Political Movements in Antopol
By Dr. Meir Kletski
The beginning of the 20th century brought great innovations that dramatically changed the life of the Jewish population in Antopol. Before then everything was relatively static, even monotonous. The establishment controlled individual and social life. For example, Avigdor the town elder, with the help of a few cronies used to decide how to have the population legally relate to the outside world, that is the Czarist government. The Gages and the Tshaplies decided the religious and spiritual life, the relationship of the population to the rabbis. The young generation learned only to obey and to submit to the elders, the establishment. Cultural education consisted primarily in learning Yiddish and Hebrew. The young boys used to get their cultural education in the elementary school, and the girls got theirs at home.
The beginning of the end to this order came at the turn of the 20th century. A revolutionary movement initiated in Russia greatly influenced developments in Antopol. It brought great changes in the private and social life of the entire population, especially the youth. The fresh winds that blew over all Russia, reached the smallest towns, including Antopol.
People began to wake up from their lethargic sleep. The Russian revolution had begun! Jewish youth and Christian youth began to protest not only against the Czar and the bureaucrats but also against the old leadership and its restrictions which lay like a stone on the life of the population. In Antopol, this led to the formation of two major parties, which were to play an important role in Antopol: the Bund, which had a membership of around 150, and the Socialist Zionists (S.S.), which had a membership of about 100.
Young people were swept away by the revolutionary socialist movement. There were also in Antopol some individual members or sympathizers of political parties other than these two. For example, Fradel Stavski belonged to the Socialist Revolutionaries, and the Novigrudskis belonged to the left wind of the Social Democratic Party. However, these individuals used to cooperate with the town's Socialist Zionists or with the members of the Bund because these two parties were better organized.
The initiators of the movement in Antopol, as was the case in all the other small towns, were those young men who, in order to work, took the opportunity to tear themselves away from the sleepy town and travel to the cities.
There they came into contact with other workers. They became real proletarians infected with revolutionary ideals. They worked in the big cities throughout the year; however, on holidays, they bought a new suit of clothes and came home to Antopol. In the home town, they would meet with their old friends and would advise them to follow their example and move to the cities where everything was alive, in motion, to get work there, train for an occupation, or even study a trade in Antopol and become self-employed. At the same time, they told their friends how interesting life was in the cities, that there were organizations like the Bund, the S.S., and other parties that were struggling for a better, more beautiful world, for freedom and justice for the Russian population in general and especially for the Jews. I remember among these agitators only the names of Noske, Yitshak Leyb's (London), who were among the first pioneers of the Bund and Nathan David Velvel's (Glatser) and Leyzer Farber, who helped organize the S.S. They influenced me to become a member of the S.S. Among names of those I remember as important activists in the S.S. there were: Eliyahu Klarfeyn, Akiva Sirota (the son of Avigdor, the town elder), Shaul Volfson, Perets Hurvits, Feytel Berman (R. Moshe's son), Yisrael Volovolski, and a few others. We were the leaders of the S.S. movement in Antopol.
As soon as the party was organized, we began a strong cultural movement among the youth in Antopol. We used to gather in different homes where we would give lectures to members. They would study the theory of the S.S. in Yiddish and in Russian. We would get different proclamations, brochures, and books from the big cities, like Pinsk, and the like. We would read the works of Kautsky, Bebel, Liebknecht, also literature composed about the S.S.
In the evenings or on Sabbath afternoons or during the holidays, we used to go the Birzshe, which was on Kobrin Street. Boys and girls, intellectuals and simple workers, proletarians and idle people used to go together. We wanted to show the older people that every person is equal, that there is no difference between poor and rich, educated and ignorant. But those who were not educated enough, we taught politics so that they would be aware.
We used to go altogether to the Birzshe. The members of the S.S. would be on one side of the street and the members of the Bund on the other side. Often our group confronted theirs, which led to hot debates about the two opposing parties. The Bundists claimed that we were not revolutionary enough, that we were not capable of leading a class struggle because we did not have enough proletarians among our members.
