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[Page 344]

Medical Institutions
and the Physicians of Kovel

by Dr. Mordechai Leiberson

Translated by Amy Samin

The city of Kovel with its 32,000 inhabitants had 25 physicians, of whom 14 were Jewish. The work of the doctors was centered around the city's hospitals. One was the governmental Simikovi Hospital and the second the Jewish Hospital on Behalf of the Jewish Community. The director of the latter was Dr. Weitman. The budget which supported the hospital was partially based on support from the municipality but the majority of the support came from the community. This hospital had an average of 60 beds. In the city there were also a number of clinics run by municipal organizations as well as a few run by the community. The Taz association organized a large polyclinic which served the Jewish public in the medical field and in its daily needs. In this field, the work of the Jewish doctor at Taz was on a volunteer basis. The treatments and medical assistance in this organization were enjoyed mainly by the simple folk of the Jewish community. From the time of its founding until the destruction of the clinic in 1939, the heads of this institution were the famous doctors of the city, including: Dr. Feinstein z”l, Dr. Zisskind, and Dr. Appelboim. In the day to day medical care, they were joined by doctors each according to his profession and specialization:

Dr. Schatz, internal medicine; Dr. Vidra Yosef, internal medicine, gynecology, and obstetrics; Dr. Nymark, internal medicine; Dr. Lekal, ear, nose, and throat; Dr. Zisskind, pediatrics. Administrative work was handled by Sonia Margulis. In addition to all of the clinical medical work the management also did vital prophylactic work in the field, providing vaccinations against all kinds of seasonal infectious diseases such as smallpox and typhus, as well as detection of the disease tuberculosis. In the summer, Taz organized camps for the schoolchildren from the poorer strata of the Jews in the community. These were the famous colonies of Horodlatz, the summer resort next to Kovel. The operation of those summer camps was in the hands of the doctors: Dr. Zisskind, Dr. Schatz, Dr. Vidra, and Dr. Tzichnovitz. A good diet, the fresh air of the pine forests, sunshine, water, and sports were the factors that immunized and strengthened the children before their return to the city for their renewed studies. One of the most senior physicians of the city was Dr. Feinstein. He dealt in general internal medicine, and was very well liked and respected in the city. He was a figure who inspired respect, with his imposing figure and a smile always spread over his face, which drew to him all who came to him for counsel and medical assistance. He passed away at a ripe old age. He was one of the doctors of the old Russian–Jewish school, which has disappeared and is no more.

Dr. Tzichnovitz, a doctor of general internal medicine, was involved in public affairs and was an activist, and spent much of his time dealing in public health matters. He was the school physician at the Jewish schools and the Hebrew Gymnasia. His lectures on personal and public hygiene, and hygiene of the student were very interesting. For years

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he preached on cleanliness of the body, nutrition, proper attire according to the season, sports – in short “a healthy soul in a healthy body.” He gave of his time and energy to work for Taz, organizing summer camps for the children of the city who needed it. He survived the Holocaust and lives in Russia with his family. He was an ardent Zionist, and I am certain that his heart and his longing are given to our country.

Dr. Zisskind Petya z”l was a pediatrician and also dealt in internal medicine. He was a serious doctor who was devoted to his patients, and also a public activist. He was among the managers of Taz for many years and even the severe heart disease that afflicted him only temporarily stopped him from the treatment and care of the health of Jewish children, whether they were in Taz or not. He was murdered during the Holocaust. His younger daughter Sofka lives in Israel, and the other, Freya, lives in France.

Dr. Vidra Yosef z”l practiced internal medicine, gynecology, and obstetrics. He was a popular doctor in town and was devoted to his patients. He served the public and gave of his knowledge and ability to those in need of medical help in Taz and also worked at the Jewish school. He and his family were murdered in the Holocaust.

Dr. Weitman's specialty was dermatology. For years he was the manager of the Jewish hospital and he also devoted his time to public medical work in Taz. His family was murdered in the Holocaust. According to reliable reports, he survived and is in Russia.

Dr. Shomstein z”l specialized in internal medicine. He arrived in Kovel during the 1930's and immediately endeared himself to all levels of society in the town. He was an excellent physician and a good diagnostician. He and his family were murdered during the Holocaust.

Dr. Schatz z”l practiced general and internal medicine. He gave of his time and energy to public medical work in Taz. He and his family were killed in the Holocaust.

Dr. Lekal was an ear, nose, and throat doctor, an excellent specialist and surgeon. He was one of the assistants to the famous Professor Noiman of Vienna. He worked in Taz. He was murdered during the Holocaust.

Dr. Nymark z”l, who practiced general and internal medicine, was one of the younger doctors of the city. He quickly became endeared to everyone, and was considered a serious and devoted physician. In Taz, he worked as an internist. He and his family were murdered during the Holocaust.

Dr. Hassim (in Israel) is an expert in diseases of the lungs – tuberculosis. He practices in this field in Israel and through his serious knowledge in this field is helping to eradicate the disease among the Jews living in Israel.

Dr. Ratnovsky–Ratniv Pioter, a surgeon, who worked with Dr. Retaisky, the manager of Simikovi Hospital, and with Dr. Yaborovsky in the Jewish Hospital. He worked in Taz as a surgeon. Today he lives in Russia where he serves as the chief surgeon in a military hospital.

