Translated by Janie Respitz
And there was and there was a city Haydutzishok which grew not only because of her own Jewish rooted reality but also from the surrounding forests, towns and villages, with their Jewish farmers, Torah scholars and dreamers of Zion; those who passionately worked their fields and those, who day and night sat by a dim light of a kerosene lamp and studied; with the wagon drivers who loved the noise and their youthful idealism which during the week seemed like dream, not on the muddy ground but almost in heaven and until today have left us as a legend. But what will be told here is far from legend. Their heroic lives and martyr deaths. The earth their wagons stood on was not a dream, the sky that filled their eyes with light, the air, the landscape, the shadows from the dark forest, the noise from the rushing rivers, the gold of the open fields, the storms of the shining spring, and the sadness of the weeping autumn, the silence of winter's snow, the sorrow of unending distances, the blessed work of an entire week and the broad glow of Friday night tables; the warm candles and mother's blessings, filled with compassion, with a love that formed all worlds, blessed with father's song: Peace unto you, angels of peace. All the simple Jews with the upset faces who carried the suffering of the sunset and the flame of all goods, from travelling stage-coaches, fairs of all weekly Jewish scents, and those who split the heavens with Torah and prayer everyone believed there was order in the world, until the black night arrived and wiped out everything. Only the few who survived cry over the destruction at the rivers of the world. Every record is a reminder of the horrors and awakes the sadness of the third destruction, for us and for future generations. Oh my Jews, Saints from Haydutzishok, from Maligon, Vidz, Mior, Kazian, Kobilnik, and Pastov! A few of your children have survived and live in various corners of the world. As far as they wandered they carry with them not only the black sadness and pain, but also the desire that their children and grandchildren will understand the ascension of the souls of their grandfathers and they will read the simple words told here about that life and the horrific deaths and will understand, feel and perceive how many tears and how much pain lie in the letters.
Itzhak Perlis (Yagur)
Translated by Ettie Zilber
In memory of my Haydutishok families: Disner, Zivov, Santockis, Chadash many of whom died in the years 19411945
Edited by Rhoda Miller
A four cornered market square, from which stretched three streets and from those, a few smaller streets, the socalled alleys. That's the way Haydutishok looked.
In the middle of the market stood a small round building called the Klatchmes (could refer to the Inn=krechme) and in a corner a white row of old houses, built of lime and unbaked bricks, which stood on high curved posts packed together.
The town was built many generations ago on previouslystanding remains that might have been part of a lord's courtyard.
As it turns out in the Czarist times, many Jewish families moved here from the outlying villages when the decrees for Jewish lessees and saloon keepers affected them.
It was very common, in the previous century, to chase the Jews out of the villages. Those Jews were the first to come to settle in Haydutishok.
Mainly, they engaged in trade and dairy, but over time, as in other places, some came to the shtetl and slowly established a Yiddish community, which by the First World War numbered about 300 families.
In the market place and on the main streets there were absolutely no trees. Only in later years, a couple of Jews found it necessary to plant a few trees near their houses.
In the yards behind the houses, there were fruit trees and a few Jewish residents would also plant a variety of greens in their gardens.
The old Jews said the reason for its great poverty of trees, that in the past, the shtetl had many goats and they destroyed all the trees. Nevertheless, I myself don't remember any goats raised in our town.
A few hundred meters from the market was the socalled nonJewish street, where mostly Lithuanians lived. There stood small huts with straw roofs, but in front of each house there were tall and small trees. Nicely fenced garden flowers were dotted with wonderful plants, yellow and dark red Dahlias, Nasturtiums, mint, beans and peas. All together it truly smelled so good, with its pleasing and heartwarming aroma.
On the other side of the town, was another hamlet, Gaydishok, a long village street, full of gardens and vegetables. Only 20 Jewish families lived there, for example, the Kutnikes, Patashniks and others.
Aside from that, Haydutishok allowed itself a Kaydershe street, where Lithuanians, White Russians and mainly many Kidrim (Tatars) lived. They worked at manufacturing pelts and they actually developed a reputation for their outstanding skills.
The Beit Midrashim (houses of learning)
In Haydutishok there were four houses of learning: the old shul, the shtibel, the new minyan and the tailors' cloiz (house of study). As it turned out, the old shul and the shtibel were the oldest buildings in town and their style was similar to the style of the newer building in the Market Square.
The new minyan was built of wood with thick walls from unbaked bricks and lime. The shul was built a few decades before the First World War.
According to the number of worshippers, the places of honor took up the new minyan. Their worshippers were not actually part of the religious circle. Only a few dozen Jews from the older generation prayed there and were educated by the older oldfashioned group, and simply some religious people, like T.B. Leibe Kloines (Solomiak), Mendel Gordon, the certificate maker, Mendel Yafe, Yosel Gordon, Kloine Gurwitz, etc.