These discussions often became heated and led to fist fights between members of the two groups. However, the two parties would unite and cooperate when it was necessary to face the police or an enemy, as in the case of pogromists, and so forth. The following is an example.
An important fair was going to take place in Antopol. A short time before the fair we heard rumors that reactionary ignorant peasants would come to the fair to make a blood bath against the Jews. Therefore, we had to prepare for that day. Feeling that our own forces would not be sufficient against so many pogromists, we asked the help of the self-defense organizations from the surrounding cities. Horodets announced it would send several boys. And Kobrin sent a large group, about 30 people.
The day before the fair, we called an assembly in the old study hall. To this assembly came also simple Jews, Jews with beards and side curls. Among them were healthy people, strong Jews who could strike back if need be. Among them was also the short physically weak Shemuel, the scribe, who was ready to defend his brethren. To defend ourselves we all joined together. The day of the fair all the young men, like welldisciplined soldiers, marched in the streets, mainly at the market, many with revolvers, with lances, and the like. The police also walked around and watched. They took good notice of us but didn't bother us. The day passed calmly and no one caused any trouble. Everyone was pleased.
Taking advantage of such a rare opportunity of having so many people from Kobrin and other cities come together, both political parties, the Bund and the S.S., decided to hold a general mass meeting at which we could discuss the various theories of the parties, sort of a symposium. We assigned the speakers who would represent the two parties. The writer of these lines was supposed to represent the S.S. and one of the Kobrin Bundists had to speak for the Bund. We all gathered in a room around eight o'clock at night. The room was at the end of town. We were about 200 people, boys and girls. We sent several young people into the main streets to watch for police. Everything went well, for a short time. The Kobrin Bundist began his speech, bringing out the importance of the Bund and the role which it plays in Jewish life. All paid attention. The mood was upbeat. Suddenly, however, the mood changed to confusion and fear. A young man, obviously upset, ran in and shouted, Police!
Instantly there was panic. Many of the gathered began to jump out windows to flee, but only a few succeeded. The rest were forced to return because the police had stationed themselves around the win-
dows and doors and didn't let anyone leave. We all put away our weapons and waited quietly but with great trepidation to see what would happen. We heard a knock at the door. The young man guarding the door opened it. The first person to come in was the Chief of Police.
After him came police officers of various rank, about 10 men altogether. Everyone turned to look at the Chief of Police to see if he looked mean and severe. We saw that he looked friendly. We even noticed a smile on his face. He went over to our representative and immediately calmed him, saying that the police had not come to arrest us, only to talk to us. He wanted to know the reason so many people had come from the surrounding cities to Antopol. Our representative from Kobrin told him the following:
As is known, pogroms had happened against the Jews in various cities.We heard the rumors that some peasants had decided to attack Jewish storekeepers and rob them. We came here mainly for the purpose of calming the storekeepers and to show them how a pogrom can be avoided. If, for example, a drunken peasant wanted something from a storekeeper and did not pay, the storekeeper should not pay too much attention to that. A small fight could lead to the spilling of blood, which must be avoided at any price.
The young man ended his comments by expressing the hope that in Antopol nothing bad would happen as it did in other unfortunate cities. The Chief of Police accepted what he heard. He assured the speaker that as long as he was Chief of Police in Antopol no pogrom would happen here. He asked us all to go home and told the youth from Horodets and Kobrin to leave as soon as possible. We disbanded with quiet satisfaction.
We organized youth of Antopol considered our encounter with the police a great victory. We felt that we could breathe easier, that we could meet again with more assurance. However, we became overconfident, foolhardy, and needlessly provocative, and this led the mild-mannered Chief of Police to crack down on us. For example, the police arrested of some of our most important activists, including Fradel Stavskin.
My participation in the S.S. Party ended when I left Antopol in 1907. It is probable that the activity of other members ended about the same time.
By E. Tsaytelzon
The establishment of a homeland, the redemption of the Land of Israel, had always been a Jewish dream. Along with numerous other towns, Antopol participated in the movement toward this goal. For example when the Lovers of Zion association was founded, people began to set out plates in the study halls for donations on the day before the Day of Atonement.
