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[Page 305]

The Fate of the Bransk Jews in Neighboring Villages

Alyekshon,[1] Patok, Khaieve,[1] Dolovove,[1] Khoyeve,[1] Glinik, Zanye[1]

Every Bransk resident is familiar with these neighboring villages. Tens of Jews would visit these villages almost daily, doing business with the Christian population there. They were connected through many generations. The older Christians respected the Bransk Jews, visiting their homes as friends, old acquaintances.

The Bransk Jews who fled the ghetto thought they would be safe from the Nazis in the homes of their Christian neighbours. Having nowhere to go, many of the Jews sought out their old village acquaintances.

Regretfully, a new generation grew up in the villages, a generation that absorbed well the former Polish anti–Semitic agitation. These elements now had an opportunity to implement their devilish plans. They were most especially talented in their rush to capture Jews and bring them to the Germans, and to murder them themselves to get rid of them.

The better Christians admonished the Jews: “Why are you running away? You know your generation must disappear.” There is no help for this. This was so–called, giving them courage.

Those Jews who had fled the ghetto did not believe they were falling into a terrible fire that in a short two months would wipe out everyone and everything.

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From previous chapters we know what happened to the more than 100 Jews who remained in the ghetto.

Now we will see the fate of the Jews who had fled to the villages around Bransk.


The story of the death of 27 Bransk Jews in the Bransk forest in Kozhe (?) between the villages of Glinik and Zani

This was during the last days of November, 1942. There were about 80 Bransk Jews there in the forest. They lay in trenches, having run away from the Bransk ghetto, unarmed. Provoked by the Christians there suddenly appeared gendarmes accompanied by Polish policemen. People run. The following succeeded in running away: Velvl Halperin, Inditchke's grandchild, Niske Nidelman, Khaim Kevlyaker, Motl Kevlyaker's son, Yisroel Brener, Pesakh the miller's grandchild, Leybl Stelmakh's grandchild and Binyomin Vayinavitch from Benduge.

The gendarmes order everyone out of the trench. They assure them they will take everyone to Bransk. When all of them emerged from the trenches, the gendarmes opened fire with machine guns. Everyone perishes.

I was successful in obtaining a partial list of names. There were some names I could no longer find.

Motl Vrubel, 65 years old
Hershl Vrubel, 24 years old
Sheyne Halpern, Hindetchke's daughter–in–law, 60 years old
Hershl Halpern, Hinditchke's grandchild, 30 years old
Yerakhmiel Brener, Pesakh Milner's grandchild, 18 years old
Itche Valkavitch, Pesakh Milner's grandchild, 22 years old
Avrum Voynovitch from Benduge, 23 years old
Reyzl, his sister, 28 years old
Feygele, Avrum Voyinovitche's sister–in–law, 30 years old
Khaviva, Feygl's child, 3 years old
Velvl Yerusalimsky, Pesakh the scribe's son, 19 years old
Yosl Broyde, Kesilke Shaike's son, a butcher, 35 years old

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Note Broyde, Yosel's child 8 years old,
Yakhe Susel, Maishe Susel's daughter 25 years old,
Menukhe Hurvitz, Hershl's daughter 27 years old,
A Jew from Sakole, name unknown 40 years old,
Kham Hersh Rotenshteyn, Mendl Toker's son 40 years old
Yankev Rotenshteyn, Enakh Leybl Stylemakh's 40years old,
Pesakh Kaplan, Shloyme Volfke's son–in–law 47 years old,
Berl Yatz, Shloyme Volfke's son, 50 years old,
Malke Yatz, Berl's girl 18 years old,
Sholemayke the teacher's grandchild 24 years old,
Hershl Pulshanski, Tchebtche's son 18 years old,
Tsalye Broyde, Shayke's grandchild 28 years old,


Berl's daughter Malke Yatz and Shimshon Bransky
Berl Yatz


I cannot locate the rest of the names. Those few who fled stopped on a small hill and watched and saw the execution. All were buried in the trench. After the liberation all 27 who had perished were brought to the Bransk cemetery for a proper Jewish burial, thanks to Khaim Vrubel's hard efforts.

From the Historical Commission records 17/47, accordingly.

Many Bransk Jews perished by the hand of Bransk commandant, police chief Monik Zavatske.

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Jews would come to Bransk during the night to reclaim from the Christians significant items they had hidden with them, but the Christians did not want to part with these treasures and return them willingly.

Zavatski's[2] victims numbered 12. Regretfully, I can only give the names of: Khaim Piekucki,[3] Babtche's son 16 years old and Yankl Piekucki,[3] Maishe Khanale's son, 23years old.

I filed a complaint against Zavatski with the prosecutor in Bialystok on the 21st of January 1947.

This is how the Polish bandits acted towards the defenseless and weakened Jewish people of Bransk. In addition, their being unorganized and unarmed resulted in a Polish victory over the Jews.

There were still Jews in other villages.



