Testimony on the Destruction of the
Jews of Antopol from a rescued person
By Gitl Tserniak, one of the seven survivors
Until the outbreak of the war, there were 3,000 people in the town of my birth. A quarter of the population was White Russian. There were about 2,300 Jews. There was almost no anti-Semitism before WWI. The Jews felt themselves to be free. They dealt in different occupations like tailoring, carpentry, and shoemaking. Many of them dealt in agriculture and commerce. The businesses frequently passed in inheritance from father to son.
There were Zionist youth movements in town, he-Haluts, ha-Shomer ha-Tsair, and other social political movements. The children studied in Jewish religious elementary schools including the Tarbut school, with its language in Hebrew. When they finished elementary school, they went to other centers: rabbinical seminaries, trade schools, gymnasiums, and universities. I went to high school in Pinsk in 1931 and continued to study pharmacy in Warsaw until 1935. Then I returned to the town of my birth and was there until the outbreak of war. I worked as a pharmacist in the only pharmacy in the area, which was owned by Mr. Neidits.
The Outbreak of War
At the end of 1939, the clouds darkened over Polish Jewry. This was as a result of the agreement between the governments of Russia Germany, known as the Ribbentrop-Moltov agreement, according to which the great part of Polish Jewry was conquered and divided, passing under Nazi rule. It was the fate of my town, Antopol, in the province of Brest-Litovsk, to be included in the Soviet part, with the Bug River, as the border between conquering armies.
Thus, the Soviets entered our town. They nationalized all institutions. Among them was also the drugstore. Commerce stopped. Agriculture became limited. There was a lack in necessities and food. The Jewish inhabitants of the town, who dealt mainly as the makers of goods, as craftsmen, and particularly as farmers who supplied their produce to the big cities, were hurt from the new arrangements imposed upon them. In place of the freedom of the individual and initiative in all areas of economic and social life, there came the method of planning imposed from the top and dependence on the good will of government representatives. This regime was forced on all the inhabitants.
One of its methods was to uproot inhabitants from the sources of their income and to transfer them to other places. So it was set for Mr. Neidits, the owner of the pharmacy in town, for whom I worked for four years. He was commanded one day to leave and work as pharmacist in the city of Zabinkah. I had to fill his place as director of the pharmacy (which in the meantime was moved from Mr. Neidit's house to that of Mr. Lifshits in the marketplace). In addition, I received orders to open branches in the nearby town of Horodets and some surrounding villages, so as to make it easier to distribute medicines to the population.
Mr. Neidits was known to be sickly. If he had to move to another place, it would hurt his well-being. Therefore, I intervened with the authorities in Brisk, so that they leave him in his place. I was asked to sign being responsible in full for any sabotage that the former owner, Mr. Neidits, would do. I signed. In addition, Mrs. Rozah Ozernitski-Rozenbaun, the daughter of Henia Ozernitski who owned the cosmetics store, began to work with us.
In the course of time, life returned to normal. People got used to the new way of life and accepted it. The Russian authorities established in Antopol their civil and public institutions: schools, regional hospital, court, police, bank, cartels of craftsmen, government houses of commerce, etc. Some of these different functions were fulfilled by officials brought from Russia. There was a need to solve for them the problem of housing. For that purpose, the
houses of property owners were expropriated. Some Jews were forced to then crowd into the apartments of their neighbors. Some passed to distant places in Russia. The owner of an estate, Yankovits, was also forced into a similar exile. His estate on the eastern boundary of Antopol became government property. A hospital was built on it. My husband, the doctor, directed in that period the regional clinic, established in the house of Mr. Lifshits, at the beginning of Pinsk St. The authorities put upon him the planning and direction of the hospital.
This condition continued until June 21, 1941, the day of the sudden attach of the Nazi army on the Soviet army. The Germans invaded the Russian zone of conquest. The army retreated, taking with it citizens and institutions. This retreat continued for three days until the Germans took control of the region from Brest-Litovsk until they reached Antopol and from there continued there conquest.
The Soviet period was over. It was a time in which the Jewish inhabitants had security for their lives. Suddenly, they were faced with the bitter reality of the coming of the Nazis, which opened the terrible period of the Holocaust, which came after the Russian rule.
