Donated by Jay Snider
[Page א I]
The publication of this book is a special event for the people of these towns who survived the Holocaust, and especially for those who made it to Israel and established families and opened a new page in their lives. Publishing the book is not only an act of commemoration for those small but magnificent communities. It is the fulfillment of an obligation - an obligation to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren that they know their parents and grandparents and the place from where they came, and what happened to them during the Holocaust.
The completion of this book reminds me of the spiritual awakening that took place in our town when the writing of a Torah scroll was completed. Perhaps because those events were enveloped with gratitude, or perhaps because they meant fulfilling an important command.
The book contains personal and other stories and descriptions that relate to the people of the town and institutions, wonderful experiences from those bright days, experiences that shined light on the paths of our lives from childhood and accompanied us wherever we went. Side by side with these stories are stories of painful experiences and difficult events from the time of the Holocaust and the destruction. We must keep these descriptions and events in our mind and memory, and bequeath them to our children and our children's children.
The idea to publish this book was born many years ago and a few attempts were made to bring it into existence. This did not happen despite our will and considerable efforts, until our friend Pinhas Hagin came along and agreed to devote himself to the project. His arrival blew new winds into the sails of the ship and he was able to bring it to its destination. He went about the work of collecting, composing and editing with modesty and devotion, and the fruits of his labor lie before us. We thank him and are grateful for his work.
[Page ג III]
Pinhas and Malka Hagin
A personal book of each one who contributed to it
This book commemorating the towns of Old Rafalovka, New Rafalovka, Olizarka, Jilotz and the area are the personal account of each and every one who contributed to it. The events and figures from the past are depicted in a lively manner. The intensity of the personal experience of those days remained vivid and clear in the mind of the writer recounting his memories today. The passage of time since those days of destruction and extermination did not fade the memory of a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, a sister, and a brother. The recollections have been published with only minor alterations. We read the recollections and each tried to absorb the feeling of the writer. The writer expresses his or her heart's whispering to his loved ones from the past, as they now live in his or her memory. The recollections also voice a yearning to return to the family and the home and to relive those days.
It is meant first and foremost for the people from our town, for us, for our children, and for the next generations. The book expresses our grief, sorrow and cry over the loss of our beloved ones. It is a Kaddish that was never said over the graves of our dear ones. It is an eternal light in their memory, an eternal light for the souls of the martyrs of our town who were murdered by the Nazis and their helpers, damn them. It is an eternal warning for us and our sons. May this book be with each and every one of us, may it accompany us throughout our lives, may it tell our children and the next generations about the lives of their parents, their fathers and their fathers' fathers, may it recount the ways of their lives, their beliefs, their hopes and aspirations to return to Zion and for redemption.
[Page ז VII]
|On behalf of my eyes, which have seen the grief
and laden my sagging heart with lament,
on behalf of my mercy, which bade me to forgive
until the days of dread beyond pardon,
I have taken a vow: to remember it all,
To remember and naught to forget
[Page ט IX]
The 16th of Elul, tashav, 29th of August 1942 was the day the ghetto was put under siege. The Jews of Rafalovka were led to pits prepared in advance on the way to the village of Sukhovolya and shot to death.
Yizkor May God remember the souls of our beloved ones, the people of the towns of Old Rafalovka, New Rafalovka, Olizarka, Zoludzk and the area these holy communities men, women and children who were murdered by the German Nazis, may they be damned.
May God remember the sacrifice of our beloved ones, may he remember them for the better and gather their souls in the bundle of the living. Let us- we, our children and the coming generations, remember our holy beloved ones.
[Page יא XI]
August 29, 1988
In the commemoration event this evening we are walking together row after row in a big funeral we did not hold for our dear ones, for whom we did not tear our clothes and cry and grieve over their graves. The purpose of this commemorative evening is to look at all the remaining days of this year through the light of the candles we have lit. The very meaning of this evening resides in it's roots, in the extent to which the memory of the Holocaust lives in our hearts.
Our towns, Rafalovka the Town and Rafalovka the Station, Zoludzk and Olizarka, were typical towns. Millionaires did not crowd the courtyards and poverty was everywhere, and yet the towns were full of creativity, Jewish values, Torah, wisdom and learning.
Rafalovka the Town and Rafalovka the Station, Zoludzk and Olizarka were far from Eretz Israel but the spirit of Eretz Israel was present there. Ukrainian songs surrounded us but our souls burst with the songs of Zion. Sheigetzes and shikses danced the Kazatshok but the Jewish youth in Rafalovka danced the Eretz Israeli Hora, with a secret yearning for the light. Almost all the townspeople would accompany the immigration of a youngster. The arrival of an emissary from Eretz Israel was a day of celebration.
This evening we will reminisce about and commemorate the glory of our families.
