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[Col. 1164]

Daugelishak–The History of the Shtetl

(Naujasis Daugeliškis, Lithuania)

5522' 2618'

David Tzinman

Translation by Anita Frishman Gabbay

Daugelishak was a very small shtetl in Vilna county, near the shtetls of Ignalina, New–Svenztian, Dukst and Vidz. It was in 2 parts: Old and New. In 1770 the first Jews arrived in the old part, thus Old Daugelishak. It was surrounded by beautiful thick forests. The new part, was built around 1900. In the New Daugelishak many small streams were found, which emptied into larger lakes, like the Disna.

[Col. 1165]

Three small bridges tied the shtetl with the surrounding region. When you arrived to the shtetl you found yourself in front of a tall hill, upon which they were beautiful houses. These belonged to the wealthy folk, who made a living in forestry.

On the left hand side, on the other side of the road, you could see the mill. This mill provided a living for many in the shtetl. A kilometer from the town was the blacksmith's shop, of Faivish the Schmidt (as he was called), who greeted everyone entering the shtetl. A horseshoe hung on his smithy, thus his signature.

On top of the hill the Jewish quarter started with the main street that led to Dukst. On the left side stood the Church surrounded by cement walls, which also housed the priest.

The main street of the shtetl was Gaminava Street, which stretched for about 300 meters and ended by the bridge. At the end of the main street you arrived at the main shtetl.

[Col. 1166]

At the end of the main street were the Folk–schul, the police station, the fire station, and the mill of my friend, Zelner. In the middle of the main street was a large public garden, where young people congregated in the evenings and holidays. On the right of the main street, a narrow street led to the Synagogue. At the edge of town the railroad went to Dukst, passing Vidz and Braslav.

On the other side of the shtetl was the smithy of Mendel the Schmidt. One could see the sparks flying, and you knew right away the hard labour of the old shtetl folk; thy worked long hours, sweat pouring down, in order to earn enough for a piece of bread!

Of the total population, there were about 175 Jews. Most of the Christians worked the land, the Polish were the bureaucrats and in the police–ranks.

[Col. 1167]


A gathering of Jews in Daugelishak with representatives from Vilna.


The Jews, like in the other shtetls, were small tradesmen and shopkeepers. Every Jew had a small plot of land next to his house. He planted potatoes and vegetables. Every Jew had a cow or a goat which provided them with their own milk for the children.

Life was difficult, especially for the Jewish women, who had their household duties, as well as looking after the garden and the fields. Some helped in the shops. She did the shopping in the market and if one owned a store, she was responsible for providing goods for that shop. Life for the young people was also very difficult. There was little work and prospects for the future were dim; so many left for larger cities or distant lands, like Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Eretz Israel. The entitled position of our town was held by the pharmacist, he also served as a doctor (or Feldsher–barber surgeon). He filled the prescriptions, made out the receipts, (looked after the pharmacy) as well as healed the sick.

[Col. 1168]

The pharmacist didn't heal only the body, he healed the spirit and the soul of the patient! One can say he was the only intellectual in the shtetl, who read his newspaper every day and infused our Jewish lives with his knowledge. His house was a meeting place for all: the Mayor, the Secretary of the council, the police commander, the priest and other notable persons. In 1930, a Jewish doctor arrived and stayed several years.

Very important work was performed by the fire brigade–comprised mainly of Jews. Zev Kuritzki was in charge for many years. His commander was Gershon Deutch. It was a delight to see the firefighters in a parade.




Sitting: right to left: Secretary of the city, Zev Kuritzki, Inspector, Mayor, Gershon Deutsch
Standing 1st row: Avrahmke, Moiske, Moshe Isor, Avka Faivish, Almer, Yacov, Shaul
Standing 2nd row: Chaimke, Velvke, Hirshke, Abraham Yitzhak, Berke, Chaim Yoske, Melech, Motke


They were dressed up in special uniforms with shiny buttons, caps on their heads and axes in their hands. They proudly marched through the main street of the shtetl. When a fire broke out, they all left their work and ran immediately to the fire station.

The first one was always Alter the tailor, dragging his ladder. Faivish, the blacksmith, ran with his axe and bucket of water. Abraham and Shmuel Ushpal

[Col. 1169]

torn down the burning roof and Moshe Isor Gordon sprayed water through a rubber hose, Yankel Tzinman and Chaim Feigel pumped the water. When the fire was extinguished, they went home in a happy mood and bragged to their friends. This bragging was heard for the entire week and how the Jewish lads were so capable.