A few days after the Nazi conquest, when the front was far away, the Germans set up a civilian rule. They placed at its head, the former mailman, who was a German, a Folksdeitsch, as a mayor. Until then, this man had lived in friendship with the Jews and hid his anti-Semitism. His name was Khrominski. Later he was the man who set the life and death of the inhabitants. He collaborated immediately upon the entry of the Nazi army and began to undertake with great trustworthiness, as mayor, the instructions from the Nazi civilians. Their head was Kreiz- Landvirt.
The transfer of the Jews to the left side of the street created in actuality an open Jewish ghetto. There were about 2,500 Jews in the open ghetto, since in addition to the Jews of Antopol, the Jews of Horodets, Sharshuv and Zabinkah were brought there.
The ghetto remained open only for two months. According to the order of the authorities, which was given in August 1941, the ghetto was divided into ghetto A and ghetto B. All those who had any occupation and were productive in the eyes of the Nazis and their helpers, entered into Ghetto A. These people had the right to join their family members and parents. The remainder were gathered into ghetto B. This included the remnants of families, who heads were no longer alive, old people, weak and the like. All the inhabitants of ghetto A had special documents, which they received from the Judenrat. My husband the physician, and I, the pharmacist, were transferred to ghetto A. At that time, ghetto A was declared to be closed. It was surrounded by a high fence of boards and wire, so that to enter or leave, one needed to pass the entrance gate. This was guarded from the outside by the police or gendarmes. Among the pro-German police (the Greens or Zielonowcy) who guarded the ghetto gate, were a number of Russian communists and Kosmosol members who had remained in place after the German conquest and volunteered for the police. They wanted to prove a high degree of loyalty, therefore they were the worst police. They used to make strict searches when the inhabitants of the ghetto would return from work. Besides the Russians, local White Russians joined this militia.
The gendarmes were only Germans or Volks-Deutsche. There were about 850 people in ghetto A. Jewish life took place only in the ghetto. Yiddish was the language of speech. I and my husband had the right to register our mothers and transfer them to ghetto A. There was the feeling that ghetto A would last longer in the future and ghetto B was judged for destruction. Therefore, there were cases when a youth in ghetto A would bring over a young woman in a fictitious marriage in order to save her life.
Life in the ghetto. In the ghetto, and especially after the action before the last, families and
individuals were torn apart. Family, social, and cultural life had ended. The people knew or felt in the depth of their heart what awaited them. They awaited without any choice their death and for the decree to be carried out. They were human shadows, without any will to live and any hope. They were hungry not only for bread but also for a good word, for any comfort, for a spark of hope, for information about what was happening in the world, on the front, in the Land of Israel and the Zionist movement, in the welfare and work of their relatives in the Free World. They did not receive daily newspapers and it was forbidden to receive them, either local or German. Their radio sets were taken away, according to order, from the ghetto.
Outside of frightening rumors and exaggerations about the victories of the Germans, which the gentiles would tell them and would cause even greater depression, they had no other source of information. Professional, industrial, and commercial life had ceased. Craftsmen did not work. There was no one to work for and no reason to work. The secret commerce was limited to an exchange of food for all sorts of goods that remained with someone. In the morning they would take out the men to work outside the ghetto according to an examined list. The men would work mainly on digging and fixing roads. The women would work as housekeepers to clean German residences. There were also those, who worked for Russian citizens and local gentiles in agricultural work. The latter and the women that cleaned succeeded in sneaking in a little food to the ghetto. There were cases when White Russian citizens would bring food to the ghetto gate and succeeded in passing it to a Jewish acquaintance or to throw it to him through the fence. Understandably, this depended on the circumstance of the guard and the strictness of the search by the police at the ghetto gate. The inhabitants of the ghetto would give from their poor possessions that they still had to these humanitarian neighbors.
Jewish Antopol went into decline. The terrible Holocaust began. The Holocaust has 3 periods: Before the ghetto; the ghetto; and the final annihilation.
In the first period of Nazi occupation, before arranging the ghetto, the harm done by the murderers took place in the center of the town, in the market. The market had a square. Around it were concentrated the Provoslav Church, the police, the pharmacy, the post office, the radio station which the Russians established, the hotel, the bank, and other institutions. The SS murderers, with the black sign of death on their helmets, known for their cruelty, would come to this square in cars from Kobrin. When they arrived, everyone knew that there would be trouble. This is how it was the first time in the ease of two Jewish soldiers, who fled from German captivity. The hateful Khrominski pointed than out as if they had spread upon their return Atrocity Propaganda about acts of terror against the Jews which they had witnessed. As a result of this information and as a punishment for this, the youths were cruelly beaten until they lost consciousness and they were finally shot to death.
