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[Page 296]


The crying for the dead split open the heavens

The grief in Drohitchin the day after the aktsia was enormous even though most of the residents at first did not know was happened to the people taken away to Brona Gora, where some believed there was a labor camp. Everyone grieved about the destruction that touched almost everyone. The men and women waited by the gates of the ghetto for their Aryan escorts to take them to work (no one would dare walk the streets without an escort), sobbed loudly and tore out their hair. Some cried over their friends and distant relatives, and others lamented about their parents or under-age children who were taken together with Ghetto B.

        On Saturday night July 25, 1942, I experienced the worst misfortune of my life when I lost my mother, sister, many friends and students during that aktsia. I escaped from the market under a hail of bullets and automatic weapons fire, and hid out in the Rovno Forest for a few days until I was captured and sent to the Radostov camp. In subsequent years I went through many more awful experiences. I was shot a few times, left for dead (once in eastern Prussia), and from 1942 to 1945 I wasn't alive or dead.

        The gruesome events of the recent past are unbelievable today, and even for those who lived through them can no longer conceive of how such things could have happened, and how they could have survived.

        The aktsia against Ghetto B lasted until 7 am. Those who were found hiding until then were shot. These included the teacher, Moshe Bezdzhesky, who had been hiding in a bean garden, and Zalman Kobrin the ritual slaughterer from Kolonia, who was hiding in a garden and who tried to escape afterwards. Those who were found in hiding after 7 o'clock were allowed to go to Ghetto A and “settle down” there. These included Sender Shapiro the religious teacher and his family, who were found on Sunday in a cellar and transferred to Ghetto A, as well as myself, who was found a few days after the aktsia in a weak state in the Rovno Forest and transferred to Ghetto A.

        In the meantime, the Judenrat and police got reorganized. The Judenrat got a vice-chairman, Bontsha Volovelsky (son of Chaika the pharmacist). The police was run by Baruch Wolf of Lechevitch. It was proposed that I become a member of the new Judenrat

[photo:] The Moriah School of Drohitchin, Grade 1. From left, Moshe Bezdzhesky, Levi Feldman, director of the school, H. B. Wolfson and other teachers. See on this page regarding the death of Bezdzhesky. May G-d avenge his blood!

[Page 297]

and remain in town in my parents' home, or go to work in the Radostov camp. I chose the latter. In the meantime, the houses of Ghetto B were taken over by Christians in Drohitchin and the surrounding area. The furniture and possessions belonging to the expelled Jews were collected by the new Judenrate in various warehouses.

        During the first few days after the tragedy, the Jews in Drohitchin hoped that following the great bloodshed the remaining Jews would be able to remain undisturbed for a longer period of time. However, their hopes were soon dashed, and the first destruction was just the beginning, and was followed by subsequent massacres.


Germans hang three Jewish young men

A few days after the destruction of Ghetto B, the young men of Drohitchin who had been working in the Petrovich camp (between Kobrin and Brisk) started escaping from the camp. Some made their way back to town through the forests and the Radostov camp, hoping to find out the fate of their parents and friends in Ghetto B. Others looked to join the partisan groups that were operating in the forests at that time.

        Shalom Zavelovsky (a son of storekeeper Yehoshua Zavelovsky) came to Drohitchin from the Petrovich camp, At the same time a few workers from Radostov came back to Drohitchin with a permit from the camp administration. Among these were the Tennenbaum brothers (sons of Sarah Chana Tennenbaum of the Sand), who said that they had to take revenge against the Judenrat for having sent away their mother. The Germans found out about this and ordered the Judenrat to hang the young men. Gallows were set up near the Old House of Study and the Jewish “rebels” Zavelovsky and the Tennenbaum brothers were hanged by the Jewish police.

        The executions had a terrible effect on the Jews in town and in nearby areas, and now realized that their lives were cheap, not only to the Germans, but to the Jewish police and Judenrat as well. A few days after the executions eight Petrovich refugees were captured by Ukrainian police in Drohitchin on the way to Radostov. Yisrael Rimland ( a grandson of the Thundering Woman [Dunertscha] and Abba Adelsky (son of the Grodno preacher) attacked the police with knives and made an uprising. They were shot on the spot. The other six were brought to Radostov, where they worked for one day together with the other Jews from Drohitchin, Vietla and Kolonia. The next morning they were separated and shot.

A “good German” shoots a Jewish girl

[photo:] R. Yisrael and Esther-Rachel Kravetz and their children.

        Shortly after the tragedy of the Petrovich refugees, a Jewish girl from Divin named Chaya was killed in the Radostov camp. She worked for a long time in the Radostov camp and was well-liked by the German camp administration. She was released from work shortly before the aktsia in her hometown. When misfortune struck the town, and it was destroyed, she succeeded in escaping to Radostov. The camp commander, Martin, received her and invited her to see him at noon. He joked with her and promised to accommodate her in the camp. In the afternoon he asked to talk to her behind a barn where he shot her. Thereafter the “good German” beast ordered a couple of Jews to bury her.

        Martin frequently visited the camp employees after working hours, talking to them and telling them how he had saved many Jews from death. Every visit cost the camp dearly, and the commander would always order things from the workers. He once needed gold for his teeth; another time he needed it for his girlfriend. On another occasion he ordered a thick quilt, a good fur coat and the like. Drohitchin Jews in Radostov cooperated and eventually also received some valuable items from their

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