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The Holocaust: The Jews of Marmaros


The beginning of the Holocaust in the Czechoslovakian sector of Marmaros was different than in the Rumanian sector. As is well known, in the early part of October, 1938, Sudetenland was seized from the Czechoslovakian Republic and annexed to Nazi Germany.

This act presaged the end of Czechoslovakia. Events proceeded with breath-taking speed: After only one month, the “Vienna Arbitration” of November 2, 1938 awarded Hungary, southern Slovakia and in it, the city of Kashoi (Kosice). It also assigned the western part of Carpathia-Russia, namely the districts of Berg and Ung and in these, the cities of Munkacs and Ungvar to Hungary. The district of Marmaros, which lies in eastern Carpathia-Russia, was not included in the “arbitration”. This region was to have another fate.

Hitler divided crumbling Czechoslovakia into three parts: 1. Bohemia and Moravia whose population was Czech, he made a “protectorate” which the Nazi ruled directly. 2. Slovakia they transformed into an “independent” state which they ruled by means of a “government”, appointed by them. 3. While Marmaros, populated by Ruthenians-Ukrainians, was supposed to receive broad autonomy, under Nazi patronage, of course, and the city of Hust was to be the capital of this autonomous state.

This autonomy only lasted from November 22, 1938 to March 15, 1939, namely three and a half months, for in mid-March 1939, Hungary over-ran Czech Marmaros by force and in a brief struggle, routed the Ruthenian forces, which attempted to stand in their way and to oppose them. Germany only recognized the Hungarian conquest, de facto, and the Hungarian authorities themselves did not annex Czech Marmaros to Hungary in an absolute, formal manner. The region had the status of “occupied territory” and was legally under military rule; this as a gesture towards the Nazi Ally. For, the Hungarian conquest came – according to the Hungarian claim – in order to protect the Hungarian population, whose safety was endangered by the Ukrainian-Ruthenian rule. However, practically, there was no difference, administratively or from any other point of view, between the Marmaros district and the districts of Berg and Ung, which Hungary acquired “legally” through the “Vienna Arbitration”.

The historical truth, however, is that the safety of the few Hungarian nationals in Czech Marmaros was not in any danger at all, not economically, spiritually, culturally and certainly not physically. But the safety of the tens

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of thousands of Jews under the militant-dilatant rule of the Ruthenians, was in serious danger. The new rulers, whose leadership consisted of nationalistic Ukrainians, known as “Sitches”, most of them refugees who fled Soviet rule during its early years, were under strong Nazi influence. Openly and without any effort to cover up, the Sitches were preparing “black lists” of wealthy Jews who were to be executed. They purposefully circulated rumours that they were about to slaughter the Jews, at any moment.

It appears that in the entire, brief period of their rule, the Sitches did not execute even one Jew but the terror that they spread among the Jews had a practical purpose – to extort money from Jews in order to allow them to live. Looking back, it is very possible that their entire aim was only financial and that they never really intended to murder and slaughter Jews. But the Jews were not aware, nor could they have been aware, under the circumstances in which the Jews of Marmaros found themselves, of the intentions of the new rulers who were in the category of “slaves swaggering as kings”. The Jews of Czech Marmaros, who for close to 20 years had become accustomed to living in a democratic country, the only one in that part of the world, despite all its faults especially in Marmaros, now fell so suddenly “from the heights to the depths”.

From this it can be appreciated that the Jews of Marmaros received the Hungarian invaders with feelings of relief. For indeed, so the Jews said, any rule would be better than the prevailing anarchy, as long as it would remove the nightmare of the “black lists” and the threats of slaughter. This, not to speak of the economic and political disorder that reigned in Marmaros in the wake of this regime which did not breed confidence, even as far as its administrative and political capabilities were concerned.

In a very short time, the Jews of Marmaros realized that the well-known rule against praying for a new regime proved itself valid in this instance, as well. The Hungarian regime emerged quickly enough in all its ugly wickedness and abominable cruelty. This is quite well known and is elaborated upon under many headings in the book such as Hust, Tetch Rachov, Yasin, as well as in shorter entries, and there is no need for repetition here.

In the Rumanian sector of Marmaros, the Holocaust period began differently. One can possibly point to the beginning of this period in terms of those 40 days that the anti-Semitic government of the Rumanian-Transylvanian poet, Octavian Goga, ruled. All the ministers of his government were known anti-Semites, disciples of the old Rumanian Jew-baiter, Alexander C. Cuza. In the Goga-Cuza short period of rule, (December 1937 – January 1938) several discriminatory decrees were issued against the Jews of Rumania such as: re-examining the credentials of doctors and pharmacists and the firing of 200 Jewish doctors by the Central Office of Social Insurance; ban on the sale of items under governmental, monopoly

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regulations (tobacco, cigarettes, matches, alcohol, salt, etc.,) by an edict issued on January 22, 1938, the validity of the citizenship of the Jews, was to be investigated, resulting in the loss of civil rights on the part of one-third of Rumanian Jewry.

Even after the fall of this terrible government, a portion of the anti-Semitic laws and decrees remained in force and the government which followed, the Royal Dictatorship (February 1938-September 1940), even augmented them. A ban on employing Jews in government posts (even without remuneration); prohibition against acquiring agricultural land; removing the validity of the diplomas of the Jewish schools; not one Jew appeared on the list of officially certified architects; all the Jewish attorneys were dismissed from the government law offices and many more discriminatory regulations that the Jews of Rumania had to cope with. Between both World Wars, Rumania generally had anti-Semitic governments in one form or another. Attacks on Jews were its trademarks in various parts of the country.

At the “Second Vienna Arbitration” of August 30th, 1940, the northern part of Transylvania was severed from Rumania and handed over to Hungary. In it, of course, the district of Marmaros as well, which is the northern most region of Transylvania. Marmaros was thereby united, once again, after some 20 years and became entirely within the domain of Hungary. Elderly Jews, who nostalgically remembered “the good old days” of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, looked forward hopefully with great anticipation to the arrival of the Hungarian rule. However, for this sector of Marmaros, as well, the disappointment was not far off. Discrimination against Jews already began in the first months after the arrival of the Hungarians. At first, they dismissed all the Jewish public servants and office holders; then came the systematic eviction of all Jews from all areas of economic and vocational endeavour. Then came arbitrary arrests of Jews on trumped-up charges, based on accusations of anti-Semitic, non-Jewish informers who had a financial and economic axe to grind, since they were professional and business competitors.

Many Jews were exiled to special prison camps that were opened throughout the country for economic crimes such as black-market-racketeering, over-pricing, failing to hand over merchandise to the authorities, hiding commodities and then selling them at exorbitant prices, etc.

Jews were also sent to prison camps for “ideological crimes” such as: spying, belonging to the Communist party (which was illegal), etc. While concerning the “economic” crimes, there was, in many cases, a factual basis since the Jews had to provide a livelihood for their families and what could they do when most of the economic avenues were closed to them? As far as the “ideological crimes” were concerned, however, in the overwhelming majority of the imprisonments, there was not a single iota of truth. Almost all of them were trumped-up charges made by malicious

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murderers who found an opportunity to square accounts with Jews against whom they long since had “scores” to settle.


The Expulsion and Murders of Summer 1941

All of these occurrences were minor compared to the anguish endured by the Jews of Marmaros in the summer of 1941 and in the wake of Hungary's joining the war against the U.S.S.R. On 27th June, 1941, a review of the citizenship of the Hungarian Jews was enacted, whereby the Jews had to prove their uninterrupted residence in Hungary for the previous 90 years, that is from 1851 and that their ancestors were listed among the tax payers. This was a very harsh and cruel decree.