The village of Alyekshon is located near Bransk in a swampy forest area. Jews who had fled from the ghetto were hiding in these swampy forest areas thinking no one would notice them there.

The Jews did not have any food with them so they were forced to creep out of the swamps to go to the villages to beg for a little bread or to buy some with money.

There were many who actually did give the Jews bread, but the fact remains that Jews were in the neighborhoods and therefore this was common knowledge in the village of Alyekshon.

The Alyekshon village–magistrate Jozef Adamtchik called a village gathering. There he demanded all Christians of the area to not help the ‘zhides’[4] in any way. He demanded they capture the Jews, tie them up and bring them to the Germans.

That same evening, Adamtchik forced a number of Christians, and others took this on voluntarily, to participate in a wild chase to capture Jews. They capture, bind the Jews like sheep. They are held, bound in a barn for a couple of days and then the German arrive and shoot all the Jews.

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Eleven Jews were captured in this area. All were shot in Alyekshon on the way to the village of Klikhe.[5]

A second hunt was organized by the same hooligan Adamtchik during which five Jews were captured. These five were taken to Bransk where they were shot.

These are the victims of the bandit Adamtchik

Esther Oskard, Mordekhay Oskard's daughter–in–law, Yisroel–Khaim's wife 55 years old,
Mordekhay Oskard, Yisroel–Khaim's son, 5 years old,
Kozak, first name unknown, Maishe Pribut's son–in–law, 56 years old,
Ruben Kozak, grandchild of Maishe Pribut, 20
Leye Kozak, Maishe Pribut's grandchild, 18
Yosl Pribut, Tepltsime's son, 35
Pinye Tchigelsky the barber's son, 26
Yankev Rotnshteyn, Maishe Mendl Toker's son, about 21,
Leybl Rose, Alter Shloyme Hitzl's son who had fled from Bielsk from the train, 12 years old,
Peshe Rozen, Dovid Shmid's grandchild 20 years old
Naftali Awol, Rikl Beeber's[6] grandchild 16 years old,
Shimon Branski, Yoske Menukhe's grandchild, 16 years old
Avrum Davidovitch from Kolnye, Sane's grandchild 30 years old,
Sorah Tabak from Vishonk, her father was some big shot, about 25 years old,
One is unknown.

I submitted this fact to the Bialystok Historical Commission of the Jewish Committee under the number 3–1–47, accordingly. Through the efforts of the commission I submitted a complaint to the court officials. Jozef Adamtchik is arrested, the witnesses against him are those who escaped the grasp of the Alyekshon Christians. They are: Maishe Oskard's, Zakhrye Shnayder's son, whom a friendly Christian sheltered in his home in the town, Khaim Velvl and Yosef Pribut's two brothers, Shmulye Potlover's grandchildren. He resisted them

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with a pitchfork, sticking those who wanted to approach him. The Christians, young mischief–makers became frightened and scattered. His brother Yosef saved himself by escaping from the stable, hiding beneath a turned over barrel that was standing in the courtyard. Yosef did not survive [see further of later attacks]. The complaints against Jozef Adamtchik were signed by the Bialystok Jewish magistrate Mr Turek. On the basis of the two witnesses, Maishe Oskard and Khaim Velvl Pribut, and my [Alter Trus] signature were the main reasons for the prosecution of the murderers.

Mr Burshteyn, the current president of the Provincial Committee in Bialystok, sent me a notice that Adamtchik had been arrested.

Remarks by Julius Cohen:

‘The relief committee in New York has photocopies of all the reports and complaints against the Polish bandits who participated in helping to murder Jews.

The complaints were signed by all the witnesses who were present at these scenes. The most responsible for bringing these Jewish murderers to the court is Alter Trus, who did not allow anything to get in his way. Threats did not deter him from his purpose. The sworn witnesses also behaved like true heroes because their lives were also in danger and yet, the refugee remnant of Bransk Jews brought to the court numerous murderers of Jews among whom was Jozef Adamchik. We include herewith the sworn photocopies of the complaints. Now, March 9th, (1948). I received a notice from the Bialystok Historical Committee in which they inform me that Jozef Adamtchik was sentenced to death by hanging on February 27, 1948. The sworn testimonies of Bransk Jews played an important role at the trial which lasted three days. A heartfelt thanks to you, Bransk courageous heroes, for your brave stance.

We have more than 30 pages of photocopies documents. Due to the

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heavy costs of reproducing them in this book, we included only the letters that are in regard to the complaint against Adamtchik.

On the 1st March, 1948 the trials of the murderous Ritch[7] brothers of Khayeve began as well as that of the bandit Kaminski, when the book was already at the printer. Therefore we do not know whether we will be able to bring the results of the trials in time.’


The slaughters near Patok, Khaieve, Dolokhove

There were Jews hiding in the village of Patok. They had fled from the Bransk ghetto.

