Chayah Zydowicki, Haifa
Translated by Morton Lang
The tragic fate of several Jewish families in Chorostkow who disappeared al kiddush Hashem (martyred for the Holy Name) because of the German murderers, may their names be erased, and regarding the destruction of my family, came to my attention through the accounts of the Freed family.
My parents Kalman and Yehudit Bleich, the children Josef and Zalman with their families were hiding in the cellar of Josef's house. The Christians revealed their hiding place and they took the Jews away from there. Only my father and Zalman's wife, Celia were successful in hiding in a barrel and they were saved at that time.
One of the aktions took place on that day. All the town's Jews were assembled in the square where they had to sit and wait until they were taken to their graves. But Josef's youngest child, Mulie, I don't remember how old he was, got up and started walking around. So a German killed him by knocking his head against a telephone pole.
Josef, Zalman and Fridzia were sent to the Lemberg ghetto. Ziesl and Toncia to Auschwitz. When it quieted down after that aktion, my father and Celia left the cellar. Freed took Celia to Skalat where she was killed with her parents. My father and other Jews were expelled to Kopichince. There he was in a hospital. On Passover eve 1943, he was killed.
My father's brother, Yechiel,his wife Batia, their 3 sons, Chaim (and his wife Feige), Mulie, Zalman and his little daughter, were also killed. In Tarnopol were killed: my sister Ziesl and her husband Motl and 2 sons Ali and Mendel. I cannot possibly enumerate our large family, Nazi sacrifices all. My family numbered more than 100 persons and lived in several cities. My pain is enormous until this day.
Zipke writes to me that Marcus Naffe and Joszia Tenenbaum were with the partisans. Joszia killed several Germans. He did not return from one of the partisan missions. The families Glazner and Weisbrod were killed in the forest of Kopichince.
Josef's son Dudshe was hidden by a Christian in the attic. Two weeks before the
entry of the Red army, his hiding place was discovered by local Poles or
Ukrainians and he and another 7 hidden Jews were taken to the forest and shot.
Yitzchak Goldflies, New Jersey
Translated by Morton Lang
The Germans entered Chorostkow July 5, 1941. Soon afterwards they killed 22 Jews, including my family. (Please see testimony by Zipora Kiperman). They immediately threw fear unto the Jews. The Ukrainians immediately took over power. Two weeks later the SS arrived. They brought the Jews together in the town center and wanted to start a pogrom. The mayor Wasilenko would not allow it. So we lived in fear and terror. The Judenrat was organized. Through it they demanded all kinds of things: money, furniture, people for work and finally, people for the labour camps.
People were afraid to go out into the street because if you ran into the Germans they beat you mercilessly.
The Ukrainian police forced everyone to go to work, cleaning the streets,
throwing the snow from one place to another. From there they took me and
another 82 Jews to a labour camp where I succeeded in surviving the war.
Translated by Morton Lang
I know that it is impossible to describe with a pen what we lived through, but I will try.
When the Germans occupied Poland it was the most terrifying experience for Polish Judaism I will never forget the impression it made upon us by just the looks of the murderers. The first day there were already many victims.
Their first order was organize a Judenrat (Jewish Cuoncil), which was headed by Shmuel Kimmel. This was a Jewish institution that served the German interests. They made it known that every order must be carried out precisely and for the slightest resistance threatened death sentences. They always gave little time to carry out the order. First they ordered the turn over of all gold, jewelry, furs. We thought that in this way we would ransom our souls, but sadly this was only a dream.
Later all Jews were taken to do heavy physical work, young girls to wash floors and other housework. One day they ordered people to clean the snow. Right from there they took them to the labour camp Stupki. Almost all of them died at the hands of the murderers or from typhus.
October 19 (the most terrifying date), the first official pogrom took place in Chorostkow. We prepared bunkers earlier. Some were made so it would be difficult to discover them. In the bunker where I was there were about 50 people and a small child. Fearing that our bunker would be discovered, the child's mother herself smothered the child. Regrettably, both the Polish and Ukrainian populations, as well as a few Jews took part. As a result 75% of the Jewish population of Chorostkow were sent to extermination camps.