Some of the Jews of Marmaros, the wealthier and better established financially, ran around from office-to-office, in order to find the documents proving their citizenship. In the offices of the “Bureau for the Protection of the Rights of the Jews of Hungary”, (Magyar Izraelitak Partfogo Irodaja) in Budapest, that was shared by all the groupings of Hungarian Jewry, Orthodox as well as “Neolog”, there were long lines, each day, including a substantial number of Jews from Marmaros, waiting to get the necessary documents. Many of the Marmaros Jews camped at the entrance to these offices during the night in order to insure their turn when the office opened. And indeed, most of these people were lucky enough to receive the desired citizenship papers.

But very many of the Jews of Marmaros, and it seemed they were the majority, did not react to the citizenship decree as to a real and present danger. With their simple mode of thinking, they could not conceive of the satanic scheme which was being woven around the decree. They knew and “the whole world knew” that, not only they but also their parents and ancestors were born and died on this land (and of course, were heavily taxed). These Jews, therefore, did not make the effort to procure the necessary documents for citizenship. The struggle for a loaf of bread, literally speaking, prevented them from thinking along those lines. Many of them simply did not have the necessary sum of money needed to arrange for these documents.

Employees of the “Central Bureau for the Supervision of Aliens (known as KEOKH, i.e. Kulfoldieket Ellenorzo Orszagos Kozponti Hatosag), two of these especially infamous (Odon Martinides (Martinides Odon) and Dr. Arpad Kisch, both well-known anti-Semites, presented a plan for the expulsion of the “Polish and Russian Jews”, with the claim that these Jews, whose source of livelihood was taken away by the anti-Jewish legislation in Hungary, would be able to start a new life in Galicia.

The plan was presented in an “innocent” and “humanitarian” manner, which was entirely “for the welfare of the Jews”. In a decree issued by the Lieutenant Governor of the District of Marmaros, Dr. Gabor Itai on July 8th, 1941, it was stated:

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Law N°12 of the year 1939, concerning the limitation of the role of Jews in communal and economic life, the steps taken to enforce this law and the third anti-Semitic law now in preparation, compel and will continue to compel the Jewish residents of the country to relinquish their communal and economical status in favour of the Hungarians, just as they did in regard to their positions in government service. In the district of Marmaros where the anti-Jewish laws had yet to be enforced, among other things, the review of the residence permits, 45,000 Jews still live, who either by themselves or their parents, smuggled into the district from Galicia, Bukovina and Poland. In the city of Marmarosziget itself, there were more than 10,000 Jews. Severest enforcement of the anti-Jewish laws, which will commence shortly, will endanger the economic basis of the local Jews. Due to the fact that a large part of Galicia was occupied by the Hungarian army, I urge the Jewish residents of the district, especially those who would like to relocate to Galicia, to fill out the proper forms with the authorities appointed for this purpose. The Mayor of Marmarosziget or those designated by him and the local, rural authorities. I want to point out to all those interested in this idea, that the relocation will be centrally organized and carried out, this being made possible by virtue of the fact that most of the population of the captured territories, either retreated with the Russians, or were exiled by them and, therefore, no great difficulties are to be anticipated in relocating the Jews to a new life. The welfare of the Jews themselves dictates their putting and end to their unhinged status in the district, by giving it up and opening a new life on Galician territory, with the aid of the authorities.

This matter was presented to both the Jews and to the general public as something beneficial both to the Jews and to Hungary. The head of KEOKH, Shandor Shimnpalvi, attached the proper instructions to the decree which, of course, were secret.

In the book itself and in various sections, a very minute fractional tip of the iceberg of the outcome of this “humane” Hungarian project, is described and that as a result of it, even at this early stage of the Holocaust, a great void was already created in Marmaros Jewry and entire communities in Marmaros were torn from their very roots. Thousands of Jews were murdered and slaughtered at the hands of the Hungarians. (see, among others, under Hust, Yasin, Drahif, Teresif, Lipsha, Palien-Kablitzky, Igla, Unter and Ober-Aspha, Bugdan, Bistina, Brister, Ganitsh, Dibveh, Valaveh, Vilhobitz, Vermezif, Zlatarif, Toren, Tetch, Maiden, Nankof, Niagoba, Grasnitza Siniver, Kalin, Tarniva, Vibarif, Harintsh). We will not duplicate and repeat the description of the atrocities perpetrated upon thousands of Marmaros Jews in the summer and fall of 1941 (5701-5702). In a few brief sentences, we will merely summarize some of the “outward” aspects of this terrible tragedy which was a harbinger, not only of the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry, but also the beginning of the Holocaust to Polish Jewry as well.

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All the Jews who were exiled to Galicia and Poland were brought to an assembly point in the town of Yasin. From there, they were transported across the border at the rate of about 1,000 per day. By the 10th August, 1941, 18,000-20,000 Jews were handed over to the authorities of the Hungarian Army.

To this day, no one really knows the number of exiled Jews during the summer of 1941. The sources disagree on this point. During the trial of the Hungarian officer, Bardushi, the head of the court mentioned 30,000 Jews. In an indictment against another officer in the deportations and murders, 18,500 Jews were referred to. A German document presented at the Nurenberg trials (PS 1197) states the number at 11,000. In the “Community Ledgers” volume Hungary (pg. 107), it says that “about 20,000 Jews were deported during this period”. Apparently, the author chose a middle figure from among the various sources. It seems that only He knows all mysteries; really knows the true figure which will never become known to us. The murderers kept no records because they couldn't find the time for them.

They carried out their vicious plan in great haste and did all in their power that the amount of people murdered should be as high as possible. This was strictly a “Hungarian job”, without any coordination with the Germans in the occupied Polish territory. Prof. Randolph L. Braham, the researcher of the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry, who wrote a special monograph on this slaughter (Collected Researches of Yad Vashem, 9, 1973 pg. 111-118). Itai's decree, quoted above, is also published there states that “the Germans were not ready for the mass expulsion from Hungary. At first, they asked that it be stopped because they could not handle all those Jews and they presented a danger to their “transportation lines”. But at a joint German-Hungarian meeting with the participation of both military chiefs of staff convened on 25th August in the city of Viniza in Ukraine, a division of duties was decided upon and by the beginning of September, all the deportees from Hungary were to have been “wiped out”.

The first and biggest mass-murder was carried out on 27-28 August, 1941 (4-5 Ellul 5701) near the city of Kamenetz-Podolsk. In those two days, 23,600 Jews were killed, most of them (14-16,000) Hungarian Jews and the rest, local Jews. As the researches of the Holocaust point out, the Kamenetz-Podolsk massacre was the first action in the “final solution” of the Nazi and the number of its victims reached 5 figures. As eye-witnesses report, the perpetrators made no effort to hide their deeds from the local population. The Rabbi of Munkacs, Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz who was also among the deportees and only by powerful intercession was returned to Hungary, described his path of suffering to a “Yad Vashem” interviewer. This interview was recorded and transcribed and is found in the Yad Vashem archives (03/3822).

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Rabbi Rabinowitz suggested the possibility that the Nazi purposely did not hide their actions in order to test the reaction of the Allies. And when this failed to come, as it known to all of us, those in charge of the killings concluded (and to our sorrow, rightly so) that Jewish blood is free for the shedding, there being no one to protect, or to avenge its spilling. Those responsible for the annihilation of the Jewish People, continued to carry out the slaughter with even greater vigour and according to the detailed plan of the “final solution”.

Not all the deported Hungarian Jews and the Jews of Marmaros among them, reached Kamenetz-Podolsk. The great majority of them were, however, brought to this city's ghetto which was being erected in the summer of 1941. Before gathering the Jews into the ghetto, the Jews of Hungary were spread out among the Jews of Kamenetz-Podolsk and the nearby towns. As the survivors relate, the Hungarian Jews were received with open arms and the local Jews shared their meagre bread crusts and their living quarters with them. The public buildings as well, synagogues and schools were all made available to the deportees.