Another time a young Jew went to visit family members. He passed the square in the market. The SS soldiers, who saw him on his way, forced him to run back and forth to their car until he lost strength and consciousness and fainted. Then, they threw water over him and returned to their abuse. I remember another time the SS called some Jewish children and forced them to lick their car until it shone. In payment, they received kicks and shouts, Away with you, accursed Jews.
More than once, they brought Jews who they had caught to the police station. They beat them unconscious, left them until they revived, then continued to mistreat them while they screamed aloud in great pain. I heard and saw this while I stood by the window of the pharmacy, which was in Lifshits's house (in which I continued to work). This house was in the market square, which was opposite the police station in Weinstein's house. The cars generally came to there. I received a hysteria of
crying and pain in all my body, out of fear for the fate of them, from the shouts and cries of those being beaten. All my life I hear them, and among them Weisman from the Sirota family and the father of Tsertok.
On another day, a closed military car of SS people appeared. They came with the excuse that they saw someone parachute into the region. They arranged a precise search in the town from house to house until they finally found Grinman, one of the Pinsk St. farmers, who had married before the war. They decided that he was the one, who had parachuted. They shot him just like that on the spot without any investigation, discussion, or judgment. They apparently returned to Kobrin with a report in them hands on the capture of an important Jewish spy, who had parachuted in and was judged to death. Thus, there began a period of decrees, humiliations that were morally and physically horrible and the spilling of the blood of the Jews, innocent of crime, of my town of Antopol.
The Period in the Ghetto
In the beginning there was isolation or a moral, ideological ghetto. Some days after the conquest the Germans gathered the gentile population into the church. They decreed contempt and distance from the Zhids, ugly and dirty, the enemies of the Christians, the worse than gypsies and with similar appetites. After that an order was given to the Christian inhabitants and to the farmers in the villages, that they were forbidden to sell agricultural products to Jews and to have commercial, or any other contact with them. Big announcements were printed and glued to the walls of houses and on the fences of the market.
At, the order of Khrominski, the former letter carrier, a Judenrat was established, which represented the Jews and served mainly as an instrument of the enemy to carry out the orders and decrees which arrived from the Gestapo in Kobrin to the person in charge of the district. Rozenberg, the head of Judenrat, was a member of the Judenrat. He was the son in law of the merchant Paltsuk,Pinyamin Volf, Zalman Altvarg (his nickname was Zalman Kolbe), Rubinstein, and Rabbi Wolkin, the memory of the righteous for blessing.
Vulf was the most active. He came to Antopol from the nearby town of Yanovah and set up in our town the electric station. The rabbi of the town, Wolkin, may the memory of the righteous be blessed, avoided collaborating. However, he was forced to have the sessions of the Judenrat in his house, The members of the Judenrat were the most respected people in town and the richest, having established positions, merchants, and the like, who knew well the town and its people. They were required to carry out the orders and decrees that came from the Gestapo in Kobrin. Here are examples of the first orders that they carried out: to put on the yellow patch, go to forced labor, gather money and things of value, as they were required by the Germans (the Judenrat determined who paid and how much), the prohibition to assemble and agitate, the prohibition to do commerce or have connection with the Aryans, who were of blue blood; the organization of a Jewish police.
The head of the militia was Barukh Hersh Rabinowits. His assistants were the policeman David Kaplan, Shertok, Epstein, and the eldest son of Vulf. Among the functions of the police was to maintain general order, to make sure that no one would leave the ghetto, that they would wear the yellow patch, that they would not escape, and that they would go to work. They would also bring the food to the ghetto and distribute it. This food included bread and milk. In the beginning they made the bread from wheat and barley. Afterwards, only from barley. It would break up and was difficult to eat. However, people also fought over it, because there was not enough for everyone. The milk was without fat, It was the remains that came out of the centrifuge.
Among the functions of the police and the Judenrat was also to help the Germans carry out their raids. This participation was generally very
weak. The main streets of Antopol, Kobrin and Pinsk St. had a sidewalk only on the right side. One day the order of the mayor came out that all the Jews, who wore the yellow star and lived on the right side of these main streets need to leave their houses. They had to gather on the left side only and they were forbidden to use the side walk. Who would not do this would be killed. During the first days, people were terribly embarrassed to appear in the street with the stigma of humiliation, with the yellow patch and only on the left side in the sand and mud of the streets. However, there was no choice. Certainly, I needed to get to the pharmacy and my husband needed to get to the clinic.