I lost my father at that time. A Polish young man told the Germans that in the village we ran to Jews could be found. That is where they shot my father. How quickly this can be written, but how difficult it was to live through it
The remainder were rounded up to Kopichince and there in the ghetto began new worries. We sat day and night at the windows and awaited new pogroms. From time to time one succeeded in bartering personal items that we had saved, for a little food. We lived in stables under awful sanitary conditions. A terrible typhus epidemic broke out. Finally there was another aktion. They ordered people to undress and then they were shot. They were not satisfied just with death, they also wanted to humiliate us.
In an estate of Chorostkow * there are 300 victims who were buried alive. I myself often faced death and miraculously always succeeded in escaping and hiding. Occasionally I would meet a handful of people who similarly survived. We survived because at night we found rotting potatoes and other produce in the fields.
Once more we were forced into a labour camp, when I was still with my mother and sister and we wanted very much to live. Only those who experienced this can understand how much we suffered to live through this. By chance we met a Christian who offered to save us for money, but not all of us together. My mother designated me to be the first. I succeeded to escape back to Chorostkow where I hid out for a period of time until we were freed by the Russians.#
(# Addiitional detail to this event can be found in other, earlier stories in Sefer Chorostkow)
Chanah Zineman (Margulis-Klar)
Translated by Morton Lang
On July 2, 1941, the first motorized battalions of the German army appeared in Chorostkow. It did not take long before the whole town filled with their soldiers. Meantime the Jews lived through deathly fear and the blood froze within everyone, because the Poles and Ukrainians readied themselves to carry out a pogrom, to kill and rob at the same time. They came to town armed with axes, knives and sacs.
The Germans did not want to allow just anyone the privilege of killing Jews. In their first undertaking they themselves killed around 20 Jews, among them: Leizer Nagler, Zalman Breyer, the entire Goldflies family (not accurate. ML), Israel Bomze and his wife, Feivel Shapoznik, Israel, Abraham and Beila Margolies, Abraham Zeiden and others.
After this outrage the panic and terror increased even more. But there was no place to run because the Christians from young to old pointed out a worried or exhausted Jew. So passed the first week of the occupation.
Saturday an order was given that all Jews with beards should present themselves to the town hall. From there they were taken to the Chorostkow outskirts and forced to cover themselves with cow excrement and other filth. The Ukrainians and Germans thought up new ways to torture and humiliate the luckless Jews.
Two weekslater the Judenrat was formed. Then they received an order to provide 150 Jews for forced labour in the Stupki camp. There the victims had to undergo torture and beatings while at work with meager rations. This group of slave labourers in Stupki became smaller from day to day and there were constant demands for new contingents. Our women would risk their lives to provide a little food for their men, bringing back bitter news from the Stupki hell.
A second contingent of Chorostkow Jews was sent to Kamionka on Purim eve 1942. Those who remained in town were constantly driven to hard labour like shoveling snow, laying railway tracks, cleaning and paving streets. But the most pitiful were the messages from the camp. Uncle Margolies sent us a letter about the tortures that he and other Jews must suffer in camp. I recall the contents of that letter:
The trip to camp was quite peaceful. They told us we are going for only 6 weeks and then they will send us home. At night we arrived in Kamionka and as soon as we got off the trucks, they attacked us with sticks, whips and rifle buts, beating us without pity. Then they crowded us into a room that it was barely possible to breathe. Later began the personal interview of each one. At a table were seated Gestapo men and Ukrainian police. Everyone had to go over and empty out his pockets, allowing himself to be searched and finally to be beaten until blood flowed. That same evening they chased us on an estate surrounded by barbed wire. Under heavy guard the Germans beat and tortured us and ordered us to dance and at the same time shot or killed with beating more than one. In the morning we were driven to work with beatings and threats, but prior to that removed all warm clothing. Germans with whips beat us over our heads and shouted Shneller, shneller (Faster, faster). This was the first and last letter from my uncle. A week later we found out he was no longer alive.
At that time they began organizing transports for girls to work in the fields. When the Germans demanded from the Judenrat another 100 girls, many Jewish daughters did not sleep at home. When the beasts came to take them, according to the records of the Judenrat, they took the mothers instead of the hidden daughters. They also included me at that time and I had the opportunity to become acquainted how faithfully our Jewish policemen served the Germans.
