The Zionist leaders in town, Mr. Josef Koren, Mr. Zelig Gross, Dr. Nusenblat, Mr. Lieb Rubin, Mr. Moshe Toy, Mr. Mendel Toy and alike, obtained Passports marking them as dangerous to Russia.
This situation remained static until the outbreak of the Russian-German war in 1941. The Russian Army left town in a hurry at the onslaught of the German invasion. The German Occupation Army with its Hungarian followers and allies entered the District of Kolomyja including our town. The Swastika flying at high mast together with the decrees that were already in place, were signals` to the bad times ahead and the Jews were trembling. The Hungarian Commander was not the worst, so Reb Avram Hagger, the Rabbi of Demycze (Tumizh) was able to establish a 'foot hold', which he used on many occasions for the benefit of the Community and individuals. However most of the troubles originated from the civil administrations, which were at the hands of the Ukraine's, who were the previous hooligans and murderers. They tortured the Jews and forced them into hard labor and used all possible means to starve the Jews including by preventing the local farmers from selling their produce to the Jews.
Starvation started affecting the Jews who at the same time were overburdens by hard labor. However, they comforted themselves saying their situation was still better then those who were under the control of the Real Murderers, the German Nazis.
This comfort was false too, since in August 1941 the German Nazis took over the area. Under the Hungarian occupation the Jews were subjected to theft and physical torture, now the Gestapo hinted immediately upon their arrival, that they will not stop at that, but rather wished to exterminate all the Jews including Christians of Jewish origin and converts. As a special sign to recognize all Jews, a shameful mark was established; made of yellow cloth marked with a Star of David. Every Jew was forced to wear this mark and those who refused were shot (few who did refused were actually shot).
Among the first decrees were the forbiddance of listening to radios, use of telephones, riding trains, and visiting public facilities such as: hospitals, bath-houses, coffee- shops, theatres, movie houses etc. A three member Jewish Council, "The Yudenrat" was established, they were: Mr. Neta Felix (Chairman), Mr. Elyahu Zinger and Mr. Efraim Fond. "The Council" was forced to ensure all decrees were fully complied with and they were personally responsible for it.
The first awful task of "The Council" was to establish various quotas for the murderers Nazis, for work force, for other purposes, and for their various needs. Their needs were growing and multiplying. Firstly they ordered for themselves all the gold and silver ware, furs, produce, cattle, and food items - and every thing under the threat of death. It was a heartbreaking sight to watch poor families bringing their only horse, or cow or goat to the location requested. They separated from the animals as if they were their best friend who were dying. But still they were unable to foresee that mush harder sacrifices are in future for them, and they are about to sacrifice their fathers, mothers, children - and all those whose life had no "purpose" for the murderers.
The Nazis did not have much satisfaction from this "Jewish Council" since they were unable to fulfil exactly their demands. Together with the District Jewish Council of Kolomyja, this Council was replaced and the new members were Dr. Teicher, Dr. Radish, Mr. Hertzl Unger and Mr. Shlomo Tilinger (the clerks of the old Council remained). The Gestapo, with the assistance of the local Ukraine's, extorted all the Jewish property and flesh, and this life-without-life continued until December of 1941.
At that day, at 7 O'clock in the morning, the Gestapo burst into town from Kolomyja and attacked our poor brethren. Again, with the assistance of the local Ukraine's, armed with knives and axes, they surrounded the city. From street to street, house to house, the rioting murderers took out all Jews men women and children, beat them ferociously, shattered their skulls, poked their eyes and lead this half dead crowd to their death, like a flock of sheep, to the city market next to Golda Bartler's house. Mendel Toy Alters' eyes were poked out for his wife heroic resistance who screamed at her murderers a furious shout: "Our blood will not rest, Hitler will suffer a final loss, and Germany will pay dearly for her crimes". Mr. Elyahu Zinger yelled loudly prior to his execution not to hand over any money but rather to shred it to pieces. His last words were "Take revenge for our blood". Mothers' cry over their children froze the blood as they were killed together with the innocents.
