« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 112]

We are Adopting a Community that was Destroyed

By Arela Asheri, 7th Grade

Skalat! I hear a voice shouting inside me. How is it different from the rest of the towns, the little shtetlach? Aren't there small houses with red roofs in Skalat? Aren't there verdant fields and people working them with love and with dedication? Is it unique?

No…no! It was a town like all the towns. Wheat fields surrounded it, and churches adorned it. In it were people who tasted the taste of hate and love, laughter and pain.

The pampered children of Israel traversed its streets. Most of them are no longer alive. A few remained, and their wounds have not formed scabs. Did they have mothers who they would embrace and hold close to their hearts?

There was a mother, but they do not remember her. Sometimes they think about the appearance of her face, the color of her eyes and hair, and perhaps she is still alive and searching for them?

They are seeking an answer that they will never uncover. They are certainly picturing her in their imaginations. But all their memories of the small house, there in the town of Skalat, are wrapped in fog.

And perhaps this too is for the best. For if they would remember everything, their brothers and sisters, their mothers and fathers, these sights would pursue them all the days of their lives, sights of the loved ones who hovered between life and death. And what is the reason for life? Behold there is neither relative nor redeemer close by. They are alone, even though they certainly have wives and children.

Many people were sentenced to death. Why? Because of their Jewishness? Because of the superstition that Jesus of Nazareth was murdered by the Jews? And since that time, so many years have passed. But if we assume that the Jews crucified Jesus, they crucified only one person, not six million. Yes! Six million were murdered. A legendary number. Six million were murdered. And why? Was there a reason for the murder of those Jews? What was the sin of the million and a half children of Israel who were murdered before the eyes of their mothers, of those infants and sucklings who were slaughtered and asphyxiated?

One community, the one that we are adopting, cries out to me, stands before my eyes. And I see its streets and its beautiful, destroyed houses, its dead children, and its dry fields, through the curtain of distance. The Destroyer descended upon all of them.

[Page 113]

Their lives were bitter. Those solitary remnants that remained for deliverance, out of thousands, stand before my eyes.

From afar, the ruins of the town cry out to me. Do Jews still live there? That town would remind them of frightening sights of those difficult, awful days. Who knows, perhaps one of the murderers still lives there? The Ukrainians certainly seized their places, and they did not love them. Perhaps the town again blossoms and flourishes? But it does not seem probable that life would flow in the old channel. Or perhaps piles of ruins are still standing there, a remembrance of a vibrant life for which such a great price was paid.

And perhaps, if they had not slaughtered so many people, if they had not burned them in furnaces, there would then have been a more beautiful, better, purer world.

 

ska113.jpg
The Choir of the Krol School at the Ceremony of the Perpetuation of the Community of Skalat

[Page 114]

ska114.jpg
The Scroll of Perpetuation

 

The school named for Y. Krol in Petach Tikvah, in the State of Israel, solemnly proclaims that on the 22nd of the month of Teveth 5728, it has taken upon itself the sacred task to perpetuate the community of Skalat, in the land of Poland, which was destroyed in the years of the Holocaust by the impure, evil soldiers of the Nazi regime and its accomplices.

The students of our school will continue the remembrance in eternal memory of Skalat. They undertake this act in cooperation with the State Educational Authorities and with the Communal Organizations in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora, with the assistance of the National Committee for the Perpetuation of the Communities of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in its life and its work, as witnesses to the suffering, the struggle, and the annihilation of the town of Skalat, during the period of the Holocaust.

Signed:
Principal of the School__________
Educator of the Class_______
Representative of the Participating Students __________________________
Proxies of the Organization of the Community ______________
Representative of the National Committee for the Perpetuation of the Communities_________
The Scroll was Accepted at Yad Vashem for Eternal Safeguarding.

[Page 115]

ska115.jpg
Mr. Dov Aloni, Representative of Yad Vashem, greeting

[Page 116]

ska116.jpg
At the Ceremony of Perpetuation

From: That Conflagration

By the Poet, Chaim Guri

From that conflagration which burnt your tortured, charred body,
We have borne a torch–fire, giving light to our soul.
And with it, we have kindled the flame of freedom.
With it, we have gone into battle upon our soil.
Your pain, which has no equal,
We have poured into iron hewers and sharp–toothed plows.
Your humiliation, we have turned into rifles,
Your eyes into a lighthouse
And ships, into battles in the night.


[Page 117]

In the Expanse of the Soviet Union

By Ar'el Asheri

With the outbreak of war between the Soviet Union and Germany in June 1941, and the advance of the German Army eastward, a few families from Skalat escaped to the interior of the Soviet Union. Similarly, transferred to the interiors of the country, many of the residents of the city were conscripted into the Red Army, out of a suspicion of lack of loyalty.

In the Soviet Union, they encountered suffering and afflictions, another story of the enormity of the Holocaust and its terror.


[Page 118]

In the Land of Cold and Frost

By Mordechai Or

Very little has been written about the fate of the Jews who fled for their lives to the Soviet Union, or of those who were drafted into the Red Army with the outbreak of the war between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

In June 1941, many Jewish youths from Skalat were conscripted into the Red Army, along with Ukrainians. With the outbreak of fighting, there were Jewish families and lone individuals who fled.

At the beginning of the war, the Red Army suffered severe defeats and began to retreat eastward in disarray. The German Air Force struck the routes of retreating soldiers, as well as multitudes of Jewish refugees from eastern Poland, under a hail of terrible bombings.

Settlement after settlement in Western Ukraine fell into the hands of the cruel conquerors. Trembling seized the Jewish population, while the nationalistic Ukrainians rejoiced and served as a fifth column for the Germans who were drunk with victory. The enemy controlled the air without restraints and sowed destruction and annihilation.

The night bombings of the city of Tarnopol made a frightening impression on me. Suddenly, illumination bombs were dropped, one after the other, in the dark of night, and by their light Ostroskigo Street could be clearly seen, with many soldiers and refugees retreating in fear through the narrow bridge, some on foot and some in wagons. The crowds were routed by the retreating tanks, and hurt by the merciless enemy bombing from the air. We hoped that the Soviet Army would succeed in stopping the damage and in stabilizing the front near the Zabroch River.

In Volochisk, we found terrified Jews who were afraid of opening their hearts to strangers. Even the waters of the Zabroch River did not have the power to stop the advancing German army. We were weary and drained from wandering on the roads. Hunger pressed. The supply of food was absolutely chaotic. Sometimes food was in abundance, and sometimes we starved for entire days.

Signs of desertion were obvious among the conscripted Ukrainians. Several impatient Jews were not able to hold out. In their naivete, they believed that the violence was not so terrible, and that it would be possible to exist even under the rule of the Germans. They bribed Soviet Officers and disappeared. Later, it became known that Ukrainians had killed them before they managed to reach Skalat, their destination.

