Transcribed by Genia Hollander
We have written these chapters in English especially for our American children and grandchildren so that they too should know at least something about the horrible Holocaust in which a third of our people, (4 million) were systematically slaughtered in cold blood under the most gruesome and barbaric circumstances.
We also want our children to know that when our people, men, women and children were being annihilated in the thousands and millions, no one in the entire civilized world came out with a protest. No one raised a finger to do something about it.
We also want our children to know where their parents and grandparents came from and how they lived in their native hometowns and villages for many generations. We don't pretend to be literary experts; neither does this small memorial book claim any literary value.
We just tried to the best of our knowledge and ability to put in print our boundless sorrow and bereavement. This we did with every fibre of our hearts and souls.
We only hope that our effort will not be in vail which our message will penetrate deep into the souls and hearts of our young generation, even to some older brothers and sisters who still do not grasp the full scope of the greatest tragedy that had ever befallen the martyred Jewish people.
[Page 4 - English] [Page 226 - Yiddish]
Written and delivered by Morris Garber
Eulogy at the unveiling of the Monument dedicated to the memory of our four thousand martyrs who were mercilessly massacred by the most vicious, brutal and beastly Nazi cannibals in the years of 1942-1943.
Every page of our long history of martyrdom is saturated with rivers of blood and oceans of tears.
For thousands of years, we have been the scapegoat for every ruling tyrant. We have always been the lightning rod to divert the wrath of the suffering people against their grafting, plundering, cruel rules who tried to cover up their infamous deeds by accusing the Jewish people of every crime imaginable and unimaginable.
Since the early medieval days and to this day, pogroms, frame-ups, and cruel persecution had all one pattern and one purpose to use it as a smoke screen; to blind and enrage the ignorant masses with the venomous poison of Anti-Semitism and animal Jew-hating.
There were many cruel mass-murderers as far as history can record during which the Jewish people paid more than their share of blood and suffering.
There were Attila, Genghis Khan, the crusades, the Spanish inquisition with the insane and sadistic grand inquisitor high priest Torquemada and many others.
Even the mass slaughters of our people by Chmelnitski and Petlura were mere child-play in comparison with the blood-chilling Holocaust of the cultured people. Master Race is what they called themselves all doctors, crystal pure Arians, the top cream of the entire human race. Be damned forever and ever you devils-cutthroats, cold-blooded murdering demons.
And the entire civilized world, bragging so proudly of democracy, justice and human compassion, closed their eyes, stuffed up their ears, turned their faces to the wall and refused to hear the heart-tending cry that was coming from the vermin-infested slaughter houses murder factories, better known as concentration camps!
They refused to see the outstretched emaciated, convulsive hands of innocent Jewish men, women and children who, in their last agony were being driven to the gas chambers and crematories, pleading and begging: Help! Please help us!!!
But help did not come and when it did, it was too late much too late The Hitler supermen had carried out their outrageous and atrocious assignment with great zeal and with accursed German accuracy far more diligently than was expected even by their insane masters.
Too late the world sobered up and realized that by being indifferent and pretending not to see and not to hear or care and, in some cases, even giving direct assistance, they were to blame for letting this Hitler monstrosity come into absolute and final power. This Frankenstein demon fell upon his creators with all the might of his mechanised panzer war machine and hordes of his well-trained and well-schooled obedient robots in the art of destruction and mass-murder. The Blitz was on.
The mask was off the objectives of this horrible brown plague became clear to the panicked and bewildered world.
They set out to subjugate and enslave the entire world to plunder and rob; to kill and kill and kill and above all to exterminate completely the entire Jewish race.
And how dangerously close they came to achieving this satanic plan of theirs? Just stop and think what hell on earth this world of ours would have been had they, God forbid, succeeded!
There was a time when this snake pit of dangerous Hitler gang of psychopaths could have been cleaned out with one army regiment and the allies still had the power to do it, but they didn't
We don't know whether it was just criminal negligence or a case of choosing the lesser evil. It was a boomerang that was aimed at the worse evil but it came back with a terrific impact and hit furiously those who hurled out this boomerang.