Two Patok Christians, the brothers Toyur, captured the Jews. Half–dead, beaten and bound, they brought them to Bransk to the gendarmes where they were shot. Following are the victims: Leyzer Skavronek, Ahron Tcheslyer's son–in–law, 60 years old, Manes Skavronek Leyzer's son 23 years old, Nisl, another son, 21 years old, and a Jewish youth from Lapy, name unknown, 25.

In the summer of 1943 the partisan detachment was already organized to some degree. They came to Potok at night seeking food and the same two Toyur brothers captured Yankev Olyentsky (Maishe Alyentsky's son) 30 years old. Somehow, their pistol did not work properly, so they gave him a good beating and brought him to the gendarmes. The gendarmes gave him an additional beating, trying to force him into giving up the names of the other partisans. The partisans had already evacuated the area. Yankev Olyentsky is shot in the forest as they went to the hiding–place. The partisans buried him after the liberation, bringing him to a proper Jewish burial on the Bransk cemetery.

I registered a complaint against the two brothers Toyur to the prosecutor on the 7th January, 1947, with the stated reasons of the Jewish Historical Commission in Bialystok, No. 7/47, accordingly.

The brothers Toyur were arrested.



In the village of Khaieve at the end of November there were Bransker who had fled, the Krukofsky family, the family is attacked by a band of Christians, the brothers Dlugolenski and others. They are beaten,

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bound up and brought to the gendarmes at Rutke,[8] and there they were shot there. The following are the victims:

Yosl Krukofsky, 53 years old,
Leybl, Yosl Krupskiy's son 21 years old,
Khana, Yosl's daughter 24years old,
A child of 9 years old,
And Krukofsky's brother with the nickname of Tegale 25 years old,


Right: Rubele, the rabbi's grandchild,
Centre: Avrum Grazhinsky's son, Left: Maishe Taker's girl
Yankev Alyenktsy


I brought in a complaint against the Christians through the Jewish Historical Commission in Bialystok List Number 7/47 accordingly. Up to this day, there has been no word of any results. There is missing evidence.

Dolovove[9] – In this village during the month of December there were attacks by Christians whose names we were unable to determine. Upon the following Jews: Berl Pam, Kopke's grandchild 25 years old, Elye Rubinshteyn, Zavl–Hersh Khasid's grandchild 23 years old and Itche Rhymer's son 23 years old, they were all victims of this attack.

The following were murdered by Lyeshnik Koshak and his helper Yohanutch.

These were armed leshykes (forest guards) at Ploneve–Spishin. These are their victims:

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Ayzik Vaynshteyn, the deaf Maishe Hersh's son–in–law 52 years, bound and brought to the Bransk gendarmes and shot.
Yosl Okronglye, Berl Klikher's son, 21 years old,
Yosl Pribut, Leyzer Schmidt's son, 55 years old,
Yosl's daughter, Toyve 20 years old,
and Khana Esther Pribut 18 years old.

In the village of Klikhe[10] the lyeshnikes murdered Yosl Pribut's two little children, In the village of Klikhe, the lyetchnikes murdered Yosl Pribut's two little children Yenkl 10 years old and Mordekhay eight years old. They robbed and murdered the Bransk Jewish attorney and his wife. They also captured and bound Maishe Lyev 24 years old, Puder's grandchild, brought him to the gendarmes who shot him.

Maishe the quilter, Volkovitch, Pesakh Milner's son 60 years old, Bashke, Maishe the quilter's wife, 52 years old were also murdered by them.

They stalked and attacked the 2 brothers Goldvaser, Mende Leyb 65 years old and Leyzer 54 years old, Meir Khilikhe's sons. The two brothers escaped. They were later captured by the Germans and shot.

Also in 1943 they caught Nokhum Kleinot, Elber the shoemaker's son 30 years old, wounded and brought to the gendarmes to be shot.

This Koshak[11] at the beginning of 1944 was handed a death sentence by the partisans, which was carried out.

I entered a complaint against Yohanushen through the Jewish Historical Commission to the prosecutor, Number 5/47 et seq, accordingly. To my regret, he is in hiding.

The Death of Yosl Shpitalne – Yosl Shpitalne 21 years old, was the only one of the family to survive when all the others were taken to Treblinka. His father–mother and another brother, a teacher. He was alone, remaining in the liquidated ghetto, he always took his better belongings to a Christian acquaintance, Trushkofske. This Trushkofske at that time lived in a colony near the forest near Bransk.

Young Yosl always came to Trushkofske for a little bit of money or clothes.

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Trukofske wants to get rid of Yosl so that he can keep everything. When Yosl once came to him he gave him a good meal and then asked him to go to the barn to thresh and clean the corn. Yosl did this. Trukofske went to Bransk, within a short while, Trukofske returns with the infamous murderer Markofski, the Polish–German policeman.

Yosl Shpitalne now sees his tragedy. Markofski orders Yosl to run, Yosl begins to run, and Markofski aims his revolver, and shoots Yosl in the back. Yosl Shpitalne falls dead with the first shot, after accomplishing this piece of work Trukofske feels assured of keeping the Jewish miller's belongings. There will no longer be anyone to claim or inherit anything. He prepares the table and he and Markofski enjoy a drink together while the gramophone plays, 100 feet from where lay Yosl Shpitalne's body in a pool of blood. No one is punished, Markofski cannot be found.