In 1887, 10 rubles were collected in Antopol. That was a lot of money in those days. Among the activists were Shemuel Pisatski (the future Shemuel the scribe) and Yosef Grinberg. The money collected rose to 30 rubles in 1890. And it appears that the Jews of Antopol did not just give token donations. Some of them were also members of the Lovers of Zion organization.
Unfortunately, this reawakening did not last long for new winds began to blow, spring winds, which also came to Antopol. New movements arose to free Russia of Czarism. These movements took hold of our youth in Antopol, and the movement to free the Jewish people cooled. However, the chill did not last long. Deep in their hearts glowed sparks, which rose up again after the great disappointment which our brethren suffered in Russia. Zionists in Antopol again began their holy work such as buying shekels to give as donations, collecting money for the Jewish National Fund, and setting out plates for collections in study halls on the day before the Day of
Atonement. Some not only helped collect money but immigrated to the Land of Israel to renew it and themselves.
Not a large amount of money was collected in 1903, a total of 13 rubles and 60 kopeks. However, the collection proved that Zionism was still alive. In 1911, the sum rose substantially: 47 rubles and 90 kopeks were collected on the day before the Day of Atonement. It is noteworthy that in 1913, despite a year of bloody oppression in Kiev, the plates in Antopol on the day before the Day of Atonement collected 22 rubles and 19 kopeks!
The activists helping with that collection were Menahem Rubashevski, Berish the lease holder's son, Shelomeh-ke Menahem's, Hillel Kletski, and Yoel Leyb the mason. They sowed the seeds of the future immigration to the Land of Israel movement.
By Aryeh Shkolnik
In 1905, when the revolutionary movement spread throughout all Russia, our small town of Antopol was very much involved. The entire youth, as well as a number of workers, overnight as if by magic developed revolutionary awareness. They called out, Czar Nikolai, down with him. From time to time, they brought in orators from Kobrin and Brisk and held secret meetings.
One of these meetings was held on a wintry Friday night in the old study hall way up in the women's section. Early on Sabbath morning, the women came to pray and saw the mess the socialists had made. They found cigarette butts, matches, extinguished lamps, and the like. The women were furious and with excited voices cried down to the men's section, Come see what the heretics have done. God knows what troubles these rejects will bring down on us!
And still later, during prayers, the commotion increased when Falk, Shemuel Tevye's son, acting under the influence of the previous night's speakers protested the blessing of the Czar. When the cantor started to give the blessing on behalf of the Czar, who gives salvation, Falk banged a table, mounted the platform, and declared, I don't want to have the blessing who blessed' said on behalf of Nikolai! Czar Nikolai. Down with him! There was much tumult and shouting. Angry Jews pounded on the youth and struggled to throw him out of the study hall. However, Avigdor the town elder shouted, Jews, stop! Let us not bring troubles on ourselves!
By Mosheh Setavi
Fradel Stavski, the daughter of Efrayim and Bashke who were among the most respected people in Antopol, became a social revolutionary. She wanted immediately to overthrow the Czar and establish a socialist regime in Russia.
The authorities in Kobrin knew about her and sought her arrest. Fortunately, her uncle Misha Stavski was in Antopol. He put her in a sled, covered her up, and took her to Drohitshin. From there Fradel was sent to Krementshug where her grandfather R. Yaakow Shemuel lived. From Krementshug, she went with her father to Yekaternislav. However, she remained active as a young revolutionary. In 1910, she took part in an attack in Yekaternislaw Province. She was caught and sent to prison in Siberia.
Fradel was not freed until 1917, when the Russian Revolution broke out. She left for Moscow, married Mosheh Barotshenko from Bessarabia, and became employed by the town's main library.
Fradel's youngest brother, Gershon, who was in America, kept in contact with his sister until 1939. From then on, he heard nothing from her. Is she still alive? Is her son alive? Where is her husband?
Such was the fate of one female revolutionary in Russia.
Another was Yehudit Feldshtein. For her revolutionary efforts on behalf of the Russian Social Democratic Party, she was sent to prison in Siberia in 1895. There she became sick with tuberculosis and was sent back home.
