that the arrival of the Russians was imminent. However, the danger was still real. Germans and their horses were stationed in the other part of the cowshed. We saw them through the cracks in the wall planks. At times, when I saw that they were away, and only the horses were there, I crossed the partition and took some of the bread loafs they used to feed the horses with. These were square loafs, sometimes nice and fresh to eat, and sometimes moldy. Four horses were housed behind the wall. Among the Germans, wearing German uniforms was a Russian–speaking soldier. I heard him saying once, that the time for the end of the war had come. He continued to say that it the end would be the defeat of Hitler and his gangs. I understood that he was not really one of the Vlasov people, but rather a war prisoner who signed a declaration that he would be willing to serve in the German army. I understood from his talk that he was not loyal to the Germans and I decided to reveal myself, because we were close to death from hunger, with no salvation in sight. Mishka and my wife objected and claimed that he may report us to the Germans. However, I acted the same way I always did, I took a chance. One morning, I told Mishka and my wife to hide in the cellar and I went up by myself to the hay attic above the cowshed where I could view the cowshed and the German horses. Vanya, the Russian, was there by himself. I greeted him in Russian and asked him unexpectedly, who he was. In the beginning, I did not want to tell him that I am a Jew. I just told him that I am hiding from the Germans. I told him that he looks like an honest man and I was therefore asking him for help. He asked me what kind of help I needed. I told him that I only need one thing – food. He promised to bring me some food right away. He told me not to reveal myself to any other Russian speaking soldiers because nighty–nine percent of them where Vlasoviches. He told me that he happened not to be one, and I just found him by chance. The Russian went out and I returned to the hideout in the cellar. I told Mishka and my wife about the conversation with that soldier. They questioned me as to whether he may have gone out to call the Germans to kill me. I was certain that Vanya would not do that. Only a few minutes passed when we heard knocks on the wooden planks from the other side of the wall. I jumped out and he gave me a pale full of water and several loaves of bread, as well as some chocolate and German cigarettes. I wanted to hug and kiss him. At that point, I told him that we were Jewish, but I did not see any change in his face. He promised to help us as much as he could, and we did not suffer from hunger since then. He visited us every evening and spent hours with us. He told us that he was a Saratov native, and that he was captured as prisoner of war. The conditions in the prisoners' camp were so horrible that many prisoners died from hunger and their guards killed some more. As the Germans had already retreated and continued in their retreat, German officers came to them with an offer. Anybody who was willing to fight against the Red Army would be getting the same pay and rights of other German soldiers, and that they would not lack anything. Many prisoners, including Vanya himself, agreed

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to join the German army. Their job was to provide supplies to the front lines. He would go out every day for several hours, with two horses harnessed to a cart, bring the supplies and came back to the village. He would then clean the horses and feed them and was generally content with his situation. He told us that we just have to wait a short while longer for the Russians to liberate us.

One day, Vanya stopped by to say goodbye. He told us to hide well as the Germans were retreating, and the Russians were expected to arrive, perhaps on the same day. We asked him why he would not stay with us to wait for the Russians and he responded that the Russians considered him a traitor. He feared that he would be would be sentenced to death after his case would be investigated and found to have served in the German army. He thought that it would be easier for him, after the war, the escape the entanglement he was in if he would go with the Germans. He said a hearty goodbye.

The whole day after that was quiet. No movement of any army could be seen or heard. However, the tumult returned in the evening, along with Vanya and his horses. He came to let us know, that the Germans succeeded in pushing the Russians back a few tens of kilometers, and they returned to their previous positions. Vanya was transporting supplies to the front lines again. The front was located near Brody. According to his information, the front line starched from the villages of Olvaki[6], Lypky[6], Vlakhy[6], Shchurovitza[6], Boratyn[6], Ponykva[6] and Sukhodoly[6], all of which were villages located between ten to fifteen kilometers away from Holoskovytza where we were hiding.

A short while later, Vanya came back to say goodbye. He said: “Bivaite zdaravai, mi odstogaim!” (meaning “Be healthy, we are leaving!”). The Russians initiated a major counterattack. Based on what he heard, they were not going to stop until they reach Berlin. Indeed, after the Germans left the village, we heard loud blasts of cannons, mortars and katyushas. Silence descended around one o'clock in the afternoon. We peeked through the cracks between the wooden planks and saw a group of about three hundreds disoriented Germans, walking slowly aimlessly, with their head down. They walked back and forth until they disappeared. Dead silence followed. Around three o'clock in the afternoon, we saw four Russian telephone experts, stretching telephone wires. I ran towards them and asked them whether the city of Brody has been conquered. One of them told me that it was, the night before.