Khayeve – Three sturdily–built Bransk Jews were hiding in the village of Khayeve, big heroes. They were, Bertche Yentchman 35 years old, Yenkl's son, Shlome –Hersh the khasid's grandchild, and the Portseleynik's two grandchildren Pesakh Yosl Toptchevsky 40 years old and Nokhum Leizer Toptchevsky 24 years old.

The Soltis Kaminski and the Ritch[12] brothers organized an attack on them in which 20 Christians participated. They mounted a strong defense, but at the end they were overcome. They took their money, bound them and took them on wagons to the Bransk gendarmes. They are shot there near the river, not even being properly buried. The foxes tore the bodies apart.

Not far from the village of Khayeve, there were hidden in a trench in the field Khana Yentchman 22 years old, Khaytche Yentchman 32 years old, Bobtche's daughter and Riva Leye Tcheslyak 45 years old, Itskhak the baker of buckwheat cake/rice's daughter. The Khayeve Christians were very friendly with them. The Ritch[13] brothers, Poles from the village of Khayeve, attacked them, robbed them, undressed them naked and shot them. They fell into the same trench in which they had been hiding.

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Riva Leah Tcheslyak
Bertche Yentchman
Itskhak Kashnik's daughter and son–in–law


The Ritchs kept hidden the belongings of those who had been murdered, wanting to be certain of their inheritance. At this same time, they noticed in the Nuretz River the floating bodies of Yenkl Yentchman, Shloyme–Hersh the khasid's son, 70 (?) years old (continued on page 321)


Pieces of a torn passport
All that remains of Dovid Yentchman's family


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Pages 316 to 320 inclusive were translated by Ania Zilberkant and edited by Rubin Roy Cobb




Jewish Historical Commission
Bialystok, ? 1947
p. 3/47
Aryeh–Lejb Prybut Complaint

Testimony of Arie Lejb Prybut regarding the murder of the Jews of Bransk committed with the assistance of local residents.

Prybut Arie Lejb, born in 1907 in Bransk, farmer by trade; lived in the local ghetto before joining the underground army. He currently resides in Bialystok, on 23 Nowy Swiat Street.

According to the witness' accounts, on the night of December 14, 1942 Jozef Adamczuk, the village headman from Oleksin, located in Bielsk–Podlaski district, and his two henchmen, Boleslaw Byczkowski and Edward Nieroda, on their own initiative (without the Germans' participation) carried out a roundup of Jews who had managed to escape a massacre carried out by the Germans on November 2, 1942.

They captured the following 16 Jews:

  1. Ester Oskard, age 40
  2. Mordechaj Oskard, age 5
  3. Sara Oskard, age 16
  4. Liba Kozak, age 48
  5. Rubin Kozak, age 19
  6. Leja Kozak, age 17
  7. Joel Prybut, (nickname Tsynes ), age 32
  8. Pinia Szczygielsky, age 23
  9. Jankiel Rotenshtejn, age 21
  10. Naftoli Chawal, age 17
  11. Abram Dawidowicz from Kolno, age 18
  12. Sora Tabak, age 23
  13. Pesza Rozen, age 20
  14. Lejb Rosse, age 15
  15. Szymszon Brajnsky, age 14
The witness does not recall the name of one of the victims.

During the liquidation of the Bransk ghetto, the above mentioned Jews managed to escape by breaking through the Ghetto wall and swimming across the river Nurzec toward the villages of Poplawy and Oleksin.

Lejb Rosse managed to escape from the train carrying Jews to the concentration camp in Treblinka. He jumped from the train and walked to the village of Oleksin. Over the period of two weeks he was helped by the local farmers who took turns providing him with food and shelter. When Jozef Adamczuk came to take the boy away, the farmer who was hiding him that night refused to give him up.

Adamczuk and his henchman Boleslaw Byczkowski, forcefully removed the boy from the bed where he was sleeping not allowing him to even get dressed.

Ludwik Szydor, another farmer from Oleksin, after he discovered Liba Rubin,[14] and Leja Kozak hiding in his barn, he tied them up and turned them over to Adamczuk.

Another farmer from Oleksin by the name of Ogorek, (Jozef Adamczuk's brother–in–law ) rushed on horseback to Bransk to call the gendarmes. The witness did not know if Ogorek did it on his own accord or if he was forced to do so by Adamczuk.

All the Jews who were captured were tied up and kept in Ogorek's barn until the arrival of the Germans.

The Germans made the captured males dig a grave by the road from Oleksin to Klichow and shot eleven of the Jews listed above. Following the killing, Adamczuk's henchmen buried the victims.

Five of the victims, Leja Rubin,[15] and Liba Kozak, Pesze Rozen, and Szymszon Bransky were taken to the gendarme headquarters in Bransk where they were also shot a few days later.

