David Shinuk Story
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
I am called David Shinuk, and I live in Rishon Lezion, Israel. I was born in Dolhinov in 1925.
My father was Yosef Shinuk from Vilna. During World War I, Yosef was a fortune soldier, he fought as an officer for the Austrian army and in 1917 was captured by the Russian. He was able to escape the prison camp and hide in the Muschcart house in Dolhinov.
Yosef promised that he would marry one of their three daughters for their kind help. Shortly after he arrived he married their daughter; Rosa Ester (Rachel?) and had four children Yidel was born in 1920, I was born in 1925, Shmuel (Shmulik) in 1928 and Yakov (Yankale) in 1932. The two other muschcart sisters moved away; Chaya Sora moved to the U.S (has family in Florida) and Bizka moved to a small place next to Globoki ((Zafka?).
During the Polish times (1921- 1939) Yosef Shinuk owned a very popular coffee house. Yosef was a tall, very good-looking man who spoke perfect Polish (Per Chaya nee Katzovitz Barzam whose mother Chana was first cousin of his wife Rosa — Ester). All the Polish political leaders and official would come to the coffee house and many befriended him, he was also very capable of kicking the drunks out the stairs.
In 1939 when the Russian and the Germans divided Poland and Dolhinow was to given to Russia, the Polish officials escaped and they made Yosef Shinuk the head of the police just before they left. Yosef gathered some young people; amongst them his oldest son Eidel and Enshel Exelrod and took tools and weapons from the fire department to defend the area from the villagers who wanted to rob the townspeople since the area was without rulers for a few days. When the Russians arrived they kept him in the job. After a short time they sent him for training and he received the rank of a Major and became the second-in-command for the Police for the entire district. Yosef moved away with the family to near by Krivichi for the job.
Chaya nee Katzovitz remembered that one-day Yosefs' wife came to her mother and told her that Yosef is about to leave his job. The mother was wandering why should he leave such an important job at a time when jobs and money are so difficult to come by?
Rosa Shinuk said; They want him to make a list of the well to do polish people to be sent to Siberia and he befriended them and made money from them for many years and he does not want to do it!
Yosef was able to get another job as the head of the bakery and the main food supplier in Krivichi.
In June of 1941 the Germans attacked the Soviet Union and all the official workers for the Soviets received an order to leave the area and also to send their families deep in to Russia.
My mother refused to go with the family to Russia thinking that they (the Germans) would only harm Communists and not women and children. She arranged a meeting with her cousin Shimon Gitlitz, and he arrived with a horse and carriage to Krivichi to transfer the family back to Dolhinov.
Yosef left with the Red Army and arrived to Globoky- Zavka area and decided that he could not go across the border without his family. He decided to return to Dolhinov. Since he knew that all who worked for the Soviets were now in danger, he grew a beard, wore a black beret and glasses and made himself a fake I. D as a political prisoner who is returning from the Soviet Union. He arrived by the river near Dolhinov and found that the Germans were patrolling the bridge. He had no choice but to cross in the water. He arrived all wet in the house of the Norman family. The Normans were afraid to keep him (It was punishable by death to help escaped Communists)
Members of the Norman family ran to the our home and told them about Yosefs' arrival.
Once again Shimon Gitlitz came to the rescue and took Yosef to his house were he hid for a few weeks.
Eidel, my oldest brother, was arrested by the Germans in July with a dozen other Jews but was able to escape when some Russian tanks came to the area and the Germans ran away.
Yosef knew that he could not stay in Dolhinow. He first made an unsuccessful attempt to get to Vilejka. Later on the same day he left for Kurenitz with Leibe Flant, who was also in danger.
Yosef and Leibe Flant were living in Kurenitz for a few months when someone recognized them and filed a complaint with Maslovski, a Dolhinov policeman who was working for the Germans. The collaborator reported that Y. Shinuk was walking Freely in Kurenitz.
Masolvski who was in friendly relation with some of the Jews and the Russian partisans went to Shimon Gitlitz and said to let Y. Shinuk know that he must escape from Kurenitz at once.
