M. M. Gershenhaus (Israel)
[photo: Moshe Mendel Gershenhaus]
G-d helped us out some more, and we found two pits filled with potatoes in an abandoned hamlet. Some peasants had abandoned the potatoes and escaped because of fear of the partisans. We brought a lot of the potatoes to our earth house and dug another ditch where we kept a fire burning because we ran out of matches. This is how we spent our first difficult winter in the ditch, staying alive with 3-5 baked potatoes a day, and we finally got used to living there. We just prayed that no one would kick us out of our palace.
That dark moment finally arrived. We sensed danger in remaining in our hideout, and we fled deeper into the forest. We wandered in the forest for a few days and nights until finally we decided to return to our earth house and the potatoes. We walked silently in single file, and we suddenly noticed two sleds coming toward us. The men in the sleds saw us too. We all started running into the forest when we suddenly heard someone yell Stop! in Russian. The noise of machine gun fire echoed in the air, and the bullets, which shone in the darkness with various colors (they were phosphorus bullets), rang in our ears. However, we kept running and didn't stop. After we ran for a while, we stopped to see where the rest of our group was. I only saw one little boy named Tsadok and six little girls. The rest were lost somewhere. The eight of us continued running until we came to an open field where there were haystacks. We went to lie down in the haystacks and soon fell asleep from fatigue.
(The people shooting were actually partisans in hiding. W.)
[photo:] Drohitchin children by a haystack in Lasintsa]
Help! A little water, I'm burning up!
[photo:] Yisrael and Gershon Kan-Tsipor, perished. May G-d avenge their blood!
Children of Michla Kleinman-Kreines are in Israel
We continued sleeping for 24 hours, a full day and night. When we awoke the next night, we were frozen into pieces of ice. We had nothing to eat so we chewed pieces of ice. We stayed in the haystacks for one day, then another, and were scared to go anywhere. On the eighth day we felt that we weren't going to be able to survive much longer. We were totally exhausted from hunger and cold.
On the eighth night, Tsadok became delirious and started screaming, Help! Some water! I am burning up! He could be heard from one end of the world to the other. We were all very weak, and couldn't do anything for him. Then poor Tsadok passed away after suffering tremendously. He died from hunger and cold.
The next morning, with tears and wailing, I started asking the girls to let us leave that place since we would all die there. However, it was too late. The girls couldn't move from there. There were two sisters (I forget their names). The younger one was half-dead, and the older one still had some strength to save herself. However, she said that she wanted to die there with her sister.
Only one girl, Esther, was able to be persuasive, and with her last bit of strength she got out of the ground. We took the clothes off of the dead Tsadok and put them on Esther, who was almost naked. We left the other girls, promising to come back to save their lives.
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