Shtetl life was focused around the synagogue. It was not only used for prayer 3 times a day, but also as a meeting place for social and political meetings. The synagogue was the cultural backbone of the shtetl.

In later years, the young people acquired a reading hall, where newspapers or books were available. It was also used for gatherings and lecturs, drama plays, etc.

There was also a library with Yiddish and Hebrew books.

Well known was the drama club and the mandolin orchestra.

Arieh Keshel was the director of the drama club.

Intresting, many Christians participated in the orchestra.



Ha'Halutz Ignalina–Daugelishak

Moishe Korb, Rochel Einhorn, Tuvia Tzinman, Ester Gilinski, Leizer Shapiro, ––––, Shloime Kuritzki, Teme Kisberg

[Col. 1170]


Mandolin Orchestra


We have to mention, “Ha'Halutz” separately from the other Zionist organizations that were led by Shloime Rudnitski and Getzel Kesel.

The shtetl had a city council and other Jewish representation. The Jews who were representatives were Asher Ushpal and Eliahu Kuritzki, as well as Yerachmiel Korb from Ignalina.

Every Monday was market day. With this New–Daugelishak started to develop. Slowly the Jews came to the new part of town. Barely 10 Jewish families remained in Old–Daugelishak. One of the families was Rabbi Moshe Isak lipshitz, an old timer.

In September 1939, when the polish military left our region, both towns were neglected. It was far from the other shtetls and a railroad, so they were isolated. The Jews were left under the control of the priest. So, eventually they took matters in their own hands, and established their own city council.

The Jews paid dearly for this, Franik the mail carrier, organized his Christian bandits and a pogrom took place and they captured 2 Jewish lads, led them to the edge of town and shot them. These were Shlomo Geitzen and Abka Zilber. Shlomo was killed immediately and Abka was badly wounded. The Jews immediately felt their insecure future amongst their Christian neighbours!

Watchmen from our group were posted day and night, to avoid robberies of our shops, the burning of our homes, if need be, to shoot the Christian hooligan!

[Col. 1171]

The Jews endured these threats for days until the Red Army came into the shtetl. We felt a little freedom, a sigh of relief, in the meantime our daily lives resumed.

The new border of Daugelishak changed, it was very close to the border between Lithuania and White–Russia.

These were new beginnings for our shopkeepers, but they were slowly pushed out and the cooperatives slowly took over, although many Jews worked in them.

Two years later, when Hitler broke his pact with the Soviet Regime, the Red Army departed our shtetl and Hitler's army and Lithuanian bandits replaced them.

Together with the Soviets, the following left: Israelka Abelevitch, Hirske Berman, Rivka Berman, Blumka Ushpal, Chaim Berl Tzinman, Raitza Lipshitz, Tzirke Gordon, Bielke Rein, Chaim Rafaelka and the 15 year old Abraham Yitzhak Ushpal.

The older Jews couldn't run away. We took everything of value. The old Jews were angry at us.

Until this day, I remember that misfortunate day: I said goodbye to my parents, begging them to join me! They told me with tears in their eyes, ––how can we survive this journey? Where shall we go?

I said my goodbyes, cried bitterly and left, never to see them again. I later found out that the Lithuanians took control of the shtetl,

[Col. 1172]

and it was certainly Kasimierz Ziber who was in control.

We heard that he took all the parents of the children who fled with the Soviets, led them to the woods, and shot them, not far from Ignalina.

Amongst them were: Yosel Abelevitch, Hirshel the glass blower, Zalman, Yankel and Alter the tailors, Faivka the blacksmith, and Shaul Lifman Ushpal.

The remaining Jews were locked up in a tiny ghetto. This didn't last very long, like in all the shtetels of the Sventzian district, they were all murdered in Poligon. The shtetl was burned and today we find fields of greens and potatoes.

Not a trace of Daugelishak remains. But we must remember that there once was a shtetl there, and these wonderful young men and women made their mark in the Red Army or as partisans in the forests.

Hirshke Ushpal received for his bravery the highest medal from the Red Army. He alone blocked a German division from approaching the Soviet base.

Hirshel Alters died in the battle in Ariel, in 1942. Israelke Abelevitch died in the battle of Smolensk in 1943. Fighting with the partisans, the following died: Chaim Rafal, Tzira Gordon, Beila Rein.

With honor we shall remember, the young Jewish Daugelisher who fought to avenge the spilled blood of their Jewish brothers!

The memory of all our best and dearest, will forever remain etched in our hearts!


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