She resumed her revolutionary efforts and printed literature on a press which she kept hidden in the attic. In 1920, the Poles found some of her pamphlets and accused her brother of belonging to an enemy political party. He was arrested and served time in Kobrin. Finally, he was freed on parole.
By Prof. P. Czerniak
Before 1850, no doctor lived in Antopol, and medical help was in the hands of grandmothers, sorcerers, good Jews, rabbis, those who charmed, and those who simply thought they knew how to doctor. At that time, diagnosis was simple: 1) sicknesses with fever, 2) stomach pain, 3) wounds, 4) broken joints and bones, and 5) craziness.
With a mentally ill person, a paralyzed person, the deaf and dumb, hysteria and the like, people would go to a good Jew, a rabbi, or a charmer who would say a good word or pray that the trouble would go away.
Fever, stomach pain, and other internal sicknesses people used to heal with the help of popular grasses like chamomile, linden, nettles, and the like. To warm a person, sacks of sand were used. To cool a person, pieces of ice. Wounds, blisters, and bleeding were treated with cobwebs, pellets of dough with honey, grated potatoes, roasted onions, rolls with milk, and other similar means.
Special customs were observed for pregnant women. At the end of the pregnancy, they put a salt-filled amulet into a pocket. After the birth of the baby, the child and mother had to be protected from demons and evil spirits until the circumcision took place. They placed the Songs of Ascent from Psalms on the bed. After the afternoon service, they would come to the child's room to read the Hear, O, Israel prayer. The children and their teacher who came were given cooked peas. The ritual circumciser used a powder which he made from rotting pine wood to cover the wound after doing the circumcision.
Among the White Russian population in the 19th Century, there was a well-known gentile from Tshernovits who fixed joint and bone breaks. Aryeh Yozefs (Osipovits) also used to practice as a doctor. He charmed away the evil eye.
Organized in Antopol from the earliest times were societies for social relief such as Visiting the Sick and the Almshouse. Money was collected in specific boxes. The treasurers distributed the equipment such as bleeding cups, leeches, and the like. They also took care of night sessions and service to the sick, giving them drinks, massages, etc.
In the years 1850 or 1860, Moshe the doctor began practicing. His medical knowledge was developed in the Russian Army, where he worked as a practical nurse in a military hospital. When he returned from military service, he married, settled with his wife on Kotlior Street, and became the father of two daughters and a son.
Moshe the doctor wrote prescriptions but mainly distributed to his patients medicines that consisted of castor oil, quinine, and different herbs. When he examined a sick person, he first took the pulse, examined the throat with the help of a spoon, wrote the prescription, and was paid a fee of 10 or 15 kopecks. He also pulled rotten teeth.
Around 1875, Yenkel the doctor arrived and was in competition for patients with Moshe. He was an orphan and had studied in an Antopol rabbinical seminary. When he was called to military service, his teacher collected around town a sum of money, a bribe, to ensure that Yenkel would be placed in a military hospital where he would learn something about medicine. Bribing whomever could help paid
off, and after several years' service in medical institutions of the Tsarist Army, Yenkel received his training as an assistant surgeon. After his return to Antopol he married the sister of Aryeh and Falk Tsherniak, began his medical career, and took his seat among the synagogue treasurers. He was a smart Jew, an earnest person, and strong willed as well. At his hand, wild boys suffered hefty blows.
A cholera epidemic broke out in Antopol in 1895. Moshe and Yenkel the doctors mobilized practical nurses and the Almshouse and Visiting the Sick Societies. All worked hard to fight the severe epidemic, which cost many deaths. The medical treatment consisted of giving patients whiskey to drink and rubbing their feet.
Yenkel the doctor didn't talk much. He was either deep in thought or worn out. He smiled only at the naive questions asked by Jewish mothers. In serious cases, he didn't want to accept the responsibility himself and consulted a real doctor such as Dr. Saratshinski or Dr. Veynshteyn in Antopol, Dr. Prabulski in Kobrin, Dr. Pines (eye doctor) in Bialystok, and Dr. Yevsienko (surgery) in Pinsk. In 1915, Yenkel left Antopol with other war refugees and did not return until 1918.
