At night we left there and headed in another direction. We dragged ourselves to a few marshes where there were haystacks and a constant source of water. The peasants only came there in the winter when the water froze. My children and I made our home under a haystack, and there were some berries growing on the moss stumps, which gave us nourishment. We couldn't remain there a long time because there were packs of wolves wandering around, and we were lying in water where there were various disgusting creatures.
We managed to get out of there alive two weeks later, swollen from hunger, cold and wetness. We couldn't stay there any longer, so we went further onto a dry field and lay down on the grass. It was a nice autumn day, and the air was fresh and the sun was shining. We remembered our home and my murdered husband and daughter. My children and I started crying over our dark fate.
[photo:] Top, from right: Reizel Milner, Chaytsha Buff-Rosenbaum, Chana Braverman, Reizel Saratchik. Right: A. Shushanov, Beiltcha Sapozhnik. Everyone perished except for the two Reizels.
[photo:] Shepsel, Eidel-Chaya (Milner) Kagan and two children were killed. May G-d avenge their blood! Sons Nissel, Meir and Gedal [are] in Israel. See pp. 295, 352.
Jewish partisans saved us
A group of partisans passed by and noticed us. They saw a woman with two children who were exhausted and swollen from hunger, struggling to stay alive. We told them where we were hiding until now, and they felt sorry for us and said that near Yanova many Jews were killed in the forest. Those Jews had been fleeing the massacres. It was horrible to hear this tragic news.
The partisans brought us into the Svaritsvitch Forest where we met some other unfortunate Jews like us who were escaping from the massacres. There were already a few hundred Jews there, and more Jews were coming there every day to find a refuge from the destruction. There were trenches dug into the ground where they hid. Their lives were safe thanks to the Jewish commander, Alek Agukov (he [is] now in Israel) and Ephraim Bakaltchuk, who made sure there was food and clothes for the hapless Jews. It was a partisan zone there. When they came across a peasant to ask for bread and he provided it gladly, the situation improved. When the unit radio person, Melech Bakaltchuk (a teacher from Pinsk), would tell us the news about the Germans' defeat in Stalingrad and about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, we felt a spark of hope. However, unexpectedly the situation turned bad.
[photo:] David and Feiga Rachel Kotler and their children: Beila, Moshe Leizer and Leah. They all perished. May G-d avenge their blood! Feiga Rachel was the daughter of Moshe, son of Mordechai and Beila Warshavsky. Her parents both died in the epidemic of 1915. Feiga Rachel was hidden somewhere, and the gentiles turned her over to the Germans, who murdered her. David was originally from Kolonia. See p. 231.
Ukrainian nationalists killed in the forest
In 1943 the Ukrainian Bolbov [sic] gangs perpetrated murders in the forests. These Ukrainians had their impetus from the famous murderer of Ukrainian Jews, Taras Bolba, may his name be obliterated! These gangs attacked partisans in general, and Jews in particular. They would also kill peasants and Poles who were against the Germans. They didn't have many weapons so they used axes, scythes and knives. They would actively cut off fingers, poke out eyes, and cut people up. So life again became unsafe, and many Jews were killed by them. The partisans had to bear large battles with the Germans and the Ukrainian gangs.
Around Passover in 1943, when the Germans surrounded the forests and attacked the partisans, the partisans undertook great battles against the Germans. Then the gangs attacked our camp in the forest, where several hundred of us were staying, and savagely murdered a hundred Jews, and actively cut them up to pieces. When the partisans on the battlefield found out about their attack, Maxim Misora, the unit commander quickly ran back with the two Jewish commanders, Alek Agukov and Ephraim Bakaltchuk, and a group of partisans. They saved the rest of the Jews, including my children and me, from the murderers. Thanks to the partisan movement we remained alive.
All of the survivors in the forest will never forget those dreadful days when the Germans murdered us in cities and ghettos, or the Ukrainian murderers who the Germans incited against us, may their names and memories be obliterated, and who murdered the survivors in the forests.
The year 1944 was very bad, and we had to deal with many murders at the hands of the Germans and the gangs in the forests. For us Jews it was an example of great suffering is a partial consolation because the Christian population was divided into two groups. The anti-Hitler Christians suffered along with us Jews, and those who sympathized with the Nazis, and who helped them to kill Jews, were burning with hatred of Jews. There was friendship between Jews and some of the peasants and Poles, and therefore they murdered everyone, both Jew and gentile. They especially wanted to kill commander Misora, who was a friend of Jews, and who developed friendships among people. His name was well-known everywhere as a Jewish father because he would take revenge against those who helped the Germans kill Jews. May he be blessed!
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