The reason why they were not killed right away was that they promised to turn over the gold that had allegedly hidden in Bransk.

The witness also testified that Adamczuk and Byczkowski were responsible for killing two Soviets who were hiding in nearby farms owned by a couple of local farmers by the name of Szafran and Demian. Adamczuka and Byczkowski shot them and buried them in Konotopja (part of Oleksin).

All these facts can be confirmed by Jakob Symojla, who survived the war hiding in the woods with the witness, Arie Lejb Prybut, Bialystok, on 23 Nowy Swiat Street.

Signatures A.L.Prybut Recorder
Mgr. Fuke Court reporter
Head of the Jewish Historical Commission
Mgr. M. Turek

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Complaint Against Adamtchik Attested to By Witnesses


Bialystok, December 2, 1946
To: Jewish Committee
in Bialystok

From: Alter Trus
residing on Piekna Street 2
Bransk in province of Bialystok


I am in possession of documents describing the liquidation of Jews in Bransk. One of the names being mentioned is that of Jozef Adamczuk who was the village headman in Oleksin, in Bransk County, Bielsk–Podlaski Region. He cooperated with the German in rounding up the Jews who were hiding in the nearby forests and in the village. He forced other residents to help him. He tied up the captured Jews and delivered them to nearby gendarmes where they were shot.

The names of the victims are listed below:

Estera Oskars, age 40
Mordko Orkard, age 5
Sora Oskard, age 16
Liba Kozak, age 48
Ruwim Kozak, age 19
Leja Kozak, age 17
Josel Prybut (nicknamed Tsymes ), age 32
Pinia Szczygielsky, age 23
Jankiel Rotensztejn, age 21
Naftoli Chawol, age 17
Abram Dawidowicz (from Kolno), age 18
Sora Tabak, age 23
Pesza Rozen, age 20
Jejb Rosse, age 15
Szymszon Bransky, age 14

This can be confirmed by the following witnesses:

Moszko Jeczmien, Bialystok, 56/4 Sepa– Starzynski Street
Moszko Oskard, Bialystok, 2 Piekna Street
Lejo Trus, Bialystok, 2 Piekna Street
Aba Oledzky, Bialystok, 16 Habinska Street
Wolf Alpern, Bialystok, 13 Habinska Street
Chawa Okon, Bialystok, 1 Mowiecka Street
Lejb Arje Prybut, Bialystok, 29 Nowy Swiat Street
Dawidzuik, village headman from Bruchaty, Bransk County
Cieniek Ryczkiwsky, from Oleksin, Bransk County
Wojt Hurasky, Bransk County

Head of the Jewish Community of Bransk
Alter Trus

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Complaint Against Pyetroske Brought by Maishe Oskard, Maishe Yentchman and Maishe Tikotsky


BIALYSTOK date 7–1–1947
Page 6'42
Province Historical Commission For Jewish Affairs

From: Alter Trus, former resident of Bransk,
Head, Bransk Jewish Association in Bialystok
Now residing in Bialystok, 2 Piekna Street


The name of Pietraszko appears repeatedly among the documents I collected pertaining to the liquidation of the Bransk Jews. During the German occupation Piretraszko was the village headman in Pietraszko, county Bransk, Region Bielsk –Podlaski.

On his own accord he captured Jews. Early in 1943 two Jews, brothers by the name Ptak, came to the village. Joel was 27 and Zawel 24, tailor by trade. They came to exchange clothes for bread. They were hiding in the forest near the village. Pietraszko followed them, stopped them and forced some village men to tie them up. He called up some gendarmes and with their help he lead the victims to the fields outside the village, stripped them naked, shot them and buried them. As a reward he was allowed to keep the victims' clothing.

Pietruszko searched for Jews who might have been hiding in the area surrounding the village.

He found a shelter in the forest that was occupied by Mendel Sliwko, age 30, Kolensnik Rybka and Khaim Rubin,[16] carpenter, both from Bransk. Again he called the gendarmes to the shelter, stripped both victims naked and shot them. He kept their clothes

Pietraszko also captured some Soviets hiding in the village whom he turned over to the gendarmes. The unit of the underground army was searching for him to retaliate for his murders, Pietraszko, however, was able evade them. It is important to note that the local population was against Pietraszko's actions.

Listed below are the names of witnesses who can verify this testimony:

  1. Moszko Oskard, residing at 2 Piekna St, Bialystok
  2. Moszko Jeczmien, residing at 56/4 Sep–Starzynski Street, Wroclaw
  3. Moszko Tykocky, residing in Szczecin
Alter Trus
Chairman of the Bransk Jews Association in Bialystok,
Former Head of the Jewish Community of Bransk

A.Trusc Court reporter Recorder
Head of Jewish Historical Commission Mgr. B.Fuks
Mgr. M. Turek

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Accusation against the Taur brothers for the murder of the Skavraneks


BIALYSTOK date 7–1–1947
Page 7'48 [?]
Province Historical Commission For Jewish Affairs Bialystok

From: Alter Trus, former resident of Bransk,
Head, Bransk Jewish Association in Bialystok
Now residing in Bialystok, 2 Piekna Street


There were two brothers, residents of the village Patoki, county Bransk, Region Bielsk– Podlaski; last name Tur, one a tailor by trade, the other a smith, who were working for the occupation government. Against the will of the local residents and the village head, Mr. Solbolowki, they were searching and rounding up Jews.