When the ghetto was established where tens of thousands of Jews from the city and the entire area were concentrated, the Hungarian Jews were also placed in the ghetto. As was already stated, the overwhelming majority of the Jews of the ghetto were murdered at the end of August, 1941. This was done on the sly. They were told that it was decided to remove the Jews from Kamenetz-Podolsk and that they had to be taken elsewhere. Surrounded by Hungarian soldiers from the pioneer unit, S.S. men and Ukrainian troops, they were led 15km on foot over an area strewn with bomb craters. They were commanded to undress and, group by group, were placed into the cross fire of machine guns. Many of them were buried alive.

The Jews of Marmaros who reached other parts of Galicia, in their path of suffering bathed in blood, reached several of the concentration centres and ghettos of the Jews of Poland. The largest group, it seems, reached the Stanislav ghetto where the first slaughter was carried out on the night of Hoshano Raba 5702 (11th October, 1941). Here too, many thousands were murdered and among them some 2,000 Hungarian Jews. Smaller groups were brought to the ghettos of Kolomea, Horodenka, Tarnopol, etc., and their fate was the same as those Jews of Galicia.

This shocking crime was thus the result of “fruitful” cooperation on the part of 3 countries in enlightened Europe: Hungarians, Germans and Ukrainians. But, the prize in this case goes to the Hungarian people, the “pioneer” and initiator of this genocide, which, as was said, was the “opening act” of the murder of the Jewish People in Europe, which, after 4 years, reached the staggering number of 5 million souls.

To this nation, descendants of the “glorious” blood-thirsty Huns, it would be proper to award the “honour” given by the Torah to the nation

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of Amalek, which was also the “first one to start up with the People of Israel” – “write this down in the record as a testament” . . .

How did the deportees arrive at the destinations established by the murderers for their destruction? It seems that the number of routes are as many as the number of shipments. Each shipment had its own fate and within the groups, each individual had his own fate. In the descriptions of the horror in the book itself, (such as under the entries Yasin, Polien-Kablitzky, etc.,) we saw how the people who were at the brink of the abyss and even somewhat beyond that point, Divine Providence intervened and commanded that they live. There were shipments which were taken directly by truck from Yasin to the Dniester River and even beyond, a distance of hundreds of kilometres. And there were shipments which were driven only to the area of Dlatin, the first town across the border and from there, they did the long march on foot.

In the testimonies of the survivors, which we read, a number of routes appear in this trail of suffering. We will mention three: 1. The route whose final destination was Kamenetz-Podolsk, in the tale of Moshe Deutsch from Teresif which was: “until Dlatin (east of Yasin) they were driven by trucks and from there on foot, east in the direction of Kolomea, north-east to the city of Horodenka and to the Dniester River at the city of Burschov near Uziran and the city of Chertkov, and from there, east to the city of Kamenetz-Podolsk”. 2. The route of Zvi Herman Smilovitch from Kalin and his group whose destination was the city of Stanislav, who were also driven only to Dlatin and from there were force-marched eastward to Horodenka, but from here were returned west to Kolomea; from there, again, a change of direction and this time northward to the city of Kalish, and from there a sharp turn south-east in the direction of Stanislav near which most of this group were murdered. There were many zig-zags on this route and it was characterized by non-purposeful marching with no goal except to torture the marchers, to tire the, break them and cause them untold agony and pain. 3. The route of the group in the tale of Ilona Gertler-Deutsch, also very similar to the previous one, was also punctuated by many about-faces in different and opposing directions and it can clearly be seen that its only purpose was to torture the Jews and to cause them much suffering.

Not a word has been said about how the marchers were treated as they trudged along this path of suffering, engulfed by death and murder at every step. A small fraction of this is written about and described in the book under some of the entries already mentioned.

Reports and rumours about the murders in Poland began to sift into Hungary by various means. Hungarian soldiers returned to their homes and spread the information (and here is the place to note that some of the Hungarian soldiers refused to take part in the killing and as is stated in one of the sources quoted by Braham (pg.117): “they were upset by the murder of men, women and children by machine gun fire and expressed

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their feelings in letters home or in “reports given during furloughs”.

Neither did the few Jews who succeeded in escaping from Galicia and returning to Hungary, headed by Rabbi of Munkacs, one of the known Chassidic Rabbis of Hungary of that day and Rabbi of one of the largest and most important communities, rest or remain quiet, of course, and gave first-hand information to individuals in the Jewish leadership of Budapest, on what occurred with the “relocation” in Galicia.

One of these escapees, a Jew called Stern, was made a member of a delegation from the “Bureau for the Protection of the Rights of the Jews” that visited the Hungarian Minister of Interior, Franz Krestch-Fisher, who was responsible for the Office of the Supervision of Aliens, (KEOKH).

One of the great paradoxes in this tragedy was the fact that the Minister of the Interior of the government of Hungary, who bore the ministerial responsibility for the crimes of the Hungarians in Poland, was a decent man and was one of the great liberals in the group of Hungarian regents, Miklosh Horthy. (Krestch-Fisher was arrested in March, 1944 with the German occupation and was sent to the concentration camp in Mathausen. He died in Austria in 1948. The Minister was greatly moved by what he heard. He didn't let Stern finish the story. “I've heard enough”, he said. He immediately issued a strict order to the head of KEOKH to stop the deportations. And in fact, he had to return 7 trains that had made their way to the border, two of them already having reached Yasin. But, even after the order of the Minister of the Interior, Hungarian Jews were still killed because his order was only valid within the borders of Hungary.

What happened beyond the border was under the jurisdiction of the military authorities and sometimes not even they had control of the situation because the commander of each military unit did as he pleased within the occupied area under his command.

The Rabbi of Munkacs also told his interviewer: “In Hungary, they did a lot for me until I received permission to return. But the permission was given by the Ministry of the Interior and the army did not recognize it, so I had to smuggle across the border”. Nevertheless, the Hungarian Minister of the Interior's order saved thousands of Jews in Hungary and in Marmaros from deportation, from horrible suffering and from terrible deaths, until their fate was sealed in the spring of 1944.

The various figures concerning the deportations from Hungary during the summer of 1941 were quoted above. What was the number of the Jews of Marmaros involved in these deportations? This too, no one knows, and no one has tried to investigate the number of deportees from Marmaros. It seems that this figure, as well, will remain hidden from us and only He knows all the mysteries, also knows this one.

Nevertheless, we have tried to arrive at an estimate as close to the truth as possible, with the facts at our disposal. If we had controlled statistics of the deportations from each town in Marmaros, we would then,

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of course, have been able to add them altogether and reach a final sum. But unfortunately, this is not the case.
Only concerning a few towns do we have an accurate figure as to the number of deportees, such as: Unter-Apsha (271), Bilvaritz (120), Brister (134), Harishuf (15), Threbushan (103), Nakoff (55), Niagova (68), Negrevitz (65), While-Field (107) and several other small towns. In most of the towns, either estimated numbers were given by survivors or, simply, “tens”, “hundreds”, etc., or, we only know that deportations were made from particular towns, but we do not even have a raw estimate as to how many.

Prof. Braham estimates that 2,000 Jews slipped back into Hungary in various ways. If this number is correct, it seems that the Marmaros Jews who did this, numbered at about 1,000 souls.

As a result of the deportation decree, a number of communities in several towns of Marmaros were uprooted. In a substantial number of places, the Hungarian gendarmes who carried out the deportation paid no attention to the documents proving Hungarian citizenship. Without any distinction, they placed any Jew they could find on the trucks. It seems that this generally happened in tiny villages where there was no government representative, not even a notary or any local office. These tiny settlements, “beyond the dark mountains”, were exposed to the cruel whims and wild attacks of the infamous Hungarian gendarmerie. In bigger towns where there were local and district government offices, the deportations were carried out according to previously prepared lists which did not include the names of Jews who had properly arranged their documents. But even here, there were cases where the local government initiated the deportation of certain Jews whom the local government was interested in deporting for reasons of their own. There were many such instances, probably several hundreds. From a geographical point of view, the deportations were especially cruel in the settlements around Verchovina, near villages of Valaveh-Maiden-Toren, and in the towns of “Dibever Rika”.