The evil murderers urged the huge marching crowd on its death march towards Homov Hill with sticks and wild yells: "Les Les" (forward). At the head of this holy march stood Rabbi Avraham Hager, Rabbi of Demycze, and his wife and shouted:" Shma Yisrael, I lived with my brothers and I will perish with them".
When about a thousand arrived at the digs, they were placed in rows and lowered unto wood planks over the pits. Running on the planks they were shot, they fell, some dead some just wounded into the pits. Five strong Jews were ordered to straitened the corpses at the bottom of the pits, they were Mr. Yudel Bahn (son of Moshe Bahn), Nahum Zyler, son of Maytsch the carpenter and Tscupa Rubin. They were ordered to maximize the space and squeeze babies and small children in the corners. Those infants were not shot, in order to save on bullets, but had their heads smashed against the trees growing nearby and thrown into the pits. That was the fate of the infant just born to Alter Donuts daughter (wife of Harsh Hagar), to the baby of Ben-Zion Groundwork daughter and many more. The five men mentioned above got their rewards on the spot; one by one they were murdered too and their corpses were thrown in the pit. The ground that covered this holy grave of a thousand murdered Jews boiled from the blood that sprouted out, so they were forced to keep covering it with more earth. Mr. Ruben Toy, who worked with the Gestapo, managed to escape and made it eventually to our land. From here he immigrated overseas because of allegations that he collaborated with the murderers.
The 'Action' was completed by six O'clock in the evening. All the sick who were unable to get out, were shot in their beds. Thus there were about a hundred dead in the city itself, which were later brought to a Jewish Grave. There were those who elected to commit suicide rather then die at the hand of the murderers. Rabbi Yosel Eizenkraft (Koyne's) hanged himself, as did many others. Officially Mr. Netanel (Sani) Goldner was left alive as a disabled veteran of the previous war, and Dr. Nusenblat, wearer of war decorations. The nights following the 'Action' were used by the Ukraine's to ransack the empty Jewish homes and ruin them.
The following day, Zablotow's streets were riddled with awful cries, screams and shouts from each and every house. There was no house that did not suffer a loss. That same day at 10 O'clock before noon, the Gestapo came to the "Jewish Council" and demanded 10,000 gold coins for the cost of the bullets used to murder the Jews. They also demanded to gather all the belongings of the dead and hand it over to the Gestapo.
That same day, the second witness, Mr. Tzvi Eizenkraft, lost his sister, Kevina, and her 14 months old baby (according to the testimony of Izy the son of the hairdresser Yukev that jumped from the same boxcar and returned to Zablotow). She first choked her baby to death and then killed herself). The few Jews who survived in the City lived like the dead till the fifth of May 1942.
On that day a decree from Kolomyja arrived ordering all remaining Jews to leave Zablotow within three days and move to Kolomyja's Ghetto. After much endeavors it was prolonged by few days. At the agreed time the last Jews left Zablotow for the last time, except for about twenty who were left behind to gather and collect material. With the assistance of the Ukraine Militia, all the Jews were gathered and walked off to Kolomyja. Each was allowed to carry food and belongings totaling no more than 25 Kilos, and thus with their remaining ability they struggled to Kolomyja 20 Kilometers away carrying their personal loads. However, upon their arrival at Kolomyja they were robbed of their belongings and bitten up. Thus they arrived at the Ghetto empty handed, beaten and humiliated, with no food no clothing and no roof over their heads.
They lay in the streets and in ruins of the Synagogues. For each misdemeanor the Gestapo arrested them, and arrest meant death in Shiborovichi (a suburb of Kolomyja). Hunger was everywhere in the Ghetto and people lay in the street hunger stricken. The best of the youth wondered barefoot in the streets with swollen feet and faces, carrying pots begging to no avail for any food to revive themselves. Orphans roamed the streets lonely and deserted, torn clothes hanging from their swollen bellies, looking for leftover food in the garbage. People died daily and were buried in hiding for other to get their daily food ration.