The group of girls with which I found myself were locked up in the Synagogue over night. My father wanted to get me out of there, because he knew that I spoke good Ukrainian and my Aryan appearance could possibly help me get away from the hands of these beasts. But the chief of the Judenrat laughed at my father when he begged him to free me. During this conversation, our Shulke Rosenshtreich (Shulke the thief) was present and in these words addressed the Commissioner of the Judenrat:
I see that you derive pleasure out of helping to exterminate the Jews by their roots. Have a little heart, see that someone should remain so that this people can continue to exist
Sitting in the synagogue during the night, my mother and I and all the detained women, prayed to God that a miracle should take place. I decided to run away. With the help of a rope, I climbed up to the tall window and descended from there. But the Ukrainian polce caught me. Later my father succeeded to exchange me for my 12 year old sister. He believed that she as a child would soon be freed. This exchange took place at 1:00 AM. I went home with a heavy heart. They took my sister to camp nevertheless and only 2 weeks later was she successful in running away from there. She overcame a road of 60 kilometers on foot.
In the morning a policeman came to us in town and said he received a telephone
call from the camp about her running away. I must replace her immediately.
Without a choice I went to hard labour and with bitterness withstood many
hardships. One morning I decided to tear off the patch with the Mogen David
and started on the dangerous way home. When I arrived in Chorostkow, I found
the Jews seized with a terrible fear. It was the eve of an aktion which meant
the disappearance of another Jewish settlement.
Translated by Morton Lang
(According to witness deposition from the Central History Committee
in the Central Archives for liberated Jews in the American Zone in Germany. File 1696/1564)
Until the war there were approximately 2200 Jews in Chorostkow. Another 1200 were added from the outskirts. None of us left for Russia at the beginning of the war. Only in 1941 when the Russo German war began about 100 men left for Russia.
The behavior of German forces from their very arrival was fearful. On the first day, 19 people including women and children already were murdered without any reason. On the third day they were buried.
The town administration behaved in the same terrible manner toward the Jewish population. The entire Ukrainian population together with the Gestapo jointly began immediately the work of extermination, with deliberate effort. Eight days after the arrival of the Germans on July 4, 1941, a Saturday, all the Jews assembled in the Town Hall. And when several hundred Jews were assembled on the square they began beating with much hatred over the heads and on the face. After that they ordered lining up in twos in groups according to occupation. On the side there was a ditch with mud where everyone had to cross over and wallow in the mud. Then everyone returned to his place and lined up, while the administration held a consultation whether they should torture the Jews or shoot them.
They decided that the people should run a gauntlet to be beaten with rifle buts over their heads. After the horrible beating everyone ran away wherever they could. That same day they broke the windows in the synagogues. The few that were there were taken to work. Beatings continued constantly a whole day. Only in the evening were they allowed to go home.
On July 22, the Ukrainian administration on orders fro the Gestapo, told the Jews to put on arm bands with a Magen David, on the left arm. At the very moment when the order to wear bands was given, they began to apprehend people because they did not have white arm bands and jailed them. As soon as they gathered a fair number of people, they were told to go out into the street with a drum and red banner in lines of 3 and shout Long live Stalin. Because the Gestapo from Tarnopol was expected to arrive, the intent was that they should find the Jews demonstrating with a red flag of the Soviets and that the Ukrainian police stopped them.
A German unexpectedly came upon this staged scenario. He informed himself as to what was going on. The Jews told him the entire truth of what was being arranged and he believed them. He ordered that the Jews get away from there and go home, but stated that everyone had to wear a white arm band.
(This episode was related in a somewhat different version previously).
Jews were permitted to go out and make purchases only from 7 to 9 in the morning, when the bazaar was still empty and there was nothing to buy. If anyone was caught shopping after 9 o'clock he was jailed.
In August of 1941 a contribution was imposed on the Jewish population. 1.5 kilos of gold and 20 rubles per head was collected by the self proclaimed community organizers, Shmuel Kimmel and Kuncie Tennenbaum. Jews were also permitted for a limited time to go out into the street.
