Batya Kramer (nee Sosinsky) from Ashdod
Translated by Agi Romer Segal
Donated by Betty Sherwood
Yosef was the firstborn in our family and from my earliest childhood I was closely tied to him.
My parents were busy making a living. Mother was in the store. We were always together. Sometimes we played, sometimes we fought like all children. Yosef studied in the Jewish Tarbut school. I also studied there. It was difficult for my parents to pay for two. I graduated that school.
In 1939, with the Soviet conquest, Yosef helped Father a lot with financial matters. Father was responsible for the accounting for the bakeries in town. Yosef was a great help. In the early days there were no schools. Yosef and I studied in night school to learn Russian. Mother prepared us as best she could. In her youth she had studied in a Russian gymnasia.
Mother took ill in 1939 with pneumonia and died in our town. The 5 of us remained with Father in a difficult situation. It was a tragedy for the family. I did not want to leave the house. I was already 131/2 and Yosef tried to get me out with friends to movies and I refused. We had a Polish nanny who cared for us, but the role of Mother fell to me. My little sister Sima was 4 and I tried to take the place of Mother for her at age 14.
Until the outbreak of the GermanRussian war, I knew nothing of life. I shut myself in our house and dealt only with domestic matters. Yosef's closest friend, Moshe Friedman, came and suggested I take a bicycle and escape across the border to Russia, 78 kilometers. My father decided not to budge for it was impossible to escape with 5 children. Yosef obeyed my father and did not escape. Moshe escaped to Russia and survived with his family. Chaim Kramer, my brother Reuven, Aaron Gordon, and Sheyna Kramer (sister of Yosha) escaped with him. Later my father hid from the Germans with the Partisans. A short time after
Yosef had also escaped to the Partisans and he took me and transferred me to a Partisan unit. My father and the children were together with the families of Leybe Chavlin, Leybe Dimenshtein in the woods separate from the camp of families.
At the end of 1945, I went on my way with my sister Sima. We were in Minsk with Yosef Kramer. Already on the day of our arrival, I went to look for news of Yosef. I knew he was serving in the Red Army in Minsk. I did not find him that day, but we met the next day. I was unable to describe those moments of our encounter after 4 years of separation. After a few days we started for home to Dolhinov. We arrived in Kvirtz. We stayed for about 4 months with relatives who refused to leave us on our own. whatever we will eat, you will eat.
During this time, my father and 2 brothers, Hanoch and Yosef, arrived. We returned to Dolhinov. The centre of town was destroyed and there was nowhere to stay, even for a night. There were a handful of returnees already Leybe Chavlin and his family, Leybe Dimenshtein, Chanoch Shperber, Itzik Katzovitz and others. The authorities supplied him with a house, and later Father received the house of relatives.
I did not want to consider remaining there, but I got used to it, as did the others. We stayed in the village until 1961, although we were among the first to submit a request to leave in the late 1950s. With the renewal of the repatriation of Polish citizens from the USSR, it was possible for us to leave in 1961. In the meantime, my brother Yosef was released from his Red Army service and returned to Dolhinov. During those years, I married Reuven and my sister Sima stayed with us. Later Hanoch, Yehuda and even Yosef came to me and we were together. Father remarried and we were all close, just as all survivors were close. Slowly, slowly people began to spread out and to leave the village.
In general, our family managed with employment and lived not badly given the conditions. Father worked in governmental commerce, as did Yosef. Hanoch, Yehudah and Sima studied in schools and vocational schools. Hanoch (later) died (as a soldier) in Israel and Yehuda now lives in Ganei Yochanan near Mazkeret batya. Yosef married Katya of a Gentile family from Mohilev. Her father died in the war. She had 2 officer brothers in the Red Army and 2 married sisters. As a youngest child, she was beloved by the whole family. She had left her home early to study and graduated as a veterinarian. When they decided to marry,
her family accepted it as natural. But when they decided to immigrate to Israel, the family accepted it with a very, very heavy heart but did not oppose it. Katya remained close to her family, even from Israel. She became very close to us in Israel. We loved and respected her. I was especially close to her. There was extensive correspondence with her family in Russia and her dream was to go to visit them. If not for the tragedy, it would have happened, the exit from Dolhinov in 1961 cost us more than a few hardships. Yehuda left first in 1958 and father with Hanoch and Sima at the end of 1959. When Reuven and I and Yosef and Katya left, the repatriation had already stopped. However, I managed to arrange a possibility to depart for us and our children, Zalman and Chaya, and for Yosef and Katya and their kids, Eli and Maya. We stayed in Poland for 11 months and in Jan. 1962 we arrived in Israel. The journey was pleasant and the weather was wonderful. Father came to the port of Haifa to meet us. He was living then near Even Yehuda. I rejoiced at the unification of the family. I am unable to describe the meeting with Father in Haifa. My pen and descriptive powers are too poor to describe that.
