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[Page 353]

[photo:] Batcha Yanovsky and her mother Hanele Alberman. May G-d avenge their blood!

[photo:] Moshe Mendel and Chava Perl Milner. Moshe perished. May G-d avenge their blood!

By Bashka Fialkov
Printed in the Amerikaner on November 22, 1946 by Gedaliah Kaplan

        One day in June 1941 a dark cloud appeared over our town. The murderers had arrived. Their first order was that every Jew had to wear a yellow patch as a sign of shame. Soon thereafter, the Germans issued the awful decree that the Jewish population of Drohitchin had to bring the bloody authorities seven kilos of gold within three days. They took the elderly gray-haired Rabbi Isaac Kalenkovitch hostage, and warned that if they did not receive the seven kilos of gold within three days, they would hang Rabbi Kalenkovitch in the marketplace.

        People started weeping, and everyone took jewelry, rings watches and even gold teeth to the Judenrat, but unfortunately they were still half a kilo short. Jews started weeping and running to recite psalms in synagogue, begging for G-d's assistance to save their rabbi. The murderers were building gallows in the middle of the marketplace, and the next day they were planning to carry out their awful decree.

        Suddenly in the middle of the night, the Russian priest, Palevsky, removed his golden crucifixes and gave them to the Jews. The next day they brought the half a kilo of gold, and the rabbi was released. Everyone was joyfully amazed that a Christian had helped to save the life of our rabbi, who was prepared to give up his life for the community that he loved so much. Their joy, however, did not last long.

        One Sabbath morning, all the Jews were rounded up from Ghetto B, young and old, and were led away to Brona Gora, where they were all killed. Several months later, on October 15, 1942, the people in the second ghetto were taken away to be executed. The Germans took them to long pits that had previously been dug by the Jews of Ghetto A (every morning workers left, and in the evening the Germans shot the diggers). The Germans told every person to take off all his clothes and keep his clothes separated: the murderers sent the shoes and shirts somewhere else, and afterwards they hit the people in a hail of bullets with machine guns, and threw them into the pits. Approximately 3,000 Jews were killed this way. Thereafter, the murderers got a board and wrote on it “Drohitchin is free of Jews.”

        At that time I was in a nearby town called Sernik, not far from Pinsk. The same

[Page 354]

murderers tormented us there, and took us to pits of death. It was in the early morning, and miraculously my family and I were saved by a policeman we knew. He was a Christian, and he told us to flee. My husband, children and I fled through the bushes and small trees. The murderers shot at us, and killed my husband and small daughter. My other two children and I spent the night in a swamp. The next day my children and I made our way to a small abandoned house, but I was afraid to go out in the daytime to beg for bread. At night I knocked at the door of some peasants I knew, but they did not want to open the door. The peasant woman recognized me, crossed herself and said, “Fialkov! You were shot yesterday. Go away!”

        I started crying and told her that I was alive, begging her to save me from hunger. She threw out a loaf of bread, which calmed our hunger. We then spent the whole night in a forest and in the Pinsk swamps, where we were safe from the murderers, but endangered by cold and hunger. We also had no water to drink, but we survived on red cranberries that grew around there. It was our “manna” from heaven. After weeks of torment, we made our way to the Sviren unit of partisans, who saved us from death.

        As weak as I was, I somehow found latent strength within myself, and my children and I got guns and helped destroy the enemy positions. I laid landmines under bridges on which the murderers were supposed to pass over, or brought food from the villages until my children and I got to the Red Army and returned home to Drohitchin. I found a few Jewish survivors there, and everything was utterly destroyed. I found large mass graves; my heart was cold as a stone, and I trembled with pain. I could not look into the faces of the peasants who had taken the clothes of my brothers and friends. I could no longer live in the poisoned atmosphere of ruins and graves, so I went to live in the nearby town of Khomsk, where I did not find anyone. The peasants were living in the Jewish houses undisturbed. The Jews of Khomsk had been burned in the old synagogue that was destroyed except for four large walls. The awful Germans exterminated everyone up to the last Jews in town.

        There were four Jews hiding out in Drohitchin, and the gentiles had handed them over to the German savages who bound the Jews hand and foot before police dogs tore them to pieces, limb by ling.
(It is said that Alter Goldberg (of Socho), Moshe Perkovitsky and others were killed by the German dogs. W.)

[photo:] Standing, from right: Sisters Esther, Tila and Rachel Rosorovsky of Kremna. Seated from right: Reuven Burstein, Eliyahu Noach Ross, Rosa Goldstein, of Ozitch, and Gedaliah Kaplan in 1921. Esther (Morgan), Tila (Koppel) and Kaplan, of course, are now in New York. The others perished. May G-d avenge their blood! Rachel was the wife of Chaim Kobrinsky. See his memorial on p. 355, and a picture on p. 280.

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