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[Page 333]

Living in exile in Russia

By Aharon Zvizi Kinbaum

When the war broke out in 1939 I was a very young boy, but I remember well the deportation of the Jews of Tarnobrzeg at the hands of the cursed Nazis. Before my eyes was this terrible vision of the market place full of Jews. The German robbed them of their silver and gold, afterwards the marching of the Jews, old and young children, the sick in the direction of the railway station. This I will never forget. Up to that time the Germans did not send Jews to the concentration camp. They satisfied themselves with robberies of our possessions and deportation.

My father who was a merchant, and traveled all week to markets in nearby towns. He had his horse and cart. At that time we were the fortunate ones, because we could ride. The less fortunate ones, had to walk from Tarnobrzeg to the Russian border. A distance of many kilometers.

We arrived in Lobtzyob in eastern Galicia and from there continued our journey to the city of Nimrov under Russian rule. In this city we were close to a year and my father busied himself with trade, with his cart he went to surrounding villages. He bought flour and salt which he sold in the city.

One summer evening one of the Russian townspeople command us to get dressed and accompany them. They had gathered all the refuges in the town and marched us to the railway station. There the freight cars already waited for us to take us to greater Russia.

Six weeks we traveled by train until we reached the town of Novasibersk in Siberia. From there they took us to labour camps not far from the town of Kamin. We stayed there with the family of my Uncle Michael Rav Zavzi Kinbaum. Fourteen people in one long room. The grown-ups all worked like slaves. From time to time officers, head of the cooperatives, came and chose healthy people to work for them. The work was however in the forest. We cut wood and made trenches and they took pots from the Jews, which they burnt sap and material and made rubber.

I was then 13 years old, and had not worked up to then and only received 100 grams of bread each day. Whoever worked received 600 grams of bread each day. This portion was not enough because one slice of bread and watered down soup was too expensive for us. We did not receive enough food and so we were hungry all the time.

When I reached the age of 13 my father taught me to put on my Tefillin. On the day of my Bar Mitzvah, I received as a gift from my parents a piece of bread(double the amount) because had saved this from their mouths.

Many of the adults were not strong enough to survive the cold the horrible conditions and hunger, and they died. Only the strong ones survived.

One summer's day my mother went into the forest to cut trees, for the winter, as it was the custom, to prepare wood in the summer for the winter. This was one of the large Siberian forest and there was no end in sight.

Mother went in and could not find her way back and was definitely lost. If only a miracle would occur. She heard the mooing of a cow. She walked in the direction of the sound and thus came out of the forest unscathed.

Surrounding the huts there were big swamp areas. One could easily drown in them. Therefore one had to be very careful not to get too close to them. Occasionally people lost their lives in this manner.

In this remote isolated place we lived for a year and a half. We were humiliated and depressed. After the agreement between Stalin and Sigorsky, we went to the collective to escape the hell. We almost died of the cold and hunger. We joined a settlement it was like a beautiful dream. We ate so much that we got stomachaches.

We were there three months when the winter approached. We knew that there would be nothing to eat in the winter. We escaped from there in the middle of the night and crossed the Ob river and came to the town of Kamin. In this town we lived in even worse conditions, until we returned to Poland.

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