An event that happened was while my husband worked in the clinic outside the ghetto. The mayor gave him a special permit for that. A policeman would daily take him out to work and return him. The Russian farmers that came for examinations in the clinic loved him and secretly brought him food. As a pharmacist, I was able to leave the ghetto only in the company of a local citizen. Once I decided to go to visit the clinic. My husband gave me the little food that he had received. I hid it under my coat and took it home. One of the Russian volunteers (Zelinovits) saw at the gate that I had hidden food. He brought me to the police station. However, when I came there, I asked for the chief of police. The chief knew me and agreed to free me despite my having food. This was because he remembered that I was the wife of the doctor, who had given help to his sick wife.
The synagogues stopped serving as a center of Jewish spiritual life, as was the case in the past. The Russians had turned the old synagogue (of wood) into a storage for grain. The Germans continued to do this. The new synagogue (of brick) was empty. There only prayed there those who still believed in Mosheh. Most felt despaired and paralyzed. Even though they fervently prayed on Sabbaths and holidays, their eyes were dry and the voices of those leading the prayers were without life. I especially remember the prayers on the last High Holidays in the ghetto, about two weeks before the final liquidation. They prayed silently and fervently to the Creator of the World, Why are you silent? Give a sign and a wonder!
The memorial prayers were so long, each person thought, Who will remember me in the future? No one, unless there will be a miracle and lightning from the heavens to wipe out the enemies of Israel.
The state of health in the ghetto was very low. This was mainly due to the lack of food and the results of hard work. Dr. Czerniak, my husband, would treat the inhabitants after he returned from work in the evening from the clinic. He was tired and depressed. He was helped by medicines, which he would sneak in from the clinic. And in the same fashion, I would bring in medicine from the pharmacy.
He would receive an order to leave the ghetto to take care of severely ill gentiles. This was similar to the regional hospital, which the Russians established in their time. Once when he went to the village of Novosilulki, he brought medicines for the Jewish workers in the work camp of Zafrud. He went through the first gate of the camp. However, he was arrested at the second gate. Only the pleas of the farmer, who was bringing him to the sick person and who had accompanied him to the camp, saved him from execution on the spot. He was take another time to a farm in the village of Yaroshvi. It became clear that the sick person was Philip, the leader of the partisans, who had begun to organize at that time. He took care to treat him without telling the secret to anyone. In that fashion, there began the connection between us and the fighters of the anti-German underground. About a month before the last action in which all of the Jews still remaining in the ghetto would be killed, along with myself, my husband and 5-month-old baby girl, we traveled late at night to care for a sick person outside of Antopol. We did this without the required permission, because the town was locked under curfew.
We were in danger of losing our lives if caught. However, the value of human life then was very low,
so that we didn't object to carrying out the request of Ivan Baidok, who came in a hurry to my husband and begged him to come quickly to save the life of his wife. On the contrary, we thought that they should catch us and put an end to our lives and suffering that was inhumane, a life in the ghetto with 300 shadows, 300 bodies walking without any sign of being human in heart and mind.
However, they did not catch us. We returned late at night to the ghetto. Our baby was already not at home in the room. This is because three days before we had given her to a patient, Vera Okhrits, with the goal of saving her. When the last action came, we were saved thanks to the many patients we had treated before and during the cruel war.
We heard the steps of people searching, who took out people from a hiding place near to our room and told them to take money, since they were all going to a work camp outside the ghetto. After that, a German entered our room and saw my husband, with a Red Cross on a background of white, as they ordered him. This was a sign that he was a doctor (There was still in force an order not to take doctors). The German saw the cradle for the infant. He asked about the woman and the infant. My husband answered they had already took them. I was in the clothes closet, almost choking. When the German left, my husband opened the closet, so that I could breathe. My mother Tsiviah hid under the bed (All the elderly were on that list). My mother-in-law, Shifrah, was in a hiding space under the floor boards in that place. However, the Nazi accepted what my husband said and loft. Opposite us in the house of Markiter, there lived the Kaplan family, my sister-inlaw Pashah, with her two children. They made a double wall in the entrance way. They painted it and there was no sign that behind it was a space. When the action began, the Kaplan family with the two children said also Pashah's sister, Rodyah, entered the hiding place. The Germans discovered to my sadness the hidden wall and the hiding place behind it. The farmers who accompanied the Germans were ordered to destroy the wall with axes. We saw how they took out all they found there, how Pashah took her two children with her two hands, mid after her were Motyah, her husband, and Rodyah, her sister. The Germans were drinking at the ghetto gate from a barrel of alcohol, so that they would be drunk and dull of all human feeling.