The panicky retreat lasted about two months, day and night, on the routes of suffering in eastern Ukraine and its forests. We reached Kiev. There, they separated me from the remainder of the Jews of Skalat, and I was stationed at a mobile military hospital together with a Jew by the name of Y., who was from the environs of Zalshitzikr. I was sometimes sent westward in the direction of the front, to find out the fate of the rest of the mobile hospitals from Eastern Galicia.

[Page 119]

On our way, we picked up wounded. We offered them first aid and transferred them to the rear. The severely wounded breathed out their souls far from their families and their dear ones, and for lack of time and means, their bodies were sent to the pit without any formalities of ceremony. The appearance of the dead made a shocking impression on me.

My companion in trouble, Y. Mazlashatziki, became friendly with me and, in his bitterness, he opened up his heart to me. He was shocked and depressed by strong longings for his wife and his small son. In his despair, he had ceased eating. In view of his difficult psychological situation, I tried to encourage him. I brought him his food, and really forced him to eat. Many times, he attempted to influence me, at the time of the retreat. In different places of encampment, he insisted that I should remain with him until the arrival of the German army, in the unrealistic hope that we would succeed in returning home to live our lives in peace in the bosom of our families. With difficulty, I succeeded in moving him away from that vision. But his sickness, caused by the death of his family, gave him no rest. Sometimes he would urge me anew to remain with him and to desert. In one of the encampments in Eastern Ukraine, he began to negotiate with two wounded German captive POW's, saying that he would remain with them until the arrival of their army. Meanwhile we received an order to retreat because the German Army was advancing. When I realized that my friend Y. was missing, I searched for him in the forest, shouted and called his name. There was no sound and no one answering. Our trucks began to move from their places. Suddenly, I discovered him conversing with two captives. I informed him that we were moving, but he was firm in his belief that these nice Germans promised him that they would serve as advocates for us if we remained with them. With great difficulty, I convinced him that these friends would be the first ones to murder us. With great effort and breathlessness, we caught up with our caravan.

Meanwhile, several severe incidents occurred. A young Soviet soldier from our unit hid his grenades in the forest, apparently with the intention of falling into German captivity. A court martial sentenced him to death, along with several of our wounded comrades who were executed when it became known that they had shot themselves in order to get away from the front.

At the end of August 1941, an order was received that all former Polish citizens were to return their new uniforms immediately, including our personal boots from home, and we were issued old, patched uniforms instead. Immediately a rumor spread that we were about to be sent to the front. My friend Y., a sworn pessimist, continuing in his usual way of thinking, said that it would be a shame to give good clothing to those who were to be used as cannon fodder, and that was the reason they dressed us in these rags.

We were put into a closed military automobile, and traveled on a circuitous path through the forests. According to the direction, I discerned that we were traveling east, and I comforted my friend that his prophecies were dark. After several hours, we reached a military camp of conscripted soldiers from western Ukraine. From this camp we continued to Priluki, a city east of Kiev. Trains began to arrive there with west–Ukrainian soldiers who had been sent far away from the front, and, like us, were suspected of a lack of loyalty.

To my joy, I found several Jews from Skalat there, Yosef Rotstin, Izir Felshner, Philip Goldstein, Moshe Schechter, Max Sapir, Lunk Margolis and Izir Bomze z”l.

At the beginning of September 1941, they put us on board a freight train, and we were transported to Siberia. The trip, in closed cars, intended for cattle, took over two weeks, while our food was especially scanty.

On the 17th of September, at dusk, we reached the Yurga Station, a far–out village east

[Page 120]

of Novosibirsk. After a march of five kilometers, we reached the camp that was intended, apparently from the start, for forced labor.

An electrified fence with guard–towers around it surrounded the camp, which consisted of several bunks. Our spirits were depressed. My friend Y., who did not stray from me, added oil to the fire when he whispered to me that in the darkness near the gate, he had seen an N.K.V.D. man from the security police with his rifle aimed at us, while standing on guard. That implied that we were imprisoned, through no fault of our own, lost and forgotten, and that no one even knew to where we had disappeared. In the darkness, we reached a bunk that housed about 500 men on platforms, four double–statures high, without mattresses or blankets. The worn out coats served at night as a mattress and blanket, both. The people of the place looked upon us with pity in our summer uniforms and doubted whether we would hold out in the Siberian winter, where the temperatures reached minus–50 degrees centigrade. The food was inadequate, as the suppliers had conspired with the command and had stolen from the meager conscripts' portions. Because of my education, I was asked to serve as the head clerk in the office of the command. It was easy work and at a suitable salary as well. It included food in abundance and warm clothing. The main reward was dwelling in a warm bunk. However I turned that down and recommended Y. for the job, instead.

The administration in the camp was more severe than in the brigades of forced labor camps, and in large measure even worse from the point of view of work conditions, as well as the quantity and quality of food, and vital supplies. Rising at five in the morning, we would go out about ten kilometers on foot, in snowstorms and burning frost, to a railroad station to work at loading and unloading of heavy weights of coal, gigantic beams of wood, machine parts, and more. Similarly, we worked at digging ditches in the frozen Siberian soil for foundations of a factory. The work lasted until eight in the evening. The men worked with their meager strength, in order that their daily bread rations, which did not exceed 800 grams, not be further reduced. It was a kind of frozen cereal of grain mixed with potatoes and bran. Its nutritional value was very low. The cold forced us to work so that we would not freeze. To our increased distress, they would sometimes awaken us at night in order to unload freight trains that arrived during the night hours. We would work until morning light, and afterwards would continue to do our regular jobs, as if nothing had happened. The hunger and the lice ate us ravenously. Swollen with famine, many began to scavenge in the garbage cans from the need to diminish their hunger.

The strength of the men, mostly Ukrainians, and a minority of them Jews, gradually diminished. After two months of crushing labor, almost without food, without the possibility of bathing, without any change of clothing, about six to seven of the men began dying daily. When ‘the water reached my neck,’ I handed over my wrist watch, my only keepsake from home, to a Soviet officer, in exchange for the possibility of working in the nearby village as a civilian. I settled myself into working in the office of a tank factory and I wasn't subject to military discipline. From then on, I worked in a heated room, and I began to recover.

In addition to the bread ration, the commanders of the section received a bucket of cabbage soup three times a day. Most of the commanders divided the soup among their men, while leaving little bits of potatoes for themselves. The results were deadly, and many perished. In my unit, I instituted dividing of the soup in rotation, so no man would be deprived. Thanks to that, not one person died while I stood at the head of the group. It is especially important that I mention Izyo Felshner, who worked in the kitchen, for the brewing of tea in the camp, and who more than once shared his piece of bread with me. The fierce cold

[Page 121]

and the hunger left their mark on the men and did not spare the Skalaters who did not benefit from working in the kitchen or other services that had advantages. Izyo Bomze became sick and died prematurely. Moshe Schechter became weak but lived to be liberated.

