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FIGHTING IN THE RED ARMY
By Shimon Lev (Israel)
A letter to Gedaliah Kaplan, March 1947
I was saved from the German brutes who brought this great misfortune on our Jewish People. This bitter fate was also visited on our town of Drohitchin (Polesia). When the Germans arrived in town, we were uprooted from the entire world, and put into the dark ghetto on the Vion, near the windmill. We were confined like criminals, without any means to survive or medical assistance. The country surgeon from Pinsk, Aharon Lasovsky, was with us, and helped out as much as he could. Despair grew by the day, with fifteen people being forced to stay in one bedroom. Various diseases broke out, and many people became swollen and died from hunger.
One Sabbath, on July 25, 1942, the weak and ill, together with the small children, were taken away to be killed in the lime pits in Brona Gora (Kartuz-Bereza). They knew where they were being taken, but they considered death better than suffering and torture. The German murderers destroyed the Jews with machine guns and mines. The small children were thrown into the pits alive. I am unable to describe everything, screams that rose to the heavens, and could be heard everywhere. Mothers cried as they watched their children being shot before their eyes while fathers cried out 'Hear O Israel.'
As mentioned, this took place on the Sabbath after Tisha Be'Av, July 25, 1942. Half of the town was killed, and the second half, the so-called strong ones, continued to suffer until October 15, 1942.
I was also among those taken from Ghetto B to Brona-Gora. However, I managed to jump off the wagon and escape into the dense forest. The Germans shot at me wounded me in my right hand, but I was one of the lucky ones because I survived. I managed to make my way through the dense forest to the partisans, and was saved from death. I joined the Red Army and fought the whole time. I was wounded three times, but we bloodied the German bandits until they had no more blood, taking delightful revenge against them.
In 1945, I returned to my hometown, and unfortunately found no one left there. Of some 4,500 Jews, including my large family, no one remained. I saw how all the peasants from Starosila took over the Jewish houses, acted liked they owned them, and enjoying our disaster. I was ashamed to go onto the street. The Christians would ask me what I was doing there, and whether I had come back from the dead.
I could not remain around there for long because the mass graves punctured my heart. I could not sleep for nights, and it appeared to me as if I heard voices from the mass graves where my parents, brothers and sisters were buried. The side streets were paved with the gravestones from the New Cemetery. With a grieving heart I made a sacred oath to leave Drohitchin and move to Palestine. I wanted to go there no matter how difficult the road. There was no longer a place for me in my hometown, which had lost every trace of life. The Jewish community of my town, with all of its beautiful Jewish traditions, and where the stones were saturated with Judaism and Torah, was uprooted. There were no more signs of it. Now I do not even have the words to describe this Scroll of Fire of my town of Drohitchin.
I took a last look at the streets of Drohitchin, said Adieu forever, and headed for a camp in Frankfurt. I spent several months in a dark camp, watching the murdering nation enjoy itself after having murdered my parents. I was not able to breathe the muffled air of the country called Germany, and my wife and I left by foot. We passed through high mountains and long roads until we arrived in Italy, from where we left by ship for Palestine.
[box:] An eternal memorial to our unforgettable sister and brother-in-law
Rachel (42) and Chaim (44) Kobrinsky
Mordechai (18) and Chaya-Beila (9)
All perished, may G-d avenge their blood!
Esther Morgan (Ossining, NY) and Tila Koppel (New York)
See photo on p. 354.
[The Yiddish article here is virtually the same as the English one on page 357. The English article contains additional information that is not in the Yiddish one, which ends on another page not printed.]
[photo:] An eternal memorial to our mother Basha (top, left) and sister Leah Mazursky, both of whom perished. May G-d avenge their blood!
The Mazursky children: Velvel (New York), Avraham, David (Argentina) and Pelta (Israel).
Eternal memorial: Our parents R. Zusha and Chaya-Frieda Warshavsky. Mother died on February 17, 1943 in Siberia, and Father died on June 26, 1956 in Israel. See p. 208.
Warshavsky children: Rachel Mazursky (New York), Mordechai Berl (Israel) and Zlata-Miriam Warshavsky (Canada).
[box:] An eternal memorial to our and everyone's friends:
Moshe and Bodya Steinberg
Esther and Khlavna
All perished, may G-d avenge their blood!
Yeshayahu and Zlata-Miriam Warshavsky (Canada)
[photo:] Right photo: Shimon and Chana from Horbacha, their children and grandchildren. All perished. May G-d avenge their blood! The photo was taken in Horbacha. Left photo: From left, Hershel Schmid, -----, Esther-Leah Lev, Bobtsa and Sarah Slonimsky (top). All perished except for Sarah. May G-d avenge their blood!
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