This is the Gateway…
to a photo section for many Mlynov-Mervits residents, [including those] who were murdered by the Nazi enemy in the disaster (shoah) of the Second World War; [and those] who were gathered to their people [i.e., passed away] before the destruction; and also the photos of those who left the town alive may they live until 120 in the United States.
This section was submitted by the Mandelkern brothers, Shmuel and his wife, Malcah (from the Lamdan line) and Yitzhak Mandelkern and his wife Fania in memory of their brother Joseph Mandelkoren who died in Haifa on the 26 of Shevat 5723 (1963).
From Story of his Life:
Our brother Joseph, of blessed memory, was born in Mlynov in 1907 to our parents Menachem [which means to comfort] and Nechama [which means consolation] (their names portray their character). He received his education in the Tarbut school in Mlynov and was considered among the oustanding students.
After finishing his studies, our brother expressed the desire to make aliyah to the Land of Israel, but in line with my advice, he agreed first to prepare himself in Mlynov for a career in carpentry together with other pioneers. For the tuition to the master craftsmen, we, the men of The Pioneer (HeHalutz ) [youth group] found ourselves hired as civil night guards, a role that was bestowed on us; this despised work which had been done before that time in Mlynov by outsiders only.
And thus, after some time, our brother was granted with authorization with us for aliyah from the center in Rovno. However, for technical reasons, I [Shmuel] and my wife went first, and he remained at home. This was 1925. The year of mass aliyah, after which there was a shocking paucity of work and many of the pioneers left [lit. went down] from the Land. This emigration [lit. descent] resulted in heavy damage to the Zionist work in the Diaspora.
In the meantime, the authorization for aliyah expired in the hands of our brother and the time came to be conscripted in the Polish army. However, after he was liberated from his military service, he began trying again to make aliyah to the Land. The situation in the Polish Diaspora was deteriorating and all roads pointed towards [the necessity] of making aliyah. But the difficulties in obtaining authorization to make aliyah were significant and numerous. Since our brother was without any party affiliation, he had to run from organization to organization to beg for righteousness and fairness which one could not always find…and when he finally succeeded in making aliyah he arrived here broken in body and spirit.
In Haifa, he was inducted into the association of building workers, and here too one needed righteousness in order to receive a day of exhausting work. Since he was weak and limited in strength for labor his path was not strewn with roses. He lived with the perpetual nightmare lest, God forbid, he needed to rely on people. This idea depressed him and hastened his end. He died in Haifa on the 26th of Shevat, 1963.
May his memory be blessed.
by Sore Shichman-Vinokur
daughter of Khayke, Yosel Gruber's [daughter]
Translated from the Yiddish by Hannah B. Fischthal, PhD
Edited by Howard I. Schwartz, PhD
In May 1942, the Germans chose the smallest and dirtiest street, encircled it with wire, and made the Jewish ghetto inside. If the Nazis allowed a Jew to bring a few things into the ghetto, they did not allow any food whatsoever inside. Hunger started immediately. I still see small, hungry children in front of my eyes.
Yom Kippur, the same year, Jews learned that the Ukrainians were digging graves not far from Mlynov, and that the graves were being prepared for the Jews in the ghetto. All the people wanted to save themselves. But how? Ukrainian police were guarding the ghetto. The Ukrainian inhabitants were quite happy that the Jews were going to be killed. They would also benefit from Jewish goods. Our Shichman family consisted of nine people: two girls, their father and mother, and five boys. We decided that I, Sore, should get work as a maid for a farmer, and maybe thereby I might have an opportunity to get my family out of the ghetto.
It took practically our entire fortune to secure a position for me as a maid in a neighboring shtetl for Master Bialkovsky. With his help we did manage to get not only my whole Shichman family out of the ghetto in a wagon covered with straw, but also my Uncle Nute Gruber with his wife and two children. We paid a Ukrainian farmer, Rituk from the village of Kutsa, to hide everyone until we would be liberated. Rituk dug a large ditch under his stable, and that became the grave we lived in. During the day we could never go out of the ditch so that nobody, God forbid, should see us. Only at night would someone go outside to the farmer to cook something to eat for the next day. Every day the Ukrainian would come down into the ditch and ask for something: a dress, a shoe, a blanket, money. Wanting to live, everyone complied.