When the complaints of the people of Yurga, who were afraid of an epidemic plague, reached the authorities in Moscow, and it became known that out of a brigade of about 1000 men, only 300 men remained alive three months later, and of them about half in human condition, the authorities ordered the camp closed. The commanders were imprisoned. Some of those remaining alive were transferred to a labor camp in the city of mines, Stalinsk. I worked there, for a time, in the office of a large restaurant. The food was abundant, and for fellowship, I relied in a steady manner on a group of Jews from Tarnopol and its surroundings.

I suffered in Siberia in this way only four months, but I will never forget that difficult period.


[Page 122]

From Skalat, through Cheliabinsk,
to the Skies of Kibbutz Degania

By Ze'ev Reuveni

 

The Conclusion of the Second World War

Cheliabinsk. The capitol city of Ural, May 1945. The Second World War has come to its end. The citizens of the Soviet Union are weary from the war and the prolonged suffering. They celebrate the great event together, with the entire Free World.

The Jews of Cheliabinsk celebrated the end of the war with mixed feelings. Among the Soviet Jews were many Jews from Eastern Europe, particularly from Western Ukraine.

The overwhelming majority of the Jews of Cheliabinsk who had reached Ural during the war in 1941 were single men who had served in the Polish Army, and who, after the German attack on the Soviet Union, were conscripted into the Red Army. Over the course of time, the Russians kept the Western Ukrainians from the front by questioning their loyalty, especially if they were Jewish. Those who were distanced were organized in semi–military organizations, and were conscripted to labor in heavy industry.

We worked in tank factories, and manufactured replacement parts for planes and other military equipment in order to assist in hastening the victory over the Nazi enemy. We worked with energy and dedication because we knew that this was a war against a common enemy who would decide the fate of the Jewish people, even though we did not imagine the magnitude of the catastrophe that had been visited upon our people.

Every day, we saw long columns of heavy tanks that were destined for the front. Soldiers and officers from the Armored Corps arrived at our workplace to receive the new equipment, to load them on flatcars, and to leave for the front. Frequently, I received an answer in Yiddish from soldiers who wished to emphasize their Jewish origins. In one instance, an officer with the rank of major told me that he had been wounded three times, and that the army wanted to transfer him to the rear. But he had not agreed “because how is it possible to stop fighting?” From many Russian officers and soldiers, I heard that the Jewish soldiers distinguished themselves in exemplary self–sacrifice, bravery, and in their fierce desire to triumph over and to destroy the German enemy. I was very happy when I heard Russian soldiers telling me in Yiddish, sometimes haltingly, that they were Jews, and several of them had already received medals of distinction for their daring and dedication in battle. The Jewish Major, who had been wounded three times, told me that the number of Jewish officers and soldiers who had received the distinction of Hero of the Soviet Union was proportionately greater than those of other nationalities. After the war, I found out that the Jewish fighters took fourth place after the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Belarusians.

We, too, the workers and heavy industry laborers, whose task it was to supply the equipment needed for victory over the enemy, received prizes and certificates of distinction.

[Page 123]

In Cheliabinsk, similar to other places in the Soviet Union, in places where there were Poles and Jews, Polish citizens from before the war, formed organizations named the Union of Polish Patriots. The goal of these societies was to generate economic and moral help for Polish citizens. But the most important goal was the concentration of all one's powers towards the war effort and the annihilation of the enemy.

 

The Historic Meeting

The Organization of Patriots would meet in the evenings, after the work day, and read news from the Russian press. After the conclusion of the war, we regularly received the Polish daily press from Warsaw.

After the war, one of the newspapers, Trybuna Ludu, the People's Platform, the newspaper of the Polish Workers' Party, printed articles sympathetic to Zionism and to the aspirations of the Jewish people to rebuild their lives, which had been destroyed by the Nazis in the Second World War.

One of the articles that particularly impressed me was similar to a Zionist speech that the leaders of Polish Zionism would voice before the war. After reading the newspaper with the enthusiastic Zionistic article, I could not find rest for my stormy soul, and my desire was to disseminate the article. I knew that this was a dangerous adventure. On the other hand, this was an official Polish newspaper, and what was permitted to a worker's Polish government was also permitted to an organization abroad. In every way, I knew that one should not postpone a wonderful opportunity like this, and I read it in front of the public, for groups of Jews, but Poles were also listening.

I began to read the article regularly, but when I reached certain places, I amplified my voice and began to read with much excitement about the possibility of new life on the soil of our ancestors. In the newspaper, Na Ziemi Ojcow, those words were explicitly used. I read the latter part of the article in an excited manner. In this last part, the author wrote with great enthusiasm about Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people since, for 1800 years, the people had suffered from life in exile, depression, poverty and persecution. “And the time has come,” this Polish Gentile wrote, “that the Jewish people also should obtain its inheritance in the Land of its Fathers.” The emphasis throughout the entire article was on “the Land of the Fathers.”

In the midst of the audience sat a young Jew who saw himself as a Politruk, a political leader responsible for the political education of his followers to the official Communist Party line, even though he had been an ardent Bundist in Poland.

I finished my task, and completed the reading. The article made a strong impression on the listeners. After I completed the reading, an unusual silence prevailed, and only the Politruk approached me, raised his voice, and asked me angrily from whom I had received permission to read a Zionist article at a meeting of the organization. He even threatened to report me to the authorities. That worried me very much. Indeed, I had read an article from an official Polish newspaper, but my emphasis at the time of reading, and the applause of the audience, could all put me in deep trouble with the authorities.

The chairman of the organization intervened, calmed the ‘law abiding one,’ and told him that I had read an article from an official newspaper of democratic Poland. The matter was not reported to officials. But I was

[Page 124]

left in fear, because I realized that they were liable to imprison me for Zionist propaganda and prevent my exit from Poland. My fears and tension did not dissipate until I left Cheliabinsk.

 

The Conversation with the Manager

After the historic pact between the Soviet Union and the provisional government of Poland concerning repatriation had been signed, I registered at the appropriate office and filled out a special form. Usually, the returnees received liberation from their labor and an exit permit without difficulty. Despite this, there were instances where the managers of factories and vital projects, particularly those of defense value, attempted to prevent the exit of engineers and other experts for a certain period. I waited more than a reasonable time to be liberated from my position as a regular engineer, and as a tutor responsible for youths working in military factories. I was worried. My colleagues, in other workplaces, had already been freed a long time ago and had received exit confirmation.