I remember when I finished the gymnasium in 1930 and decided to go to France to continue my studies. R. Avigdor the town elder, of blessed memory, found out and went to my mother, of blessed memory, rebuking her that she would let me live among gentiles. She asked friends and her brother-in-law Yenkel for advice. He made a quick decision: Let him go! Later, in 1932-33, when I came home for summer vacation and went to visit Uncle Yenkel the doctor, he quizzed me at length about my studies, what up-to-date knowledge there was about internal organs and the head.
Only listen, he would tell me. I envy the knowledge you are studying and acquiring. He had such a love of science.
After 62 years of medical work in Antopol, Yenkel the doctor died in 1937 of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 80 and some years.
During the same period, from the end of the 19th Century until the beginning of the 20th Century, several women practiced medicine in town. Especially known was Ester-Hayah the grandmother. She was a short strongly built Jewish woman who lived in town from 1860 to1914 and had a hundred grandchildren at whose birth she assisted. She made the necessary preparations and looked after the women giving birth. She would walk with the woman in labor and say in jest, Come, I will go with you even to the attic. Everyone knew where she lived because almost all the women giving birth came to her for help. Early on she lived in an apartment as a neighbor of Mordekhai Sheynboym. Later she bought a house from Naftali Volinets. She died in 1914, at the beginning of World War I, at the age of 80.
Another grandmother at that time was Grandmother Bashe Yente who lived on Kobrin Street. She was almost everyone's beloved grandmother, and in gratitude, people sent her gifts of food on Purim.
In 1905-06, a diploma-holding midwife, Manye Gershtein, lived in Antopol. She was born in Smorgan in Vilna Province. She married an Antopol youth, Berel Gershtein from the Lifshitses.
Another grandmother was Itke the midwife who lived as a neighbor of Bendet the kettle maker. She was a thin sympathetic girl who quickly made a name for herself. She became quite popular in 1908 after struggling with a difficult birth. Although the local Dr. Saratskinski and Dr. Gershuni from Kobrin were present at first, they both gave up and left. Itke remained alone and after great effort delivered the child. Both the baby and the mother survived. In 1923, Itke married Shelomoh Podolevski of Horodets, and in 1928 they immigrated to America.
At the same time, Avraham Volf 's daughter practiced as a midwife. She studied the profession in Brisk and began to practice in the village Derevnaye. However, in 1915-18, hungry peasants used to attack
and rob. Then she went to Antopol and was very much loved there. In 1925, she went to Pinsk where she continued working in her profession.
The list of women specialists would not be complete without Esther-Rahel Garfinel (the Getekhe), who had an office in the homes of Zaydl Bratsken and Zalman Kuilbe. Her patients also included gentiles. For that reason, she was called the gentile assistant surgeon. She applied cups for drawing blood, cups that were especially shaped for this purpose. Her office overflowed every Sunday. She died in 1914 after many years of practice.
The epoch of assistant surgeons and grandmothers ended in 1905 when the town got its first doctor with a diploma, the Pole Saratshinski. He had a wife and a daughter named Zosya. No one knew where he came from. People say that he came from Pruzshen and that his wife belonged to the Polish nobility in Warsaw. He had a reputation as a friend of the Jews, and even learned to speak Yiddish. He made calls at the homes of the Jewish sick, driving his carriage led by two red and white horses. He visited the poor free of charge and even gave them money to buy medicine. Saratsinski fled from Antopol in 1914.
In the years 1910-1912, when Saratsinski was still in Antopol, the established people in Antopol began to be more concerned with medical problems. The synagogue treasurers would halt the reading of the Torah on the Sabbath and agitate to build a city hospital. The work was then begun. First Dr. Shats was brought in 1910 and the walls of the hospital were built on a pretty site not far from the naphtha reserves. When World War I broke out, Dr. Shats left Antopol so the idea of operating a city hospital went unfulfilled. The building was then used as a study hall as the old study hall had burned down. Later, in 1919-1920, the building became the Tarbut school for Jewish children of Antopol.