On the Eastern side, however, a lot of young chatty people sat, who would bring shortened modern Tallit. They were not great followers of Halacha or commandments, and would come together to pray only on Saturday and holidays.
From time to time, in the new minyan, community meetings and concerts would take place by the cantors who would pass through. Various Maggidim [preacher/orators] would also hold their lectures there, and all the envoys from the Keren Hayesod, Keren Kayemet and even envoys from the Histadrut would talk about Zionist themes and topics.
The new minyan tolerated everyone. The Shamash, ShmuelItshe Alsfei, who was a liberal person, should be thanked for this. Sometimes he was a Melamed, and after that when the modern public schools were established, he became a teacher in the Yiddish, and later, in the Hebrew school, but in addition, he also was involved with sextonship. He was, by the way, a very good reader.
During his entire tenure, he was a man with a progressive view of all questions about Jewish life. He was soaked in the old Yiddish culture, a big expert in Tanach [Bible] and in the interpretations of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Radak, Shadal, and was even well read in German Biblecritique. In addition, he was also knowledgeable in Hebrew and grammar. The wellinformed used to say that he once was a maskil [highly educated] about whom it was said, hatzit v'nifga [he was curious and got hooked unintentionally].
In any case, this was an educated man, full of wisdom. However, his economic situation was always very bad. Regarding affairs of this world, he was a type of ‘dummy’ and therefore a big pauper.
The gathering of the worshippers in the old shul was already quite solid. Mostly older Jews prayed there and from the tradition and order of the prayer, they felt the good strong hand of the Gabai, Shimon Reichel, the brickman, who was an ambitious Jew, an aggressive one who liked to hold control over all the community issues.
His tragic end was very characteristic of him. Travelling together with all the other Jews to Poligon, he was accosted by a Lithuanian bandit and he took away his fur coat. His intrinsic pride wouldn't let him get over the ‘cheekiness’ of this shaygetz (nonJew) without resisting and he let him have a burning punch in the face. The Lithuanian hooligan immediately shot him, and Shimon Reichel, the Gabai, paid for this with his life. But he salvaged his honor.
The most religious group of the Chabadniks prayed in the shtibel. There was strong control of the tradition, of the customs and set of the prayers and not just anyone was allowed to come up to read [from the Tanach].
Between lunch prayer and evening prayer, they would study a page of Gemara. Among the worshippers in the shtibel there were Rabi Haim Zalman Shapira, Yosel Lurie, Mendel Bar Abel, Shimon Leib Svirski, Heshel Kurlantzik, Zalman Patashnik, etc.
The tailor's study house was located on Vidzer Street, in a small wooden shtibel. All the shopkeepers or just newcomers, the sons in law who arrived occasionally in town, prayed there.
The tradition of the prayers in the tailor's study house was pure Mitnaged style. In all the other prayer houses in town a Chasidic one.
Usually Haydutishok was considered a Chassidic town. The tradition was according to Chabad Lita and everyone was considered Lubavicher Chassidim. Until in later years everyone celebrated the festival in Kislev, in memory of the liberation of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lida.
Haydutishok did not hold the Polish and Galizianer Rabbis in high esteem and our Chassidim would talk about the Rabbis owners of the miracles as if about simple common people.
The Chassidic passion in the later years declined strongly and the Haydutishok Chassidim even allowed themselves to perform less pious acts.
The story about which they spoke in the entire region, played itself out in this manner: Haydutishok was receiving the Koidanover Rabbi, Reb Nechomtche Ferlov. Our Chasidim made all the preparations, prepared a nice table with all good things, lit the lights in the windows and travelled to the train to receive him personally. But the Rabbi never came that evening.
The Chasidic world was not flustered, they sat back in the sleds and travelled back to the town in song and enthusiasm, as if nothing happened and pretended as if the Rabbi was travelling with them. Before they realized that the Rabbi did not come, all the good things and drinks from the tables disappeared. The Chasidim did not give up on the good snacks.
And a few days later, the Rabbi really did come, but then the Chassidim only sat around the table and listened to Torah, sang Chassidic songs, but they could not partake of ‘shirayim’ (eating the honorable remnants of the Rabbi's food.)
The Economic Situation
There were two things that Haydutishok was famous for in the region: for its trade and for its mockery. Haydutishokers flaxtraders and Haydutishoker clown sect were very well known in the entire area.
It was in this order: in winter they were involved in the flax trade and in summer with clown work.
Usually, the many grocery stores stood vacant in Haydutishok the entire week. The storekeepers would sit on small benches and read a newspaper or a book or just looked out into space.
Their income was made only on the market day, which took place every Thursday. Hundreds of peasants would travel in and set up either on the market square or in all the neighboring streets.