Death struck more at those from the surroundings, since they came to the Ghetto empty handed. Mr. Netanel (Sani) Goldner kept record of the Zablotow's Jews who died, among them: Moshe Blei, Yosel Freminger and others. Few managed, for ransom, to obtain permits to return to Zablotow as workers, among them Doctors, Sani Goldner, Rabbi Damta (Rabbi of Shtudeter), Rabbi Chaim Hager, who worked head shaven with a casquette (cap) as a road worker on the road leading to Sniatin. Rabbi Mordeche'le Ashkenazi, the son in law of the Rabbi of Demycze, worked as a gravedigger at the cemetery. The witness, Tzvi Eizenkraft, was arrested by the Gestapo in Kolomyja for not properly greeting a German passerby in the street. After a few days he was released, only after his boss from the 'Tadet' work group had intervened. While in interrogations he witnessed the following: A 15-16 years old naked girl was brought in front of the head of the Gestapo. He interrogated her, the witness did not here what, and then the sadist opened a radio and a side door and let in a fierce Bulldog that ravaged the naked girl and bit her ferociously. As the girl's screams became louder and reached the sky, the sadist increased the level of the music emanating from the radio, till she fell down in a pool of her own blood. An order to take the 'garbage' out was heard immediately.
Again, about 250 Jews returned to Zablotow and were forced to work hard labor in public works. They exchanged their coats and last pants for a piece of bread from the local farmers who participated in the murder. Life continued that way till the last 'Action' on the seventh of September 1942.
Upon their arrival at Sniatin, the Gestapo like a chain with no possible escape route surrounded them. Only now they realized they were had. Then they were brought into a large room where the local Sniatin Jews and those from the surrounding villages, already waited. They were held there for four days with no food or water and in a suffocating environment. On the tenth of September they were made to run few Kilometers to the train station at Selishche and loaded unto box cars separated men and women. 150 people were squeezed into each car. On the way they were beaten, and especially tortured were the intelligent among them, Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists, etc. Dr. Nusenblat escaped so he will be shot and spare the sufferings. He got his wish. But the remainders, with a spark of hope in their hearts, gathered their diminishing strength and jumped out of the rolling car. Many were shot while jumping, only few managed to save their lives that way, among them Tzvi Freid, our witness, and Ruven Toy, mentioned above.
Those who remained in Zablotow were moved to Kolomyja Ghetto, which was exterminated in January of 1943. The murderers German with the active participation of their Ukraine helpers burned the Ghetto forcing all the Jews to come out of their hiding. Hundreds were burnt and those who fled the fire were shot and murdered in the streets. Only very few managed to escape to the forests, join the Partisans till the arrival of the Russian Soviet Army.
Figure 7. Micha Karsel & Zellig Gross
Figure 8. Kindergarten in Zablotow
Born in Zablotow in the month of Sivan 7686 (1926) he received his early education at the Jewish kindergarten in our town. His first days of school began when he emigrated with his parents to Eretz-Yisrael. In the melting pot where his parents had difficulty in their absorption in both work and agriculture, Micha was a gifted child who found school easy, had a smile that was a permanent fixture on his face and without which he could not be described. In Kfar Hess where his parents had settled, he was popular both at school and the youth movement. He had just graduated from school when the Nazi enemy approached our country, and at the age of 15½ he found himself joining the Army with his friends and serving in the British Army for more then four years. He matured during his service, wandering first in the desert and later in Italy, always reading a book keeping active. While in Italy he dedicated himself to the illegal emigration to Eretz-Yisrael, driving various cars day and night, he was very tired and was injured in a car accident just prior to his discharge.
He was discharged from the Army but not from active duty. Back in Kfar Hess, he was the head of the local Hagana group, and when fighting started following the UN declaration they protected their village which was near the Arab village of Tira, along the border of the country. This village was infested with murderers, which convinced him that it must be conquered in order to bring calm to the area of Tel-Mond.