Jews were not allowed to leave their hometowns. If found on the roads they would be immediately killed. Rosa Shinyuk dressed like a local Belarus farmer and walked 35 kilometers to Kurenitz to warn her husband. As soon as she arrived there to warn them, Yosef Shinuk and Libel Flant went to Soly. Rosa then returned to Dolhinov.
Yosef Shinuk became the head of the Jewish professional ghetto in Soly. Flant eventually left the Ghetto but Yosef Shinuk was there until the bitter end.
Life was difficult for the family. The local Belarussian and Polish population complained to the Germans about the Shinuk family being Communist. Also the family left most of their possessions in Krivichi. Now they were practically starving.
Eidel was sent to Vileyka, He studied engineering in the Vilna Technion before the war. He was transferred to Vileyka to build a mansion for the German rulers. I was left as the only person who could support the family. I worked for the local farmers, cleaning and cutting trees in exchange for food.
The first massacre in Dolhinov took place in 3.28.1942. Many of the Jews hid. The Germans took the Jews that they captured to the market in Dolhinov. When they arrived in the market the Germans made a selection. Most of the Jews were taken to be killed.
A few of the Jews who could be useful were spared; I pretended to be my older brother and signed myself as a professional engineer.
The local non-Jews who came to watch the killings kept telling the Germans that I was the son of a communist officer but they could not speak German and the Germans did not understand them. The Germans took me with the professional people. The rest of the Jews who were captured that day were taken across the river and shot and burned.
My mother and my younger siblings were hiding and were not found out.
After the first actzia the family was moved to the Ghetto. Eidel returned from Vileyka as his job was done. Shortly after he escaped Dolhinov and joined the Russian partisans. During the time of the Communist control, Eidel had worked with Timczok in the Sobkhos and now that Timczok was the leader of a partisan brigade he took Eidel and Avraham Friedman as well as other young Jews from Dolhinov who escaped to be members of his fighting partisans troop.
Eidel was used as a link between the partisans of the Mastitel Brigade and a policeman from Dolhinov, Maslovsky, who was working for them undercover.
One night Eidel came to Dolhinov to get some boots for the partisans. It was the day the Germans had the second actzia in Dolhinov. Months before Eidel and Yitzhak Norman build a hiding place in the house of the Gurevitz family were the family now lived since they had to move to the ghetto. Rosa, the children and the Eisenberg family hid there and they were not found out.
Eidel and I made an attempt to escape from the ghetto but could not find a way out.
I hid with some Jewish refugees from Plashentzitz and begged them to let my brother in the hiding place but they refused saying that there was no air in the place for one more..(It was true--I left the hiding place after a short time)
Eidel hid under a pile of cut wood and was found by some locals and was killed on the spot. I found his hat and his head all splattered when I came out of hiding three days later; his body was not there. He was buried in the common grave.
Once again the Germans promised that there would be no more killings. I did not trust them and a week later I escaped with two young guys from Plashentzitz . Before I escaped, my mother prepared a package for me to take on the road. Three days we walked in the woods in the Kriesk-Plashentzitz area. On the third night the two other guys left me and took with them my package while I was asleep. I was very distressed the next morning but I decided that I must find the partisans. I walked in the forests for another three days until I smelled some smoke. In my heart he felt that it was a partisans camp. I walked toward the direction of the smoke.
I kept walking and then he heard an order Stop! the partisans jumped down from the treetops and ordered me to lie on the ground facing the earth. They then covered my eyes and took me somewhere for interrogation. After an hour of interrogation they brought some Jewish partisans from Dolhinov and they told them that I was fine.
I was too young to be a fighter and they made me a cook.
In the same troop with me were the beautiful and brave sisters from Dolhinov; Chana and Ela Shulkin. The leaders of the partisans were in love with them and were fighting over them. The sisters were used to spy in the Villages.
Eventually there were too many Jewish refugees in the forest and the Russians decided to transfer us across the front to the Russian side since we endangered the partisans.