The Judenrat was responsible for assigning work for the Jews. Those who paid money were given lighter work. As a result the common people were burdened with the heavy work. Whoever paid well was taken into the sadly famous Jewish Police Force. In October 1941, the Judenrat agreed to provide 160 people to the labour camp Stupki (near Podwoloczysk) They promised that it was only for 14 days so that the people would remain calm. Already at the railway station,,the community organizers arranged with 13 people who could pay, that they return home, leaving 147 people. On the road to Tarnopol these people were beaten without mercy. When they arrived in Stupki they were handed over to the camp commandant. I too was among those consigned. On the second day, they shot a Jew for no reason and everyone had to stay and watch. This is how they beat and tortured every day.
Every day we had to run to work with scanty and bad food. When one arrived at the work place one was more dead than alive. When a delegation approached the Judenrat pleading that they should send something for the people to eat, the store keeper got angry and shouted at the top of his voice that they were receiving sufficient food over there and that they were better off than at home. Anyway they would not survive there very long so what's the point of helping them.
After 2 months in Stupki, my father ransomed me out of camp by paying the Judenrat a large sum of money. He took me home. It did not take long and another aktion took place for forced labour. They took me to the labour camp Kamionka, near Podwoloczysk. The treatment there was fearful. Under guard by Ukrainian bandits one stood in a stone quarry. They constantly beat you with their whips.
Often there were shootings without reason. One could not know the exact number of people in that camp because every day new victims were brought in from the ghettos in the surrounding district. Approximately 600 people were in my section and there were 4 such sections. Whoever came to Kamionka camp did not get out alive. In 1943, the German beasts and the Ukrainian police surrounded the camp and set it on fire along with the people. Whoever escaped the fire was shot by the surrounding guards. About 10 or 15 of the entire camp survived.
From this hell I ran to Kopichince. I came into an estate where about 100 Jews were still working. Here too a liquidation took place. The people ran away and they shot only 27. For 8 days I lay in a wet ditch where I was thoroughly soaked and without strength to live. I started out for the estate again. Since they were liquidating the surrounding ghettos about 300 people gathered at the estate. With bitterness we worked under the supervision of a Folks German for 31/2 months, until November 1943. That month the people from the estate were taken away in an unfamiliar direction. From there I ran away to a nearby forest where I and a group of 14 from the immediate neighbourhood remained after the liquidation of the ghettos.
With this group there were also 3 children who suffered just like the adults. We hid in the forest until March 22, 1944 when we were liberated by the red army.
When I returned to my birthplace Chorostkow after liberation, I was overcome
with nausea. All the Jewish streets, one devastation. Not one Jewish home
Translated by Morton Lang
(From the questionnaire of the Central History Committee of the Central Archives
of the liberated Jews in the American Zone in Germany. Assembled in Bakneing, January 14, 1948; File: 427/1012.)
When the Soviets entered Eastern Galicia a Ukrainian man made an accusation that a 15 year old Jew from Chorostkow was a Polish spy, whose name I do not recall. The Russians killed him.
The German army marched into our town in July 1941. No sooner had they arrived than they shot 200 Jews. A few days later, Jews were seized on the streets, taken in trucks and deported. We never heard of them again.
Exorbitant assessments and searches became daily occurrences. During the second week of German occupation all Jews were ordered to assemble in the market square. Since I was delayed, I sent my wife to find out what was happening there. She came back with the news that they were beating the unfortunates with rubber truncheons. I decided not to go there. The Ukrainian police were beating and torturing. The hidden Jews who were discovered were ordered to wallow in mud.
Afterwards, they gave the Jews a red flag with a star that remained from the Soviet occupation. They were ordered to march and sing Russian songs in order to create a new provocation and accusations against them that Jews are Bolsheviks. They demonstrated like that through the town to the village where there was a brewery. They forced them to crawl in the brewing barrels while beating them from all sides. Of about 200 Jews half did not survive the beating and perished in the brewery. The others were subjected to another ritual at the river. Those who could not swim drowned there. On shore stood SS men with machine guns and fired on the unfortunates. Those who survived could not stand on their feet for a long time.
Practically all Christians, the Poles and Ukrainians, helped in this murderous tyranny. Regrettably there was no organized resistance. In my opinion 15 Jews overall survived these aktionen and assaults. From the camps 8 or 9 Jews returned. Six people saved themselves by other means.