In between various activities he was always reading and studying. His memory and understanding were incredible, his cultural awareness unimaginable. It was no wonder that he was very well versed in all aspects of Jewish literature and later in English literature as well, which he taught himself in his usual wonderfully carefree way. He tried to be the same as the "Tzabars" ridiculing Zionism, but deep inside he was different from them, making sure no one saw him during his "misconduct" absorbed in reading.
Sniper shots increased during the last month prior to the declaration, so he was at the head of the local group going out to battle and the first to fall. His blood touching his friends' blood and like some of them he does not reach eternal rest.
The great disaster did not take long to arrive. In the morning of June 22nd 1941 all the German radio stations announced that the Nazis had entered the Russian controlled area with the slogan "Death to the Jews". This terrible announcement did not have the expected result as the Jews could not believe that mass murders were in store for them, and they tried giving it other various explanations, each in accordance with his own understanding and beliefs.
The red Army retreated from our area in July with a few Jews who had the opportunity to join them. Most of the Jews fell into German hands and were killed by them. A few days after the Russian retreat, the Hungarian Occupying Army appeared which did not treat the Jews badly. They even voided some of the orders given by the murdering Ukrainians. Before the arrival of the Hungarian Army the Ukrainians killed the Jewish doctor Wolfram and his assistant Nisan Eizenkraft from Rudniki.
The Ukrainians raised their ugly heads when the Russians left the area and were ready to carry out Hitler's slogan "Death to the Jews". They were disappointed by the Hungarian soldiers and sent messages to the German command in Lemberg demanding the expulsion of the Hungarians who befriended the Poles and the Jews. The first messengers who went from Zablotow to Lemberg to the German command asked that the Hungarians be moved to Eastern Galicia where Vasil Evanski and his brother Ivan who, before the war was a film director at "OPAH" and understood Yiddish and Hebrew.
Because of the hatred of the Ukrainians towards the Jews, supplies of food were stopped and many families reached starvation. The Hungarian Army had made a small change and brought food by cars, which they sold, for gold, watches or other valuables. It did not bother them, at the same time, to take Jews daily to various forced labor and demand that the Jews pay ransom money for that food as a contribution to the Hungarian Army. A few Patrols attacked Jewish families searching for weapons and taking the opportunity to steal whatever they found.
A few German Nazis arrived in Kolomyja during the Hungarian Occupation and gathered about 200 Jews and moved them to Diatkavche near Kolomyja, where they were ordered to dig their own graves. During the work a Hungarian General happened to pass by, he opposed the German murderers, stopped the work and sent the Jews back to Kolomyja where they were released.
During the Hungarian occupation the police was mainly made up of Ukrainians who were previously Polish, then Russians, and now Ukrainian-German Patriots. They expressed their patriotism by arresting Moshe Lindaver, Shlomo Rosenbaum and the representative of the Soviet Labor office and transported them to Petashnichin Concentration Camp, from which they did not return.
The Hungarian Army received its orders to leave the area in August and move further east. The control of our town was handed over to the Ukrainians Police and to a German Engineering Company who, together with the assistance of the local Jews, rebuilt the bridge over the Pruth River, and the Train Station. The Jews had to daily send approximately one hundred men to do that work. The German Authorities gave an order, with a firm warning of severe punishment, that all Jews must hand over their entire possessions of gold, Silver, Diamonds and other fine metal artifacts they had. Jews stood in long lines waiting their turn to hand over their important family Jewels. The Ukrainians for the administration, police and the German command took the best and nicest things they brought as well, for themselves.
The first order was just being carried out, when a new one arrived, with a death warning, that Jews were not allowed to leave the area. The intention was to make sure Jews would be killed, first by separating them from the rest of the population, and by preventing them from the opportunity to obtain food, and in this way, kill them. The field-gendarmes units, Shupa and the Gestapo carried out this order, they ordered the Yudenrat to send daily, at a certain time, all kinds of things which were unattainable, thus forcing the Yudenrat, not just once, to use the Internal Jewish police to take these things from the Jews themselves.