The Kaddish and the Yizkor will be heard in this hall, flowing out of the hearts of us all. The sorrow and pain will mix our tears with the souls of our martyrs, and we will unite with their holy memories.
[Page יב XII]
September 15, 1987
With a holy feeling we unite with the souls of the Nazis' victims and the memory of six million of our people, the horrifying Holocaust that befall our people, the murder of our beloved ones, compelling us to establish a monument for our martyrs. I see the monument as an eternal light that will not be extinguished. We will be able to pass on to future generations a memory of what the Amalek did to us in Europe.
People's schemes to exterminate and kill the Jews took different forms during various periods. The Nazi killer reached new heights during our generation by meticulously organizing the killing machine and technically improving it.
Trembling, we bow our heads low and remember our beloved ones today, our mothers, our fathers, sisters, brothers, boys and girls, children and babies, who were murdered, burned, strangled or stoned. Brothers and sisters, do not forget what the Nazis and their helpers did to us. Many waters will not put out the fire in our hearts, and rivers will not wash it away. Black clouds are covering the skies of the world again. Fascism, anti-Semitism, and racism are raising their heads again, the poisonous snake has not been completely exterminated.
We must call out to the young generation that did not know their grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts. We must tell them to stand guard, to lend a fighting hand to uproot racism, to prevent anti-Semitism from spreading, lest another holocaust take place. You can do it, remember the last words of our beloved ones: do not forget and do not forgive.
May this monument be a reminder for free peoples and future generations. May the memory of our beloved ones be blessed forever.
[Page יג XIII]
Leah-Lili Rog, from Melnitsa
.most of them lay embraced: men women and children
I lived in the town of Rafalovka temporarily until the Volhynia district was liberated from the Fascists in the Spring of 1944 (I don't recall the exact date). The Jewish partisans who came out of the camp were told that a committee for the investigation of the crimes committed by the Fascists in the Rovno County had arrived. We gathered at a certain place with shovels and we set out and walked for quite a while (or maybe it just seemed like a long walk) into the forest. We began digging in the sand. We quickly exposed bodies that had turned black, lying in a row face down, completely naked. Most of them lay embraced, men, women and children, families apparently. The bodies had not yet decomposed. Then some of the bodies were taken out of the grave and put on the ground to be photographed. Some of the Rafalovka Jews who were present recognized their relatives among the bodies.
Translated from Russian by Abraham Appelboim
[Page יד XIV]
Malka Lederman née Koziol
When we were in Rafalovka a delegation of doctors went to open up the mass grave, and of course the survivors, including myself, joined them. I was there when they dug to get to bodies that had not yet decomposed. The people there identified the bodies, the hair and the nails had grown. Children's bodies which were taken out were decomposing, we saw all of them laid down side be side.
And I was just a little girl.
[Page יד XV]
We, the undersigned, are members of the regional committee for the determination of the crimes carried out by the German occupiers in the Rafalovka region, Rovno county: Chairman, the military commander of the region, Captain Lukianinko. Comrades the regional N.K.V.D. appointee Sorokin; health manager of the survivors in the Mamalayba district; the man in charge of the military section in the regional branch of the communist party, Ozierski; the head of the Pravoslav- Polonnoye Church, Reverend Kranyevitch; and with participation of the expert doctors: director of the hospital, Major of the Medical Corps Dr. Volojyekin; Captain of the Medical Corps, Dr. Sideoff.
We noted the following protocol:
During the occupation by the German invaders 2953 people were shot in the region. 2800 people from the Jewish population men, women, and children - were buried in two graves three kilometers north of the town of New Rafalovka, 600 meters from the road on a hill at the edge of the forest.
Based on evidence of witnesses, a mass shooting of groups was conducted in pre-dug pits. Before the people were executed they were forced to undress. Then they were led to the pit and shot dead.
When one of the graves was discovered it was determined that the pits prepared were 25 by 8 meters wide and 3 meters deep. On the southern side a special exit a kind of stairway was prepared.
The bodies were found lying in four rows, one above the other, separated by dirt layers 10-15 centimeters wide.
All the bodies were found face down with the heads of one column lying on the lower part of the column below it. The upper limbs and the hands in general were bent towards the head; the assumption is that before death they made attempts to shelter their face with their hands. All bodies were naked.
The execution was performed by firing pistols and automatic weapons aimed at the back of the head and the temples. Signs of external violence found on ten percent of the murdered testify to acts of abuse close to the time of the murder. Bodies were fractured in both shoulders, in the collarbone, and jawbones were shattered by a blunt instrument.
[Page טז XVI]
Shmuel Efrat [Appelboim]
The content of an article published by a Soviet journalist, the Ukrainian P. Sachok, in the Leninska-Zuria newspaper on July 6, 1989. Yehudit Muchnik née Leshetz received this article and others when she visited the Ukraine in 1990. She gave this material to the editors of this book when she returned to Israel.