Our room was in the third house to the left (after the house of Halabnah) from the gate of the ghetto. Thus, we were able to hear the orders of the Germans. Since there will still not enough people and the list was not full, there came the order to take us all, even doctors and people in other protected occupations. My husband hurried to hide n the hiding spot on the roof.
An infant was asleep after being drugged. We covered her with a sheet and left her lying in the cradle The mothers remained under the bed and boards. During the hours that people were being gathered, there were shouts that tore the heart and made a person crazy. Even now, I hear the echo in my ears and I tremble. The quiet of death took over the ghetto in the afternoon. The hunters had left. People, like mice, began to crawl out of their holes and saw that the sun was not ashamed to shine and to spread warmth and light on almost empty ghetto. Only about 300 people remained. New final lists were made. The elderly, who were intended to be shipped to death and were able to hide, were already not thought to be among the living and were not listed. They were torn apart spiritually, saw no hope, and prayed that their end would be swift and short. Their life was too hard to bear.
The Fourth Final Action
On October 15, 1942, the Gestapo entered the ghetto and arrested the police and Judenrat. Their function was finished. They locked them in a store in the marketplace. This was a clear sign that the ghetto was set to be destroyed. However, no one knew what was happening, because we were all asleep. The prisoners in the store were taken out early as the first ones to die. I woke up early in the morning to hear the cries of my brother, Abramtsik.
He opened the outside shutters and called to me that the ghetto was surrounded by Germans and then he fled. His voice still echoes in my ears. I did not see him anymore. My husband and I dressed quickly. We went to the room where my mother-in-law and mother were hiding. They looked at us with eyes full of fear and anticipated our reaction at what to do.
The infant was already not with us. We had luck a month before that I threw her at the entrance of the door of the Okhrits family according to agreement that my husband had made with his patient Vera. She agreed to take the child, to save her, because as she said simply, You will all be killed. My husband decided to leave the house to see what was being done. I shouted after him that perhaps we would not see one another again. However, he returned immediately and said that the ghetto was surrounded.
We left the house and my husband led me to Shmerl's house, near the new synagogue. This house was on the border of the ghetto and behind it was the street of the gentiles. The windows of the house were covered with boards. My husband took off a number of boards, so that he could jump through the window. The hour was about 5:30 a.m. It was still dark and people couldn't see a few steps ahead. My husband jumped quickly before I was able to stop him. And behold, I heard a Nazi on the other side of the street shout, Stop. He arrested my husband and took him away. I immediately returned in the direction of our house. Opposite our house was the house of Joseph Sirotah.
In his house, there was a big hiding place under the floor. A number of people, my brother among them, had hid there in an earlier action. I saw a number of families running to hide in the house of Sirotah. Since they had taken my husband, I stood frozen with no will to hide. My mother began to go away from me toward the people calling us to join them. She did not call me. She only turned to me, looked and didn't say a word. Once, my mother told me that in the time of an action it is forbidden to call to one another. That everyone should do what they want. Thanks to that I remained alive.
I stood like this for some time until it came to my attention that the gate would open and the action would soon begin. There was a need to hide. I entered our house with my mother-in-law and we hid in the hiding place in the entrance that was under the floor. The hiding place was part of a block cellar. Meanwhile, the hunt began. We heard a German enter the house and shout, Get out. He seized an infant from the Zaidl family, whose unfortunate parents had left behind. The action lasted all the day. We heard isolated shouts and pleas of women that they should leave them alive, because they are able to work.
The action continued also at night. We heard then the gentile farmers going around into the houses and plundering the property that remained. They also entered our house, rooms, and attic. They threw from there items onto the floor, which was at the entrance to our hiding place. The next morning, we heard the voice of the Volks-Deutsch enemy, Khrominski and the Russian doctor, Troshnikovah, who inherited my husband's position. The two came to steal all the medical equipment that remained in our apartment.
