[Photo: Handwritten lines:] On the first day of Passover, I was photographed together with twelve of my friends [illegible] who spent our youth together joyfully, with love and brotherhood in my hometown of Drohitchin before my trip to America. 1904.
This kind of behavior of the Russian authorities toward their subjects provoked hatred in response on the part of the Jews.
The Russians lose Drohitichin
When the Germans were closing in on Brest-Litovsk, everyone, including the Russian press, was saying that Brest-Litovsk had to be defended, and that the Germans had to be stopped. We thought that Brisk was secure, and that the Germans wouldn't be able to take Brisk so easily, especially since for an entire year, thousands of people were taken to work at the Brisk fortress. To our surprise, however, the opposite happened. The Germans simply had to act as if they were going to Brisk, and immediately the rumor spread that they had taken it. No one believed that the rumors would be confirmed. People said the Germans had almost arrived in Kobrin; in Drohitchin the commotion got worse. Everyone started packing, bought horses and wagons, and if possible, got ready to leave town. Whoever was unable to leave, buried all of his valuables. The town was filled with soldiers on their way to and from the front. The noise and banging of the carts and wagons continued unceasingly. There was a shortage of water because the wells were dried up, and it was only possible to get some water early in the morning.
People were going thirsty the whole day.
Cossacks and Circassians showed up in town; they were running around like wild tigers. The stores were closed, and at night the town was pitch dark. No flames were lit in the houses, in order not to provide any signs to the Cossacks and Circassians.
One evening, a girl who was a neighbor ran over to our house in tears, telling us that the Cossacks were robbing her house. I stepped outside and noticed two Circassians coming right in my direction, and I closed the door. The women closed themselves in a separate room. When the Circassians saw the door was locked, they started banging loudly on the door; I feared they were going to break the door down, so I opened the door and went outside. They cursed and threatened me with their daggers. They started poking me with the daggers, but luckily a policeman came by and took them away.
The soldiers all said that wherever an army withdraws, it had to destroy everything first. This made us feel very depressed, and we just kept thinking about staying alive and trying to save as much of our belongings as possible. The wagons were ready, and as soon as the army started to burn the town, we would make our way behind the town to the trenches that we had prepared earlier.
The Russian headquarters was in Drohitchin, as were the district treasury offices. The Christian population was evacuated to Russia, and they sold their livestock (cows, horses and pigs) at the district treasury offices, where the Christians got money in exchange.
The Jewish population wasn't forced to leave town, and whatever people could take along they did, destroying the rest. Thus, people destroyed the alcohol produced in the brewery by pouring it out on the ground. The Russians took away all the copper and metal, and also wanted to take the livestock, but they didn't have a chance to do it.
On the last Thursday morning (a week before Rosh Hashanah) when I went to pray in synagogue, I noticed a group of Cossacks riding around in town, looking around and tearing off locks and emptying stores of anything that the owners hadn't had a chance to remove. The Cossacks worked very quietly and methodically. When they passed the pharmacy, I saw a group of soldiers go inside and steal. An army officer dispersed the soldiers and told me to lock the door again.
That evening, someone reported that they were breaking into the pharmacy again. I went together with a Cossack who had come to my house to ask me to make him some powdered milk. When we opened the door, we saw a group of soldiers shaking all the drawers and stuffing their pockets with whatever they could get their hands on. The Cossack, who was with me, screamed at the soldiers to leave, telling them they were touching poison, and would be poisoned. The soldiers ran out of the store and I locked the door again.
[Photo:] From right: Berl Lechovitsky, Isser Zlotnick, Moshe Kravetz, Yaakov Siderov, a man from Yanova, Dov Warshavsky and Yitzchak Kahn (New York) next to David Warshavsky's house in August, 1932.
The town burns
The military headquarters moved out of Drohitchin. Soldiers repeatedly told us that the town would be burned that night. Everyone was ready for that, and buried as much as they could, while loading the rest onto the wagons. Some left for Pinsk, and a few others moved out of town. In our case, everything was packed
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