While they sucked the Jews' blood, by taking everything away from them, forcing them to hard labor, and starving them, the Gestapo officers were going around the different towns and planning the best methods to carry out the mass killings. They made detailed plans for each town including dates for the mass murder. The men in charge of the Kolomyja area were officer Falkman and his deputy, the Ukrainian Sematyuk from Ilintza, not far from Zablotow. Various unconfirmed rumors from Kolomyja and Stanislavov started arriving at the beginning of September 1941 about acts of mass murders. These acts were carried out in accordance with prepared name lists, first for the Jewish intelligence, and about attacks on Jews in Otinya, Nadvorna, Sniatin, and later in Kolomyja and Stanislavov, as well.
These rumors turned out to be true. The mass murder in Kosov that was held on October 16th and 17th, opened the eyes of all the Jews in the towns in the area, and made them realize that there was no intention of work camps, but simply for murder and killing. Firstly, each one made sure he had warm clothes, then they sewed some money into their clothes, to be able to buy from the hands of the murderers in the camp, or at least ease the trouble ahead.
Following the true news, which arrived in Zablotow about the action in Kosov and after the Yudenrat in Kolomyja, Horowitz and Yakov tried to lessen the severity of the incident. They visited the Jewish towns in the vicinity of Kolomyja to collect taxes, and at the same time calm the population calling these actions "nonsense", admitting it did happen to Jews but only once and it will not happen again. Everyone tried to run away from Zablotow the best way they could, according to his influence and opportunity, to a place where there had already been an action. Many Jews tried to reach Kosov to hide from the terrible storm, but only a small number managed to do so, while most of them were caught and arrested by the Ukrainian Police, stripped all their possessions, severely beaten and sent back to their homes. Death became obvious.
From mid October till December 22nd 1941 Zablotow's Jews scattered all over, to Gwazdietch, Klebichin, Raznavu, Kosov, and other places looking for 'so called' gentile friends, who took everything the Jews had and handed them over to the Treibers (Gestapo helpers). At best, they were simply expelled the next day, making it obvious that most of the Poles and the Ukrainians (except a few) gave Jews shelter for a short time, with the intention of robbing them and not as an act of human kindness.
During those days the Jewish apartments were virtually empty during the day, but at night they sneaked in from their hiding places to take what was left, and exchange them for potatoes, corn flour etc.
In this way the Jews managed to survive and keep their families informed about the possible date of the next act of mass murder of the Jews.
A few weeks before the mass murder, the murdering Nazis ordered three large pits to be dug on the side of the Chamau mountain making it clear they were for Anti-Aircraft guns. Jews who worked on the Pruth River bridge heard some rumors but could not definitely determine the intended use of the pits. The rumors were enough to cause great fear among the Jews and indescribable panic. Everyone ran away not knowing where or to whom, but just to get away from the place which smelled of forthcoming death. The terrible cold and hunger took the last bit of strength from the poor Jews. Gentiles, who were hiding Jews in their grain barns and sheds in exchange for gold or other expensive artifacts, forced them now to leave. This situation lasted for a long time, many Jews were forced to return to their apartments.
In every town the Gestapo organized a group of local Ukrainians (and Poles who wished to help) who at the time of the mass murder, when a signal was given, would get the Jews out of their hiding places and hand them over to the murdering Germans. In Zablotow they organized two such groups, one under the command of Von Kanihitski Von Balinitch , a specialist who obtained his education in the Hitler Youth Groups, and a son of a murderer of Jews (whom the Poles executed before the war). This group had the task of finding out where the Jews were going and where they were coming back from, and to assist in the murder Act. The second group was made up of Poles under the command of Tadash Kasawski and Frans the Chimney cleaner, who arrived from Kolomyja on the day of the murder. The whole Ukrainian police took part in this mass murder of the Jews under the command of Dicki.
When their spies informed the Gestapo that many Jews had returned to town they decided to have the murder Act on December 22nd 1941.
On that day, at 7:00 in the morning, a group of Gestapo Youth arrived from Kolomyja with their black wagons and waited in Demycze, which was a mixed suburb of the town where a few Jewish families lived among the Christians. They took all the Jews out of their homes and forced them to stand in rows in the City Square. Not a single Jewish home was spared in accordance with the detailed knowledge gathered by the local Hooligans, who marked their own homes with pictures of Christian Saints placed in the windows.