During the harsh war years, 1914-1918, when Dr. Saratsinski, Dr. Shats, and Yenkel the doctor were away, a student of medicine Lipa Zagorodski from the Lifshits family, Itsel Burshteyn, Yudel the writer's son-in-law, also a student, the assistant surgeon Yenkel, who was not a student, and another assistant surgeon Yenkel, who used to say no harm will come, were responsible for medical help in Antopol.
Yenkel, who said no harm would come, examined the sick in this fashion. First he would take the pulse. Then he would put his wood and paper tube on the chest and listen. Third he would put a spoon down the throat and say, God will help, it will be good, you will get through, no harm will come. Accordingly, he was called Yenkel, who says no harm will come.
In the later period of the Russian Revolution and afterwards in the time when one regime followed another, many doctors passed through Antopol, mostly army doctors. These doctors distributed medical help to the population of Antopol and its surrounding region. People say that in 1918 a young Jewish doctor came to town with the Russian Army. He would visit every home to which he was called, not charge a fee, and distribute free medicine such as castor oil, aspirin, and quinine. He liked to receive white meal from which he used to bake pastille cakes in Turiansky's and distribute them to the soldiers.
A tall Russian doctor, who was a narcotic, also practiced for a short time. He didn't like the place and left in 1919. When the war was over, Dr. Weinstein with his wife the mid-wife and their son, a student in the gymnasium, arrived in 1925 from Lithuanian. He worked hard and helped the sick, especially those suffering from tuberculosis, who were quite numerous. But one morning, Dr. Weinstein committed suicide while shaving, cutting the arteries to his neck. His son, who had finished the gymnasium and had begun to study medicine in Vilna, was too young to take over his father's position. Therefore, Mrs. Weinstein brought Dr. Narkin from Pinsk.
Dr. Narkin settled in a house on Pinsk St. and with great energy began his job. In a short time, he became popular among both the Jewish and
Christian population in the surrounding villages. He was devoted to his patients and always wanted to know if the medicines he prescribed worked. He made follow-up visits, and his patients liked that. He also used to take care that plums and almonds should be put away and not cause angina. His brother who was a medical specialist in Pinsk visited town from time to time. Dr. Narkin was responsible for the direction of the Insurance Fund for workers and office employees. When it came to small sicknesses, people used to visit Yenekl the doctor, who had come back to Antopol in 1918.
In those years, the Christian assistant surgeon Tshernik settled in H. Kulik's house at the end of Pinsk St. and treated patients. He made himself out to be quite important, saying that he read medical journals and healed his sick patients with progressive methods. When he did not succeed in healing the sick person, he would send to Pinsk or Warsaw for advice, arguing that doctors in the close-by cities did not know any more than he did.
Before WWI, people went to Naftali the doctor in Horodets to treat their teeth. He had studied dental medicine a few months in Warsaw. When Naftali settled in Kobrin and Vitkin came to Horodets, people went to Vitkin who had a diploma in dentistry. Such was the situation until WWI when Vitkin left Horodets.
Dr. Shagan, who settled in Antopol in 1927, practiced dentistry. In case he had to remove decayed teeth, which took manual strength, he tried to appear young and energetic so that the patients would trust him. For that reason, he dyed his gray moustache black and smiled at the young patients. Dr. Shagan paid close attention to cleanliness, and when a peasant did not wipe his boots immediately before sitting in the dentist's chair, he would get a lecture. Dr. Shagan was very strict when he treated decayed teeth and demanded his patient's attention. He knew his work well, and his fillings lasted many years.
As for medication, three sources existed. The first was from the assistant surgeons, who themselves prepared medicines from different grasses and who received prepared medicines from pharmaceutical companies for testing. and lastly from the Sick Insurance's pharmacy.
The second source was the pharmacy established by Lifshits in1900 in Grinberg's house. The pharmacy was later run by the pharmacist Seletski. Later, in 1912, when a school to prepare students for entering the gymnasium opened in that house, the pharmacy moved to Mazurske's house. The pharmacist Neidits worked there.