So the prophecy of Professor Firster (A German) came true after all. When this German pacifist warned the leading diplomats of the free world and proved to them with undeniable documentary, evidence that the worst
Calamity the world had ever seen was imminent; when he pleaded with them to take action before it would be too late, they turned a deaf ear and ignored his warnings. He then told them: If you refuse to use your eyes now and see, you will use them to weep. We all remember Churchill's famous words: Blood, sweat, toll and tears.
Yes, the whole world bled, wept, and paid a horrible price for the near-sightedness and stupidity of their leaders and the Jewish people paid far, far more than anyone else.
When the blueprint for the complete annihilation and obliteration of the Jewish people was already in the files of Nuremburg waiting to be carried out Chamberlain flew with his umbrella under his arm to appease the mad and arrogant leaders of the Master Race.
There he sold out England's best friend and ally Czechoslovakia and when he returned he proudly waived his worthless piece of paper promising the world peace for a long time to come.
We all know how long this peace lasted.
Now the world Munich became a synonym to shameful political and diplomatic betrayal and will remain so forever for posterity to ponder.
What hurts the most is how fast the world had forgotten and what hurts more painfully is that a great many Jews do not want to remember; some even try under all kinds of pretences, to appear as apologists for the German blood orgies.
Yes! You rotten and ugly murderous hearts are still the same. Quite often, we are told to forgive and forget let bygones be bygones.
We can't stop others but how can we forgive and how can we forget? Is it possible to forget such a horrible nightmare? Is it possible to forgive such monstrous crimes by man against man?
Oh no! We will never forgive and never forget.
Instead of subduing, instead of keeping the mad dogs on chains for the safety of the rest of humanity, the Germans were put on their feet in a hurry and were being catered by the East and West alike.
Thousands of sadistic Nazi murderers are in high government positions, they are well paid and lead a luxurious and comfortable life and remain unpunished as though nothing happened.
Too often, we hear already alarming reports that here and there the hideous Nazi snake is raising its ugly head again and hissing with hate and poison like in the good old times.
Swastikas on the walls of Synagogues and bombs are a too frequent occurrence and the German scientists working feverishly to help Nasser realize his dream of destroying Israel; arrogant hoodlums parade openly in Nazi uniforms displaying the hated swastika spider on the streets of free America They even have already a Nazi fascist international and a world-wide secret underground too! They don't rest and never give up their dream of completing Hitler's satanic aspirations.
Therefore, we too must always be alert and on guard to see and watch that the evil dreams of the little yet dangerous Hitlers can never come to pass again.
What happened to you, dear old hometown of ours? What did the modern
blond Huns do to you? A heap of rubble, charred ruins and complete devastation. That is how the crazed German vandals and their partners in crime the local criminal Ukrainians, wiped you off the face of the earth.
And you, dear beloved parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives? And you, dear neighbours and dear old friends of our younger years? Where are you and how did you meet your bitter end? In which gas chamber did the German barbarians rob you of your last breath of life? In which infernal crematorium did they burn and fry your starved, emaciated and tortured bodies?
Which of their cursed fields did they fertilize with the ashes of your bones? Or, did they cut you down with machinegun fire and dead or half-dead, you fell into the mass-graves, which they forced you to dig with your own hands? Perhaps there are no graves at all? Certainly, there are no tombstones on you graves as it is and was and will always be the custom and ritual of all humans.
Therefore, we the Zinkover survivors, decided to erect a symbolic tombstone on this symbolic grave of yours. May your tortured souls find rest and peace right here on Zinkover soil among all the Zinkover who found their eternal home here.
Today, we stand here with heads bowed and aching hearts. We mourn your unnatural and inhuman tragic death. With your tears, we consecrate this holy piece of land and this monument, which we dedicate to your eternal memory.