The peasants would sell various agricultural products, but the main articles were: flax, grain/cereal, potatoes, hides/pelts, pig hair, etc.
After selling their products the peasant would leave with their cash, visit the stores to buy materials and, by the way, also get good and drunk in the taverns.
The summertime markets, when the peasant was busy with their field work, were mostly very weak… large markets took place only in the autumn and in the winter. The largest income would be during autumn, when the peasant had to buy all their necessary things for the winter. The Jewish shopkeepers would then bring in money for clothing, boots, tools, etc. in these days a terrible commotion took place in the town, without exaggeration, thousands of people would plod along in the deep and thick mud.
In the general chaos various people would seek out the longbearded Russians, the various bagel sellers, the dozens of bargain sellers and the haberdashers.
All these market stores would travel to Haydutishok from the entire area and even from the furthest places. They had a custom of selling their merchandise with loud voices and in this way would scream and call out all the merits that they ascribe to it. The fundamental thing that they would show, as you can imagine, is that it is a big bargain, very cheap, half free and many peasants actually allowed themselves to be convinced and grabbed the bargains.
They were all, as you would say, completely foreign, dangerous shopkeepers. Most of the Haydutishoker Jews made their living by dealing with one important product. This was flax.
The flax trade was the vital foundation of the town. The reason was, what the flax from Haydutishok region was very similar and of an outstanding quality. They would stock it from the furthest places and they would export it even overseas/out of the country.
The Jewish flaxmerchants of Haydutishok were familiar with all the towns and they would actually divide the week so that they would be able to visit them.
Every Monday they would travel to Postov, Tuesday to Vidz, Wednesday to Sventzian or Kazian and only on Wednesday did they stay home.
In summer they rode around on the wagon and winter with the sled and that is how they wandered from market to market, in order to earn a living for the family.
They brought the flax to Haydutishok and then they would have to stock it, sort it, cultivate, process it, pack it and finally transport it to the big exporters. That's the way the flaxindustry earned a living, not just for the dealers and workers, but also for the dozens of employees like accountants, bookkeepers, foremen, carriers, packers.
In this way hundreds of people worked through the entire winter. That's why Haydutishok was converted into a revenue town in our region and, in the early days, the economic situation was actually not bad.
The Haydutishok flax merchants were divided into various categories:
The time between Pesach and the High Holy Days was a quiet one. The people removed themselves a bit from the trade and shops and devoted themselves to other issues.
The big traders at that time made all the preparations for the new season. They would relieve the peasants of their supply of superphosphate and this way they were able to earn a good living.
But after the town quieted down, it would be quite often that one could see how young people sat in the middle of the day on benches in the marketplace, doing nothing and just clowning around
This was the so called cucumber, fresh potatoes and milk products season and in this time everyone was busy with parties and politics.
The business owners had a very difficult life on the economic front. Especially the tailors and shoemakers. For them the slowdown of trade in the town had a reverse influence. The people in the town simply stopped having clothing and shoes made. They searched for the latest fashions and travelled to Vilna for shopping.
The business owners slowly lost all their clients and simply didn't have any way to continue their livelihood. Therefore in our town 2 classes were established and the process developed in a sharp format, just prior to the Second World War.
In the First World War the familiar banishment of the Haydutishok Jews took place. Except for two families, all the Jews were sent out of the town with the excuse that they were located too close to the front. But the nonJews were not sent away. [Col. 1484]
Immediately, various committees were started, which organized the banished Jews in the surrounding town of Lithuania. After the end of the first World War the situation in our neighborhood was far from being stable. The power changed every month and sometimes even each week.
Polish, Bolsheviks, Lithuanians and again, Poles. Afterwards, there were the socalled MiddleLithuanians which was established by General Zheligavski and finally he allied with Poland.
Little by little, the situation for the Jews started to turn around and in place of their burned wooden houses they built two story buildings of red brick and thus restored their lives, and renewed their old relationships with the neighboring nonJews.
Because of the special ethnographic structure of our neighborhood, the signs of rising antisemitism, which was raging in Poland in the first years of its existence, were not noticed.
The small number of Poles in the town was made up mainly of officials. They were happy that the local minorities (Lithuanians, White Russians, Russians and Tatars) didn't bother with them and they were even friends with the Jews. The Jewish residents lived with an illusion of safety and stability.
As children we loved to play in the vacated trenches and especially we would often go to the German military cemetery, where we would get together for hours and enjoy reading the engravings on the hundreds of burial tombs.
We heard about the million victims from the war, about the plagues, epidemics and the hunger and that the world has become smarter and that there would be no more wars. We also were assured (convinced) by our elders and therefore enjoyed dreaming and hoping that it would be like that.
The feeling of stability had such an effect that the youth raced to action and together with construction of the slums and they began renewing the socialcultural life in the town.