In the Rumanian sector of Marmaros, the deportation affected Krecheneff where about half of the Jews were deported, while in other places, only a few individuals were deported as well as other parts of Hungary. Probably this sector of Marmaros was left for stage “B”, after the “operation” had been completed in the Czech sector. But, as was stated, in the middle of August, 1941, the decree was rescinded and the deportations stopped, although only afterwards did the systematic murders begin across the border and within two months, all the deportees had been murdered.

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A Breathing-Spell (Kalai Government 10.3.42-19.3.44)

During the Holocaust years starting with 1941, Marmaros became the arena for hundreds of Jews from Hungary who were stationed there, with the work units of the Hungarian army. In this way the Jews of Hungary came into close contact with the Jews of Marmaros. Many of the former were assimilated Jews who were not conscious of their Judaism and had no knowledge of Yiddish. Near the village of Bugdan, the countryside is breath taking, but is a very difficult terrain in terms of the back-breaking labour assigned to hundreds of Hungarian Jews, in the building of fortifications.

Near the towns of Bistina and Slatfina, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Jews who were conscripted into work units, took part in the building of military air fields. The contact between the Jews of Hungary and the Jews of Marmaros was very interesting and mutually valuable. There was a reciprocal influence here between two diametrically opposed cultures. On the surface, they did not have much in common. To many Hungarian Jews, the traditional Chassidic atmosphere of the Jews of Marmaros was absolutely foreign, especially to those who came from Budapest and the surrounding area, whose concepts of Jews and Judaism were quite meagre, unclear and certainly different than those of the Jews of Marmaros. Despite this, these Jews received warm and hearty Jewish hospitality. Every Jewish home was open to them at all times. Here, they found warm food, a clean, comfortable bed, and above all, a warm Jewish heart. Despite the polarity in views and in the way of life, the Jews of Marmaros received them with open arms and with a great measure of brotherly love, did all in their power to ease the burdens of their back-breaking labour and their feelings of loneliness.

These Hungarian Jews found a brand of Judaism living in Marmaros that was vibrant which they never knew existed. They discovered generous Jews who welcomed them at all times with a pleasant smile and shared provisions with them, beyond their meagre means.

The women and young ladies of Marmaros cooked and baked for the Jews of the work units. Each week, on their day off, several wives of the members of the work units arrived in Bistina, Slatfina or Bogdan, to visit their husbands. The Marmaros Jews made their nicest rooms available for them. All of this with a pleasant demeanour and a willing spirit. For the fate of the Jew is the same whether Chasid or non-Chasid. Even the most extreme assimilationist could not flee his fate. Although this encounter was under sad circumstances, moments of joy and spiritual elevation were not lacking here. The fate of the Jews is what bridged the distances and brought close those who under ordinary circumstances, were worlds apart. Many of the local Jews, especially the young girls, learned Hungarian from the draftees, while the latter began to become

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familiar with the wonderful, rich, Yiddish of the Jews of Marmaros, as well as with their folk songs, the distant became close.

In the two years that Miklosh Kalai ruled as Prime Minister of the Hungarian government (10.3.42-19.3.44), the Jews of the land and the Jews of Marmaros, among them, breathed more easily. These were years of a relative lull, though, even during this so-called relaxed period, troubles were not lacking. Tens of thousands of young men among them, thousands of Marmaros Jews, were still being drafted into work units and very many of these suffered and died on the eastern front in the Ukrainian Steppes. And the conscription of new age-groups to these work units did not cease during this period. In March 1943, 22 more units were sent to the eastern front, that is to the Ukraine, which, for most of those involved, amounted to a death sentence through back-breaking labour and terrible suffering caused by starvation, cold, beatings, mistreatment, mine-clearing and direct executions.

During the Kalai regime, a law was enacted whereby land owned by Jews was confiscated. Despite this, researchers of the Holocaust generally feel that this was merely a tactical concession to the Germans in order to achieve the basic goal – namely, preserve the close to 1 million Hungarian Jews.

Hungary, during this period, was like a solitary island surrounded by a roaring turbulent sea. Thousands of refugees from Poland and Slovakia were being absorbed. During all of this, Germany never ceased demanding the deportation of the Jews of Hungary to the east in order to carry out the “final solution”. Beginning with the fall of 1942, Kalai was faced with mounting German pressure and refused to yield to their firm and endless demands with the excuse that this step would undermine the country's economy. Along with this, the Kalai government took steps towards having secret negotiations with the Allies. Of course, German Intelligence was soon to discover these steps. On March 19, 1944, Germany captured Hungary and Kalai was arrested and deported to a concentration camp.


The Ghettos and the Destruction

With the penetration of the German tanks into Hungary on Sunday, March 19, 1944, (23 Adar 5704), a sharp turning point was arrived at the fate of the Hungarian Jewry. The decrees against the Jews came one after another with murderous speed. Within 6 weeks, the Jews of Hungary were concentrated in ghettos prior to deportation to Auschwitz and total destruction. The 60,000 Jews of Marmaros, who still remained after the deportations and slaughters of the summer of 1941, were concentrated into 12 ghettos, 3 of them outside Marmaros.

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In Rumanian Marmaros, there were 4 ghettos: Sziget, Berbesht, Over-Vishveh and Dragmirsht:

  1. Ghetto Sziget was established between 18-20 April, 1944. Actually, there were 2 ghettos in Sziget, the large ghetto within the city which consisted of 4 street where the Jews lived and the small ghetto, established in the slum-suburb “Over-Yarash”, containing several tiny alleys where the rural Jews, who had previously been held in the Berbesht ghetto, were placed. (see 2 ahead).


    Marmaros Women in the Ghetto


    In the large ghetto, 11,000 Jews from the city itself and from 2 or 3 nearby villages like Virishmurt, etc., were concentrated. Living conditions in the ghetto were appalling. In middle-sized rooms, 8-10 people were crowded and into larger rooms, up to 20. From 17hr until the following morning, it was prohibited to be found outside of one's room. At the end of April, a delegation planning the destruction of the Hungarian Jewry, visited the ghetto headed by Adolf Eichman on the German side, and Laszlo Endre on the Hungarian side, accompanied by employees of the Ministry of the Interior and doctors. The purpose of the visit was to “study” the Jewish problem at one of the first ghettos in the country; to observe the conduct of the Jews and their state of mind; how cognizant they were of the fate that awaited them; the influence it would have on the non-Jewish population and the degree of cooperation for the government to anticipate from them, etc.

  2. Ghetto Berbesht was a branch of the Sziget ghetto. It contained about 3,000 souls. Before being deported to Auschwitz, the residents of the Sziget ghetto were transferred here to the Sziget suburb Over-Yarash where Berbesht ghetto was located, and from there to Auschwitz. In ghetto

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    Berbesht, Jews from the following villages were also concentrated: Unchest, Budsht, Birsanif, Vad, Val'n, Zhyulsht, Nansht, Serv, Kalinsht, Ukna-Sugatog, Sugatog (village), Ramit, First, Dasht, Sanapatak, Harncht, Hut'n and Kracht. The deportations from Sziget-Berbesht were carried out in 4 stages: 1. On May 17th from ghetto Berbesht (“Over-Yarash”) ; from the large Sziget ghetto on 2, 18 May; 3, 19 May, 21 May. These were among the first deportations from any ghetto in Hungary.