The town Rabbi was killed during the major aktion. Among the distinguished
personalities of our town was the physician Wilhelm Auerhan. He died during the
general liquidation of the Jewish community of Chorostkow.
Translated by Morton Lang
The Last Victim, in the periodical of the Jewish life under the Nazi regime, published by the Central History Commission at the Central Archives of the liberated Jews in the American Zone in Germany (Munich, August 1947 # 6, Editor Josef Kaplan), is reprinted in the larger outstanding work by Sh. Wielitchker,Camps in Western Galicia. We are quoting several short resumes which deal with the destruction of Jews from Chorostkow in the various camps. In the above mentioned article, we read among others:
Eastern Galicia is an area of 4600 square kilometers where 700,000 Jews lived was covered by a network of 9 camps for Jews under the Nazi regime. Thes camps were even more terrifying than the famed camps in Germany, like Dachau, Oreinenburg and others. According to available records death was the most terrible that occurred there. In Eastern Galicia conditions were such that death was looked upon as a welcome kind of relief.
In other publications not only are the places where the camps were located enumerated, but included dates, the number of Jews there when it opened, the number when it was liquidated, whether Jews were shot on the spot, or were taken to other death camps, including the places where they were taken. For each camp is also listed the camp commandant When listing numbers, minimal numbers are always given: Thus for example, when the number of Jews for a camp is given as 5000 in one document and 7000 in another, the book lists 5000. This is assumed to be a more accurate figure of the 2 documents.
In several camps, in spite of their existence, there are no records and the book does not give figures. The assumption is that in all probability no one in these camps survived, or the few survivors are not identifying themselves to testify as witnesses.
Records for many camps are found in secret reports by Katzman, the SS Major General and police commander of the Galician District and from other sources. The high official would transmit his documents to Himmler (copies of which can be found in the archives of the Central History Commission in Munich).
As a result we can read regarding the camp in Kamionka (Document 226/91 in the Central Archive in Muich as told by Ladowski):
It was a Friday in December 1941 when we arrived at work barely alive. At the gate stood Ukrainian police who beat us so badly that of the 600 who were in camp, over 200 were severely wounded. - During the time that the camp existed (19 months from November 1941 to July 1943) 5000 Jews were murdered. These Jews were from Podwoloczysk, Trembowly, Bzizan, Zbaraz and Chorostkow. I and 3 others from the camp who survived escaped in time.
In the remaining camps in Eastern Galicia, where the Germans, according to Goering's testimony at Neurenberg trials, had the objective to educate people and even taught them to clean their teeth were 700,000 Eastern Galician Jews incinerated and their ashes scattered.
Subsequently there follows a list of 89 camps in Eastern Galicia, from which we list a very few that had a connection with Chorostkow:
Borki Wielki, near Tarnopol, 500 in September 1941, 5000 in July 1943 incinerated on the spot
Chlubotchek Wielki, near Tarnopol, March 1943 2000, July 16, 1943, incinerated 2000.
Zagrobale, near Tarnopol, camp commandant Untershturmfeuhrer Rakita from Silesia. September 1941, 5000, October 1942, 1800 transferred to Tarnopol camp.
Chistilow, near Tarnopol, commandant Rakita January 1943, 1700, August 1943 1300.
Chorostkow, near Tarnopol, January 1943 1000, May 1943 1000,
By Dr. Morton R. Lang
In reading this section, it becomes readily apparent that certain incidents are described by different authors in several variations of facts and even numbers of victims involved. One might want to question the veracity of these events. It should be remembered that much of this is written several years after they occurred and details have become sketchy. On the other hand these descriptions may have been witnessed, or even involved the author himself or may be a retelling of a description by someone else. Where events dealing with slave labour camps are concerned, since there were repeated Aktionen and transport to these camps, it is quite possible, that in fact, different occasions are being described, involving the same camp.
The fact remains that all of them describe the vicious brutality and vengeful ferocity and bestiality with which these acts were being carried out, largely by Ukrainians, with the occasional inclusion of some Poles. It must be understood that the great majority of the non-Jewish population in the shtetlach (small towns) of Eastern Galicia was Ukrainian and that their virtually inbred hatred of Jews, continually reinforced and incited by their priesthood, dates back to the anti Semitic, Tsarist Russian regimes. Their repeated uprisings against their Russian and Polish oppressors and quest for independence dating back to the Chmielnicki revolt and pogroms of the 16th century and the Cossak proclivity for slaughtering Jews, came to the fore when for the first time in over 500 years, the Nazis gave them the power they had always hungered for and were repeatedly denied by the ruling power.