 

ska124.jpg
The Russian Engineer who Understood Our Aspirations
(Seated – second from left)

 

One day, early in June 1946, I was invited to the office of the Manager. At the beginning of the conversation, I was very agitated, but the good words of this intellectual Russian calmed me. The Manager, a veteran engineer from Leningrad, had been transferred in the days of the Siege of Ural, and served as chief engineer for the project on which I worked. In the course of time, he received the position of Manager of the project.

[Page 125]

The conversation was far from formal and turned into a pleasant and friendly dialogue. The engineer, Mr. Volkov, said, “I have heard that you are leaving us. Too bad. You have learned to work well, and you would be able to advance in rank if you wanted it. We would be prepared to fund your studies in Moscow or Leningrad. Is it bad for you with us?” I attempted to explain to the engineer that I had left family at home, and how important it was for me to get back with deliberate speed since there was no way to know their condition after the Holocaust. Perhaps, in spite of this, they remained alive and in need of my help. The engineer, who did not believe this was possible, listened to my words with a slight smile on his lips, and said, “Do you truly believe that someone remains alive? Isn't it known to you that the Fascists exterminated all the Jews, and that the remnants are only a few solitary individuals?” I answered, sorrowfully, “Yes, Piotr Ilrionovitch. I know very well what the Nazis did to the nations of the world, and especially to the Jews. And despite this, I still have a spark of hope that remnants of my family remain alive.”

The conversation lasted about half an hour or more. I did not have any doubt that the noble Russian was relating with sympathy to my case. He turned to me, not as to a worker of his office project, but as one who is speaking to a son of the Jewish people after the terrible Holocaust.

As our conversation neared its end, the engineer turned to me with words that I was unable to understand at the time. That a Russian man, in an official position, could speak in such a fashion with one of his workers was unheard of. The engineer turned to me, as if he was speaking to the representative of the Jewish People. At the conclusion of his words, he said approximately this, “Beautiful. If you wish to travel, it is left to me only to wish you success. But I do not think that you will find a home and family in Poland. The fate of the Jewish People in the lands of the Nazi conquest, and especially in Poland, is well known. Look, it is not an accident that the overwhelming majority of the Jews of conquered Europe were concentrated and exterminated in Poland. I understand that you will continue from Poland to Palestine, which is the hope of many Jews. Fine, but in Palestine, Arabs dwell. How will you get along with the sons of Ishmael?”

I was silent. I was astonished and surprised. I thought, “maybe the Bundist had informed on me, that I had read the article about a national home in Palestine?” Never had it occurred to me to discuss, with this distinguished Russian Gentile, pleasant and good, my dream of reaching Israel. I had not given even the slightest hint about this. After a number of seconds, he continued speaking and concluded with a parting blessing, “Travel in peace, and may you succeed, you, and the sons of your People, to establish your independent state in the Palestine of your ancestors. Be well and a good journey.”

“Thanks very much, from the bottom of my heart,” I said, and we parted.

The last parting words of the engineer were said with true Russian warmth, and when he parted, he was moved. I knew that his words were sincere. I was very moved by his words. I felt a psychological need to be alone for a number of minutes. A strong hope filled me that, indeed, I had succeeded.

 

Goodbye Cheliabinsk, Hello Our Brethren, the Sons of Israel!

In mid–June 1946, seven hundred Polish citizens, most of them Jews, were crowded onto a long freight train. Many were young people, but there were also aging parents. In every

[Page 126]

freight car, a group of comrades and friends were together. Indeed this was not a regular passenger train, but despite this, we were satisfied that everyone had found for himself enough room to arrange his belongings to his satisfaction.

The Russian landlady had packed my things for me, since I didn't have time for that. A female friend of mine from Bialystok lay sick for many months in the hospital, and the doctors advised her not to travel because she was liable to endanger her life. The patient, herself, whom I had dealt with all the time, with the sanction of the organization, and as a friend, did not make peace with her fate and wanted to leave in order to reach the Land of Israel. I did everything to obtain approval for her to leave. After much effort, I actually succeeded in bringing her to the depot, by carrying her on my back. She was very weak, and did not believe that she would live to complete the trip. She had a personal nurse, who was always prepared to provide first aid or to administer an injection. In Poland, she had joined Gordonia, and had been active in Bricha, smuggling and arranging illegal immigration. Today she is married and lives in Ramat Gan.

Another young woman, a tuberculosis patient, whom the organization had supported, was supposed to leave with us according to our plan. Since, in the opinion of the doctors, she did not have enough strength to leave for a long journey, we took her to a suitable institution, and she remained in the Soviet Union. On the day of my departure, I was able to bring her a certificate of approval, a Potiuvka, which allowed her to be placed in a home for the disabled in Troitzk, at government expense.

A Russian Jew, who worked with me in one building, arrived at the station to depart with me. He was an engineer who more than once asked me how it was possible to join the Poles, in order to leave Russia. The question occupied me, whether I would prefer to remain in Poland or continue on my way to Palestine. My answer was clear and unambiguous: to go home to the Land of Israel.

At that moment, the face of this Jew actually lit up and, with tears, he said to me, “Too bad that we cannot join you, but this is our fate. I have a request for you. Send regards to my mother and my sister in Tel Aviv. He handed me the address. We were silent. The two of us stood with tears in our eyes and parted.

Apparently, already there had begun an awakening of the Jewry of the Soviet Union. The Russian Jew left me with slow, heavy steps. While I hurried to the railroad car, raindrops began to fall, and it was a sad moment upon the heart. I turned my last glance toward the Russian Jew, the representative of the Jewry of Silence. I entered the car, where my companions offered me drink. I didn't want to drink. I settled myself down and sank into thoughts about the large and precious Jewish community, an honorable and important aggregation which was keeping silent, and whose future was very murky. There was no way of knowing whether and when it would join its people in its land. Who knows what will be the fate of the Jews of Russia? Will this people arise to national redemption and join its brethren? Would that it should happen!

A sharp, drawn–out whistle interrupted my thoughts, and another whistle, and yet another, and the train moved. Slowly, as we moved away from the city, I said goodbye to Cheliabinsk. To our Jewish brethren I added another prayer: “See you in our Land. Amen!”

 

The Border and the Inspection

After an exhausting and long trip, we reached the inspection point. The passengers prepared their documents. Police of the N.K.V.D. entered the car, greeted us, and requested our papers. I must remark

[Page 127]

that the behavior of the policemen was somewhat unexpected, polite, courteous, and far from official. It was rumored that there were instructions from the authorities to treat us nicely, because the work we had done in the military industry was exemplary and that we had helped defeat the enemy. Despite this, there were those among us who were afraid. Maybe they would search for gold, watches, jewelry, or other items. There was a good reason to assume that they were Raprarientz, a division of the oppressive secret police, and that for us to fear the worst was justified, but there were no searches, and everything passed peacefully.