  1. Ghetto Upper Visha was established from 16-23rd May, 1944, in the centre of the city on the “Jewish Street” and on three other small streets leading from it. The crowding here was insufferable. 20-3.0 persons were quartered in one room. An attendance roll-call line-up was held every day, sometimes lasting several hours. In the line-up, there were also beatings. The food rations that were provided were very meagre. Part of the men were taken for various labour projects, especially wood cutting. They were over-worked while weak and starving. The German-Hungarian delegation visited this ghetto as well.

    It is worthwhile to note that one of the members of the delegation, Laszlo Frantzi, who was the liaison officer between the “Einzatzgruppen” of Eichman and the command of the Hungarian gendarmeries, was a native of Upper-Vishveh. He was one of the most active murderers of Hungarian Jewry. He travelled from ghetto-to-ghetto during the deportations and it was he who supervised the atrocities. (He was executed in 1946 in Budapest).

    This ghetto contained about 13,000 souls. In addition to the 4,000 local Jews, there were also Jews from the following places, concentrated within: Lower-Vishveh, Middle-Vishveh, Bursha, Bistra, Vishoi-Villj, Lardine, Masif, Polien-Riskveh, Patriveh, Kriveh, Riskveh. The Jews of this ghetto were deported to Auschwitz in 3 t transports between 17-23rd May, 1944.

  2. Dragmirsht ghetto was established in the centre of the village as of April 15th. In addition to the 700 local Jews, others from the following villages were concentrated there: Butiza, Glud, Yued, Strimetra, Sitchl, Slatina, Slisht, Palien-Glud, Kechnya, Rizavlich and Shief.

    This was one of the small ghettos in the entire country and 4,000 people were held here and not as we wrote under Dragmirsht). Dragmirsht ghetto was relatively more comfortable than the other ghettos.The lack of food was hardly felt there. The surrounding farmers and mainly the farmers' wives brought packages of flour, oil, milk, butter and vegetables into the ghetto. From time-to-time, the Jews who had lived in neighbouring villages, were permitted to return home and bring food supplies which had been left in their abandoned houses.

    In contrast to this, the deportation was a trail of suffering. The 25km to the train station of Vishveh, from which they were deported to Auschwitz, was a trip strewn with anguish. The men did

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    walked the entire way up the steep mountaintop on foot. The gendarmes pushed the marchers onward with blows from their rifle-butts. Many victims fell along the way. Dragmirsht ghetto was liquidated on May 15, 1944.


    The victims being loaded onto the trains to Auschwitz


    The Jews who lived on the Czech side of Marmaros, were concentrated into 8 ghettos; 3 of them, as was said, not within Marmaros. We were not able to understand the thinking of the authorities who set up the ghettos of Czech Marmaros, the way in which they did. We were not able to discover the “logic” which guided those who chose the concentration sites. It seems that the entire eastern region along the length of both tributaries of the Tisa (the Black and the White) as well as the settlements in the south along the length of the river after both tributaries join, were brought to the ghetto of Mateh-Salka. But, if that was the case, then why were some of the settlements of the “Dibever Rika” sent to Mateh-Salka ghetto and others to the Tetch ghetto? And then, also, why in a relatively small area in the south-west, were 5 ghettos established: Chust, Tetch, Slatfina, Iza, Sikernitz, while in the entire region in the east and north, not a single ghetto was set up despite the fact that there were several Jewishly populated settlements there, such as: Yasin, Rachov, Valaveh, Maidan, etc? And again, why were the Jews of Bistina, which lies on the railroad line and main road of Tetch-Bistina/Sikernitza-Hust, brought to Mateh-Salka ghetto, despite the fact that there were 2 ghettos in the northeast (Sikernitz and Hust), and one ghetto in the southeast (Tetch)? Such question arises in other places as well like the 3 Apshas; while the Jews of Middle-Apsha and Lower-Apsha were brought to Slatfina ghetto, the Jews of Upper-Apsha were brought to Mata-Salka ghetto? There is no justification for this in terms of communication lines. It is clear that not much thought was given

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    to the deportation of the Marmaros Jews, to their destruction, and it was all done hastily, without planning.

  1. Mata-Salka ghetto. This town is in the Satmar District (in the Hungarian sector, west of the boundary that crosses the Satmar District). In this town there were 1,555 Jews in 1941 (the general population was 10,036). Here was one of the large concentrations of Jews before their deportation and annihilation at Auschwitz. In the ghetto, 17,000 Jews were gathered, a fraction from the town itself, and several small communities in the area and the great and overwhelming majority, some 15,000, were brought from over 30 places in Marmaros. This was the largest concentration of Marmaros Jews, although the place itself was outside of Marmaros. The conditions of this ghetto were shocking, among the worst, and perhaps the worst of all the ghettos in Hungary.


    The S.S. await the victims in Auschwitz


    At first, the Jews were concentrated outdoors. After some time, they were transferred to small shanties most of them temporary. The Marmaros Jews suffered doubly here. For in addition to the usual suffering of all the inmates in the ghetto, the Jews of Marmaros also suffered because they were torn from their natural environment and were brought to foreign surroundings. Among the settlements whose Jews were brought to the Mateh-Salka ghetto were the larger towns having more than 1,000 Jews: Upper-Apsha, Bitshkof, Bistina, Yasin and Rachov; places with a population of 500 and over: Igla, Ganitsch (part, the other part was sent to Tetch ghetto), Teresit, Terniva, Greneristxa; the smaller settlements numbering less than 500 Jews were: Apshitza, Bogdan, Bidevla, Bilvaritz, Bilin, Bristed, Harishuf, Vibarif, Tushka, Trebushan, Leh-Lunka, Niagoba, Palien-Kusovitsky, Kalin, Kvasi, Kolodna (?), Krasnishura, Kriveh (Czech).

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  1. Chust ghetto was established from 20-27 April, 1944. The ghetto was set up in the centre of the city in the Jewishly populated streets and nearby alleys. The courtyard of the great synagogue and the buildings in it were also within the ghetto. Several additional streets, which had no paved crossway between them, fell into the ghetto boundaries. Crossing from one street to another was forbidden. The offices of the Yudenrat were set up in the Rabbi's quarters. Compared to other ghettos in the area and especially compared to Mateh-Salka ghetto, living conditions in Chust ghetto were almost bearable. Mistreatment and tortures were not lacking here, of course. Supplies to Chust ghetto, relatively speaking and compared to other places, were somewhat organized and in fair amounts. The authorities agreed to the request of the Yudenrat that commodities robbed from the Jews should be made available to the public kitchen, set up in the ghetto. This does not mean that Jews at satisfactorily in Chust ghetto. It was only that a small measure of human behaviour existed in the relationship between the police-gendarmerie and the Yudenrat. There were, however, employees and petty officials whose cruelty was unforgettable. The name of the under-notary, Biro Yoshka, comes up again and again in the memories of the Holocaust survivors. Less often, the name of the Ruthenian judge, Laslo Andreyovitch, is mentioned. Biro was executed after the war.
  2. In ghetto Chust, about 8,000 Jews were concentrated. In addition to the 5,000 Jews of the city itself, Jews were brought from the following places: Zlotarif, Nankif, Studena (lower, only it seems), Siniver, Selisht, Kapashneh, and Simi. The Jews were deported to Auschwitz from Chust in 3 stages: on the 22nd, 25th and 30th of May, 1944.
  3. Iza ghetto. In a small village with only a few Jews in it (383 in 1930), a ghetto was set up whose inmates numbered close to 5,000 souls. The ghetto was established within the village and a fence was built around it. It was a sort of branch of the Chust ghetto, a distance of 7km away. Most of those placed in this ghetto had lived in settlements along the length of the road near Toren, all the way to Galicia. We do not know why this ghetto was established; perhaps to solve traffic problems. The crowding here was horrible, with unthinkable living conditions. Starvation was prevalent in the ghetto. When even the Gestapo recognized this, they sent messengers to the nearby farms and brought some flour and grain from the abandoned Jewish farms. In addition to the Jews from Iza, Jews from the following places were concentrated there: Iska, Lower-Bistra, Bereziv, Harintch, Veliatin, Lipsha, Maidan (including Upper-Bistra), Palien-Lipsa, Podovovitz, Philipitz, Kalatehin, Kasheli. On the 24th of May, the first shipment of some 2,000 people, left the Iza ghetto. They were taken to the brick factory of Benjamin Davidowitz in Chutz, near the railroad tracks, and from there, were deported to Auschwitz. The second shipment, which included the remaining Jews in the ghetto, was deported 3 days later.