The day after the liquidation of the Bransk ghetto, the brothers Tur captured two Jews, Lejzer Skowronek, age 55, owner of a truck, and his son, Jego [?] Skowronek, age 19. They tied them up and delivered them to the village headman demanding that he delivers them to Bransk. The village headman refused so they summoned some Germans and with their help executed the above mentioned Jews.

Toward the end of 1943 Jankiel Glondzky, who at that time was hiding in forests nearby, came to the village Patoki searching for some bread. The brothers Tus captured him, tied him up and drove him to the gendarmes headquarters in Bransk where Jankiel Glondzky was shot to death.

The accused were also guilty of catching Soviets who might have been hiding in the vicinity of the village.

These facts are verified by the following witnesses:

  1. Dawid Olandzky, residing at 13 Rabinska Street, Bialystok
  2. Abe Glendzky
  3. Dyna Glendzky
  4. Sobolowski, village headman from Patok.
Alter Trus
Chairman of the Bransk Jews Association in Bialystok,
Former Head of the Jewish Community of Bransk
Court reporter Recorder
Head of Jewish Historical Commission Mgr. B.Fuks
Mgr. M. Turek

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Complaint against Kaminski and the Ritch brothers (signed by Magistrate Fuks.)


BIALYSTOK date 4–1–1947
Page 9'17 [?]

Testimony of Jankiel Rubin[17]

Regarding the murder committed on the Jews from Bransk with the assistance of local population.

Jankiel Rubin born in 1909 in Bransk, a carpenter by trade, survived the war hiding in the forests in the vicinity of Chojewo Kiersneve, [?] he currently resides in Bialystok, 40 Rynek Kosciuszki Street, unit # 17.

The witness testifies that Kaminski, age 40, and brothers Rycz, residents of Chojewo, county Bransk, were engaged in the capture of Jews and Soviets who were hiding nearby.

The witness testified that in early 1943 while he was hiding in a barn in the village he saw one morning Kamiski and the brothers Ritch transporting three Jews on the hay wagons. The names of the captives were 1. Berko Jeczmien, 2. Pejsacha Topczynsky, 3. Lejzer Topczynsky.

The witness testifies that he heard the Jews crying “Kaminski, have mercy”.

The day before there were rumours circulating in the village that Kaminski and the brothers Ritch had caught some Jews and were expecting to

receive a meter of sugar from the Germans as a reward.

The above mentioned Jews came to the village in search of some bread when they were caught by Kaminski and the Ritch brothers. They spent the night tied up and in the morning Kaminski and the Ritch brothers loaded them on a couple of hay wagons and took them to Bransk to turn them over to the gendarmes who then shot them to death. Their bodies we buried in Bransk, near a barn belonging to a church organ player, and they are still buried there to this day.[18]

The witness testifies that Kaminski and the Ritch brothers were also responsible for a murder of three Jewish women committed toward the end of 1942. The victims' names were: 1. Chajcze Jeczmien, 2. Rywa Jeczmien, and 3. Leja–Rywa Ciesluk.

The witness testifies that on that day he met Jankiel Jeczmien, age 65 and together they went to the village to get some bread. On the way back they walked toward the shelter where the three women were living. Suddenly they heard a sound of a wagon so they hid in the bushes. They recognized Kaminski by his voice and size (he was the tallest man in the village) and the Ritch brothers. The witness and Jeczmien had visited the village daily before the war and thus knew its residents well. The witness heard Kaminski and the Ritch brothers talk about who is going to get the clothes, the wedding band, etc. From their hiding place the witness saw some clothes, dresses, and blankets piled on the wagon.

After the wagon passed, the witness and Jeczmien went to the shelter and found the naked bodies of murdered women. Chajcze Jeczmien's head was cut off and her golden teeth were removed. Leja Rywa Ciesluk had her hand and two fingers cut off. The third woman had her throat slit.

The villagers were aware that the murders were committed by Kaminski and the Ritch brothers.

A few months later the same men caught Jankiel Jeczmien and drowned him in the river Nurzec. The body washed ashore in Bransk. The victim's arms and legs were bound and he was only wearing a shirt.

There were a lot of incidents in Bransk of bodies with bound arms and legs washing up ashore. It was a common knowledge that Kaminski and the Rycz brothers were behind these drownings.

Kaminski and the Rycz brothers caught Lejb Trus, age 25, tied him up and threw him into the river. Miraculously he survived and is alive to this day.

Lejb Trus can confirm this account. He currently lives in Bialystok, 2 Piekna Street.