The third source of medication was pharmaceutical stores operated under the Sick Insurance. The first was opened by Mosheh-Aharon Ozernitski in Sirota's house. After his death, the business was run by his wife, Henia. Later, Hershenhorn opened a second pharmacy store where he also made medicines.
Thus it happened that, in the 15 years after WWI, Antopol became a small medical center serving its own residents and the populations of the surrounding area. Working in Antopol were a doctor with a diploma, two good assistant surgeons, several nurses (among them the woman Visotski), a mid-wife with a diploma and several grandmothers, a doctor of dental medicine, a pharmacy and several pharmaceutical stores, and later also a doctor of veterinary medicine who settled in Gurin's orchard.
In the 1930s, the chances to get medical help improved in Antopol because four Antopol youth studied medical science. As one of them, I had finished my studies in 1936 in France and returned to town. The French diploma did not give me the right to practice medicine. To do so, I had to pass certification in Vilna. Afterwards, after working a year in a hospital in Brisk, I opened an office in Antopol.
At the same time, Rafael, the son of Dr. Veinshtein, continued his medical studies. Also studying medicine were Dr. Shagan's son Joseph and Avraham, of the Pinsk landowners, who went to
study in France. They all showed signs of being good doctors.
However, war broke out on September 1, 1939, and events were to develop in another direction. Studies were temporarily broken off. I received an order from the Polish government to establish in Antopol four centers for first aid for wounded soldiers. On the fourth day of the war, a large battle took place in Kobrin at Lake Mukhovets. The first wounded were brought from there to us in ambulances. It did not take long, and the Russian Army marched in.
When the Russian government took over, medical help was given to the populace free of charge. A polyclinic was established in Lifshits' big house. Private medical offices were closed in the course of time. In Yankevitses' house, which was at the end of the Kobrin farmland, a hospital was opened.
However, two more wooden houses were moved and set up in one place for the purpose of giving Antopol its first hospital of 60 beds. The hospital had divisions for inner diseases, childbirth, and infectious diseases. Surgical centers were opened in the three nearby villages. The medical personnel in Antopol changed. Dr. Narkin returned to Pinsk. Yenkel the doctor died. Two other doctors came from Minsk as well as a sanitary inspector, several assistant surgeons, and a registered nurse. An administrative authority was created, and I took the post of director of the hospital and polyclinic.
A new war started in 1941, and to our great misfortune the German murderers entered. Everything was destroyed. They did not have to take care of the health of the population. On the contrary, their solution was to kill everyone. The Russian doctors fled. I, together with Dr. Zonshein of Brisk who was in Antopol as a refugee, were imprisoned in the ghetto. Rafa Veinshtein and Yosef Shagas did not have the chance to finish their medical studies in Vilna and were imprisoned in the ghetto.
In the last orgy of killing, all the medical workers in the ghetto were murdered. They were: the young, almost handsome Dr. Veinshtein, Dr. Shagas, the mid-wife Veinshtein, the pharmacists Neidits and Ozernitske, the registered nurse Visotski. The medical centers in the villages were closed. I together with my wife, Gitel (Feldshtein), fled and went underground with the partisans and until July1944 were in the forests and marshes of the Antopol region.
The Russians took Antopol back on July 22. I again got the task of organizing medical help in the Antopol region. However, unfortunately, whom was I to help? Antopol remained without Jews. Here I go among the ruins, and I see no Jewish faces. I don't have any more Jewish patients to help. All those who were alive three years ago, struggled, created, and grew did not exist anymore. I was writing prescriptions for those who were happy when my brothers and sisters were murdered. However, as a doctor, I could not but help them. I only had to see them as sick people. I left Antopol, no longer a Jewish town, in 1945. Strangers took over. I learned in 1962 that only one Jewish family lived in Antopol. The marketplace was empty. Trees grew there. However, the hospital had grown and had a surgical division. The outpatient service functioned as before. Antopol became a typical White Russian Soviet town. And for the Jewish Antopol, let us say, May He (God) be extolled and sanctified.
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