The intense dislike by the Ukrainians of the Polish Catholic population was in many ways not too much less than their hatred of Jews. This is easily attested to by the fact that the Poles were expelled from the Ukraine immediately after the war ended, but the Nazis found the better educated and more literate Poles useful in ways that the ignorant illiterate peasant could not serve.
I can relate something that came to my attention on my recent visit to
Chorostkow, which although I cannot prove it with any degree of certainty, I
believe only reinforces the senseless barbarity of the Ukrainian ignorant
peasantry towards their enemies. As I was touring what
is left of the Chorostkow I knew, but is completely obliterated, I observed
that the Polish Catholic Church which was directly facing the Ukrainian
Orthodox one across a square, was no longer there. When I enquired as to the
reason for this, I was given a fudged answer about the Soviets and
Nazis during the war. But when I asked why the Ukrainian church was spared,
there was no answer that made sense. I honestly believe that it was the
Ukrainians themselves who tore it down (along with the synagogues) because it
was Polish, Catholic and a very elegant structure, with a tall spire, which was
visible all over town and a landmark from the outskirts, as one approached
Chorostkow and architecturally far more attractive. And under the Nazis, the
Ukrainians could lord it over the Poles along with the Jews.
Chorostcower Landsmanschaften Associations
and Organizations of Jews from Chorostkow
by Dr. Morton R Lang
Jews who emigrated from European countries tended to settle in their new destinations in groups by country of origin and sometimes even in neighbourhoods by community of origin. As soon as they developed economic viability, they turned their attention to relatives and friends in the old country and tried to help them with money, packages of household goods or clothing. This was usually done on an individual basis. However in many instances entire communities were in dire need because of economic persecution,,excessive taxation or outright pogroms. In such situations, which were frequent, the immigrants formed themselves into Landsmanschaften (organizations or associationa) according to their communities, regional areas or entire provinces of origin.
These associations also served as welcoming groups to their fellow Jews and sources of assistance and orientation to their newly arrived townfolk when they landed in the new country. Very often, as had been customary in the old country, they formed their own synagogues and bought burial plots on cemeteries.
An excellent example of this type of mutual assistance can be cited as with The Galicianer Frauen Hilfs Ferein (Galician Ladies Aid Association) formed many years ago in Montreal with some of the above mentioned objectives in mind. When after WW2 Eastern Europe became virtually Judenrein (empty of Jews), they turned their attention to refugee assistance, at first, and then to aid for Israel after the birth of the State, building orphanages and schools.
How such organizations functioned in North America between wars and then within
the State of Israel is the topic of the concluding Yiddish section of Sefer
As reported in the publication of the Association of Polish Olim (Immigrants) in Israel
Translated by Morton Lang
The town Chorostkow is in the Province of Tarnopol and is located between Trembowla and Kopichince in Eastern Galicia (Western Ukraine today) in the fertile area of Galician Podolia. Until WW 1 it belonged to Austria, close to the Russian border. After WW 1 it belonged to Poland, again close to the Russian border. A small town which numbered about 2500 Jews and was known for many years for its outstanding Rabbis and a number of personalities who occupied important positions in general as well as Jewish life.
According to available data, after the destruction during the last WW, there remained a total of about 200 Chorostkow Jews who are scattered over various parts of the world in Israel, North and South America and East and West European countries. In order to honour the memory of our destroyed Jewish community, the Chorostkower living in Israel founded the Organization of Chorostkow Emigrants in 1953. To this society belong about 100 chaverim and chaverot (friends), some of whom have been living in Israel from before WW 2, but the largest group came with the surviving remnant. The majority of them are office employees or workers.
The organization did not engage in new initiatives. Its only objective is to honour the memory of the Jewish community of Chorostkow and erect a monument so that over the years its memory should not be erased. The organization holds an Annual Memorial Day Observance for the martyrs of the community, which takes place in Tel Aviv between May 15 and 20. The majority of townites participate and come from all parts of Israel. Coinciding with the commemoration, annual meetings are held when group discussion takes place concerning the Chorostkow Memorial Book.