We had some very small children about five years old among us. After two weeks, on a Shabbes evening, my mother became ill, and she started to faint. She declared that she had a feeling that a tragedy will befall us. The children comforted their mother, but she cried silently a whole night (Jews were not permitted to cry, because someone might hear them). The next day, Sunday, there was nothing to eat. The Ukrainian's daughter came down and asked me to take off my shoes and give her my coat because she wanted to go to church. It was hard for me to take off my only pair of shoes in the cold winter, and to give away my only coat, but I was afraid to say no, fearing for our lives. I gave away my shoes and coat to the Christian.
After she left, my five-year-old little brother started to bawl. He cried so terribly that we could not quiet him down. Finally, the little boy got tired, and suddenly we heard somebody walking on our earthen hut. I was sitting at the opening to the bunker, and through a crack I saw that it was the Ukrainian police. I became petrified. Someone screamed that all Jews should get out of the bunker, and at the same time someone shot bullets into the ditch. I fainted. When I came to, nobody was left in the bunker. I only heard noise and talking outside: Killed all the Jews. I understood that they had missed me. I started to think. I covered myself completely with straw, and I determined to wait until night and then run away to Poles or Czechs that I knew. Barely covered with straw, I heard how several Ukrainians were going down into the ditch, saying that since the police had not yet entered, they would be able to plunder the better things. The daughter who had taken my shoes and coat told her sister how she had modelled for the police.
After taking our possessions, the Christians, or better said, the murderers of Jews, left the ditch. It was clear to me that I must get out of there, but where should I go? I was barefoot, without a coat, and wearing a summer dress. But the battle for life is strong. I got out of the ditch only to step on my father's dead body.
Near it was my brother's body. It occurred to me that maybe they just fainted. I grabbed my brother, but he fell out of my arms. He was already cold, stiff. I broke two boards from our side of the stable, and I went out. I ran barefoot through the deep snow. The police saw me, and they started to shoot at me. I ran through the fields, through ditches, through rivers. The police could not catch up to me. I saw a small house. I understood that if I would go straight inside, my bare feet would leave tracks. So I ran around the house a few times and then I went inside.
A poor Polish woman whom I knew lived there. Recognizing me, she began to cross herself:
My God, you are alive?She saw my swollen hands and feet, and she brought me a pail of water, and told me to put my feet into the water. And then I saw how the police were driving over. I acted as though nothing bothered me. The farmers, however, became white as chalk. But the police did not go into the house. They just asked through the window if a zhidowka was in the house. Something like an angel protected me. The woman answered, No, and I, meanwhile, disappeared.
I stayed by the woman until evening. She gave me rag for my head, and rags for my feet, and I went out again. It was very cold. The rags on my feet quickly fell off, and I walked through the snowy fields. I had bad luck that it was not a dark night. I saw a man across from me who was screaming, Halt!
I started to run.
I heard again, Halt! If not, I will shoot!
I stood still. The mayor of the village Dobryatyn came over to me. He recognized me right away and he explained that according to the law, he had to give me over to the Germans; but he will not do it. He told me to hide, and he let me go. I felt bad in my heart because the Pole, by whom I wanted to hide, was Mayor Vartshuk's neighbor. However, I had no other choice.
By various means I came to Zawodsky the Pole. I went to the window and saw that he had a guest. That meant that I had to still be outside.
I tried to warm up a little in the stable, but the pigs started to scream. Therefore, I had to go out of the stable. There was a large haystack outside. I dug a hole, crept inside, covered up the hole, and immediately fell asleep.
When I got up it was still dark. I crawled out and went to the window. I saw the Polish woman heating the oven. I knocked and went inside. She clapped her hands:
You are alive?! Akh, what kind of feet you have! Sit down!And she immediately gave me something to eat and water to wash with.
I learned that I had slept in the straw three days and three nights. The Zovodsky family had sympathy for me. They started to heal my frozen feet and hands. They kept me on the stove the entire time, blocked off with a bread kneading trough.
A few weeks later the same Mayor Vorotshik went to Zovodsky's vestibule. A while later Zovodsky came back; I saw through a crack that Zovodsky had become different. He called his wife over and I heard him tell her that the mayor knows that I am hiding there, and he even promised to help Zovodsky: A pity on the Jew.
They were afraid of Mayor Vorotshik. He was, after all, a Ukrainian!
That was in 1943. The roars of the Russian Katyusha rocket launchers were already heard. I crawled to my aunt and uncle, Sonia and Mendel Teitelman, who were hidden in a bunker until 1944, when the Red Army entered and liberated us.
How much I endured hunger, coldthat is indescribable. I was in danger every minute of every day. Even after we fell asleep, we used to be awakened by horrible nightmares. But a person is stronger than iron. A person can endure everything. While there is life, there is hope. And I survived with my aunt and uncle; we were saved by the Red Army.
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