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[Page 201]

League for a Working Israel (1932)

My Shtetl Parafianov

Shmuel (Ben-Refoel) Markman

Until the Holocaust

Our shtetl had about 150 Jewish families. It was not a poor shtetl. Most of the Jews were traders of small goods, had businesses, where one could purchase anything. There were also tradesmen who worked the land and people with free professions.

There was a beys-midrash in the shtetl, a ritual slaughterer, kheyders [traditional Jewish one-room schools], where the children studied with learned and qualified teachers. Our youth was active in various organizations: the hashomer hatza’ir, hekhalutz, mizrakhi. There was a g’milus khasidim office [charitable organization] which supported those in need with an interest free loan.

[Page 202]

The youth in Parafianov was connected with the neighborhood shtetls of Dokhshitz and Gluboki. We used to joint activities, parties and lectures.

We were a big family: my parents, six brothers and two sisters. The siblings had 16 of their own children. I also had uncles and aunts with their children, which numbered some 70 people — almost half a shtetl…

I want to write the names of my brothers and sisters and their families here, perhaps someone of them survived.

My eldest brother was called Yoysef, his wife — Khane. They had three children: Berl, Khashke and Nekhomiye.

A second brother: Yekhezkel, his wife Nekhome and their children Roza, Sholem-Ber, Reuven and Mirl.

Moyshe and Rokhl Markman and their three children: Zelig, Avroml and Khaye.

Yankev and Zisele Markman.

My sister Sheyne, her husband Hirshl Rafalson and her daughter Khaye.

Soreh and Yoyne Kuladitzki with their daughter Rokhl, Khaye and Mirl.

The "HeChalutz HaTzair" (TheYoung Pioneers) in Parafianov (1926)

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Activists from the Zionist Movement and the Keren Kayemet


The "Ra'ananut" (Vivacity) Group of HaShomar HaTzair (1930)
On the Banner: The "Ra'ananut" (Vivacity) Group of HaShomar HaTzair in Parafianov - Troup B

[Page 205]

The Holocaust

In the second week of the German-Russian war, the Germans came into our shtetl. The first sacrifice was an uncle of mine, Ahron Levitan, whom they shot.

Later the ghetto was created, people rushed around for different jobs, always asking for contributions, money, gold, furs — until they took everything from us.

The first aktziye [German action] was on May 30, 1942. Early on Sabbath morning they gathered everyone in the ghetto, everyone in one place, by the firehouse. They tore everything off of everyone, beat everyone and marched them to a mass grave.

I took an opportunity and ran towards the forest. They wounded my hand, but I was able to escape to the forest. I met another three Jews there, also wounded, who were able to escape. They were my two cousins Khonekh and Shloyme Levitan and Reuven. A couple of weeks later the Germans caught Shloyme and Reuven and hanged them.

Khonekh and I later met up with others who were saved from Parafianov: the brothers, Yaakov and Yitzkhok Kastrol, Motl Bigun, Rokhl and Moyshe As.

We thought only of how to take revenge. The first case was when we met a group of Partisans in the forest and asked them to help us. They gave us three grenades. Khonekh, Motl and I went to Parafianov and threw two grenades into the house of the commander of the train station. He was the boss of the whole shtetl. He lived there together with his soldiers. However the luck of those nefarious people had it that they did not suffer greatly from this. But they lived in fear the whole time after.

Afterwards we joined the Partisans from the "Zshelezniak" area and from Batkes. We gave them various bits of information, carried out Partisan assignments, like destroying train tracks, bridges, setting mines on the highways, because we knew all the roads and areas well. We hid not far from Parafianov in the forest. Later on we were gathered into the Partisan lines and I fought with weapons in hand. But no matter how much we did, it was all too little…

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