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[Col. 1586]


(Pastavy, Belarus)


Translation by Anita Frishman Gabbay

Postov, Vidz, Mior, Kazian, Kobylnik

These small shtetls are often mentioned in their regards to their daily lives and destruction of the Jews of Sventzian and Haydutishok, the folk from Vidz, Mior, Kaltinian, Kazian, and Postov were so closely knit and intertwined, and thanks to the YEKAPO book we can detail their daily lives and desperate times. We are also able to present detailed information how they were slaughtered and disposed of in the mass graves of Poligon, Ponar fields and forests and other places near their shtetlach.

*The murdered body of Yitzhak Yavnovitch of Kobylnik was thrown into Lake Narach, believing his Christian friend was helping him escape. This is his memorial (uncle of Anita Frishman Gabbay), son of Shlomo Yavnovitch and Raitza Gilinski Yavnovitch of Kobylnik

[Col. 1587]

The total population of this shtetl was about 3000 people. The Jews were about a third of the total, barely 1000 in total.

Like in all the other shtetls in the area the way of life for the Jews was similar: shopkeepers, small merchants and warehousing. In the last years, life was very difficult.

Two Christian cooperatives opened: the first one, Polish and the second one, White–Russian. They both created a lot of trouble and a difficult economic situation for the Jewish population.

The Polish cooperative was called “Vigoda”.It was supported by the state and the bank “Gospodortkva Kravienga” . It occupied a beautiful brick building right in the middle of the town, on the “High market” place, it sold all types of groceries, clothing materials and trimmings for manufacture and dressmaking, shoemaking and leather goods. In the last years (before World War 11) they also included iron and building materials and equipment used in agriculture.

In order to sell this machinery, the cooperative brought a technician from Vilna in order to teach the peasants how to use this equipment. This alone brought a lot of people to this cooperative.

As this Polish cooperative “Vigoda” was affiliated with the rich “Peoples Bank”, they gave the people very cheap prices and very favorable credit and repayment loans. It is no wonder that this created a bad situation for us (the Jews).

[Col. 1588]

Both cooperatives badly undercut the profits of the Jewish shopkeepers. After awhile, they found two wealthy Jews to sell machinery and from this were also able to make a good living.

They (the Jews) were completely ruined. Traditionally, the phosphate industry was mainly in Jewish hands. This went into the hands of the cooperatives and the officials of the province endorsed it.

The Christian folk were advised to buy only in the cooperatives. A strong order came from the state officials to buy in the cooperative: Vigoda:, and the official gave the cooperative a guarantee that their loan would repaid and the workers wages would be deducted from the loan. With this help from the state–officials, the cooperative also increased its appeal to other buyers.

The only Jewish shopkeepers left were the wealthier ones, which were also known as “lazy” or slow payers. The state did not want to give them any guarantees. The Jewish stores undertook to purchase various goods, and at higher prices and now were not able to repay. When these Jewish shopkeepers tried to repay their debt, they found themselves in a more difficult financial situation. Not only was the Polish cooperative their competition, but also the White–Russian.

[Col. 1589]

The White–Russian (Belarusian) cooperatives attracted their own people from all over the area. They also decided to open branches in all the other Postov districts. In the shtetl there were many Christian shops and manufacturing warehouses. There was great loyalty amongst the Christian folk to buy from their own for patriotic reasons.

The lives of the Christian shopkeepers were still better than those of the Jewish ones. This was not their sole livelihood, they also owned plots of land and made a very good amount of money from agriculture. Their stores were run by their wives and children.

The shtetl market took place once a week, on Mondays. The shopkeepers brought small amounts of goods, and strangers arrived on this day, and they brought the prices down(they brought cheaper quality goods). In Postov the flax and cattle industry became smaller, so the small merchants bought their merchandise from the larger merchants in Glubboke and Haydusishok, so their profits were very small.

Because of this, the trades became less important.

Our shopkeepers, because of this situation, start selling other items:

like pig–hair, fur pelts, and goats, and other things, but It didn't help the economic situation.

[Col. 1590]

What is happened to the shopkeepers, was not better for the (handworkers) tailors and shoemakers. The shoemakers were also in difficulty: they mainly repaired shoes. What's interesting, that all the Jews who worked for the state, were let go, so we had to endure the hardships imposed by the “Svoida–Svenga”.(state run retail shop)

As a result, one wonders, why Postov became completely destroyed during the first world war, everything had to be rebuilt. This was our fate, and no one in the shtetl had other options. Without capital(money) there was no way for the shopkeepers and handworkers to compete against the cooperatives and other Christian shops. This created great poverty in our shtetl and thus created “Bread for the Needy.” They received bread and wood. A small sum maintained about 35 families….

Others receive funds from America and in this manner they managed to survive.

From the YEKAPO register, 1931, Pinchas of Vilna


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