We crossed the Russian–Polish border. We reached the Polish village of Kashivda – the meaning of the word is deprived. At this station, we had to wait a long time. A number of passengers got off the train and went into a nearby grove for their personal needs. We saw Poles who stood in the vicinity of the train. They formed groups among themselves and ganged up on us while saying, “They are returning here. Too bad that Hitler didn't manage to exterminate all of them.” Some did not content themselves with words, but signaled to us with a hand on the neck. We appealed to the passengers to return to the train and not to walk around, because we were in mortal danger. All the passengers returned to the train except for three young men. We searched for them but did not find them. All the efforts to find these companions ended in failure. Also, an energetic appeal to the manager of the station did not return them to us. We received an answer that this was not his business and that, in a number of minutes, we would continue the journey. The young men were already no longer alive. The murderers lay in ambush for prey and found it. There were some who refused to enter the train without the absent companions, and only after urgings and pleas that the number of victims was liable to increase did the people return to their cars. At one of the stations, the bitter information was reported that the three young men were murdered in Kashivda. Now, the companions were reminded that, indeed, they had heard three shots, but they hadn't wanted “to open a mouth to Satan.”

 

The ‘Wives’ Parted from Their ‘Husbands’

With contained pain and deep sorrow, after the murder of the three, we continued on the way and saw suspect types who reminded us of the murderers from Kashivda. They went around, particularly at the railroad stations, and lay in wait for victims.

At last, we reached the final station, Wroclaw. The city was ruined beyond repair, and our people found doubtful refuge in destroyed and half–destroyed houses.

Young couples who had registered in the city of Cheliabinsk, at the office of marriage registration, in order to enable a son or daughter of the couple to leave the country, parted with handshakes and with words of thanks. These were fictitious marriages. There were also couples who received, in the course of time, encouragement for legal rabbinic confirmation of their marriage, with a halachically proper marriage canopy and sanctifications.

My ‘wife’ also parted from me and joined Hashomer Hatzair, and I joined Gordonia. We transferred our certificate from the office of marriage registration in Cheliabinsk in order to enable a Latvian girl to exit the Soviet Union and join her family in the Land of Israel. The Baltic lands had been annexed to the Soviet Union and, therefore, only with the help of marriage confirmation with a Polish native was it possible to leave the Soviet Union.

I arrived at Lodz and received a position in the chief leadership of Gordonia, ‘The Young Maccabees.’ After a brief time, I was sent to Lower Silesia, and I received a position as head counselor

[Page 128]

and coordinator of the school of the children's camp of Gordonia in Niemci. Our final goal was to arrive with 200 children making illegal Aliyah to the Land of Israel. The children were Survivors of the Holocaust and a portion of them had been repatriated from the Soviet Union. The children, who were accepted at the camp, were between the ages of 6 to 16, and some were also of a more mature age, serving as counselors and teachers.

We divided the camp into groups according to age. The largest was a group of adolescents aged 16 and upwards. The rest of the groups were smaller. Every group had its own counselor and a teacher. In certain cases, the counselor also served as a teacher. In the morning hours, the groups were organized into study classes.

The work in the camp proceeded according to a fixed, orderly, daily routine. In the camp, there was a female doctor and two assistant nurses who worked very hard because the children, Holocaust Survivors, required constant, serious treatment. They had been brought from the concentration camps, and from different clandestine places, with severe illnesses. They suffered from a variety of symptoms and required serious care.

We received aid in medicines and food from the Joint Distribution Committee. The budget was guaranteed, and the children received nutritious food, as well as clothing, and shoes, in a well thought out way. We stayed in this place close to three months.

At the end of the summer of 1946, we packed our belongings and went out, in a few automobiles, to the Polish–Czech border. Several hundred meters before the inspection point, we got out of the automobiles and waited for the command to move. Men of the Haganah and the Bricha, worked hand in hand with the border officers. We received instructions from the Commander of the Bricha, the Illegal Immigration, that we should be vigilantly on guard. We arranged ourselves in groups, and at the head of each group, we placed a counselor. He waited for a signal. Suddenly, we heard the Commander's voice, “Gordonia, go up forward!” We marched like an army. Behind us walked a number of parents who would not part with their children. We consented to allow them to advance along with their children's groups.

 

We Cross the Border

As we approached the border, officers, soldiers, and border guards left their posts and only the Commander of the Bricha remained. He gave us a short command, “Forward!” We crossed the border without incident into Czechoslovakia. The inspection was superficial. They did not search much. The inspection and searches were essentially done of the parents. We got into the autos that waited for us, and drove to the Czech village of Bromov.

In the village, there was a German P.O.W. camp. The P.O.W.'s had been transferred to another place, and the bunks renovated. We settled down into that place. In the vicinity of the camp, there were more German P.O.W.'s, but there wasn't a more suitable place for us, so we remained there. The Germans closed themselves in, and did not go out of their bunks. The people of the Joint, ‘Ministering Angels’ as we called them, received us very warmly and cared for our health. They served us food and drink without limit. This was our first meeting, face to face, with the people of the Joint. It is hard to describe in words their dedication and their desire to help. The women of the Joint carried the small children in their arms, hugged them and kissed them. One who has not seen the dedication of the people of the Joint to the children of the remnants of the Holocaust, does not know what love of Israel is.

[Page 129]

We hadn't even managed to rest when, behold, there was an announcement over the loudspeaker to prepare for inspection. This was the first inspection of Gordonia in this place, in the German P.O.W. camp, on Czechoslovakian soil. The children of Israel, Survivors and remnants of the Holocaust in the hundreds, were gathering in the shadow of our national flag, in order to prove their fierce desire to begin life anew, in spite of everything.

The bunks of the German P.O.W.'s were not far from where we stood. From the windows, the Germans looked upon the Hebrew flag flying and announcing ‘the Jewish People live!’ This was the revenge that the Children of Israel were able to take on the Germans for the great suffering that they had caused. The revenge of children, who with their own eyes had seen the deaths of their parents, their brothers, and sisters, and whose only great sin was that they were the children of the Jewish People. This is the revenge known in our literature as ‘Revenge of the Covenant.’

With the conclusion of the inspection, the command was given, “Forward march!” Hundreds of children and youths marched in clean clothing in an orderly way around the camp, with a powerful song in their mouths, ‘The Flag of the Camp of Judah.’ The Germans saw this with their eyes, amazed, and asking, “Are these the remnants of the Jewish People which was exterminated?”