We remained in our hiding place all day and night. We decided to leave the next day before morning. I thought that we would remain buried and die from hunger. I attempted to make an opening and succeeded. My mother-in-law and I went out. Suddenly, we heard the steps of a man, who immediately spotted us and said, Get out. I saw that he was not a German but a Polish policeman from the area. I knew him. I asked him if he knew me and he said, Yes, from the pharmacy. I asked the mother of the doctor him to get us out of the ghetto. He said that it was not possible during the day. I asked him to come at night. I gave him my marriage ring and said that he should come at night and I would give him more. I said this despite that I knew that I had no more to give him. I told him that
we would remain in the hiding place until he would come. Otherwise, they would kill us. We went down to the cellar of our last apartment in the ghetto with a piece of dry bread and some water. I was worried if it was the policeman or someone else with every knock on the window and every step in the house I heard during that very long day. We knew that it was very late that night when the moon set. The gentile still had not come.
We decided to leave the hiding place. In the process, we made a noise and suddenly someone entered and lit us up with a flash light. This was the Polish policeman. However, he was drunk and stood on his feet with difficulty. He apologized that he was at a party in the police station. Apparently they celebrated the victory over 300 Jews from the ghetto, whose only weapons were hiding places, prayers and curses. He told us that the ghetto was already empty of Jews.
He thought everyone had been killed. The work was finished. His voice didn't even have a sentiment of pain, fear, shame, or sadness. It was a dry story and understandably one of murder, killing, plunder, destruction and death to everyone.
The gentiles were freed of the Jewish plague according to the guidance, organization, commands, and undertaking of the German occupants. Thus, we heard his few words and understood that our dear ones had given up their lives for eternity.
Fleeing the Ghetto
The drunken policeman, the gentile from the village of Demidovshtsinah, said that we should take off our shoes and not make a sound, because there was still a strong guard around the ghetto. This guard remained in its place one week. Shots were heard outside so he went ahead of us to scout. He checked the area and after that he called to us. We came to a break in the fence. The break was made by the gentiles, who came to plunder the ghetto. We left the ghetto. We crossed the street, Zaniviyah, and went by way of the alley to an uncultivated field. When we were in the field, a thin rain came down. The skies were dark. The policeman asked from more money. I took out a number of bills of money called Korbvanetsi (money that was in use then). However, that was not enough for him and he wanted more jewelry. I didn't have anything. I distanced from him some steps. I said that I had something in my stocking. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law took advantage of this opportunity and began to go away in the direction of the village of Haroshav.
After I moved farther away in the dark, I began to run and he began to shout that he would shoot. It was the same to me. I continued to run but he didn't shoot. He was afraid to make noise lest harm come to him. Thus, I escaped to the right in the direction of the village, Zaniviyah and Frishikhvost. I crawled on my stomach. I wanted to go around the mill, because I thought that they had a watch dog. The house of Ivan Paiduk was not far from the mill. I remembered that some weeks before, this man came to the ghetto to take my husband to treat his wife, who had a serious flow of blood. He did this despite that he knew that my husband did not have a permit to leave the ghetto. I thought then that something would happen to my husband, therefore I joined him. The farmer peacefully returned us that night to the ghetto and he promised that if we were in trouble he would accept us.
I directed my steps to the house of Ivan Baiduk. Nevertheless, I was afraid to enter, lest a stranger was there. I decided to enter the granary in which they kept the cows. I hid under sheaves of grain and waited for the morning. I imagined that the farm lady would come to milk the cows and then I would come out to her. I hoped that perhaps my husband was hiding with this farmer.
In the morning, the farm lady came to the barn and observed that the gate was open. She was frightened and looked around. When she saw me, she became more frightened and her tongue clove to her palate from excitement. She was afraid that I was being followed. I calmed her by saying that it was not
my intention to stay with her and that I had only come to ask if my husband was with her. She told me that he was hiding on a pile of straw above.
It is hard to describe the meeting with my husband. He told me how he had managed to escape from the ghetto after the German caught him and how in the two days that he was here, they had treated him nicely. He got food and even a newspaper. When I joined him, it was Sunday. Ivan and his wife left the house. They went to church. They did not give us food. They left food for the cows and returned only in the evening. Then, they told us that they would have kept my husband but now that I came, they were afraid.
We had to leave. My husband asked for a coat, since it was very cold. The farmer directed us to another sick person, the wife of Nastrok, who lived in the village of Frishikvost, about two kilometers away. His wife had heart disease and was one of my husband's patients.
We left that night in the direction of the village of Frishikhvost. We entered the village but didn't know which barn belonged to the farmer named Nastrok. Therefore, we hid behind sheaves of straw, near the wall of one of the granaries. We decided to wait until the morning, to see where the farmer would go. In the evening, we went from behind the straw and entered his barn. My husband identified himself, and this time we didn't reveal that there were two of us. The farmer was afraid to keep my husband. He told him of the apartments of two other sick people, Tanyah and Zusyah.