The BeteiMidrashim and Chederim were no longer considered important for the youth and they were destined for a new life, for new ideas, and new ideals.
Salvation came from the big Jewish center of Vilna, from which all neighboring towns sucked their culture.
In the early years after the World War in Vilna a big network of Jewish public schools and gymnasium (secondary school) were developed, with the Jewish foundationlanguage, a Jewish teacher seminar, a technical school, a professional ORT school, and others.
This specific culture movement had a tremendous influence on the entire province and, of course, also on Haydutishok.
Vilna was also the center of various committees and organizations which developed a wide branched help network in the province like Yekapo, Aze, Cooperative Folk Bank and other help societies.
The leader and businessmen from all these institutions were good, devoted ordinary people, who had progressive inclinations and believed, that only the Jewish (world) school would be able to renew the national cultural upbringing of the young Jewish generation. They understood, that the old halfreligious lifestyle from before the war completely lost its influence on Jewish social life and new times began to search for new ways to implant the love of Jewish folk into the Jewish culture by the Jewish youth.
The Vilna societal activists travelled around the province and disseminated their ideas and beliefs among the Jewish masses. They founded Jewish schools everywhere and, of course, Haydutishok was not opposed to this and a Jewish secular school was founded.
In its first years, the school didn't have any political mission and its leaders naively believed that Jewish children must study in a secular school which is free from the old guardians like Rabbis, Gabais, Melamdim, etc. They felt that such a school must be in the mothertongue of our children, that means, that the fundamental language must be Yiddish.
Only in the later years, inside the walls of the public school, political themes entered and the big cities became nests of Bundism and Communism.
The ideology of the later Jewish school was a type of strange mishmash of various political factions, like Folkism, Bundism, Democracy, and Communism. We had everything together and gave it a name with a significant expression: Yiddishism.
Razeh Kuritzki, Nechama Abel, Rivka Lapide, Rachel Broide, Hana Matzkin, Chava Gitlitz, Sheine Katz, Roche Malka Abel, Sheine Volatzki, Zalman Kutnik, Shabtai Abel Zelde Svirski, Tirzah Perevaznik, Dobe Gitlitz Batya Kutnik, Beile Kotnik, Hillel Volatzki, Lovke Kanfer, Pinchas Matzkin, Moshe Abel, Michael Perevoznnik, Chana Svirski, Gendl, Shlomo YochelmanNachman Abel, Gershon KatzAbigdor Dan, Yakov Svirski, Lerer, Aliahu Volatzki, Yosef Girlitz, Lerer Lachovitzki Henech Kutnik, Chaim Perevoznik Taybe Katz, Rishe Abel
The Yiddishists admittedly had no united, positive ideology; it was however, against Zionism, against Eretz Israel and against Hebrew.
The first teachers of the Yiddish school were mainly leftovers from the big revolutionary movement in Russia. A large portion of them were Bundists, Socialists, Sejmists, very nice and devoted people, but they had a completely negative attitude toward everything that smelled of Eretz Israel, Zionism and Hebrew. This fact would upset the Zionist circles and they started rebelling against these antinational and antiZionist movementmethods.
Meanwhile, the Jewish families who were sent out of Haydutishok, those who during the war years lived in Kovner Lita (area around Kovno), turned back toward it. They brought us in Haydutishok the ideas and ideals from the then Zionistic and Hebrew storm and pressure era in Lita (Lithuania).
Chaim Israel Svirski, Efraim Shapira, Nachman Abel, Moshe Abel, Tchernotzki Hirsh, Perevoznik Michael, Abel Shalom, Brayne Vlaichor, Tirza Perevoznik, Chaim Gordon, Tzepelevitz Yosef, Shlomo Yachelman, Patashnik Israel, Bracha Zeiger, Arieh Volatzki, Chava Gitlitz, Rivka Broide, Zahava Tshernotzki, Shuel Perlis, Zelde Svirski, Leib Lapide, Eliahu Lobatzki, Etel Abel, Yehudit Abel, Chana Perlis, Taybe Kanfer, Yehudit ZeigerEzra Shapira, Chana Svirski, Gittel Yafe, Reuven Ginzburg, Yehudit Abel, Gittel Lapide, Taybe Broide, Pese Gershtein, Berel Ychiltshik
One of the head leaders of the Zionist circle was the student Yerachmiel Katz, who didn't rest, still had great difficulties until he broke through the ice and he established a Tarbut School in Haydutishok. He was also its first teacher.
Immediately on the first day of its existence, the Tarbut shul had to start a difficult, stubborn fight, really like life or death with the Yiddisher school.
The entire town was divided into two camps and the feud was very sharp. In many families, the fight disturbed the peace in the home and it started fights even between children and parents, between brothers and sisters.