From today on, this memorial will be the symbol of all that was so dear to our hearts and now it is no more and will never, ever be again.
May this monument stay here high and proud for many centuries. May it always remind us and our children and our children's children of the horrible slaughter, of the gruesome brown Nazi regime, in which six million of our innocent Jewish brothers and sisters, old and young were exterminated in cold blood, brutally and systematically, according to plan and pattern worked out and carried out thoroughly by the Germans and their eager partners in crime the criminal elements among the Poles and Ukrainians.
Let us give our solemn promise that every year we will gather around this monument to observe the Yahrzeit of our holy martyrs, to mourn and to weep and to say Kaddish for their souls.
Sunday, June 23rd, 1963.
Far, far away across the ocean, somewhere in the Russian Ukraine stood our poor little native Jewish town Zinkov.
Hundreds of years, it had stood there. Generation after generation came and passed on to make room for new generations, like waves after waves on the surfs of the ocean.
It was a hard life under the cruel despotic Czars and their almighty tchinovnicks (officials). Their humiliating, degrading laws and edicts of oppression and limitations weighted down heavily on our shoulders. We were reduced to the level of second-class citizens and as such, we could not move around freely in the country. A great number of areas and cities were completely taboo for us. We had to live where we were told to not where we wanted. We always lived in fear of pogroms and persecutions.
Education in the broad sense of the word was denied to us (with some exceptions here and there). The means and ways of making a living were limited to petty trading and domestic artisanship such as; tailors, shoemakers, smiths, tinsmith, coopers, watchmakers, furniture makers and some other. We were completely excluded from agriculture and heavier industries. Under these oppressive conditions, making a living even a poor and modest living was an eternal hard and difficult struggle.
Yet, the Jewish parents saw to it that their children should get the traditional Jewish learning and upbringing even if it had to be at the expense of their daily piece of bread. Education of children, especially boys, was a must and above all other necessities of life.
Still, in some miraculous way, our small town managed to produce a fine intellectual, idealistic youth, great religious scholars and fine and honest workers and tradesmen.
The inherent hunger for knowledge and education was the driving force for self-education and then the hard-acquired, precious knowledge was passed on to
others in the way of private tutoring. (A more detailed and vivid account of the hardships and obstacles that Jewish young people were confronted with in their quest for learning and acquiring a career, is in my chapter Externs).
Life in these small communities was not always that monotonous and colourless. There were three times when rays of sunshine broke through the dark, dreary clouds and brought a little joy and spiritual uplifting.
There were the holy Sabbaths and gay and solemn holidays that brought peace and tranquillity into every Jewish home and relaxation into the heart and soul of every Jew.
Now and then, young people got married and every wedding was a special event for the entire village. The musicians walking ahead of the bride and groom with their parents and guests and almost the entire populace of the town following at a respectable distance. They all marched slowly over the streets under the sound of music until they came to the old and huge shul in front of which, under open sky, the ceremony was performed under a portable canopy called the chupah.
Here I must stop and dedicate a few lines to the memory of this shul which I mentioned above.
It was a tremendous and massive structure of the very old school of architecture. The most amazing feature of it was the Holy Arc Aron-Kodesh. It extended from the floor to the ceiling at a height of at least three stories. The artistic work of the arc is hard to describe. The carving and gilding of all the symbolic birds and animals and other figures was just breath taking.
I always wondered as to how old this temple was; who were the people who financed such an expensive undertaking and who were the artists that had erected this phenomenal wonder. My curiosity was never satisfied because even the oldest people of our town did not know.
Once, on the evening of Kol-Nidre, 32 women were trampled to death in this shul because of a false fire alarm.
Now there is not a trace left of this remarkable landmark. The barbaric German vandals razed it to the ground on which it stood from times unmemorable.
The youth of our town were organized in a number of political and cultural groups such as singing, dramatics and others. Traveling actors used to come in at times and put on shows. Acrobats used to perform on the streets with us kids following them around all day long. Our local dramatic club used to put on a play, once in a while, to ring a little light into the not very bright life of the Zinkover inhabitants.