The first victim, who did not want to be led like a sheep to slaughter, was Boize Langshtein. He was shot on the spot. For the same transgression Yitzchak Singer, the son of Eliyahu, was shot and lost his hand. He was led together with all the rest to their execution. Another group of Jews, Chaim Tau Yakob's and Yisrael Ivanir among them, where taken out of the Kosov's Beit Hamidrash, still wearing their Talit and Tfilin.
The gathering was in the city's central square, from there they were sent in small groups to a wooden house, which had been previously emptied out. They had to hand over all their possessions and anyone caught was severely punished. While the Jews walked their last steps towards the three large pits on the Chamau Mountain, many Ukrainian gathered in the City Square and enjoyed watching the bloody "show". Their bloodthirstiness was so great that they even embittered their last minutes, throwing stones and pieces of metal at them. The Gestapo entered Mendel Toy's house yelling "Jews, get out!". In the first moments of confusion Mendel and his wife Henya tried to resist, citing their American Passports, and were immediately killed. During the march to the execution the German behaved in human way. Entering Dr. Nusenblat's house, the Gestapo found him studying scientific work in German, and all his Austrian medals from the First World War were lying on the table. They asked him where his wife and children were. He answered that they were visiting the neighbor. He was told to stay in the house, and they left. The Rabbi of Demycze, R' Avraham Hagger was hiding at the time and was able to escape the Action, however when he realized what was happening to all the Jews he decided his place was with all the others and he gave himself up to the murdering group. A similar incident happened to Moshe Fritz who was hiding with a group of Jews in the cellar of Sander Toy's house, when some gentiles informed the Gestapo about them. When the Gestapo came to the house they were afraid to go down to the cellar so they stayed outside and yelled, "Jews, get out!". Realizing the grave situation Moshe Fritz decided that since all the Jews were taken away, his life would have no meaning and he walked out accompanied by a few more Jews. Others, including Sander Toy stayed in the cellar, which saved them for a short time.
Twenty-nine Jews hid in Issac Yuren's cellar. An Ukrainian policeman, who was in the police force during the Soviet times, knew of the existence of a hidden door leading to a shoe storage room, now was looking for Jews hiding there, and handed them over to the Gestapo. Zelig Gross was among those twenty-nine, but he had miraculously escaped.
Many Jews who tried to escape were shot; not a single one was left hanging from posts. About one hundred were killed that day in town and were later buried in the Jewish cemetery. Zelig Schulman was the last one to be killed that day, when he got out of his hiding, thinking it was all over, a young Gestapo saw him and shot him.
About nine hundred Jews, men, women and children, were killed in this murderous act, and were buried in those three pits on Chamau Mountain. The pits were prepared a few weeks earlier especially for that purpose. The murderers left Zablotow singing the Nazi song. That same night the local Ukrainians ransacked the homes of the slaughtered Jews. In addition, the houses of the few who survived but were afraid to return to their houses were also ransacked. Kanihinski, who was in charge of the Gestapo, walked around in the Jewish neighborhood with his dog. When he spotted a Jew he released the hound to frighten the Jew and make sure he stayed away from his own home. Under great danger a few Jews managed to reenter their ransacked and ruined homes, and very few returned with their family. The Jews were frightened to death and moved around like shadows, from room to room, from neighbor to neighbor looking and asking for their parents, children, wives, relatives or acquaintances.
The cynical beastly manner in which the brown murderers behaved was so great that immediately following the Action they continued to persecute the Jews demanding, under a death threat, they hand over any clothing that had any piece of fur on it. For this purpose they organized Jewish committees which received orders to carry it out exactly to the letter. Naturally, the German and Ukrainian Gendarmes took for themselves and for their own wives the best and nicest furs. There was a short pause following this murderous act due probably to the cold winter, or because similar murderous actions had already taken place in all other Jewish towns in the vicinity, except in Kitau and Raznau. Following this short pause came the large scale desolation of the entire Polish Jewry under even worse conditions. During the pause, Jews prepared hiding places (bunkers) for themselves, and when a murdering German showed up in town they hid in their holes.