The fights between the Yiddishists and the Zionists was reminiscent of the old fight, which once took place between the Chassidim and the Mitnagdim. It was sharp, bitter and held on, in various forms, until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The reality of the 30's was overshadowed by the weight of the Tarbut shul and it could be said, that she won the fight.
Until the current day it is a wonder about the colossal strength and the dynamic risk which sprouted from that little, poor and desolate soil of our town.
The schools found themselves in buildings which were more similar to barns than to houses. They didn't earn any economic foundation for their existence. There were no text books or maps. The teachers would, for months at a time, not receive any salary.
At that time, on the other side of town there was a lovely Polish government school which was prepared to accept Jewish children. But, in fact, there was not even one Jewish kid who came near it, even without paying tuition.
Both the Yiddish and the Hebrew schools existed from three sources: tuition from the parents, performances, and from not paying salaries for the teachers…
The shows would be organized a few times each year and each school had its own dramatic circle (group).
The rehearsals would last a few weeks and when it was well prepared, they would rent a hall and begin selling tickets.
The tailor's house of study (small synagogue) was the first to be rented as a hall. Later they went to Adam Kurtzin on the nonJewish street, and thereafter in store of Mayer Ahron Reichel. In the later years they would also often rent the hall of the Polish city hall.
Usually when the Zionists would organize a show, the Yiddishists did not stand still and immediately got organized and vice versa. If both sides would not get along with each other, in one evening there could be two spectacles and the competition harmed both sides.
From the artistic standpoint the theater performances were very weak and could not afford a large troop.
The public enjoyed these performances and squealed with pride.
After the shows they would visit the buffet, dance, conduct a raffle and the beloved attraction was to hear the fliflost (name of dance=fly). All these things brought in quite a considerable revenue which helped save the schools from their eternal crises.
The children'sevening was another charming event which would take place at least twice a year: Hanukah and Purim. The Tarbut school would perform in Hebrew and mostly about the Land of Israel or about a historical theme. Although the audience understood little, everyone took pride in the sputtered Hebrew, which was so lively and fluent sounding in the children's mouths.
The themes from the Yiddish school were very different. They would be devoted to organizing a Mendele evening, a Peretz academy or even a lecture about the Chernowitz conference.
Due to the rise of Polish antisemitism, the economic foundation of the Jewish life dropped. The land actually slipped out from under the feet of the Jewish residents.
In just this situation, the youth, which was raised with the Yiddishist spirit, didn't know what to do or where to go.
The graduates of the Hebrew school, in hindsight, felt much happier, because they had a goal in life. They all were organized in the Zionist youth organization Hehalutz, (pioneers) HaHalutz HaTzair (the young pioneers). Their ideal was to immigrate to Eretz Israel and change their lifestyle completely, transferring their lifestyle to more productive labour.
Trusting in the principles, dozens of boys and girls went to Hachshara (agricultural training) in Volyn, Bialystock region and far into Poland. There they met up with the bitter Jewish reality and returned to Haydutishok with a full wide outlook on Jewish life and with a strong decision to leave the Diaspora and the hopeless village life.
Therefore, the Hehalutzorganizations blew in new winds into the backward villages and with it a big revolutionary mission for the Jewish youth.
The immigration of each Halutz (pioneer) became one of the most important events in the life of our small village. It demonstrated a radical solution for the youth, as well as for the entire Jewish population.
It would be difficult to imagine this colossal revolution without the Hebrew school, without the devoted teachers from the Tarbut school and without the education which was absorbed the love for Eretz Israel and for its Jewish history.
Despite the divisions between the Zionists and the Yiddishists, in our village there was an entirely other division. In the village, there was a Rabbi, a slaughterer, a lot of Judaica, a stall for selling yeast, a lease on the bath house, a stall for slaughtering and a legalized Jewish community
The community also owned its property: a bath, a slaughterhouse, a cemetery and a piece of land. It needed to calculate its income and expenses and always had accounts with Rabbi On, and, by contrast, with the bathhouse attendants. Very often it also had to sue, and from time to time the aggrieved [parties] would throw an insult and each side kept track of it.
in Haydutishok there was a Gemilut Chesed fund, which offered loans without interest for poor business owners and small shops. It was also had a FolkBank and a sports organization.
The Jewish community also had to take care of the Fire station, for the firefighters, who were Jews, and their base was actually in the school yard.
Left to right: Kuritzki Mendel, Gurevich Yehuda, Abel Zalman, Volatzki Yona, Abel Nachman, Svirski Chaim, Perevoznik BarZion, Carlin Yehoshua, Yafe Avraham,
Shmidt Berel, Tshak Moshe, Patashnik Shmuel, Yafe Gershon
From time to time we had to take care of our relations with the Vojt (mayor) from the Gemina (province) and with the police commandant. There was a Sunday rest decree and often all types of sanitary commissions would walk around and create problems for the Jewish population. With all these officials, the Jews had to find a way to soften their stubbornness with various means.