The serene beauty of the landscapes surrounding our poor little town was somethings words fail to describe.
On one side of our town there were green hills rolling down to a most beautiful and picturesque valley with a winding river in the centre of it. On both sides of the river and as far as the eye could see were scattered a number of peasant villages. The little colourful huts could hardly be seen in the setting of their orchards and gardens. Quite often, artist-painters would come to put this beauty of nature on to canvas.
On the other side of our town, endless stretch of wheat fields fringed on the far horizons with blue-green forests. When harvest time cane and the wheat was ready for reaping, the fields looked like a sea of gold waving under the touch of the slightest breeze.
Over these hills and fields, the Jewish families of Zinkov used to come out in the summer Saturdays at sundown dressed in their best fineries (as little as they had) to walk and promenade for show and pleasure, to breathe in the fresh aromatic air and to feast their eyes upon God's majestic world.
It was a real spiritual treat to watch the awe-inspiring beauty of the setting sun beyond those green hills, bidding farewell with the last reflection of a pinkish-golden horizon and spreading long shooting shadows of dusk. Slowly and gradually, as if reluctantly, the final reflection of the sun was disappearing beyond the hills on to the other side of the valley. It was getting dimmer and dimmer until the entire valley vanished in a shroud of darkness. Here and there, a flicker of a light from a peasant hut broke through the darkness and went out again.
A soothing and peaceful silence descended on earth as if Gold himself and all his creation retired to rest in peace. Only the tireless croaking of the frogs, the chirping of the crickets and the rhythmic rush of water over the milldam sounded like a symphonic accompaniment in harmony with this calm and tranquil evening.
The older people had left. Only we, a small group of boys and girls, (like todays' teenagers) lingered on. We stretched out on our backs feeling the cool fragrance of the grass. Up above, we could see the dark and almost black cupola of the sky densely studded with bright, shiny, blinking and winking stars.
At times, we would sit in a circle talking, joking and flirting with the girls. Then we would start to sing happy songs, sad songs, nostalgic songs of love and hope, songs of golden youth and dreams. It was almost blasphemy to break this magic silence with the dissonance of our singing.
In moments like these, we were completely oblivious of the trials and tribulations that most of our parents had to face in order to provide for their families even the most meagre necessities of life.
We refused to face the cold realistic facts that we were helpless and useless idlers a heavy burden on the backs of our fathers and mothers. Although we
were at the prime of our years and physical maturity, there was no prospect for us to do anything constructive to enable us to stand on our feet and on solid ground. Agriculture was forbidden; civil service was emphatically denied; there were no industries of any kind and even if there had been, Jewish workers would most certainly have been rejected. The future looked grim and hopeless but youth has a power and a charm of its own. It refuses to let you worry about problems such as these; it makes you drink in all the jo, the dreams, the bright hopes of golden mirages and utopian fantasies with no regard for practical reality.
Little did we know that world-shaking events were around the corner; that threatening dark clouds were gathering on the far horizon; that these clouds would unleash a horrible storm, which would severely shake the foundation of the entire world. Little did we know that soon a horrible, cruel, bloody and devastating war would break out and would put an end to the old values of tradition and morality, to human honesty and compassion.
And so it was the beginning of World War I with all its cruelty, destruction, bloodshed, human suffering, revolutions, counter revolutions and anarchy.
Out of this nightmare emerged two political camps with opposing ideologies locked in a struggle of life and death and bent on destroying each other. There was an uneasy peace for a period of little over twenty years. The violent friction between these two political camps gave birth to the German Hitler-Nazi monstrosity. We will not go into detail about the carnage of the black-brown Nazi plague. I have done this in other chapters of this book
I only want to repeat that it was the most vicious and most brutal foe our people had ever fallen victim to in all our long history of persecution and martyrdom.