The murders can be confirmed by other surviving Bransk Jews:

  1. Abe Olandzky, residing at 16 Rabinska Street, Bialystok
  2. Wolfke Alpern, residing at 13 Rabinska Street, Bialystok
  3. Chawa Okon, residing at 1 Mowiecka Street, Bialystok
  4. Arje –Lejb Prybut, residing at 23 Nowy Swiat Street, Bialystok
  5. Lejb Trus, residing at 2 Piekna Street, Bialystok
  6. Mojsze Oskard, residing at 2 Piekna Street, Bialystok
  7. Moszke Jeczmien, residing at 56 / 4 Sepa– Starzynskiego Street,
Signed Court Reporter
Mgr. B Fuks
Court reporter
Head of Jewish Historical Commission
Mgr. M. Turek

[Page 321]

(from page 315)

the top criminals charged. It was confirmed that the Ritch brothers also did this because Yenkl's belongings were hidden by them.

Sometime later the body of Maishe Smurzshik, Leyzer Katsev's grandchild 20 years old was found in the river. This too, was a murder committed by the Khayeve Christians, the Ritch brothers, because it was known that Maishe Smurzshik was hiding with them.

The drowned bodies were found tied up, hands and feet, first murdered and then tossed into the river.

While compiling the material against Kaminski and the Ritch brothers, the Historical Commission personally listened to Bransk survivors: Yankl Rubin,[19] Leybl Trus, Leybl Pribut, Maishe Oskard, Khana Okon and Maishe Yentchman. On January 22nd, 1947, the investigation was concluded and sent to the prosecutor of the Bialystok Regional Court as per record number 7/47. Regrettably, neither Kaminski nor the Ritch brothers could be found. They were in hiding.

On January 9th, the Bransk Jews Fishl Gruder and Avrume Pyetkover saw Kaminski in Bielsk. Kaminski was detained by Avrume Pyetkover. The Bielsk police did not have any information regarding Kaminski and wanted to release him, so they called me [Alter Trus] on the telephone in Bialystok and told me the story. I immediately contacted the President of the Bialystok Jewish Regional Committee, Magistrate Turek. This resulted in the prosecutor ordering the detention of Kaminski. This is how Kamkinski was arrested through the help of Fishl Gruder and Avrume Pyetkever.

The Ritch brothers were arrested in July, 1947. Their trial will take place in 1948.

Others of those who had fled, older people, could not accommodate to living in the cold and wet forests. Their old bones simply could not suffer through such a life. The frosty nights and wet mud during the day ravaged their bodies

[Page 322]

and they could not even stand on their feet any more. Christians did not want to take them into their homes. People such as these begged the Christians to take them to Bransk. They did not want to die somewhere in the protected forests. If they were to die, let it be by German bullets, at least let it be in Bransk in their home.


Hershl Firshkhaler
This photo was sent by a Christian who knew him
Yosl Firshkhaler


Maishe Pribut, Maishe, Elye Dovid's the Damsker tailor in his 80s year, cannot remain in the forest, cannot tolerate the cold that is wreaking havoc with his 80 year old crooked bones. He dragged himself around to the village of Voytke with his daughter Rikl. He begs the Christians to take him to Bransk. He wants to die in Bransk. The Christians bring the 80–year old broken man to Bransk, turn him over to the gendarmes. Maishe Pribut is not frightened. He asks the Germans to shoot him on the cemetery. His request is fulfilled. Maishe dies by Nazi bullets, satisfied.

Mirke Noske Katsev's daughter and two children and Bere Leibishe's two daughters wander around. No one will take them in after they left the ghetto. They return and turn themselves over to the gendarmes. Their fate is unknown. They go together

[Page 323]

with the Bransk community to Bielsk on November 7th 1942 to the burning gas chambers and crematoria.


Bransk After Removing the Jews to the Gas Chambers

The Christians of Bransk and neighboring areas grabbed Jewish belongings like hungry wolves. They dressed in Jewish costumes, overcoats, took to their homes Jewish furniture, linens and bedding. Even though the ghetto was still guarded, the Christians still entered, rummaging in the Jewish houses.


Moshe–Berl Pelkhovitz
Khaim Verpikhovski


The Germans claimed the best things for themselves, and divided the rest as a reward for helping to capture and murder Jews. They also sold all the items that had been brought in as collateral, and the Christians made haste to get bargains.

Many Jewish homes were sold. The Christians tore them down and built their own houses from the material of the old. They sold the houses for groshens. If someone had helped to capture Jews he earned the right to be the first to buy. In this way, the New House–Of–Prayer/Study was sold, Avrum Abe the turner's house, Hershl Burak's house, Leyzer Rubin's[20] house, Mordekhay Sherer's,

[Page 324]

Khaim Katlavitche's, Berl Baker's and Itche Gimpl's houses, Avrume Ripke's and Yankitchke's houses and many others, were sold.