At one time, the regime had a desire to move the market outside the village, and this would have, of course, totally destroyed the Jewish commerce. The excuse was that according to Skadcavski's law, they had to beautify the look of our town and the market doesn't fit [in the plan]. The community then employed all strategies and they succeeded in decrying the evil decree.
It is worthwhile to stop separately and tell about one important Jewish character. He lived in my mother's neighborhood and was called: Hanoch Kuritzki. He was unique in Haydutishok, because he hated two things: trade and business.
His yard was filled with trees and flowers. He had a pair of cows, a horse and even a dog.
In summer he rented some land (desiaten, a measure, as in acrage of land) and rode to work on his own horses. He would express his scorn regarding business and considered himself the only Jewish peasant in the village.
He was a smart Jew, a Zionist, he was very interested in Eretz Israel and, above all, with the development of agriculture.
As it happened, the Second World War found me in Warsaw, where I then was working in the center of He'Chalutz.
Running away from Warsaw, I rolled around over bombarded stations and at last, dejected, went toward Vilna. But my end goal was Eretz Israel.
Once, on an October night, I decided to visit my mother and travelled to Haydutishok.
I arrived in the village in the middle of the night. Near the station a fire was burning and around it sat a few Red Army men singing.
Gershon Katz, my childhood friend, was walking around with a red band on his sleeve and with a gun on his shoulder. He was a military man. When he saw me, he immediately said that I made a big mistake coming here. He promised to meet me at dawn and better explain his meaning.
My mother was moved by surprise. She thought that I had finally come home to remain with her during these turbulent times.
Very early in the morning, Gershon Katz knocked on the door and warned me to run away as soon as possible, because they are looking for me and if they find me, I would surely be arrested.
Gershon was once a friend from He'Chalutz Hatzair [youth pioneers] and I had absolutely no doubt that his information was right.
Meanwhile, Abraham Eliahu Abel also came in and cried like a small child. Gershon also started to cry; the same morning we also visited Eliahu Volotzki and Rafael Yafe.
My mother understood that there was no other choice and that I had to leave as soon as possible. Dripping with tears, she packed a package with warm clothes and I immediately started on my way.
That early morning was my last meeting with my mother and with Haydutishok. My mother's tears and my devoted friends from that moment on became my best companions during the difficult years.
After long wanderings I achieved my goal and I finally arrived in Eretz Israel.
I will never forget those dripping tears from that October morning.
The horrific slaughter in Poligon made those tears Holier and dearer.
Translation by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
With pain and sadness these words are being written: once there was a town, which the Jews called Haydutishok and the Poles called Haydutzishki. Once, because it no longer exists, this town was located in Poland, 120 kilometers from Vilna, the Jerusalem of Lita, and belonged to the Svencionys region [poviat=county or district], the provincial town of Sventzian was about 30 kilometers northeast of Vilna. To the south [of Haydutishok] was Postov [Pastavy], 30 kilometers to the south east; Vidz [Vidzy] was 10 Kilometers to the north [from Haydutishok]; and Komai,
12 kilometers to the southwest; Maligan [Mielagėnai] and the Jewish village Stayatzishok [Stajetiškė] were 4 kilometers away, a small village Dzikevines was 3 kilometers from our shtetl.
Haydutishok lay on a hilly area and right through the middle of the town flowed a river by the name of Kamaika, because it started from the town of Kamai.
The story of the town was only a few hundred years, according to how the old Jews would tell it, and added to this, some witnesses told us about the old cemetery which lay on the hill in the middle of the town. On this very point the Jewish settlement developed.
In our time, almost nothing was left of the tombstones in the old cemetery. From old age and over time, they all fell over and were covered with sand and stones. The site was fencedin and it was considered a holy place.
Haydutishok started to develop after the Yeshuvniks [farmers] from the surrounding areas arrived, according to a law from the old Czarist regime they had to leave [expelled] their villages. They then moved into the town and slowly, a Jewish community grew out of the village on both sides of the river Kamaika.
In Haydutishok, before the First World War, there were up to 300 Jewish families. But the front stopped next to the town and it became dangerous for its inhabitants, the Germans also needed the Jewish houses, that's why in the year 1916 the Jews were all sent out (except for 2 families Yaffe and Perevoznik) to other Lithuanian towns, further from the frontline. After the war, in 1918, the Jews returned to their old home and rebuilt their destroyed houses.
From 1918 to 1921 the returning Haydutishoker Jews still suffered greatly because during these three years there were battles in their neighborhood and often the regime would change between Bolsheviks, Poles and Lithuanians.