Publication of this Memorial Book was the main objective of this organization. In spite of the fact that the town was small, it became obvious that there was interesting material available concerning its past and its evolution, particularly of the Jewish community. There were difficulties in collecting material from the time of the devastation, raids and slaughter. The survivors are not able to provide documentation of events. However, the editorial committee was successful in gathering sufficient material.
The organization is in contact with the Chorostkow Association in New York. Members of this association have visited Israel and participated in the Memorial Observance with theIsraeliChorostkover in Tel Aviv.
At the head of the Israeli Chorostkower Organization is a committee of
chaverim: Chaim Israel Weisbrod, (our next door neighbour in Chorostkow
and close friend) Yitzchak Wiederman, Moshe Ibor, Yehuda Lang
(a cousin) and Yitzchak Kessler.
Shmuel Shloime Schwartz, New York
Translated by Morton Lang
The difficult times that the Jewish population found itself in the last century in the small towns of Galicia, convinced many of our fellow Jews to take the wanderers staff in hand in order to better our existence in overseas countries, especially the USA. A Jew who decided to take this fateful step of emigration, invested his last possessions and did everything in his power to cover expenses of the trip. When the happy morning of departure arrived, the entire household, relatives, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts; brothers and sisters in law, cousins and blood relatives to the third generation in other words practically the whole town escorted the emigrant with bitter tears, heart felt blessings, a joke or a witticism.
Regardless of the great hopes attributed to the Golden Land, there was still a feeling of fear over the new unknown journey. But sons in law, young men who could not find a future in town, craftsmen and businessmen who were in search of customers were determined to leave the old hometown and search for their fortunes elsewhere. The emigration magnet became stronger and stronger, particularly as the first emigrants to America began sending a few dollars from there, some quite regularly every month.
Between 1905 and 1907 could be found about 40 young people from Chorostkow in the neighbourhoods of East New York. Following the example of others, they also tried to set up a landsmanschaft (association), first of all to help themselves and to develop closer contacts between Chorostkower in this big New York. One must not forget that the exploitation in the sweat shops in those days was very high. The helplessness of the green immigrant was visible on all sides. The association had to deal with daily requests for employment, financial help for some and concern for their families in Chorostkow.
Those who managed to save a few dollars over several years, quieted their longing for their near ones by returning to Chorostkow. Some remained and settled there, some returned to America and tried to improve their lot further. There were examples of some young men returning to town more than once and coming back to New York.
In 1907, ten years after the first emigrant from Chorostkow walked on the ground of New York, it was decided to form the Chorostkow United Organizationm, following several gatherings and meetings. The earliest and boldest members who gained distinction in the activities of the organization must be mentioned: Mordechai Brandeis, Shlomo Diamant, Yitzchak Grossberg, Mordechai Kelman, Yacov Moshe Feffer, Yitzchak Feffer, Josef Fras and Israel Wexler.
The fist goals the organization set for itself were: to help their poor members and newcomers, particularly during an illness, unemployment and above all, help them to settle in the new country. In order to strengthen the bond between members even further a synagogue was built with specifically allocated money. Here New York residents had the opportunity to meet one another more frequently. The Association also began to think (like al l the others) about their own cemetery To purchase a bit of land for that purpose was not an easy matter. Our organization was still young, the certainty of putting down roots in the new land was not that strong; the immigrants were still absorbed with the new situations and realities. After all the individual goal that brought one here, the concern for the family who remained, forced the sons of our town to hurry and save several dollars to send some home and in time perhaps return there.
The outbreak of WW1 broke the bond between the Chorostkower in New York and their town of birth. The four year war provided the opportunity for our town folk in America to improve their lot, attain a position and a bit of money, while their relatives in the old home had to put up with all the terrible events of wartime. On top of that they were cut off from those who lived in the US.
The economic well being of the Chorostkower in New York naturally enriched the organization. The cemetery was established and consideration could be given for effective help to the town once the war was over. For newly arrived hometowners the organization became an address and important source of aid. The joy was great every Saturday when all the Chorostkpwer met in their own synagogue. Furthermore, a custom was established so that, in turn, each member invited everyone for kiddush every Saturday and Yom Tov (Festival). Such weekly gatherings in synagogue added to the mood of fellowship and kept them like a family.