When the winter ended Jews felt their end was near. The already broken Jews received terrible rumors. It was rumored that the Yudenrat in Kolomyja received orders from the Gestapo to hand over all the children and elderly person who could not work to them. That meant killing their own parents, children, brothers and sisters. The Yudenrat refused the order. There were instances in Kolomyja where Jews were kidnapped by the Gestapo and traded for elderly or they were deported.
Everyday brought new and terrible reports. In one part of town a murdering act was carried out as follows; Jews were killed by gunfire, and then the house was set on fire forcing those who were hiding to come out or be burned alive. Jews in Gosditcher were concentrated on a few streets (Ghetto), and then a fire was set around them burning them alive without a way to escape.
On the seventh day of Passover 1942 the Gestapo entered the Jewish towns of Yablonov and Pistin on the road between Kolomyja and Kosov, and Kitow on the following day. They set fires from all sides killing the Jews in this terrible death. The streets were filled with Jewish corpses.
On the last day of Passover, in Zablotow, four hundred Jews were gathered and put in cattle wagons. Some of them suffocated in a short time in the wagons. No one knows where they were sent. In such inhumane conditions, the living envied the dead.
Following the last transport of Jews out of Zablotow, an order arrived to completely liquidate the entire Jewish population. With the exception of a few workers who were needed by the Germans, all Jews had to get to Kolomyja's Ghetto by the 24th of April 1942, where every one knew it would be a slow, but sure death. Each one was allowed to carry on his broken shoulders what ever he could, and march to Kolomyja. The twenty-kilometer march, with baggage, from Zablotow to Kolomyja was too much for these hungry Jews, in their state of mind.
Jews stood from morning till night in front of the offices of the Yudenrat in Zablotow, with their bags and belongings which had not yet been taken by their enemies, hoping that they could by some right stay in town as needed workers.
On the 24th of April all but 20 families walked to Kolomyja's ghetto. A horse and wagon was given for the sick and the elderly. Twenty people crowded into a single room. One kilo bag of corn flour cost a Dollar or more, if it was at all possible to obtain. Jews starved to death in the streets. Most of them could not even obtain potato skins. They bloated up from the hunger and died.
Two weeks later the Gestapo in Kolomyja organized various work-groups such as rag collectors, iron collectors, and farmers. Those who were included in these work-groups received some legitimacy and were able to return to their homes, thus creating small enclaves. Every Jew who still owned a few valuables tried to get into these work-groups to get a little legitimacy. While collecting the old rags and iron they had the opportunity to ask for some food and keep themselves and their family alive.
Jews suffered under these conditions until September 7th 1942 when all women and men with the work legitimacy, were required to register in Sniatin. They were brought into Sakal Hall, loaded into wagons and sent in various directions to their extermination. The rest of the Jews from Zablotow, who did not belong to the work-groups, were shipped as well.
Many suffocated in the wagons within an hour. Those who had more perseverance, especially the younger ones, realizing they had nothing to lose, started breaking the wagons and one after the other jumped out. Most of them were shot by the Gestapo Observation Group, which accompanied the transport and were stationed on the last wagon. Only very few managed to save their lives. The preferred place at that time was Chernovtsy where there were still left some Jews from the first Jewish expulsion of November 1941 to Transdenisterian. About twenty thousands lived there, in more or less good conditions.
The refugees in Chernovtsy did not have a roof over their head and were persecuted by the Rumanian police, many of them where deported and ended up back in the hands of Gestapo in Sniatin (on the Polish-Rumanian border).
These organizations got arranged to provide the new comers with material help and moral support. Each organization had its own financial account; a medical account providing free medicine; they're own Cemetery for departed members, and it provided small allowance for widows. During the first years these organizations were a great help to the newcomers as individuals and to the entire Jewish community in the United States.