We stayed only a number of weeks in Bromov. Before we left, important visitors reached us, people of the Joint, the Bricha, and representatives of the Red Cross. They were received in the office of the Director of the camp, who was a Czech and managed the camp. In the office of the Director sat an important official who filled out different forms and prepared documents for us, and whose help we needed in order to continue our journey. The next day, we parted from Bromov, after an emotionally festive inspection, and went out on the road. We did not know the next stop. We traveled on a train. Two cars were designated for us. The entrance of strangers into our cars was forbidden.

When we were near Vienna, at the station just before the capital, we got off, got into autos which were waiting for us, and were taken to the Rothschild House. The Rothschild Hospital in Vienna was destroyed in the war, but the Jewish community decided to refurbish it and prepare it as a lodging place for ‘remnants of the sword.’ This was a temporary station, because we knew that we had to continue on the way.

I left for the city, in order to visit the grave of the visionary of the Jewish State at the cemetery. Immediately at the entrance to the cemetery, I found the family grave of Herzl. I was deeply saddened by the desecration of the monument by its many visitors, with their inscriptions of names on it, profanation of the sacred. I stood silent near the grave and I thought that, perhaps now, after the awful Holocaust, Herzl's dream would materialize, and that the State of Israel would arise. At that moment, it did not occur to me that we were very close to the establishment of the State, which would transfer Herzl's remains to the eternal capital of Israel, Jerusalem.

When I returned to the Rothschild House, I found out that we were divided into two groups, the children, who were essentially Survivors of the Holocaust, who would be transferred for recovery and rehabilitation to Schtrobel, and the youth and the adults who would continue on their way in an unknown direction. After many travels, and transitional stops, we reached Saalfelden in Austria, in the American Zone.

[Page 130]

ska130.jpg
Under Auspices of the Red Cross in Prague,
toward the Continuation of the Journey

[Page 131]

Saalfelden and Manual Toil

In Saalfelden, there were different pioneer youth movements. We would go out to work, which was assigned to us by the camp management. We would carry out the work on a contractual basis, and would receive a wage in money or in food. In the evening hours, we organized a variety of cultural activities.

It was reported to us that we should reach Italy, which was the last stop before Aliyah. The children of Schtrobel from the first group had already reached Milan. We waited for the order with impatience. The days in Saalfelden were numbered.

During this period, we increased the cultural work and, especially, the study of the Hebrew language. Everyone studied Hebrew, the language of the homeland. We read newspapers that arrived from the Land of Israel, and carried on fluent, flowing conversations and lectures about real matters.

The manual labor of the members of Gordonia made an impression on the people of the camp and many followed in our footsteps to seek work. Manual labor in the Saalfelden camp changed the atmosphere, and changed the attitude of the camp management and the American officers towards the Jews. The American officers told us that they had not believed we'd be qualified to fulfill all that was required of us, and that they wouldn't need to invite workers from the outside. The officers joked that they wouldn't allow us to leave Saalfelden, since they had no chance of getting workers like us. Thus, we became professional workers.

In the continuation of our journey, we would have to reach Italy, so we began to investigate which roads to use. As usual, rumors circulated. We got reports from different sources that the route would be comfortable and that we could travel by train directly from Salzburg to Milan. There was a second possibility that we would walk most of the distance on foot.

 

The Continuation of Illegal Immigration from Saalfelden to Milan through Innsbruck

In the last days of December 1946, we received an order to be prepared for the continuation of the journey, which was not especially easy. We were told to react with absolute silence to any questions we might be asked in connection with the continuation of the journey. They forbade us to take letters, notes, pictures, or anything that was liable to identify us. We were not to disclose the origin or the name of anyone.

One evening, we left for the journey. There was the Commander, a man of the Bricha, who was revered by the entire American officer corps, and ruled the area. ‘Comrade Arthur’ distributed travel cards to us, simple slips of paper with numbers on them. This was the power of the commander of the Bricha. Several adults, parents of the children, wanted to join the journey. The Commander explained to them that the journey would be difficult, and advised them to wait for another opportunity, but after much deliberation, he relented, and we left with a number of parents – many of whom were quite mature.

We reached the station of the train that waited for us. The train workers helped us board, and took care that no strange passenger would join us. The Commander had organized everything beautifully. We traveled on the train for several hours. Finally, we got off and continued on foot to a place where trucks awaited us and brought us to Innsbruck, a Bricha point on the Italian border. This was

[Page 132]

the last stop on the way to Italy. We made the rest of the trip on foot. The walking was good but dangerous. For the few adults, it was difficult. It was no accident that the commander opposed taking them. We walked in snow, half a meter high or more. One woman, the mother of three children who took part in the journey, had great difficulty walking. At a certain point, she sat down in the midst of the snow and didn't want to get up anymore. When I approached her and asked her to get up, she didn't answer. I invited a counselor to help me get the woman up, and she began to mumble in Yiddish “Loz mich shtarben, kinderlach,” Children, let me die. One of the counselors, a Bricha man who was experienced and strong, approached us. He took the woman on his back, as though she were a sack of flour, and continued on the way. The children excelled in quick, easy walking, and we walked in a long line. The counselors guarded us well, watched that we did not lag in walking, and helped the weak to advance. The relationship between the counselors and the illegal immigrants was really very special. Every one of them was a father and mother at once.

Tired, thirsty and somewhat fearful, we approached the border point, which was in the French zone of conquest. There was very loud barking of dogs and, after that, shots interrupted the silence of our march. The order was given by the counselors to lie down and not utter a sound. We lay down in the snow. The shots accompanied us to the Italian border, and we kept falling, getting up and continuing. Suddenly, we saw a house. Someone took the trouble to explain to us that we were already in Italy. In that house, we were to rest. We advanced cautiously in silence.

The house had an expansive threshing floor full of grains. We were given permission to take off our outer clothing. We took off just what was possible to take off. We shook the heavy snow off of our clothes and socks, and the load was lightened for us. We hung our socks and coats on nails or on heaps of straw for drying out. We felt great relief, and there was respite for us because we felt that the danger had passed. We had crossed the border successfully. We were happy.

Our young men, from the Haganah and the Bricha, walked around as if they were at home. Suddenly, the owner of the house, a woman, entered with several of our young men. In their hands were pitchers full of warm drink, and they distributed cups to us with great speed. The woman provided a full cup to everyone, and did this with a broad smile on her lips. It was obvious she was very satisfied.

The drink was free. We drank much. Everything was ready in advance. This was the most delicious drink we had ever tasted, even though to this day, I do not know what we had, tea or milk, but it was good, and very tasty. And, it was a hot beverage. We were unable to stay in this house for much longer, since it was near the border and we had to depart before daybreak. We did not manage to rest. Soon an order was given to get dressed and be ready for the road. Autos arrived.