I immediately called my wife and Mishka Margovitz. We said goodbye to the elderly woman and started to walk toward the city through the fields. The Russian soldiers, who passed us, yelled at us not to go through the fields because they might be mined. They said that we could step on a mine and get ourselves killed. They suggested that we had better walk on trails that passed through the fields, which somebody had already stepped on. We took the advice and walked on trails from Holoskovytza to Hlushin[6]. From there, there was a better road – an actual paved road leading to Brody, Zolochov[6] and Lvov. While we were on that road, the Germans began a new counterattack from their position in Zvelotcha[6]. Bombs rained down like a torrent. We, as well as the Russian soldiers, had to hide in ditches, which were abundant in the fields, during the entire length of the war. When we finally arrived to the Brody–Lvov[6] main road, the danger subsided. The road was packed with Russian soldiers. Some officers stopped and asked us why we were so pale and looking like walking dead. We told them that we were Jews. They advised us to stop by the headquarters in Brody and they would take care of us. When we entered the city, we could still not believe that we were finally liberated. The Russians fed us at the headquarters and then the N.K.V.D[5] interrogated us for several hours. They asked where we hid, and what happened to us during the German conquest.

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At the end of the day, they told us to return to the headquarters the next day. We worked there for several days. Tens of German war prisoners, as well as Russians in German uniforms were jailed there. Several days later, we were told that we were free to go and could start looking for an apartment.

We stayed in Brody for another year and a half. From Brody we moved to Poland, Germany and from there to Eretz Israel. This was a long but safe road. This was the fulfillment of a dream.

May these memories serve as a memorial to the Jews of Brody and their fate during the years 1941–1944. As all other Jews, they stretched their hands, during the villain murderous regime, asking for help from the world and they did not get it. They fell by the evil killers. Some tried to help themselves, as did the partisans. May our memories serve as a proof to the power of life and the love of life, which burnt in these victims until their last breath was choked. Because of them, we won the right to build a home in our homeland – the State of Israel.

Tzfat (Safed), 12 April, 1966.


Translator's Notes

  1. The General Government, sometimes also called General was a territory in Poland (which included what is now Western Ukraine) carved out by the Nazis after they invaded, Poland. According to the agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Occupied Poland was split into three zones: the General Government in its center, Polish land annexed by the Nazis and Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. Return
  2. The Third of May is a Polish National holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Constitution of May 3rd 1791, declaring Poland as a Constitutional Monarchy. Despite the fact that the constitution the official law of the land only for one year (until the Russian–Polish war of 1792), historians consider the Polish 1791 constitution as an important milestone in history of the Polish nation and of the world. Return
  3. Yom Kippur – The Jewish Day of Atonement. Return
  4. A declaration recited (written and read in Aramaic) before the services on the evening of Yom Kippur. The name of the declaration comes from its opening words – Kol Nidrei (“All my vows”). It states that all vows one undertakes on his own volition (not to others) are annulled, relinquished and abandoned. Return
  5. N.K.V.D. – In Russian – Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del – People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs. The Soviet Union's ministry level law enforcement agency (predecessor of the KGB), which was responsible for the execution of the will of the ruling Communist Party. While it contains a regular police force of the Soviet Union, it was notorious for its activities in the Gulags, including mass execution, forced labors, mass deportations of entire nations and ethnic groups and other atrocities. Return
  6. Current names and coordinates for villages and towns mentioned in the article:
    Boldury–possibly Bovdury 50°11' N 25°05' E
    Boratyn–49.995 N, 25.175 E
    Gaya Satrobrodskaya – Hai, 50°02' N 25°12' E
    Holoskovytza, Holoskovychi, 50.02 N, 25.08 E
    Hochiska Brodska, Gutsisko–Brodzke, 49°57' N 25°11' E (found using the JewishGen.org Gazetteer radius search)
    Hlushyn–50.033 N, 25.114 E
    Kosachyzna, Kosarshchyna, 50.05 N, 25.09 E
    Krasna, Krasne, 50°32' N 25°21' E
    Lvov, Lviv, 49°50' N 24°00' E
    Leshniov, Leshniv, 50°14' N 25°05' E
    Lypky?
    Radzikhov, Radekhiv, 50°17' N 24°39' E
    Olvaky?
    Ponykovitza, Ponykovytsya, 50.053 N, 25.049 E
    Ponykva–49.980 N, 25.133 E
    Shchurovitza, Shchurovichi, 50°16' N 25°02' E
    Smolno, Smilne–50.08 N, 25.11 E
    Sukhodoly–50.006 N, 25.108 E
    Vlakhy?
    Vyshnivchyk – 49°14' N 25°22' E
    Vysotzky, Vysots'ko, 50.032 N, 25.031 E
    Vyrov–a village by that name is relatively far from Boldury
    Zabolottze, Zabolottzi, 50.04 N, 24.98 E
    Zolochov, Zolochiv 49.82 N, 24.90 E Return

 

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