The break up of the Austria Hungarian monarchy and the repeated changes of governments in Eastern Galicia, following upon the difficult wartime years, greatly, impoverished the Jewish population of Chorostkow. Among all of these worries and needs Petlura's pogroms began.
(Petlura was a Ukrainian leader who led a briefly independent viciously anti Semitic Ukraine government which, incorporated Eastern Galicia, during 1918-20, while Polish and Russian armies tried to carve out new frontiers for themselves and Bolshevik and Red armies roamed over the entire area)
We in New York prepared for the day when fighting would finally cease and we would be able to stretch out a brotherly hand and much help to the people of our town. We held many fund raising activities in order to establish a well financed aid program.
Immediately after the war, Joseph Press and after him Israel Wexler went to Chorostkow specially to distribute help on the spot to the truly needy and those who were suffering. The Joint along with local institutions handed out aid, but the fact that the New York former towns folk had not forgotten their kin and also that many Chorostkower came to the town to the bring their families over or sent them the necessary immigration papers filled everyone with new hope.
When the big depression hit the US in the '30s, our organization formed a Free Loan Society in New York to help its own members. Active in this loan society were: Shimeon Chasid, Yitzchak Grossberg, Frank Gelber, Yitzchak Gerstenbluth, Jacob Goldrink, Berl Kurz, Jacob Parnass, David Schneider, Joseph press, Shlomo Schwartz, Israel Wexler and Meyer Werber. The largest contribution to the loan society was made by Meyer Mantches.
The previously named Joseph Press* also traveled to the old home at that time with a specific sum of money that allowed the funding of a local Free Loan Society and to distribute incentive aid to storekeepers, artisans and merchants and to put up a gate to the new cemetery.
* (There is a full page photograph of this gate in Sefer Chorostkow).
During the years of WW 2 when we became aware of the tragic fate of Polish Jewry, we were horrified and worried, while living with the illusion that perhaps the majority of Choros kow Jews would be able to avoid this tragedy. However by 1944- 1945 we already knew of this huge disaster and of the disappearance of practically the entire community. We brought help to the surviving remnant wherever they could be found. With the establishment of Jewish sovereignty, we set up a national hometown and fraternal fund to help the Chorostkower in Israel, as well as taking part in general campaigns like the: JNF, Keren Haysod, Histadrut and others. We sent packages of clothing to our brethren in Israel along with food stuffs and money. We also built 2 homes in memory of our destroyed town to welcome new olim (Immigrants). In our files there is a special letter from the Sochnut (Jewish Agency) thanking us for that accomplishment.
When we draw up an accounting of the 60 years of achievements of the Chorostkower Landsmanschaft in New York, we can take pride in our endeavors and aid for our fellow townsmen in America, in the old country, as well as all Jewry and for the Jewish State.
Regrettably, a few years ago a change for the worse took place because some of the older activists died and those of us still living have begun to pull back from active involvement. The second and third generations are holding back from providing aid. To them the shtetl in Eastern Galicia is foreign. Among those in the world and here in New York, whose origins are in Chorostkow, there is no sentiment for the old home which they do not know like the older generation. But a few Last Mohicans remain true to their roots and their ties to that which is called Chorostkow. We support individual organizations and of course we are pleased with our contributions to our Memorial Book that must forever remember a Jewish community destroyed by the Hitler murderers.
* (A personal note of remembrance of Joseph Press. He had a chain of ladies
fashions in New Jersey and was a very close family friend of the Langs in New
York, particularly, my aunt Miriam and her husband Dr. Morris Achtel,who came
to the US in the early '20s with Smichah (ordination to the rabbinate) but
decided to become a dentist and probably was influential in my decision to
enter that profession. When Mr. Press visited Chorostkow in the early '30's,
my mother and I were not there but in Jaremcze, a mountain resort, where I was
ordered to go to after a debilitating illness and he decided he could not
return to New York and tell aunt Miriam that he did not see us, so he came and
visited with us for a couple of days. When in the late '40s both he and aunt
Miriam were widowed, they married and in his latter years he became my uncle.)
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