We must note here about the swindles the Christians pulled on the Jews. They took small Jewish children to hide in their homes. Demanded to be paid in dollars and good clothing. At the end when they had received everything, they took the children to the gendarmes.

This happened with Kive Yamshin's 2 ½ year old child. They took 200 dollars from them and afterwards took the child to the gendarmes. They, the gendarmes played with the nice little boy, gave him food and entertaining themselves with him, they shot the innocent child. Brakha Shpak,[21] who was married to Bevl Pam took their child to a Christian to be raised, paid good money for this. The child was brought to the gendarmes as a gift and was shot. Fishl Lyev Itche Orliarnik's son gave the child who had been left without a mother, a six–year old little girl, to Christians for a goodly amount of money. The child was turned over to the Germans and was shot. The mother of the child, Dyntshe Zeifman's had been killed on September 7th by German airplanes.

Khaim and Matl Finklshteyn, Rokhke's from Benduge gave their three–year old little girl to a Christian from the Taptchever area, paying good money. They took the money and the child was brought to the Germans to be shot.

The Jewish cemetery was vandalized. The fences were taken apart by Bransk and Brezhnitser Christians. The headstones were taken down to be used as sidewalks from the stable to the house. Others made them into grinding stones. Everything that had been Jewish was destroyed.[17] Even the Jewish dead were desecrated.

This is how in the year 1942, only in two months, so much was destroyed. This is the report about the eight weeks of November 2nd 1942 until the end of the year.

We will begin the year 1943 in the following chapters.

Footnotes (Rubin Roy Cobb)

  1. See Maps Section 2 Page II. Return
  2. When Rubin Roy Cobb travelled to Bransk with Jack (Yankel) Rubin [related to through his paternal grandmother Gelie (Geni) Rokhel Rubin–Kobylanski] to film the documentary “Shtetl” for PBS in October 1991, at the end of the visit as we were already sitting on the bus to depart, Jack Rubin got off the bus to greet an elderly Pole bent over with a walking stick. believes this might have been Zavatski or maybe some other Polish policeman that was active in Bransk during November 1942. After he shook his hand and then reprimanded or asked whether or not he had a conscience I don't know. He told us when he returned to the bus that this former Polish policeman said to him that if the Jews had left the ghetto earlier they would have survived! Return
  3. Related to Rubin Roy Cobb through his maternal grandmother Henye Rivka (Anni) Piekucki–Skornik. Return
  4. Derogatory word for ‘Jew’ in Polish. Return
  5. See Maps Section 2 Page II. Return
  6. See Maps Section 2 Page II. Return
  7. Sister of Rubin Roy Cobb's paternal grandmother Gelie (Genia) Rokhel Rubin–Kobylanski whose family lives in Atlanta, GA today. Return
  8. In the PBS documentary Shtetl shot in 1991 in Bransk, the producer interviews the surviving Ritch brother who shows no remorse whatsoever. Return
  9. See Maps Section 2 Page II. Return
  10. See Maps Section 2 Page II. Return
  11. See Page 312. Return
  12. The surviving Ritch brother was interviewed by Marian Marzynski during the shooting of the PBS documentary ‘Shtetl’ produced/directed by him on 10/11/1991. Ritch showed no remorse whatsoever. Return
  13. Yankel Rubin (aka John Rubin) lived in Melbourne, Australia when he left Bialystok, Poland ‘in a hurry’ in 1967. His father was a brother of Rubin Roy Cobb's paternal grandmother. Return
  14. A brother of Rubin Roy Cobb's paternal grandmother. Return
  15. Related to Rubin Roy Cobb through his paternal grandmother Gelie (Gelia) Rokhel Rubin–Kobylanski Return
  16. Related to Rubin Roy Cobb through his paternal grandmother Gelie (Gelia) Rokhel Rubin–Kobylanski Return
  17. Related to Rubin Roy Cobb through his paternal grandmother Gelie (Gelia) Rokhel Rubin–Kobylanski met him in Melbourne, Vic., Australia in the 1990s. He was known as ‘John’ Rubin and was the first cousin of ‘Jack’ Rubin of Baltimore, MD. Return
  18. When visited Bransk with Jack Rubin in 1991 he was shown the entry to the barn where they are buried. Return
  19. Yankel Rubin (aka John Rubin) lived in Melbourne, Australia when he left Bialystok, Poland ‘in a hurry’ in 1967. His father was a brother of Rubin Roy Cobb's paternal grandmother. Return
  20. Rubin Roy Cobb met Brakha Shpak at a celebration (wedding or bar mitzvah) given by Evelyn Silverboard (nee Iteld) in Atlanta in the 1990s. She and her husband found refuge in Cuba after the war and became very wealthy, but when Castro came to power they had to flee once again penniless, this time to Charlotte, NC where once more they were successful. She believed that a baby of hers whose body was never ever found was taken by Poles and raised as a Pole without knowing of its Jewish origin. Return
  21. Evidence of this is seen in the PBS documentary ‘Shtetl’ produced/directed by Marian Marzynski on 10/11/1991. Return


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