Among those who survived the Holocaust and cannot forget the horrors is a resident of Rafalovka, Barko Bril. According to him the horrible slaughter carried out by the Fascist Germans and the servants of the great Reich, the Nazis, and the Ukrainian nationalists that assisted them, was nightmarish.
During the summer of 1942, the town of Rafalovka was in turmoil, the German Ukrainian police robbed and murdered the peaceful population. The commander of the police in Rafalovka, Rivachevski, excelled in these acts.
The brothers Vladimir and Ernesty Panasijuk, brothers Georgy and Ivan Palamarchuk, Alexy Skievchuk and a whole list of other traitors served in the police at that time.
The supporters of the new order showed a special hostility to the citizens of Jewish nationality.
At the beginning of the summer a ghetto was established in Rafalovka for the Jews of the area from Old Rafalovka, Olizerka, Zoludzk, Belskaya Volya and other villages. In fact, the Germans gathered all the Jews of the area there in preparation for their mass extermination.
Franz Mattus, the Ukrainian Rivachevski and his subordinates carried out the evil plan of the final solution of the Jews of the region, as representatives of the German government. Surveillance of the ghetto became stricter and police guards surrounded the ghetto day and night. People from the outside were not allowed in the ghetto, and no ghetto resident was allowed out. The policemen knew that the people they were in charge of were destined to die. Fearing the Jews might run away or cause unrest, the policemen kept their real intentions from the residents of the ghetto.
On the 29th of August 1942, the ghetto residents were gathered in the central square under the pretext of a population count, a common event in those days. The people who were there became frightened when they suddenly noticed military vehicles with German policemen surrounding the square on all four sides.
The sun was beating down. They were told the column was organizing to go out to work but it was a longconvoy. They sensed that they were going on their final journey.
The eyes of the children and women filled with tears. Wailing and groaning disturbed the peacefulness of the forest. None of this moved the German executioners and their Ukrainian helpers to compassion.
Here is a quote by Barko Bril, a survivor of the killing field. Here on the hill of Bachov, a horrible crime has been committed against my people. They lined us up in groups to be exterminated. Each group had about a hundred people, from everything I saw I understood there is no way back from this place. I decided to escape no matter what with a few other people who stood around me. We began running towards the nearby forest. They fired at us, one bullet hit my arm. Others were hurt and fell to the ground. Three others and I managed to escape.
That horrendous day my wife and our five children, my father and my brother were murdered. 48 souls from my family were murdered on that day.
According to the testimonies given during the trials conducted against the few killers who were caught, the shootings on the Bachov hill continued incessantly. The policemen fired at the necks of their victims, drunk with human blood and schnapps (vodka). They took their lives. Peasants came to the hill from the region villages and covered the bodies with sand. They also covered the wounded that were still alive. New victims fell on the sand, which absorbed the blood of the murdered. During this operation the Ukrainian policemen had demonstrated their great devotion to the German Reich.
With cruel enthusiasm, policeman Ernesty Panasjuk continued to aim his weapon at a boy who managed to rise above the mountain of bodies. While the face and body of the boy contorted with the final death throes from the murderous bullets, Panasioc was praised by the German who stood next to him and patted his shoulder and said gut.
The deputy police commander Alexy Skievchuk had his own job to do during the operation. He supervised the Jews undressing before the execution and made sure they put their personal belongings in an orderly manner close to the death pits. He was in charge of economic matters, which were part of the aktzia. The property stolen from the Jews was transferred to a special storeroom in Rafalovka and became the property of the German Reich.
Shots were heard on the Bachov hill the next day as well. More than 2500 people lost their lives in this place. But the killers were not satiated and the shooters continued to search all the hiding places where Jews may have taken refuge during the aktzia. When the latter were discovered they were led to the pits and executed. Nothing stopped the soldiers, not the crying of mothers, not the stretched arms of the little children, not even the pleas for mercy of the old. Murder became routine.
In June 1972 a trial was held in the town of Vladimirets for some of the traitors, ex-policemen who took part in the Rafalovka murders, including the two Panasijuk brothers, the two Palamarchuk brothers and Alexie Skievchuk. One of the witnesses in that trial was Barko Bril.
Almost fifty years have gone by since the crimes were committed, since the cruel killing on Bacho hill. This is a horrible act that will not be lost to human memory.
Comment: Barko Bril, who escaped the killing hill of Bachov, described the acts that occurred in the ghetto on the day of the slaughter. Barko Bril passed away in 1990 in the age of 84. He left a wife, four daughters and a son. Before his death he asked to be buried as a Jew. One of his daughters, who lives in the city of Grodno, came to Israel with her twenty-year-old son on a family visit in the summer of 1991. They stayed with their cousin, Mrs. Yehudit Muchnik, in Raanana.
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