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  1. Tetch ghetto. The ghetto that was erected in this town was the result of Jewish negotiation. It was originally planned to send the Jews of Tetch to Mateh-Salka ghetto, as well, but after the urging of the Jews and the support of several Hungarian members of the local council, whose conscience began to show signs of life, a place was set aside for the ghetto in the middle of the town between the Christian cemetery and the Tesa River in the southern part of town. The non-Jewish population residing there was moved elsewhere but their houses remained locked. The Jews were crowded into Jewish houses only and in unbelievably crowded conditions. In a tiny room, 10-15 people were jammed. Some of the Jews camped in the courtyards, attics, cellars or in temporary woodsheds, in barns, stables and in every open space. The ghetto command was in the house of Reb Yitschak Zeidman, the son-in-law of Reb Zvi Magid. The Jews suffered constant hunger. The public kitchen provided far less than the basic needs. All the men up to the age of 55 had to ”exercise” each day which was only intended as a sadistic and brutal form of torture, accompanied by shouts, curses and profanity. The Hungarian gendarmes administered endless beatings without cause. In the Tetch ghetto, almost 5,000 souls were concentrated. In addition to the Jews of Tetch itself, the Jews of the following villages were concentrated there: Dibveh, Vinif, Vishk, Leh, Kerekhedge, Ganitsch (part, the other part was sent to the Mateh-Sallka ghetto), Spinka (which belonged to Rumanian Marmaros). The first deportation from Tetch was on the 24th May, 1944 and the 2nd, on 26th May, 1944.
  2. Slatfina ghetto. This ghetto was also established through the intercession of the local Jews because they too were scheduled to be sent to the Mateh-Salka ghetto. The survivors mention the name of the secretary of the council, Tchaba, in this connection: a decent, honest man who used his influence on the authorities to establish the ghetto there. It was erected on the 17th-20th April, 1944, in the centre of the town between the two main streets and the smaller streets emanating from them. 5,000 souls were crowded into a tiny area. Conditions in this ghetto were exceptionally bad. Crossing the street within the ghetto was prohibited. The Jews were forced into various labour projects, most of them unproductive. There were also beatings and tortures.

    Except for the Jews who had lived there, the Jews were concentrated here from the following places: Kretchenif, Depalya, Tarasau, Runasek, Upper-Rina, Lower Rina – from the Rumanian side. From the Czech side were Jews from: Middle-Apsha, Lower-Apsha, Shvartztima. Slatifina was liquidated in two deportations: On Shabbat 27 Iyar 5704 (20th May, 1944), and on the following Tuesday, 23rd May, 1944.

  3. Sikernitz ghetto: We do not know the reason for the establishment of this ghetto either. The village is near Chust (10km) and not far from Tetch (20km). In both of which, ghettos existed. The ghetto was established in the village and the Jews, themselves, fenced it in.

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    According to one testimony, the situation in this ghetto was bearable, due to systematic food supplies.
    In the ghetto, 4,000 Jews crowded together. In addition to the Jews of Sikernitza, Jews from the following surrounding villages were brought there: Danilif, Drohif, Mikif, Shandrif and also from more distant places such as: Valaveh, Negrevitz, Kalitshaba, which, in fact, were connected to Sikernitza by the main road. The ghetto was liquidated on the holiday of Shovuous 5704 (28th-29th May, 1944).

  1. Munkacs and Bergsas ghettos: Jews from the settlements along the western border of Marmaros were taken to these two ghettos. Jews from the following places were put into the Munkacs ghetto: Bereznik, Sicheh-Bronky, Zadneh, Licitcheh, Keretzky, Rustuka. The Jews of Vilchovitz in the “Dibever Rika” were also brought to Munkacs ghetto and this, for a special reason: Since a typhus epidemic “broke out”, they said, among the Jews of Vilchovitz and they required quarantine, they were brought to Munkacs where special provisions were made for this. A total of some 2,000 Jews from Marmaros were in the Munkacs ghetto. Less than 1,000 Marmaros Jews were sent to Bergsas ghetto. Only from 2 or 3 places: Dolha, Kushnitz and perhaps also from Upper Studena.

    For 19 settlements in Marmaros, we could not find the ghettos from which they were deported to Auschwitz. From the area of Valaveh, the following nine: Bikvitz, Huliatin, Vitchky, Lachovitz, Lizansk, Naviselitzah (near Valaveh), Prislup, Ritchkeh, Rifina; from the Tetch area the following eight: Diliv, Tchmolif German Mukra, Russian Mukra, Noviselitza (in the Dibever Rika), Padfesha, Kenigsfeld, Kritchif. The village of Saldubush in the Chust area and the village Palien-Kublitzky in the Rachov area, no Jews were deported from 4 places in 1944; simply because there was no one left to deport. They had already been deported and most of them murdered in the deportation decrees of the summer of 1941. Those who escaped, as few as there were, did not return to their villages but sought out new places to settled. Some also reached Budapest where it was easier to slip away.

    The villages which were “Yudenrein” already in 1941 were: Vermezif, Toren, Terebla and Terishel. It is almost definite that there were some more such villages, but they are not known to us.


Efforts to Escape

We have reached the end of the road for the Jews of Marmaros and the conclusion of their lives on earth. Their souls are bound up in the bond of eternal life and are found in the uppermost canopy, in the shrine of those who sanctify the Holy Name, the heroes and the martyrs of all times and of all eras, that no creature can stand in their presence. We will not end this chapter without trying to reply to the self-evident question, asked by so many, even if they do not express it explicitly:

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“Like sheep to the slaughter?” How did it happen than an entire Jewish community, that lived in a mountainous and forested area, which lived a natural life, with many living off the earth and its products – trees, grain, fruit – that knew every valley and crevice, every hill and bend, all the mountain paths and forest mysteries, were clear to them? How is it that this community, so involved in nature, did not take advantage of this familiarity to find hiding places until the terror would end? And, in addition, it was all during the spring and summer, when flowering and blossoming abound everywhere?


The S.S. and the “Heftlinge” await the victims at the train station in Auschwitz


The answer is no less painful than the question, in a world: The natural surrounding might be the ally of the victim, but the neighbouring people which lived side-by-side with the Jews, was an active partner with the enemy and it too victimized its Jewish neighbour. This is a great source of pain. This nation, the Ruthenian-Ukrainian of Marmaros which was raised alongside and together with the Jews for the prior 7 or 8 generations, betrayed its neighbour in times of trouble in a low, cruel and ugly manner. The Ruthenians whose children played with Jewish children in the village, in the grove, in the field and wood; they who sold their produce and bought their household and farm needs from their Jewish neighbours for the past 250 years; they who included their Jewish neighbours in all their worries and joys, whose sick were healed by Jewish doctors; whose wounds were uttered charms over by Jewish women; whose babies were brought into the world by Jewish mid-wives; whose litigations were ruled upon by Rabbis, Halachic judges and ritual-slaughterers, simply because they preferred the Jewish wisdom and sense of decency over their own judicial system or priest; this nation which drowned its sorrow and lessened its travail in Jewish taverns and at

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Jewish weddings and happy occasions. How did they not pass the test on the day of trial? How did they hand over hunted Jews, entire families with their wives and children to the Hungarian foe which was the enemy of the Ruthenian people, as well, in exchange for a quart of liquor? Oh, Ruthenian nation, how low you stooped down to the very depths. You betrayed your neighbour for a pittance ! ! !