We traveled less than an hour. We got out, and went over to other autos. Then we continued on foot until we reached 5 Via Uniona Street in Milan. This was the Jewish community building. In this building, there were groups of the remnants of the Holocaust, who were also being brought to the Land of Israel. We entered the courtyard, which was full of refugees with bundles and large suitcases in every corner. We went up to the second floor.

[Page 133]

They brought us to the dining room. We ate and drank, but we were tired and just wanted to sleep. Some among us fell asleep at the table. We were then brought to a corner in one of the rooms, lay on the floor to rest, and fell asleep immediately. After a brief rest, the counselors awakened everyone, and we were told that from now on we would be allowed to speak and to sing. We were free.

 

We Reach the Institute in Salvino

We traveled from Milan to Salvino, which took two hours. We reached Salvino in the evening. Salvino was an exemplary village among thousands, and the Shtzisaupoli Institute was intended for Fascist youth. Mussolini had visited this place. There was a special room for him at the time of his visit.

Our eyes lit up at seeing a clean and orderly place. Every corner was exceptionally clean. The tables were set with everything good, fruit, drink, hot rolls, butter, cheese and more. This was a special place. The young children who had been in Schtrobel had arrived here a while ago, and looked different, since many had been sick from malnutrition and the difficult conditions of the concentration camps or other hidden places. It was difficult to recognize these children. They were dressed in beautiful holiday clothes, clean and polished, joyous and happy, as if they had been reborn. The community in Milan, The Center for the Diaspora, and also the institutions of the city, took care to supply the Institute with all its needs.

At the head of the institution, Young Gordonia–Maccabee in Salvino, stood a soldier of the Brigade, a person who worked with unusual dedication for the Aliyah of the children to the Land of Israel and of overcoming the need for the transit camp.

The children in the Institute studied and worked, and prepared themselves for Aliyah. The pupils were responsible for the cleanliness of the house, the courtyard, and the restrooms. Even the youngest children learned how to tidy their rooms. Life in the house was based on service. Indeed, there were workers and hired employees, but those were professionals. I was assigned to organize the school. At the Institute, there were two hundred children. The children studied almost all subjects, but textbooks were lacking. The teachers worked with exceptional dedication, and, in different ways, they enabled the students to acquire the basics of the Hebrew language and other subjects. By the time of Aliyah, most of the children had acquired the language and spoke Hebrew. This was the greatest achievement of the teachers and the counselors. Salvino was the last step before Aliyah.

 

We Make Aliyah

We were fifty young people. Twenty graduates from our Institute Salvino–Gordonia, twenty members of Hashomer Hatzair, and another ten people from Hashomer Haleumi––all of them knowing Hebrew, and all of them ready to join the ranks of the Haganah. We received an order to be ready to move. We were not told when we would make Aliyah, but it was hinted to us that it was forbidden to speak about it. We would not be able to take bundles, only small briefcases containing our minimal personal needs and nothing else.

A few days before Rosh Hashanah 5707, we reached Rome and awaited instructions. On erev Rosh Hashanah, the person responsible for the planning of our Aliyah arrived and invited us to meet. In this conversation, he did not reveal the secret to us, but according to some hints, we gathered that we would fly on a special flight.

[Page 134]

On Tzom Gedaliah, the Fast of Gedaliah, the 3rd of Tishrei 5707, early in the morning, the Emissary arrived and announced that, in another hour, we would leave for the road. The only document, instead of a passport, was the approval from the Red Cross, whose special agent had signed the documents while we were in Bromov, in Czechoslovakia. The practical value of this approval was negligible. It could not even have served as an identity document.

Since I was responsible for the undertaking, a special file was given to me. I also received a large sum of money, part as payment for the flight, and a second part for special expenses. I was to hand over the balance to the agent of the Haganah when we arrived in the Land of Israel.

According to Aryeh's instructions, we presented ourselves as a group of students who were flying to India. We left in two elegant tourist–taxis on the way to the Fortress of Rome. Not far, at the southernmost point, we had to find a military airfield a number of kilometers from the Fortress that had been in use in the days of the Second World War.

We saw American soldiers following us, so we changed the route. Instead of approaching the airfield, we approached the Cemetery of the Slain of the Second World War, to conceal our real objective. We entered the cemetery. A Star of David marked the graves of Jews who had fallen in battle. Aryeh jotted down several fictitious names on paper, approached the guard, and asked how to find their graves. Obviously, the graves were not located. But the guard received his reward and was satisfied. Our escort was even more enterprising and found the grave of an unknown Jewish soldier, ordered us to shift to silence, and stood by himself near the grave praying silently. The guard was happy that we had found at least one grave. And, again, an order, and we went out to the road. The soldiers who had followed us had departed, and the performance had succeeded.

We continued searching for the airfield. The guide and I had instructions on how to find the place. Tired and nervous, we moved around until we found a deserted and wide lot. We knew that this was the place. We had to wait half an hour for the arrival of the plane. It was 7:30 in the evening. Suddenly, a motorcycle approached us. Two Italians approached, and asked us what our business was in this vicinity, and how they could assist us. The guide knew Italian, and explained to them that we were tourists, and that we were waiting for buses that would take us back to Rome. The Italians departed.

We were worried by the encounter, but we knew that they were merely civilians. We received an instruction from the Counselor to hide the briefcase containing the money and the documents. I put the briefcase behind a tree and placed a stone on it. Suddenly, we heard noise, and we knew that the plane was arriving. We took up a position, everyone in his place. It was already dark. We lay down with flashlights, in order to signal the plane. The plane landed with tremendous noise. This was a military plane loaded with military cargo for Cairo. In that moment, another motorcycle approached with an armed police officer. The policeman interrogated one of the two pilots, and also questioned me. We received the order to board, and one by one, the ‘students𔃷 entered the plane on their way to ‘India.’ The guide handed me several instructions and departed from the place. My turn came to enter the plane. I was the last of the ‘students’ and, due to the panic and excitement, I could not find the briefcase with the money and the documents. The situation seemed desperate. Part of the money was destined as a payment for the ‘hitch–hike.’

[Page 135]

I knew that if I didn't find the briefcase, we would not reach our destination.

After a search, and moments of suspense, I found the briefcase and managed, at the very last minute, to enter the plane with the help of the co–pilot, a Dutchman. The policeman, rifle drawn, still continued his argument with the first pilot. Suddenly, the pilot drew his pistol. The policeman lowered his rifle, marched backwards and shouted, “This is not oaky!” but the plane lifted up, and we took off. A mighty song burst forth from our mouths: “We are making Aliyah to the Land!” We were like dreamers (Psalm 126 – Shir HaMa'a lot).

 

All Are Dead

We took off at 8:30 in the evening. At 12:30am, we reached Athens. Even here, we experienced hours of trembling. The pilot explained to us that, after we refueled, we would continue on the way, and that at 6:00 in the morning, we would reach the ‘Skies of Kibbutz Degania.’ The pilot warned us not to speak, only to lie down. “You are dead,” he said. “There is no one on the plane, just military cargo.”