We were sent to Pardes Hannah and soon we moved to Ashdod. Soon we managed our lives in Israel. We became used to the conditions. We were absorbed. We struck roots. We became a united family again in Israel. We didn't forget the horrible and awful past, but we lived with the problems of the present and we saw the future ahead in a clear and lovely light.
From my father zl, we learned to be always unified. As long as he lived, we all travelled to him often to the oldtimers' neighbourhood in EvenYehuda. Every Pesach and Rosh Hashanah we would meet at Father's. Pesach seder always with Father. After his death, we continued to be friends and always with the entire family.
That is how we were until the horrible tragedy on that dark Shabbat on March 11, 1978. We prepared to celebrate the bat mitzvah of Genya Rayer's granddaughter in Haifa. We didn't want to be absent from a family celebration. Sima's husband, Moshe Shochetman, convinced us to travel with them and we left on Shabbat morning from Ashdod for Haifa. Yosef and Katya were already there. We met with many friends and especially family at the party. We left with Yosef at about 4 pm. My brother stopped and let Maya drive and we continued in a great mood. The road was quiet and empty. We approached Ma'agan Michael and suddenly someone and I do not who stood before us. I had a heavy feeling and with all my heart I wanted to leave that place. That is how everyone felt.
All talk ceased suddenly and our tongue stuck. I felt I had been glued to the seat. And then the shooting started. I did not know or understand what was happening. I thought it was someone crazed and shooting. Suddenly I saw armed men in dappled uniforms running towards us. I thought they were IDF soldiers coming to our aid. Luckily, Maya was bent over the steering wheel and she survived with only wounds from the shattered glass. My brother and Katya were killed immediately. Suddenly I saw Maya standing on the road beside the car and I leapt out to ask Maya what happened and she said, What can I say? My parents are no more! I could not see or understand. I was in shock. At that moment, a bus from Tel Aviv going to Haifa arrived and they attacked the bus.
There is no description for what happened on that road. I began to scream for help and people who were driving behind us didn't get involved and flew past. My brotherinlaw stopped and Sima came out to us and stayed with us. My brotherin law got confused and drove to Kfar Saba. We stayed to call for help and then Kopel, who had been a police captain, passed by. He took us to a police station in Hadera as he broadcast the news of the terror attack on the road.
The police questioned us on what we saw and felt how many terrorists etc. Sima called Masha (Leybe Rubin's sister) and they came to us at the police. They sat with us a long time and then took Sima with them and Maya and me to the Hille Yaffe Hospital. We were treated. Then Victor Nachmias arrived and other reporters with TV cameras. I don't recall what I said. From shock, I asked why my brother and his wife were not being helped.
From the hospital we went to the Rubins. They contacted Reuven. He already understood what had happened. The next morning Yosef's employers from Supergaz came and took us home. I was still in shock and couldn't talk to my son.
On the day of the funeral, I was prevented from entering Yosef's house where the funeral started. Even so, I did enter and we returned to sit shiva there. Then problems started. I totally broke down. All of Ashdod had accompanied them; young and old. Everyone liked them. Since then, no meeting of former Dolhinov residents passes without talking about Yosef and Katya. The scene on that road does not pass from my eyes and will not until my final days.
Even so, it is our duty to continue our lives. Maya has married and gave birth to a boy named Yosef. The son had a girl named Katya.
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