To the misfortune of the Jewish people, the cooperation of the overwhelming majority of Ruthenians, and a nation can be judged by its majority, with the Hungarian enemy and German Nazi, was enthusiastic, vigorous and complete. This is given expression under many headings in this book. And what is told here is only a drop in the bucket of what was not told and has already been forgotten. But even what is known and documented, points to low, despicable deeds which prove the rule. Already in 1941, in the catastrophic deportation of part of Marmaros Jewry to Poland and their murder there, a young boy of 11 (Zvi Kornhaus from Yasin) innocently relates that after he miraculously escaped from the valley of death and somehow returned to Yasin and hid there for 9 months in an attic, he was forced to leave his town because he was discovered by a Ruthenian woman and “the situation was very bad”, in the naïve words of the little boy. Imagine a boy of 11 who remained orphaned from both parents who were murdered before his very eyes, fears being exposed by a Ruthenian woman who might hand him over to his parents' murderers. This was only because this boy was experienced in the matter of fleeing Jews being betrayed by Ruthenians. And, if any shadow of a doubt might still remain, the shocking events of the summer of 1944 come to place things in their proper light. Let us recount several incidents, in order:

The head of the Jewish community of Middle-Apsha, Reb Dovid Ber Davidowitz, hid in his orchard. The Ruthenians discovered his hiding place. Without hesitation, they handed him over to the gendarmes who tied him to one of the trees and beat him until he went out of his mind. Then, he was put into the ghetto and deported to Auschwitz. A similar incident in Upper-Apsha: Moshe Weisel's two daughters hid in a bunker which they had prepared for themselves in advance. The Ruthenians were sniffing around for hiding Jews because they were promised a reward for the capture of every Jew. They discovered the girls and handed them over to the gendarmes. In this case, the evil designs of the Ruthenians did not come to pass. By a stroke of good fortune, these girls remained alive; so did the Jews of Apshitza which was a tiny place in Upper-Apsha, with few Jews since most of them had already been murdered in 1941. Having had that bitter experience behind them, they went into hiding in 1944 and did not enter the ghetto. Despite the searches of the Ruthenians who served as search-dogs of the Hungarian gendarmes, they succeeded in remaining in hiding for two whole months. In the existing conditions, this was a very long time, until the detective instinct of the excellent

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Ruthenian police dogs hit upon their tracks and, of course, called the gendarmes. These Jews also hit upon good fortune. Since all the ghettos in the country had already been liquidated, they were sent to Budapest, confined to a concentration camp and managed to remain alive. The case of Ilovitch, the lumber merchant from the village of Bitchkof, was far more tragic. The Ruthenian who took a fabulous sum of money from him on the promise that he would provide food for him and his family in their shelter in the forest, handed him over after having received the money and he was placed in the ghetto.


Awaiting the “Selection” of Dr. Mengele.
“Who is for death? “Who is for short life in the work camp?”


The testimony of a Jew from the village of Ganitch is quite instructive: “The Ruthenians displayed jubilation and teased the Jews when seeing their bitter fate. Among these, non-Jews with whom one lived and did business with, in friendship, trust and good neighbourly relationships for decades”. “And this is one of the reasons”, this man continues, “that the Jews were deterred from escaping to the nearby forests”. In some cases, the Ruthenian peasants killed Jews who tried to hide away, with their own hands. There were times when the Jews preferred to give themselves up to the Hungarian gendarmes rather than fall into the hands of the Ruthenians who would torture them before murdering them; and the tales of the Jews of Dibveh which assert that there were several cases of attempted escape, none of them being successful. The Ruthenians took part in the chase and search for the Jews hiding in the forests and betrayed them to the gendarmes.

Typical of the sad plight of these Jews is the story of David Miller, a hired hand from Dibveh who, by bitter experience, knew the purpose of the deportation and its final destination since his mother and three brothers were already exterminated at Kamenetz-Podolsk in 1941. Miller, therefore, escaped to the nearby forest with his wife, a baby and another brother. After two weeks, their hiding place was discovered by a Ruthenian peasant who immediately turned them in. In the ensuing chase, Miller and his brother

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succeeded in getting away but his wife and baby were caught. To their misfortune and thanks to the meanness of the Ruthenians, Miller and his brother were also caught after several weeks. A similar testimony also came from Vilchovitz where some tens of Jews tried to hide in the woods but returned to the village out of fear of the Ruthenians who traced and searched for them. The testimony from Tetch is also shocking because from the local ghetto there were also some attempts to escape. The escape was not too complicated a matter, so the survivors testify, the trouble was that there was nowhere to escape to. The Ruthenians were after them, etc., and the refrain is always the same. But in Tetch, it had local colour, for Patiash Vyeditch, the Ruthenian, was resourceful. In addition to the beatings he meted out to those he captured, he also put his personal stamp on them in the form of a crucifix which he shaped with their hair (including the girls). Narratives about Ruthenians who turned Jew-hunting into a “business side-line”, can be found under the entries: “Leh-Lunka, Kasheli, Kriveh (Czech), etc”, so we won't tire the reader with repetitious stories. As was stated, the known, documented incidents are a mere fragment of the innumerable incidents which were not preserved in writing and documentation because the victims are no longer here to tell the tales. But, they are indelibly inscribed forever in a supreme quarter which no human hand can reach, and the High above most high, will bring every hidden matter to justice.

It is not our intention to imply that the Ruthenian people, to the last individual among them, was all bad – only the vast majority. There were also some brief flashes of light in those dark days. We know of isolated cases where Ruthenians saved lives. Such as the case where 4 youngsters from one family (3 daughters and one son), from the village of Kasheli, were saved by a Ruthenian who provided them with food, even after the forest guard discovered them and reported it to the gendarmes who immediately began to search for them. To the credit of the Ruthenian who provided them with food, he did not give them away despite the horrible tortures inflicted on him. (By the way, the Ruthenian population of Kasheli was more humane and more pleasant to the Jews. They brought food to the Jewish villages in the ghetto (Isa) and also helped the Jews to slip away from the ghetto in order to bring back stored food from the abandoned Jewish homes in the village).

There was also the Ruthenian, Kuratch Mnrsnitza, who saved an entire family by hiding them in the village and elsewhere. Several days before liberation when nothing more could be done and he could no longer hide them, he gave the charitable act of saving them over to his friend, also a Ruthenian, who was a railroad employee and who fell upon an ingenious plan to save the Jews. They were placed in a sealed railroad-car which travelled from place-to-place and from train station-to-train station on the Nrsnitza-Teresif line, until the liberation by the Red army after a few days. We also know the case of 20-year-old Zalman Zalmanowitz from Bitchkof, who was

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hidden by the Ruthenian forest guard, Yuraschok. The gendarmes hunted him but came up with nothing since Yuraschok was unwilling to betray him despite the reward of 10kg of gold which they had promised for his capture.