We decided at once that I would try my luck with the patient Zusyah, and that my husband would go to Tanyah. After I identified myself, Zusyah screamed loudly. I began to run from her in the darkness of the night. Meanwhile, my husband was transferred to Tanyah's aunt, who lived near the railway. She was a widow with two sons. He was relatively safe with her. After I was cast away by Zusyah, I decided to go to Tanyah to look for my husband. She told me that he was already transferred to another place and that she was prepared to take me to her aunt. Thus, my husband and I met again.
The winter had already begun. My husband dug a hiding place under the floor, whose entrance was in the wall of the stokehold, under the big oven in the kitchen. We spent the winter months there.
In the summer of 1943, the partisans began to put mines under the railway. The Germans ordered the removal of the trees by the railway and also all the isolated houses up to a distance of 500 meters. Tanyah and her young son took advice on how to get rid of us. The older son was a drunk and didn't even know that we were in the house. They decided to poison us. We heard this under the floor of the kitchen while listening to the conversations. They decided to buy mouse poison or fox poison from merchants who went around the village. However, to our luck they did not succeed in buying this poison. Then, they decided to tell the matter to Tanyah's lover, the policeman, Kostak, so that he wand take us to the forest and shoot us. We made preparations to escape before the execution. However, we did not have shoes. One day when the aunt left the house, my husband prepared rags in place of shoes and a skeleton key for the outside door. That evening, Tanyah told her aunt that when she told the policeman of the dilemma and how Dr Tserniak had saved her when she was sick, he promised to get in contact with the Director of the Employment Office, Mr. Artsishevski, who had hidden a Jewish girl. When the employment director heard the story, he agreed to accept us, as he remembered the medical help that his family had received.
During these days, there was still a curfew beginning at 7:00 p.m. We had to go before this time from the aunt's house to Artsishevski's. We were weak as we left from under the floor. The aunt took me under the arm and the director of employment took my husband, while we were disguised as farmers and returned to Antopol by way of the Shlus Alley. We came to the house of the Director of the Employment Office. We entered again into an attic
in the barn. His house was in the boundaries of the ghetto on the left side of Kobrin St. Thus, we returned to the ghetto and were, to our great sorrow, two isolated Jews, abandoned and unfortunate, awaiting the daily visit of the good servant lady of Mr. Artsishevski. She would bring us food and cry from excitement at seeing the apartment of the doctor and pharmacist from Antopol. Mr. Artsishevski would sneak into the barn in the evening. He would climb a ladder and silently tell about the war and the Nazis, whom he hated both as a Polish patriot and as an intellectual, intelligent and humane. He gave us encouragement to suffer only until the redemption would come.
By Rabbi Yaakov Pester
I cry over these, over the great in Torah, the cedars of the Lebanon, holy to G-d, who did not stop reciting text all their lives and gave their soul, for martyrdom, for the holy Torah, the holiness of our people, and the holiness of our land!
Our small town of Antopol was like all the towns in the Kobrin district, small in numbers and great in quality. Of the inhabitants of the town, some were craftsmen, some farmers, and some dealt in commerce. The local Jews were simple in their nature and image. However, they were great in their spirit and soul. They were strict in Torah and commandments. They were ready in their simple faith to give up their life for our holy Torah. All their desire in life was to increase and glorify the Torah. They loved Torah and respected rabbis. Everyone who was able to raise their sons to the study of the Torah was considered to be very rich. Everyone who did not see the happiness of the father upon his son arriving from the rabbinical seminary for the Passover Tabernacles vacation, did not see happiness. Our small town also raised great rabbis, whose fame was known over the width of the country. We will say something about the rabbinical graduates of our town, who fell at the hands of the murderers, may their names be blotted out. We must raise up a monument in memory to those who died without leaving out a name or memory. However, we do not have to recruit for the memory of the righteous. Their words are their memory.
In Antopol, there were more than twenty youths who had studied in graduate rabbinical seminaries. Eleven of them fell as martyrs.
The first martyr was the rabbi R. Mosheh Nudel, of blessed memory, who was ordained by great rabbis in Poland. He studied in the rabbinical seminary of Branovits and afterwards studied in the rabbinical seminary of Kamkfets. He was one of the most diligent students in the rabbinical seminary. He was very studious and had a wonderful memory. He studied all his days with great diligence and with faithful love for the Torah.
