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[Page 326]

        [photo:] Pinya and Mindel Siderov, daughter Friedel (standing), son-in-law Yisrael London (seated) and grandchildren: Yoel, Moshe, Yankel, Yudel, Sarah-Reizel, Chaya-Gittel and Yitzchak. A son of Pinya is standing on the left, and a girl in the middle of the top row. The entire family was killed by the German murderers! May G-d avenge their blood!

        We were in the forest together with Russian and Polish families who were also in hiding. My children and I stayed in a cabin in the forest with the Polish family Dzhalanzevski. We stayed there and bemoaned our bad luck. The Polish lady told me how her grandfather once suffered during the “mayotezh” – the Polish rebellion against Russia, and had also hid out in the forest the way we were now. Suddenly, we heard Martsin Bambovski (a Pole) running toward us in tears, crying and telling us to escape to save ourselves. He said that the gangs had killed his wife and daughter, and chopped them to pieces. We started running deep into the forest and hid there. We then heard shooting – partisans attacked the gang and drowned many of them in the ditches.

The Russian army liberates us

This is how we suffered from the Germans and Ukrainian killers until liberation arrived. We had a twinkle of hope that we would live to tell the story of what we went through. We were going to be very happy after those tragic four years of suffering. The great day in history arrived when we were liberated from the Germans and their collaborators, the Ukrainians and other killers.

        The air was now free, and the sun shone, though not, unfortunately, for everyone who had hoped to live to see it. We were liberated from the murders and came out of the dark Rovno, Svaritsevich, Azersk, Sporevo and Svorina forests, which had been our places of refuge. After those tragic four years we returned to our abandoned and ruined homes. The town of Sernik was totally destroyed down to the ground. There was no hint that here had been a Jewish community there.

        I came back to my hometown of Drohitchin, where I had spent my childhood. My eyes darkened as I looked at all the destruction I encountered. There were no Jews in Drohitchin. The cemeteries were destroyed, animals grazed there, the gravestones were torn up, and the Germans had used the stones to build sidewalks leading to the Sand. I walked through the streets that were orphaned, empty and crying out over the destruction. I looked at the footpaths that our loved ones had walked along for generations. These footpaths are now soaked with Jewish blood. It seemed to me that I could see before my eyes living people with whom I spent time for many years, and who had built a future for their children.

        I passed by the children's school, where our Jewish children had studied, where

[Page 327]

the little Moshes, Shlomos and Sarahs lived, danced and sang. These schools now stood ashamed and orphaned. They mourn over the great misfortune of the innocent little souls that the Germans had killed so cruelly. Their places were now taken by anti-semitic Christian children.

        I went over to the large mass grave that was next to the train, not far from the old cemetery, and where our brothers and sisters had died to sanctify the name of G-d. I fell onto the mass grave with a broken heart. I wailed, wept and spoke to the silent grave. Why were you torn away from this world? How did the Germans kill you? Who will come to visit your grave, mourn and shed a warm tear over your great misfortune? Who will take revenge for you're your innocent early deaths? No, my brothers and sisters, you are alive, you aren't dead! You will always live in our hearts!

[photo:] Avraham, Sheina (Warshavsky) and Yitzchak Baum. May G-d avenge their deaths! See p. 293.

[photo:] Menucha Rabinovitch and her class of children from the Moriah Schhol of Drohitchin. They perished. May G-d avenge their blood!

Soap from the fat of Jews distributed in Displaced Persons Camp

With a pained and broken heart I said a permanent farewell to the mass grave, and left Drohitchin with my face covered in tears in August, 1945. We went to Lodz, Poland, where the survivors of all cities and towns had gathered. A Jewish organization called Ichud [Association] was created, and we joined it. With a bag over my shoulder and a staff in my hand, the children and I, together with a large group of war victims set out wandering through Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

        With assistance from the Breicha [Escape] organization and the American Joint Distribution Committee, we got to a DP camp in Steier, Austria. The American organization UNRWA welcomed us and shared our suffering as they saw how tormented we were. They made us feel better and provided us with food, clothes and medical aid.

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