So much for Czech Marmaros. What about Rumanian Marmaros? On the Rumanian side the situation was somewhat different both for the good and for the bad. In what way for the bad? Apparently, on the Rumanian side, less efforts were made to slip away and escape. If this was so, the reason is clear. The Jews of Rumanian Marmaros were not as experienced or as informed of the viciousness of the non-Jews and their evil intentions as their brothers were on the other side of the Tisa River. As we have already seen, the deportation decrees of 1941 did not affect the bulk of Rumanian Marmaros Jewry. Only several small communities near the Tisa were involved. The overwhelming majority were not cognizant at all of the possibility of physical destruction and mass-murder. No one had told them about it and even in a city like Sziget with its 10,000 Jews, the author, Eli Wiesel attests that: “The Jews of Sziget didn't know what awaited them until the last minute . . . no one found it necessary to inform us of this . . . a year after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, we still did not know a thing concerning the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry”. And, even if it registered on their consciousness in a vague way, it was quickly erased by virtue of the well-known “Jewish optimism”. Therefore, the Jews preferred going together with their families and with “the community of Israel”, and “What will happen to the people of Israel will also happen to the individual, named Israel”, as is so well-known and familiar and as many of us experienced ourselves, on our own “skin”.

But, things were also different for the good. This, at least, is our impression based on the data available to us upon which this book was written. Our impression is that the Rumanians were more willing to help the few escapees and to stand by them in their time of distress. It is interesting to note that according to the information we have, in the two or three villages on the Rumanian side where Ruthenians lived, they acted in the same shameful manner as their brothers did, on the Czech side. For example: in Upper-Rina, Avraham Leib Yager who went into hiding in the neighbouring woods, was beaten to death by the Ruthenian, Rumaniuk and his friends; or, the example of the village Bistra, also settled by Ruthenians, where Shlomo Yoel Yunger was beaten to death a Ruthenian peasant with a wooden beam, when he was caught hiding. But to be fair, we have to emphasize the noble actions of the Ruthenian, Geargia Godinka who saved 8 Jews from Bistra and provided them with food. Godinka was invited to Israel by the survivors and he visited here in the winter of 1969 at the age of 80.

In contrast, the documents we have testify to the fact that the Rumanians share the plight of the Jews and tried to help them. Like

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the residents of Lower-Vishveh, who brought food to the ghetto, their own and what was taken from the Jews despite the beatings they received at the hands of the gendarmes for doing so. And as the Jews of Budsht tell us, the Rumanian farmers did not cooperate with the Hungarians in searching for Jews in hiding. The fact is that 16 Jews from Budsht managed to survive the months of mass executions until the liberation and the Rumanian peasants, not only did not betray them, but they provided them with food and misled the gendarmes searching for them. Similarly, the Rumanians of Lower-Rina made things easier for the Jews in the Slatfina ghetto by bringing them a great deal of food. The survivors especially praise the actions of the Rumanian peasant, Vasile Nan from Lower-Rina, who allowed himself to be beaten and gave his life for this. As to the head of the village, they tell that he suggested a plan to save all the young Jewish girls by scattering them among the neighbouring villagers, as peasant girls. The Jews did not accept his offer.

In light of the above, there is no substance at all to the question: “Like sheep to the slaughter”. The question is not why they didn't run away and escape but, on the contrary, we stand in wonder and amazement at the few cases, which in the long run were not so few, where Jews decided, despite the hostility of the local population and the tremendous danger on all sides, to run away from the ghetto, to be cut off from one's family and from the illusion of “being part of the group”, which, in most cases, did not succeed and the escapees were tracked down and caught. We stand in awe before the heroic acts of that man from the village of Brister, (Zvi Farkash) who climbed out of the mass-grave, overpowers the Hungarian soldiers, dons his uniform, takes his weapons, reaches Budapest and there joins the Jewish underground resistance forces. Or that almost unbelievable story of those three courageous girls from Sziget (Rochel Tsifser and the Deutsch sisters, Elvira and Magda) who kill the non-Jew who turns from their supplier of food into an extortionist and rapist, by gun fire – an unprecedented incident. And from the individual to the group, that desperate attempt by four Marmaros communities: Dulha, Dibveh, Vilchovitz and Tetch, to delay their entrance into the ghetto by declaring the area as contaminated by a typhus epidemic. And back to the individual: That young girl from Velyatin who hides away with her mother on a Rumanian farm near Satmar. When a gigantic Hungarian gendarme catches her and beats her for 7 consecutive hours so that she reveals her mother's hiding place and the name of the farmer who helped them, she doesn't utter a word! All these examples and so many others like these which we never found out about, are a lengthy, colourful epic of deeds of superhuman heroism.

How did these heroes and martyrs fall, who, with spiritual strength and saintly power, stood up to these killers and their cohorts. Oh, good earth, do not allow their blood to be covered over.

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After the Holocaust

The few Jews who survived the Holocaust (only 10-15%) were dazed, shocked, frustrated and confused. Dazed by the force of their terrifying experiences in the concentration-camps and forced labour units, where every day and every hour, death stood at their doorstep and many of them descended to the valley of death and rose from it, shocked by the dimensions of the destruction they found. Entire families were destroyed without a remnant, and if survivors remained, they were “one from an entire city and two from a many branched family”. In the entire Marmaros, as in the entire country, children of 15 or younger and older people, 50 or over, could not be found. From a demographic point of view, it was a fragmentary, unbalanced generation, homogeneous from the point of view of age group (18-45) and about their spiritual and mental state of mind. The less said, the better: frustrated by the conduct of the local population which did little to hide its chagrin “that so many Jews remained alive”. Especially when some of them are reclaiming their property; a few expressly and most of them only by implication; real property and other belongings, land and chattels; confused by the new regime which arose from the ruins of the Nazi regime; a regime which displayed insensitivity and harshness towards the tortured survivors which was in no hurry to bring the petty Nazi, who helped the murderers with all their hearts and souls, to justice. A regime eager to accept “penitents”, who displayed remarkable flexibility in making the sharp transition from National-Socialism to Communist-Marxist-Socialism, among them, individuals who, even in this new regime, “are still riding their high-horse” and again, giving instruction, using different terms and methods of leadership and modes of action in the new hubbub of life's activities.

If these Jews, despite their dazed, shocked, frustrated and confused condition, were still able to begin the rehabilitation of their private and public-communal lives, it was only with the grace of G-d which never ended and never left them. All the Jews of the surviving remnant, both those who before had families, wives and children, as well as the never-before married, took local women, ghetto survivors, built homes and established new families. Within a very short time, the laughter and tears of small children were again heard in Jewish homes in Marmaros. Religious and communal life in the various parts of Marmaros also began to take on the age-old traditional forms, though this was only a faint shadow of the rich Jewish life of the pre-war Marmaros communities. This quasi-communal life was also brought to an abrupt end, within a short time. In Czech Marmaros, it all ended almost immediately after it began with its annexation, along with the entire Carpathia-Russia, to the U.S.S.R., in 1945 when it became part of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic.

In Rumanian Marmaros, where the communist regime was established

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later, the attempts to rehabilitate the communities lasted for 2-3 years and even achieved a measure of success. Some of the larger communities, like Sziget and Upper-Vishveh, even had Rabbis.

Worthy of special mention is the saintly Rabbi of Skulane, Rabbi Zusia Portugal who, after the Holocaust, travelled around the various villages of Marmaros and spent the Sabbath with Holocaust survivors in order to encourage them and raise their spirits. Wherever he came, he did indeed breathe a fresh breath of life into these lonely people and he guided them in their return to Torah observance and traditional living.

Under the entries concerning the larger communities, in the book (Sziget, Upper Vishveh on the Rumanian side, Chust and Tetch on the Czech side), one can find instructive information about the lives of Marmaros Jews after the Holocaust. What both parts of Marmaros have in common is that most of their Jews made Aliya to Israel, became rooted in it, were integrated into the country's life and many of them did succeed and continue to succeed in all areas of endeavour. A small part of them joined relatives across the sea, America and Australia, and there too, for the most part, are loyal to whatever Jews regard as holy and from there take an active interest in events in Israel, often visit it and support its institutions.

The post-Holocaust activities of Marmaros Jews, in Israel and wherever Jews live, are a glorious chapter, presently being unfolded, before our very eyes. This too will be told in a proper manner in the next generation and in generations to come.


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