The co–pilot stood at the entrance of the plane, and did not allow the inspection team to enter, due to the military cargo that was aboard. He even showed them an authorization to prove it to them. A deliberation ensued, and of course, as before, the pilot had the upper hand. We continued on the way. It is hard to describe the joy on the plane, and the cries of “Long Live the State of Israel!” that echoed in its cabin.

Our joy was not yet complete. We knew that the English were liable to send us to Cyprus, or to prison, or even return us to Italy. However, our excitement grew. We were on the way to the Homeland. Was it possible that the Exile was behind us, and the Land so close? Behold, a few hours ago, we were there in the Exile. The expectation grew and increased, another hour, another half hour, a quarter hour, we were very near. At 5:55am, our plane circled in the skies of Emeq Yezreel, the Jezreel Valley. The plane made a turn, in order to reach the Degania at exactly 6:00am. Then the plane landed. We did not sing. We did not speak. We were paralyzed. We saw healthy young men standing on automobiles, grabbing us straight from the plane, one by one, and departing with their autos.

 

The Curfew and the Searches

The Haganah announced a curfew, in order for us to reach a secure location. We saw Haganah men in uniforms and thought that these were British soldiers. The Kibbutznik from Masada explained to us that these were our young men who wore uniforms of the British army, thereby preventing the British and the Arabs from approaching the area, so that we could reach the farms. With the passage of a quarter of an hour, we were already in Degania. A second group reached Masada, and a third Sha'ar Hagolan. At 6:30am, we were on the farms. They immediately dressed us in work clothes. We entered the dining room, ate breakfast, and went out to work. My wife and I were at Masada.

At 7:30am, the English reached the farm to search for ‘illegal’ immigrants, and found veteran kibbutzniks with English identity documents in their pockets. The followers of Ernest Bevin did not know the secret power of the Jew in his war to burst through the gates to reach the Land.

For us, the path of afflictions had come to an end. We had come home! “And the children have returned to their land!” (Jeremiah 31:17).


[Page 136]

The Trial

In 1966, a group of Nazi criminals, who had operated in the region of Tarnopol and local towns like Skalat, were made to stand trial in Stuttgart. Among the accused were Müller and Roebel. We bring here the bill of indictment against Müller and, so too, from the verdict. Our thanks to Dr. Yosef Karmish, and to Mr. A. Brand from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, both of whom helped us to obtain these sources. Special thanks to Ms. Ruth Langutzky for the translation of this material, from German to Hebrew, without any monetary remuneration.

 

ska136.jpg
Grove Named for the Martyrs of the Community of Skalat and the Vicinity Monument in Memory of the Martyrs of Skalat in the Forest of the Martyrs

[Page 137]

The Bill of Indictment Against Müller

Skalat:

A city in the region of Tarnopol
Place of the seat of the Landskomiser

  1. July 6, 1941. A pogrom was conducted by the Ukrainians – Müller, vv Bl.189 (Reisel Epstein)
  2. On August 30, 1942, ‘The Immigration Aktion’ was conducted. About 500 elderly and sick were gathered together, by Jewish policemen, and were transferred, the next day, along with 60 additional Jews, into the hands of the SIPO in Tarnopol. The victims were assembled in the synagogue, and were transported to the railroad station. There they were forced to kneel on the ground, despite the rain, which had not ceased falling all that day. Later they were loaded onto trucks, and brought to the concentration camp in Tarnopol. This Aktion is known by the name of the ‘Aktion of the Quotas,’ since there was a need to transfer a certain quota in every transport, and sometimes there was a need to gather additional Jews for filling the required quota.
    Müller, EAIII Bl. 44, 51, 84, FF
    Müller vv Bl. 189 (Reisel Epstein)
  3. On the 21/22 of October 1942, after Rosh Hashanah, ‘The Cruel Aktion’ or ‘The Great Aktion’ was conducted. In it, 3000 Jews were brought to the synagogue and then transported to the railroad station. Before this, about 1,000 Jews from Grzhimalov, Podvolochisk, and other locations in Skalat were forced into the Skalat ghetto. During this Aktion, many incidents of shooting occurred.
    –Müller EA III Bl. 45, 51, 105
    Müller vv Bl. 189 (Reisel Epstein)
    Bl. 206 (Dlugacz) Bl. 192 (Witrakiwetz)
    Bl 134 (Ben Porath)
    Müller EA III Bl. 84/85 (Anna Chrein –Trif)
  4. On November 9, 1942, ‘The Little Aktion’ was conducted. About 1,000 victims were taken out of the city in trucks and were executed by shooting while standing in front of graves dug in advance. Among the victims were women and children. Searches for Jews were conducted and, when they were found, they were assembled in the synagogue or next to it. Apparently, many of the victims were Jews lacking labor permits. Younger Jews who were seized in these searches were brought to ZAL Chalobotchk. Jews who attempted to escape through the windows of the synagogue were shot by men of the guard.
[Page 138]
    –Müller EA II AS Bl. 377, 385 (Czerwny)
    Müller EA III Bl. 45, 51, 87, 106
    Müller vv Bl. 208 (Dlugacz) Bl. 189 (Reisel Epstein)
  1. On April 7, 1943, several days before the Passover Holiday, an additional Aktion was conducted. Again, searches were held in the Ghetto. The victims were shot to death outside the city, on a hill near the village of Novosilka. There were several hundred victims. This Aktion is known as ‘The Weeping Graves.’
    –Müller, EA III Bl. 107, 51/Weissbrod, Kiwetz).
    Müller vv Bl. 135 (Ben–Porath) – not Eyewitness.
  2. On June 9, 1943, the Ghetto was finally liquidated. The surviving remnant was hurried once again to the synagogue, and from there were transported to the shooting–hill near Novosilka. A few succeeded in hiding in the town before the beginning of the Aktion, or by hiding in the forests.
    –Müller EA III Bl. 51, 87, 107
    Müller vv Bl. 92 (Zharkover) Bl. 135 (Ben Porath)
    Not Eyewitness, vv. Bl. 21 (Hofmann)
The Aktions at Skalat were reconstructed in detail in Abraham Weissbrod's Death of a Shtetl (Yiddish), Munich 1948.
–Müller EA III Bl. 42 FF

The liquidation of the Labor Camp at Skalat, known as Kamionka, came afterwards in July 1943.

In context with the number of victims: In the census of the residents from the Skalat region in the year 1931, 89,215 residents were counted. Of these, 45,631 Poles, 34,752 Ukrainians, and 8,486 Jews, of whom 7,037 dwelled in the cities.

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Skalat, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 10 Dec 2020 by JH