World War I was horrible and gruesome enough and the events that followed were still worse much worse. But, after it had simmered down, we, the more fortunate, had a chance at least to run to emigrate to all corners of the world. We managed to escape to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Palestine and many other countries wherever we were given asylum.
Our poor and unfortunate dear ones who were left behind did not have that chance. When they had fallen into the vice of the beastly German murdering executioners, there was no way of escape, like the fly that had fallen into the web of the lurking spider.
With inhuman and merciless brutality, the bloodthirsty Nazi barbarians uprooted all that was Jewish, murdering, slaughtering, burning, ravaging and devastating the entire European Jewish community leaving death and ruin in their wake.
So lived and so died our holy martyrs. So lived and so died our dear old hometown of Zinkov.
Our thorny path towards education and a career under the Tsarist regime in the years long gone by.
Dedicated especially to our children and grandchildren of school age.
In a previous chapter, I already gave a general picture of our burning hunger for learning and knowledge and the insurmountable hardships and obstacles that were put in our way. The policy of the Tsarist regime was to keep its vas masses in primitive darkness and ignorance. They were afraid to educate the people. An educated people might start seeing things in a different light and they might present a dangerous threat to their absolute rulers. That is why schools were so few and rare.
Our town of Zinkov was larger and more progressive than the other small Jewish communities nearby. Therefore, we were fortunate to have had a six-grade government school, which was named after its principal. It was known as Sumnie-witche's School (Shkola).
Not too many of our Jewish children were lucky enough to have become students of this school. The graduates of this temple of learning were treated like real cultured intellectuals, receiving their due respect amid people who, in their great majority, were ignorant and illiterate. In reality, these graduates knew much less than the children who came out of our elementary grammar schools. So goes the law of relativity. People and things can look different and have contradictory values in different times and places.
I also mentioned before that the task of Jewish religious education was taken care of by Rabbis (Melamdim) and their Cheders, and a Talmud Torah, if a community was lucky enough to have one, and by self-taught young scholars in the houses of prayer.
The crucial problem, however, had to be met by those Jewish youths who were striving for a higher, worldly education or those whose ambition it was to elevate themselves above the average level and to make a place for themselves in those few and limited professions to which only a couple of narrow avenues were still open.
The pharmaceutical and dental professions along with some less impressive
and less inviting fields of endeavour were still open to the Jewish youths (because there were very few Gentile aspirants in this field).
In order to be admitted into these professions, a certain degree of education was required: for druggists assistants, four years and for dentists, six years of High School. The Russian gymnasium was an eight-year or eight class-school. Of course, there were no gymnasiums in our small town. The only one that really counted was the one in the capital of our province Kamenetz-Podolsk, 60 miles away from our Zinkov. So we had to study and study hard and then go to Kamenetz to take the exam. Because we were students outside of a school, we were called: Externs or Externiki, which means outsiders, just as a medical student who is practicing his profession inside a hospital is called an intern.
It took months and years of hard, nerve-wracking and backbreaking labour. We had to have the endurance, patience and calm of a saint in order to keep it up. The closer we came to the tests, the harder we worked, the less we slept giving up every little pleasure and every bit of freedom and relaxation which are a part of a growing adolescent.
We stayed up nights in groups of two and three making sure that each would keep the other from falling asleep. We kept washing our eyes with cold water to stay awake. Only when our brains became numb and refused to absorb any more cramming did we then stop for a couple of hours sleep.
We had to be in the city of Kamenetz at least six weeks prior to the date set for the exams. It was important to engage the help of a local and experienced teacher in order to make sure that we were ready to face the ordeal of the tests. Again, we studied day and night and lived on a starvation diet. Most of us came from not too wealthy families. The children of the richer families did not have to be externs. They were inside the schools not outside.
Finally, the day came, or rather the week of judgement. Scared and with pounding hearts we entered the holy sanctuary of learning the huge auditorium was brightly illuminated with row after row of separate tables. At each table were two or three teachers for every required subject the imposing uniforms of the teachers scared us and confused us even more.
