by Dora Halper
Translated by Mira Eckhaus
In 1939 I graduated from elementary school, which had seven grades. In Kuty there were two elementary schools, one for boys and the other for girls. The structure of the girls' school was beautiful. The classrooms were spacious and during breaks we would play in the yard. We were banned from speaking Yiddish and we had to speak only Polish. Anti-Semitism was well felt. The principal, a fat and unsympathetic man, was particularly antisemitic and we were afraid of him.
The Jewish children also went to Jewish schools: Beit Yaakov and Tarbut. The atmosphere in the Jewish schools was calm, without the tension and fears we had in the Polish school. I studied at Beit Yaakov religious school. The feeling was wonderful. On Saturdays we would go to the synagogue and sometimes we would walk with the teacher out of town. I especially remember the trip to Kosov. We stayed there at Beit Yaakov school. The students received us nicely and treated us with cakes and drinks. Then we went home.
by Yehudit Salzman (from Koren family)
Translated by Mira Eckhaus
Before I start writing my childhood memories of the town I remember fondly, I want to mention my family members who died and perished in the Holocaust. The parents, Alter Pasternak and Priva Koren, started a beautiful family. Five daughters and two sons (the brother died while in his infancy). Death has ravaged our family cruelly and at a young age. My father passed away when my sister Perla and I were very young. I remember the neighbors took us to stay with them until after the funeral. At the time, we did not understand the magnitude of the disaster. The second disaster befell us with the death of our sister, Nacha, in the ninth month of her pregnancy. I remember her lying on the floor covered with a sheet and candles to her head. People came from the synagogue and blew the shofar so that the child could come out. Of course, no miracle happened. My mother refused to be comforted and passed away exactly on the anniversary of her death. The eldest son, Herschel, who was married to Billa, and his three children, Shmuel, Zalman, and Priva, perished in the Holocaust. The second daughter, Yeti, (nicknamed Pizziya) immigrated to Israel after her marriage to Bruno Hoisman. Her two children, Oded and Priva (Irit), granted them with five grandchildren, four sons and a daughter. The fourth sister, Zelda, married Dudi Feldhamer. They perished in the Holocaust with their two children, Sami and Chaimke. May they rest in peace. Last - Perla, the youngest daughter, may she live long, married to Isser Wallach and they have a daughter and three grandchildren.
Life at home was very traditional. We got up in the morning with the blessing Mode Ani and in the evening, before we went to bed, our lips murmured Shma Yisrael. The holidays were kept very strictly. I especially remember Passover. The bustle in the house was great in anticipation for the boiling of the dishes to make them kosher. The stove was heated by hot coals. The whole house was made kosher and cleaned.
The lives of Perla and I changed with our joining to Hashomer Hatzair, where we discovered more progressive lives. It was the most beautiful time of my life. I discovered a
Different world. The Chazak ve'ematz (be strong and of good courage), the interesting conversations, the trips, the Hora dances. Every year on the eighth of July we went to the Great Synagogue (di groise Shil), to hear the interesting lecture of the late Dr. Menashe Mendel in memory of Benjamin Zeev Herzl. We were dressed in Hashomer Hatzair uniform, we sang and celebrated. It was an extraordinary experience. We thought it would last forever: the trips, the dances, the small and big loves, the separations, which were often accompanied by anguish. Time passed, we began to mature. Some of the members fulfilled their dream, went to training, and immigrated to Israel. Some went to universities, and perhaps even dreamed of Aliyah. Over time, Hashomer Hatzair tended more to the left. I and other friends left the movement in favor of communism, with the clear thought that only in this way would the problems of the Jewish people be solved, problems that had always preoccupied my mind. The establishment of the state of Israel at that time was seen as a utopia. I did not realize then how wrong I was. I paid a high price. I spent a year and a half in prison due to communist activity that was illegal in independent Poland. I caused my family great sorrow, but then I still believed in the righteousness of my way. I believed that the Soviets would bring us salvation. The day they entered Kuty was the happiest day of my life.
The disappointment was not long in coming and intensified after we fled to Russia. An entire book could have been written about my activities as a communist. I will tell one episode: on May 1, the police would arrest the known communists, in order to prevent them from organizing demonstrations and distributing printed material against the regime. I was once sent to Lvov, to bring printed propaganda material in order to distribute it in villages and towns. I did not know that a suitcase full of paper could be so heavy. I could not lift it up and put it on the train. The truth is that I was sorry about the whole thing, but it was too late. I knew that if I returned with this suitcase to Kuty, the police would arrest me on the spot. I sat and looked for a solution. Suddenly the savior angel appears on the train. His name was Stengel. It was a young man from Kuty, who lived not far from the Hazenpratz family. He was an avid revisionist. I knew only he could save the situation. I asked him to take the suitcase and send it to Adela Engel, who was also a communist activist. I promised to pay the expenses. I told him I had relatives in Zablotov and I did not want to lug around with the suitcase. I knew he would not be harmed, because the police would never suspect him. He agreed, but after lifting the suitcase, he twisted his face, saying it was too heavy. Luckily some Poles were sitting there, telling him that he can't refuse to do a favor to such a beautiful maiden. In short, he took the suitcase with suspicious and concerns, but accidentally handed it over to Mrs. Engler, who lived on the street where Sheindel Height lived, instead of Adela Engel. She opened the suitcase out of curiosity, saw its contents, and was shocked. When she recovered she informed Sheindel Height. Miraculously it all ended well. I met Stengel once in Israel. We did not mention the incident. Today he is no longer alive. May he rest in
The head of Hashomer Hatzair Histadrut in Kuty was Meir Tenanzpaf. He was very active and contributed much to the movement. None of his family members survived. May them rest in peace. In 1941 we left Kuty and together with the late Rosa Tzila we fled to Russia. There we found Pola, and together we went through this terrible war. We stayed with Tzipa and Isaac Hozen, and also with Hanhale and Moshe Klinger. They told us what our family went through and the town that was completely destroyed. I wanted to get to the Land of Israel as quickly as possible and live there forever. I never complained that it was difficult for me, even though I lived in bad conditions, but always with a strong belief, that everything will work out for the best.
by Yafa Shraga (from the Altman family)
Translated by Mira Eckhaus
My childhood years were spent in the town of Kuty in Poland. Our house stood close to the city center, some distance away from the Cheremosh River. I was the second daughter out of eight children in the family. My parents worked hard to provide for our large family. My father, Moshe, was engaged in the leather trade and my mother, Miriam, took care of all our needs at home. Despite the financial difficulties, my parents invested a lot of effort in our education. And it was not easy. For a long time, five of the children attended school at the same time. My parents also took care of our musical education and that's how my late sister Rosa, and I, learned to play the violin. When I was 15 years old, my parents sent me to study teaching in the city of Lviv, which was unusual in a small town like Kuty.
Our friends were always welcome and accepted in our home, which was filled with happy voices all the time. On holidays, relatives who lived outside the town came to visit us and to spend the holiday time with us and thus there were a lot of joy and happiness in our home.
My mother, with her generosity, secretly supported needy families. Many years after I immigrated to Israel (1933), I met people from Kuty, who immigrated to Israel after me, and they told me about the support and help they received from my parents.
Unfortunately, I lost most of my family in the Holocaust, my father Moshe Altman and my mother Miriam from the Grau family, my sister Shoshana (Rosa) and her husband David Grau and their son Ezra, my three younger brothers: Ephraim, Haim and Shimon, and other relatives from the Altman, Grau and Oifzahar families. May their memory be blessed.
Israel 5752 1992
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