Before the Second World War, the population of Haydutishok included over 2000 persons, more than half were Jews, including 200 Jews who lived in the Jewish village Stayatzishok. They officially belonged to the Haydutishok Jewish community. The population was comprised of Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, White Russians, Shtarovern [could be Karaites] and Tatars. The Jews lived in the center, and this town therefore had a real Jewish character. The entire time until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1941, the Lithuanians lived with the Jews in very friendly relations. The Lithuanian minority, which during the Polish Republic felt oppressed, sympathized with the Jews. Just after Hitler's attack, these same Lithuanians showed their real face.
The Haydutishok Jews made a living through commerce, artisanry and fieldwork [farming]. Among the artisans there were tailors, shoemakers, quilters, glaziers, blacksmith, tinsmiths, milliners, bakers, hairdressers, millers, carpenters and voliak [type of boot]makers. Of the free professions [professionals] in Haydutishok there was: a Jewish doctor as well as Polish doctor and a government hospital for the entire region.
In the economic realm, our town was proud of its dam and powered water mill, which belonged to the Meir and Cloine Friedlender brothers. The mill family increased in size with 2 more families of Haim Halperin and Moshe Shmukler. The mill also provided electricity for the town, and for this reason, it also powered a sawmill and an oil factory.
In addition, Haydutishok had a Jewish brick factory, a factory of soda and lemonade. In later years they also set up a Jewish auto transport business which produced a very nice revenue.
The most important economic industry which provided the Jewish residents of Haydutishok its income was its commerce in flax and grain. In this realm, Haydutishok earned an excellent reputation in the entire region, and it became the center for all the neighbouring towns, like Postav, Vidz, Kazian, Sventzian and some smaller villages, where large markets took place and all the flax then flowed back towards Haydutishok.
There were middlemen and agents who traded the half rawmaterial, local agents who transported the flax weekly in dozens of wagons to all the factories all over Poland and also Europe. The cultivation of flax gave employment to hundreds of male and female peasants from the region, thereby giving a livelihood to dozens of wagon drivers, porters, intermediaries and others. The important flax and fruit agents were Reuven Kuritzki and Tczernatzski.
In addition to this wellestablished flax trade, a trade developed with grain, pelts, various threads, wool, mushrooms, meat, blueberries, eggs, chickens, fish and wood. All around, there were large forests and lakes which contributed to the wood and fish trade. In the town there was a slaughterhouse which belonged to the Jewish community. In season, the Haydutishoker agents would transport dozens of wagons with superphosphate. There were many Jewish shops and groceries, all sorts of businesses, hostels for the traders and agents who came here from all over the country. A poorhouse, where poor people passing through had a place to spend the night also existed.
From right to left: above Moshe Perevoznik, Zalman Abel, Feigel, Feigel, Feigel, Sheine Abel, Hana Yaffe, Miriam Perevoznik, Tirza Perevoznik, Sheine Volotzki, Zelda Svirski, Feiga Shapira, Hava Patashnik, Zalman Kutnik, Leah Reichel, Zelda Kutnik, Hana Perevoznik, Dr. Plotkin, Ben Zion Perevoznik, Yoel Alsfein, Araham Yafe, ,Yakov Bass, Pharmacist Reuven, Pesach Volatzki, Yerachmiel Lubatzki, Yona Volotzki, Teacher Aronovitz, Michal Gavenda, Miriam Patashnik, Haim Svirski, , Shmuel Patashnik, Moshe Abel, Gitel Patashnik, Miriam Chaikin, Etel Abel, Ester Perevoznik, Baile Kutnik, , Gershon Yafe, Mendel Blatt, Moshe Bass, Chana Svirski, Shalom Bass, Itzhak Feigel, Liove Reuven, Bebke Reuven, Muse Bass, Batia Kutnik, , Breine Patashnik, Israel Patashnik
Almost all the Jews in town had their own homes and many had gardens with vegetables, potatoes and fruit trees. Families also had small economies like a cow, chickens, geese and turkeys.
The Folks bank and the Gemilut Hesed [loans without interest] fund played an important role in the economic life of the Jews in the town.
Until the First World War the Jewish children studied only in religious Cheders and traveled for studies to other places where there were Yeshivas. Only a small portion of them studied at Russian government schools or with private teachers who would come from the big cities. After the First World War, when the Haydutishok Jews came back to their homes and life began to seek a more cultural level, immediately a modern Jewish elementary school was established and later when the town became larger, a Tarbut school was established. Two libraries with hundreds of books, two drama clubs, which often organized theatrical performances, literary evenings, lessons and lectures on various themes, were founded.