Dr. Weisberg, a general internal medicine physician, was one of the younger doctors. His wife, who was of the Burstein family, was a teacher

[Page 346]

at the Klara Ehrlich Gymnasia in 1938–39, and later at High School No. 10 during the days of the Soviets. She was murdered during the Holocaust.

Dr. Varba Gershon (Grisha) is an ophthalmologist (oculist) and today is the manager of the municipal polyclinic in Kovel. One of the younger doctors. He completed his studies in Czechia. He is a graduate of the Tarbut Gymnasia. He is the son of the attorney and activist Leon (Leib) Varba z”l. He has not been allowed to leave Russia despite his wishes.

Dr. Geller z”l was a graduate of the Jewish–Polish gymnasia, and practiced general internal medicine. He completed his studies in Czechia. In Kovel he worked in the Jewish hospital for a number of years. He was murdered during the Holocaust.

Dr. Melamed Yosef z”l, also a graduate of the Jewish–Polish gymnasia, was a surgeon. In the days of the Soviets he worked in the hospital and in a clinic. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

Dr. Weinstein Binyamin is a graduate of the Jewish–Polish gymnasia who finished his medical studies in Italy. He lives in Tel Aviv and practices internal medicine.

Dr. Marmelstein Yosef (Yozik) is a graduate of the Slovetski Government Gymnasia. He began his medical studies in Warsaw and completed them in Lvov, during the Soviet days of 1939. He is an internist, and today lives in Australia. He survived the Holocaust as a doctor in the Partisans.

Dr. Eisenberg z”l was a dentist. He was quite well–known in the city. He and his family were murdered in Kovel. His only son lives in Israel. He graduated from the Technion University in Haifa and works as an engineer.

(Mrs.) Dr. Kotzin z”l was also a well–known dentist in the city. She was murdered in the Holocaust.

Dr. Kotzin z”l was a famous dentist. He was a Zionist and public activist. He was cut down in the prime of his life.

We also recall the well–known figure of the medical assistant – feldscher[1] – Reb Motink z”l, who was the permanent assistant of the famous Dr. Schatz. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

Baskin, one of the first medical assistants in the city, also owned a pharmacy and was very well–liked in town.

Magister Shtillerman, a pharmacist with Leinat HaTzedek. He ran the pharmacy with dedication and loyalty. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

Kramer Avraham was the husband of the teacher Grau. He worked in the pharmacy of Praj Movesky.

Magister Erlich z”l was a pharmacist with Friedlander. She was the sister of Klara Erlich, the principal of the gymnasia. She was murdered in the Holocaust.

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We recall the memory of the ranks of the Jewish nurses, who anonymously and with unfailing devotion, brought relief and medicine to the patients at all hours of the day and night. I do not remember their names.

In the days of the Soviets, from 1 September 1939 the public medical institutions of the Jewish community were closed. The Jewish hospital became Municipal Hospital No. 2. The Taz was shut down. Leinat HaTzedek also closed, and the pharmacy was destroyed. The doctors went to work for the government.


Translator's Note

  1. a health care professional who provides various medical services Return

[Page 349]

The Lives of Kovel's Laborers

by Mordechai Hinizon

Translated by Amy Samin

I would like to commemorate the city's trade unions and activists of the city.

At the head of the Woodworkers Union stood Michel Hinizon, Lederman, Colodner, and others. At the head of the Bakers Union were Zeelig Burstein, Friedman, Kagan, and so on. The Needleworkers Union – Batya Mendel, Rahel Masir, Chayat, and others. The Construction Workers Union was led by Kagan, Melamed, and others. The Leatherworkers – Goldener and others.

I further recall the Evening Classes company, led by David Mailer, Zela Kaploshnik, Dr. Reis, and others.

Alongside the professional associations, there existed a Workers' Library, which was used as a meeting place by the workers during their leisure hours, after work. On Saturdays, the library management would arrange question–and–answer receptions attended by the local working intelligentsia and by guests from outside. Among those from Kovel who participated were, mainly, Weintraub, Waxman, Feigelman the teacher, and others.

There was also a dramatic association, which put on theatrical plays in Yiddish which aroused great interest in all of the workers of the city.

The workers were represented in the municipality by Yagodnik, Steinman, and Dr. Reis z”l. However, fascist Poland looked askance at the rising power of the trade unions and began to constrict their movements.

When the trade unions decided to celebrate the first of May together in 1928 and appealed to the starosta[1] for a permit to do so, it was denied. However, the workers paid no notice and gathered in large numbers near the trade union building.

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Then the Polish police arrived and began to forcibly disperse the crowd. The crowd spontaneously organized itself into a procession and began moving towards Warszawska Street. However, a massive response came from the police, both on foot and mounted on horseback; they began raining murderous blows on the protestors. Several activists were arrested and imprisoned for 10 months. In March of 1929 the trial was held, which ruled to release them, however that same evening more arrests took place, and many of the workers and the working intelligentsia were jailed. The Woodworkers Union was disbanded and the Workers' Library was closed and its contents confiscated.


Translator's Notes

  1. A government official Return


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