It was a known fact that the teachers, those high priests of education, disliked us very much. Even Christian externs and more so the Jewish ones. It was their belief that no extern, however brilliant, could ever equal an inside student. Armed with this dogma and prejudice, it was no wonder that they hardly ever passed an extern the first time. Some of us got discouraged and gave up. But the more stubborn and persistent ones tried over and over again until they finally made it. These adolescents were like the salmon fish who, by some mystery of nature, work their way against the strong current of rivers (mostly Columbia River)
towards a certain destination. They make attempt after attempt until they succeed or perish in their attempt. They never stop and never turn back. That is exactly how it was with our externs. Some did not have the will and stamina, or the financial means to continue. However, some were determined to reach their goal at all cost, even to the degree of giving up their faith in order to be admitted to the universities and medical or law schools. Some of these converts became famous doctors, lawyers, engineers and professors. However, at such a terrible price!
That is why, dear children of ours, I have written this chapter especially for you so that you should draw a parallel and realize how lucky and how blessed you are to find at your disposal a network of fine schools and capable teachers where there are no extern. Here you do not have to dream to be admitted to a school but it is the law of the land that you must attend a school and your parents are responsible if you do not. Here you do not have to sell your faith for a diploma of any profession. It is there, ready and waiting for you if only have the desire and the ambition and the will to reach out for it.
So let the picture of your parents and grandparents struggle for a bit of education always be engraved in your mind and in front of your eyes to stimulate you, to encourage you in your drive towards a profession of any kind or in industry or commerce.
This, I believe, is the finest legacy we have to leave you for now and after we will be gone into the far beyond.
With heartfelt gratitude to Rose Davidowitz and her children for their most generous contribution towards the printing of this Memorial Book.
Brother Hyman Davidowitz was a good-standing member of our society for many years. Although he lived far away from New York, he was in close contact with our Fraternal Organization and generously contributed to every charitable cause that our society sponsored.
He carried in his heart an undying and nostalgic longing for his old hometown of Zinkov where a great number of his relatives and friends perished in the most vicious and most barbaric Nazi Holocaust.
In the city of Hazelton, Pa., where he lived with his family and carried on his prosperous business for more than two decades, he won for himself prominence, respect and admiration by his outstanding deeds of philanthropy.
To paraphrase the famous words of our late President J.F. Kennedy, he never asked what the society could do for him but he gladly and willingly did all he could for society and all of its activities. Hyman Davidowitz's deeds of charity and social activities are so many that it would take pages to tell all about them in detail. We will, therefore, limit ourselves to a few of the most important ones:
Our late brother Davidowitz and his family bought the site and contributed a great deal towards building a camp for children and adults. As a gesture of gratitude for their magnificent accomplishment, the people of Hazelton decided to name it Camp Davidowitz.
The concluding words of the dedication speech were: We are proud to fly the banner bearing the name of the camp that they have presented to our Centre. We hail Camp Davidowitz and salute our benefactors.
It was again our Hymie who broke the ground and helped erect the Jewish Community Centre of Hazelton, Pa., of which he remained President to his last day.
His generous support to the local hospital was well known.
He never turned back anyone who came to him for help Jew or Gentile.
Hyman was the regional director of the U.J.A.
Mr. Morris Rothenberg, the National Chairman of U.J.A. writes in a personal letter to Mr. Davidowitz, among other glowing words of praise, the following: Your inspiring leadership was something that cannot be forgotten. (At the Reading, Pa. regional meeting alongside Eddie Cantor).
We are proud to recount all these wonderful achievements of a descendant from our old and little town of Zinkov.
Mrs. Davidowitz already continues the great work of her beloved husband. She is a tireless worker well known in her own right.
By starting this book with a considerably generous contribution, the Davidowitz family paid the highest tribute to the memory of their husband and father.
We honour his memory.
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