The Jewish Wind Orchestra
In the year 1935, 10 men got together from all strata of the Haydutishok community and they decided to establish a Jewish Bloz [wind]Orchestra. The 10 men were: Berel Shmid, Itzhak Yaffe, Leibe Kuslin, Michael Oistreich, Zalman Abel, Avraham Eliahu Abel, Melech Shtrikovski, Yichiel Yochelman, Eliahu Volatzki and Michal Patashnik. Each of them signed a commitment [took a loan] to buy the instruments, taking into account that in time the orchestra would pay it back. They travelled to Vilna to the store with musical instruments of H. Dintzes, they bought 3 clarinets, 2 altos, a tenor, a baritone, a bass, a drum, and a pair of cymbals all of the best quality. They assembled all the youth who wanted to study. They took the local organist from the Christian church as their teacher. They studied well and after a short while they started putting on performances with great success and even played at various celebrations and weddings, [Jewish and Christian], wherever they were invited. After a while they earned back [the money] for their studies.
Rafael Yaffe, Ben Zion Ferevoznik, Gershon Yaffe, Novak, Hirsch Perlis, Chaim Halperin, Michal Patashnik, Moshe Svirski, Nachum Gordon, Yosef Blatt, Shalom Shapira, Reuven Yochelman, Benyamin Gitlitz, Zundel Patashnik
A Jewish fire command station with over 60 volunteers and fire equipment functioned. The leadership included: Shmuel Yehuda Katcherginski, Ben Zion Ferevoznik, Melech Strikovski, Rafael Yaffe, Gershon Yaffe and Michal Patashnik. The firemen would also go around and put out fires in the surrounding villages.
The religious life was concentrated around the four Betei Midrashim with dozens of Torah scrolls and thousands of religious books for study. The rabbi of the town, Rabbi Elchanan Mashitz and the ritual slaughterer, Rabbi Moshe Lev, who also contributed to the religious life of the community. Each night the melodies from the Gemara studies would be heard throughout the entire town.
Standing: Tzchernotzki Israel, Svirski Batya, Perlis Hirsh, Reichel Israel, Perevoznik Yehuda, Kuritzki Yosef, Volak Chaykel, Katz Yerachmiel, Gordon Meir Sitting: Shapira Etel, Reichel Libe, Gurvitch Chiene, Perlis Lipe, Yaffe Rafael, Abel Nechama, Katcherginski Miriam
The Zionist activities were lively. Branches of almost all the Zionist organizations and parties existed in the shtetl. The youth trended towards Halutz [pioneers], Hachalutz HaTazair [young pioneers] and Shomer Ha'tazair [young guards]. They would travel to train and aspired to immigrate to Eretz Israel, but unfortunately, not all were able to fulfill their ideal; over 50 boys and girls managed to come to Eretz Israel and they blended into the routine lifestyle of the workers.
The War 1939
The outbreak of the war between Germany and Poland immediately paralyzed life in Haydutishok. Many Jewish youth were immediately mobilized into the Polish army. Five youths: Israel Patashnik, Israel Oistreich, Moshe Bass, Beinish Shapira and Meir Disner were killed in battle.
On September 18, 1939, Haydutishok was occupied by the Red army and private enterprises were nationalized as well as large houses and warehouses. Stores were ‘bought out' at the lowest prices, and after some time, all private enterprises and shops were liquidated on their own. Thereafter, in the beginning of 1940, three flaxtraders were arrested: Henech Perevoznik, MeirAhron Reichel and Itzhak Yaffe. A few months later their families were transported to Siberia together with the families of Berel Shmidt, Henech Kuritzki, Shmuel Yehuda Katcherginski and Hertzl Reichel, who was from Kazian, but in the later years lived and had a shop in Haydutishok.
ShmuelYehuda Katcherginski and Hertzel Reichel remained hidden with their the families and remained alive. After saving themselves they decided to return to Haydutishok. A month before the German attack on Soviet Russia, their families together with the family of Henech Kuritzki, returned to Haydutishok; in a few months they would join all the Haydutishok Jews on their last road [death]. The older and sick Henech Perevoznik couldn't last long in captivity. [Siberia] The other two after serving a year were sent back to their families in Siberia. Yitzhak Yaffe died there later. Also, the wife of Meir Ahron Reichel, Mania, died during the transport [either on the way to Siberia or the return from Haydutishok= unclear]. After the end of the war, travelling through Poland, Berel Shmid died by the hands of the Polish murderers. All the others had the honor of seeing the restoration and revival of the State of Israel.
During the time of the Soviet regime in Haydutishok, the youth were taken into the Red Army, who, according to their age. [the required military service in that time]. Also, other youth and even entire families ran alongside the retreating Red Army in the first days of the war [World War II]. Not all managed to come back. In those days, Lithuanian youth from the town and from the neighboring villages immediately organized themselves and attacked small groups of the retreating Red Army [it is possible many Jews were killed in those first days=undocumented], murdered them and took their guns and ammunition.
Editor's notes: col. 14931494: distances of surrounding towns need to be verified Ferevoznik=Perevoznik, editor not certain how the name was actually spelled
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