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[Page 320]

had been captured by the Germans as she fled, and was shot. Later the Christian told me to leave the hamlet because her life was in danger.

        At night I left Dubovay and fled further into the darkness, wandering and searching for somewhere I could protect myself. During the day I hid in the bushes in the large Forest. After it became dark I continued fleeing. I was hungry with swollen feet, and managed to get to a village where I knocked on the door and asked for a drink of water. However, the peasants warned me to get out of the village. I continued on my way and encountered a peasant family who I knew previously. The old peasant wasn't at home, but I gave his wife a package of banknotes and dollars, and the peasant woman agreed to hide me under a heap on the condition that her husband didn't find out. Later, however, when her husband returned and discovered me lying there, he told me to leave his house. All my crying and begging had no effect. The peasant gave me a couple of berries and I left his house. It was cold that night, and the snow and cold cut through my body like a knife. The Christians crossed themselves and told me to leave.

Two years living in a heap

        Before leaving I tried my luck with the old lady, and promised to give him both of my houses if he would let me hide in his house. I convinced her, and she let me in. During the day I stayed in a heap under the oven, and my body was burning hot. I suffered enormously, but I stayed there for two years.

        While I was in my hiding place I would listen to the peasants talk about how happy they were that the Jews from Drohitchin had been eliminated. One day all the peasants in town were told to go to Drohitchin to see the peasant Petruk of Zaritchka be hanged in the middle of the market with his family for having hidden the Jew Shimon Kravetz. Every peasant was promised liquor and a hundred marks as a gift for handing over a Jew in hiding to the Germans. I no longer had any tears to cry with. The source of my tears had already dried up.

        When the Christian wasn't home, the old lady would let me out from under the oven, and talk to me. She even taught me how to spin flax. I dressed like a gentile peasant woman, and spoke the White Russian language well. The danger was reduced because of the fact that I wasn't recognized as a Jew.

        Once two men from the SS came to the house, and I was the only one home. I didn't get flustered, and told the Germans in White Russian that my aunt wasn't home. I gave them bread and butter, and they left. It was a miracle that they didn't discover who I was.

        After a period of two years, when the Germans started retreating, a group of partisans happened to come by. They approached the old man to tell them where he had hidden Jewish property. I heard that and came out of my hiding place and stood before them and told them how the old peasant lady had saved my life. One of the partisans, a young man from Yanova, recognized me, and they took me along. Shortly thereafter the Russians arrived and liberated us from the awful German murderers.

        When I returned to Drohitchin all I saw was a dead town with no sign of life. I continued my journey until I got to Italy. My relatives, the Weinsteins, brought me to Canada (Melville, Saskatchewan), where I found a place to live in peace.

[photo:] Yaakov Yosef (died April 5, 1938) and Chaya-Leah Shinder. May G-d avenge their blood!

[Page 321]

Bashka Fialkov (New York)
[photo:] Bashka Fialkov and her daughters

Escaping with the children to the swamp from German bullets

        When I was a small child – eight years old – my late mother sent me to study under Feigel the teacher, who taught a class in Ezriel's home. I studied there for a few semesters and then advanced to a higher class taught by Yankel Siderov the teacher. I studied there for four semesters, and his class was in Ita and Moshe Poritsker's home. Through another door in the classroom was where Leizer of Somonishcha lived. His wife would sell notebooks and various sweets such as candy and halvah. The children were avid customers, and I was especially pleased with the notebooks that had songs such as “A little letter to Mother” printed on the cover. There were others too that indicated that the notebooks came from the United States. The poems were very popular, and wherever you went, you heard children singing “A little letter to Mother,” and mothers who had children in the United States shed buckets of tears when they heard the song. Mothers would especially start crying when they heard the words “A little Kaddish for Mother, don't let my son miss it.”

        This is how life peacefully went on until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, which ushered in bitter times, and when we lived through a lot of suffering from war – hunger, epidemics, massacres by the Balokhov gangs, etc. My parents died during the harsh war years and awful experiences. My father was named Yudel Landman.

        In 1925 I married my unforgettable husband, Avrahamel Fialkov in the town of Sernik, near Pinsk, where Moshe Poritsky's son-in-law, R. Velvel, served as rabbi. My husband, our three children and I had a nice live. I was happy with my family life, and gave my children a good upbringing.

        Unfortunately, my good fortune didn't endure. When Hitler, may his name be obliterated, started to take over the world, our own world turned dark. From the first day – in June 1942 – when the Germans entered our towns and cities, they began beating us, torturing us, killing us, and incited the local anti-semitic population, giving them the right to do whatever they wanted to us.

        The German authorities issued an order for us to wear a Star of David on our sleeves, and a yellow patch on our shoulders and chests. Our sentence from the accursed Germans was that no one was liable for the death of a Jew. Killing a Jew was fun for them, and they therefore tortured us and caused us great suffering until they registered us and confined us in a dark ghetto surrounded by barbed wire. It was dark and bitter.

        A rumor circulated that we were going to be deported to Treblinka. Some said that they would kill young and old, and those who could work would be sent to work in a concentration camp. We still held out hope even though we were in the ghetto. We were thinking that the bitter Hitler decrees would come to an end. We hoped that the world would find out how Hitler tortured us, and would intervene. Perhaps the world had already appealed to Hitler to stop the awful cruelty – could the world stay silent while Hitler murdered us? This was our only hope. We fasted, recited psalms, and hoped for salvation. Unfortunately, our hope ended in a bloodbath (and the good world watched and kept silent. –W).

        One early morning the Gestapo and the police surrounded the ghetto, and at daybreak, they started sending us, half-naked, off to be massacred. I can still see before

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