Amongst the people from Dolhinov were my cousins; Chana and her daughters; Chaya and Sara Katzovitz.
The oldest girl, Bushke, was at that point in the kanahanina camp. After the war, when the survivors were reunited, Bushka told me that after I left Dolhinov to join the partisans my father arranged for my mother and my two younger brothers to join him in the ghetto in Soly. He sent a farmer with a horse and buggy to bring them. They encountered some Germans on their way to Soly. They were shot at and little Yankeleh who was about ten years old was badly wounded. He was found by a farmer who took him to the Ghetto in Krivichi. The Jews took care of him and he recovered but a few months later he was killed with the rest of the Jews of Krivichi in the ghetto. I was never able to find out what had happened to the rest of my family.
The group from Dolhinov started walking more then 1000 kilometers to reach the border with Russia. We walked only during night times to avoid being seen by the Germans (there were hundreds of people including many children and old people divided to smaller units and led by partisan) during daytime we hid in the forests.
We were sometimes shot at and little Sara Katzovitz who was under my guide was wounded. After walking more than two weeks we arrived in the area that was controlled by the Russian partisans. There we were able to walk more freely and some were able to get horses and buggies. Finally we reached the front. Sometime during the night and the leader decided to rest here and cross the next day. When we finally crossed the Germans surrounded us and many were killed — but most ran across the border and were saved.
We arrived into Paditzi and there we were attacked in the early morning hour and ran in all directions. Later we re-organized and walked across the line until we reached the train. My group went all the way to Oppa, the capital of Shakeria. There they gave me and Dishkovitz, partisan papers. From there we continued on the train until we reached Sakolov. I joined a technical school. When the studies were finished, I was appointed a supervisor of the same people who just finished their training with me. Despite my appearance, I could not take control of the people. I realized that I would get into trouble with the Soviet authorities for the low productivity of my unit. Subsequently, together with Mordick I enlisted for the Red Army. Before I joined the fighting I was sent for special training with the new Katusha rockets. Iwas then part of a secret elite unit that performed many dangerous tasks. One day I was called to the headquarters. A high officer started screaming at me that I was a traitor. Later on I found out that he had confused me with my father, who was in the Austrian Army (the enemy of the Russians) during World War I. It was easy to prove that I was not born at that time, but still I was very damaged by the connection and they gave me two choices: either go to prison or join the exiled Polish Army. I decided to join the Polish Army.
I was in the Army in Lodovov that was established by Vanda Vistalovski and Suimi in the Ukraine. I fought with the division all through Europe until we reached Berlin. Twice I was wounded; once from a grenade whose fragments his my eye, and the second time when a bullet in is hand. One day when we reached the road Uddo Tanessa we heard an announcement that the Germans had surrendered. After a few weeks we were sent to Lubine and fought against the Polish White Partisans. We fought them for many, many months. I achieved the rank of Major. In 1946, I decided to leave the army. At that point I was very distant from all that was Jewish. Since I was the only Jew with Polish soldiers and officers for three years, and was very much disliked by the high command that were mostly anti-smites, they kept pointing to me that the Jews were not true fighters. After being with them for many years, I accepted their observations, and was ashamed of being Jewish. They convinced me to register as a Catholic man named Tradiosh. One day while vacationing in Staton, I met Eli Maisel from Dolhinov. Eli was able to convince him that I must return to Judaism. Shortly after I entered a Kibbutz in preparation for immigration to Israel (Palestine at that point in time).
The name of the kibbutz was Galdonia and it was located in the town of Lodz (Poland). There I was sent for training with the Israeli Haganah. I taught how to use weapons at the Kibbutz. Later on I was a driver for the route of escape for Jews in Eastern Europe who attempted to leave in order to get to Israel. Jews went from Eastern Europe to Germany to Austria and to Italy. In 1948 there was an order to close the camp in Innsbruch Austria, together with the people of the camp, I was sent to Israel. I arrived to Camp Yonah and immediately was drafted to the IDF and fought in the war of Independence.
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