In 1896-97 the Zabolotover Landsleit (Former residents of Zablotow) established the organization named " Our Zablotow's Rabbi Mendel Hager's organization for helping the sick". In 1899 when Mr. Yissachar Toy Z"L and Mr. Zundel Sheinhorn arrived in the United States there were 30 members in the organization. Today the organization holds 250 members and with wives and children under 18 there are about 700 people in the organization.
In 1918 immediately after the First World War the organizations established what was called Relief Committees, that collected money amongst their members in order to help the needy in their old hometowns. Naturally, the Zablotowers did the same thing.
In a short time we collected 3,000 Dollars and later further 2,000 Dollars which were sent to Zablotow and distributed to the needy.
Most of the residents in Zablotow were convinced that we did our duty, but a few of us still felt that "man can not live on bread alone" and what was really required was to establish something spiritual and cultural.
The local Zablotowers formed a special group with the specific goal to do something in this regard.
They were: Yissachar Toy, Zundel Sheinhorn, Yakov Sheinhorn, Moshe Hertzog (son-in-law of Shmuel Tilinger), Aaron Straus, Zeide Altman, Shlomo Yoseph Shtadler, Moshe Shaffer, Avramche Oyerbach, Moshe Hirsch (son-in-law of Litman Reiter), Moshe Shtadler and Max Shtadler. We decided to build and to maintain a modern Jewish school in Zablotow with room for culture and social activities.
When it was decided to do the above, we called upon a few learned Zionist of Zablotow. They were Natan Karen, Mordechai Karen, Ben-Zion Toy and Zelig Gross, the son of the slaughterer David Hersh, and asked them to tell us their opinion about the plan and how much money would be required for it.
Everyone in Zablotow accepted the plan. The ongoing expenses were estimated to be about $60 a month which we must send over. This is in addition to the money the American group must send for the local needy residents of Zablotow and for those returning after the war. Today's residents of Zablotow on the other hand wished to pay for the expenses of the place and for the teacher and the maintenance man by themselves.
We immediately accepted that proposal and sent money for the construction. They immediately rented a place, hired a teacher and opened the school. From our end, we sent them precisely each month the above mentioned 60 Dollars besides extra money to cover unforeseen expenses, and the school made good progress.
After two years the school's management notified us that the place was too small, they need a second teacher as well, since the number of children had increased. They suggested we purchase for this purpose, the house of Evilishen Dexer Litch for 4, 000 Dollars. A thousand Dollars they were willing to donate, while we would give 3,000 Dollars and add 20 Dollars to the monthly donation to cover the expense of the second teacher.
After giving it some thought we decided to transfer the whole matter to Dr. Alexander Reiterman, a cousin of Yissachar Toy, who was a prominent lawyer, and at that time the President of the Jewish Community in Stanislavov and leader of the Polish Zionists.
Dr. Reiterman visited Zablotow, checked the matter and sent us a positive report. He promised us that should we buy the house to enlarge the school, he would oversee the entire operation of the institute, the studies and the building to ensure proper operation of the school.
We sent the money and he purchased the house. Due to Polish Laws, which did not allow outsiders to buy land in Poland, Dr. Reiterman presented Yissachar Toy as the buyer of the house and gave him a receipt for 3,000 Dollars.
They moved into the new location enlarging the school and added another teacher. Since that time we sent 80 Dollars each month besides the cost of basic necessities and other expenses totaling about 100 Dollars a month.
During the first 3-4 years the school operated nicely and was a great success. Later although management was not as before, the school still operated more or less as expected of them. As we had set forth, namely to keep the Jewish children off the streets, to provide them with basic Jewish and general knowledge, and to provide the older youth a place where to hold their Zionist and cultural meetings.
The school existed and functioned the entire time till the outbreak of the Second World War.
This is more or less the history of the Jewish school in Zablotow. It is possible that I have not mentioned some details exactly, but I can promise that the main facts and figures are exact and correct.
Duplicate of Hebrew Introduction section, but in Yiddish.
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