His father was a very poor shoemaker. However, he was rich in the way that he merited to raise a great son in Torah. R. Mosheh Nudel married a woman from Damatsheve, the daughter of one of the important people in the town. R. Nudel dealt in Torah and commerce and these were tied together until his last day when he gave up his pure soul to his Creator.
I remember for eternity Rabbi. R. Yitshak Klug, of blessed memory. His father was a baker. R. Yitshak Klug studied all his days in rabbinical seminaries, primarily the rabbinical seminary of Kamiriets in which he received ordination from important rabbis. He was very diligent and invested all his strength to the study of Torah. He was very successful in his study and especially in Codes. He had a good nature and was endowed with good qualities. He vas beloved to people acid G-d. He married a woman from Pinsk and dealt in commerce until his last day, when he returned his pure soul to its Creator.
One of his friends was R. Yosef Kisilov, of blessed memory. He studied in the seminaries of Kletsk and Brisk. Even in his youth, he was recognized for his skills. He made wonderful innovations
in Torah with his sharp mind. He married a woman from Shashev and dealt in commerce until his last day. May his memory be blessed!
The truth must be said. I admit and am not ashamed that I do not have words to express the value and greatness of one of the people of Antopol, Rabbi Shemuel Varsha, of blessed memory.
R. Shemuel Varsha studied in the seminaries of Kobrin and Kaminets. He was known by the name, Genius of Antopol. And it is known that in the rabbinical seminaries of Poland and Lithuania, people were precise in giving such praise. He had a marvelous memory and was very diligent. He spent his nights like his days, in the study of our holy Torah. He had a marvelous ability to express himself and left after him many written innovations in Torah. He also dealt with public affairs in Antopol. He was one of the founders of the society, Glory of Youth. He organized the religious youth for the Mizrahi to prepare for pioneering. His father, R. Benjamin Varsha, was known to be a scholar and to do good deeds. Their house was open to travelers. May their memory be blessed.
With a painful heart, I raise some words about the Rabbi R. Hayim Sirotah, of blessed memory. He was one of those individuals distinguished in the rabbinical seminaries. He studied in the rabbinical seminaries of Kobrin and Mir. Even as a young man, his sharp mind caused excitement in town. All the people in town loved him very much. He married the daughter of our rabbi, R. Mosheh Vulfson, of blessed memory and he dealt in commerce until his last day. May their memory be blessed.
I write to memorialize the young rabbinical students. One of them was R. Tsevi Erlikh, of blessed memory, who studied in the seminaries of Pruznah and Kaminets. He never stopped studying. He was righteous in his deeds and humble in his manner. He was meant for greatness but was cut off very young.
R. Yehial Vulfson, of blessed memory, the son of our town rabbi was very great in Torah when he was young. He studied in Branovits and Kaminets. They said about him that the Torah came to its inn.
And I memorialize the dear pleasant youths: David Fridman, R. Leib Goldberg, R. Alter Goldberg, R. Yisrafil Mikhael Volinets, his brother Yitshak Volinets, and R. Pinchas Postol, who studied in the rabbinical seminaries of Branovits and Kobrin. They were strict in Torah and commandments until their last day when their light was extinguished by cursed murderers.
We stand with bent head on the grave of the members of our town, which is etched in our heart. They fell at the hands of murderers, who killed our infants having been just weaned from their mothers breasts. They killed them and had no mercy.
The voice of the blood of our people cries from the ground, Earth do not cover our blood!
The heart is sad and drips blood and a cry breaks out, How long, G-d, will the enemy desecrate your name? G-d of vengeance appear!
We believe and we are the children of believers. The decree went from Him and we cannot think about it. However we also believe in the promise, I will revenge and repay. And near is the day of their suffering when their evil will come upon them. They will drink from the cup of poison and receive their reward. They will recognize and know that all on earth have a day of Judgment and a judge and His kingdom is over all.
By Shoshanah Kats
There were some Germans who lived in town with their families and fulfilled various administrative functions. They employed Jewish girls from the ghetto for household work. I was among them. On one of the days when I returned from work, I went to visit a friend. However, I was not able to return
home to my mother. The confusion was terrible, and the mother of my friend did not let me leave the house that evening. Action number 2 began at 6:30 that morning. When I returned home, I did not find my mother. My uncle and aunt, who hid in the garden of our house, told me that she was taken to Bronnah Gura together with all of them.
The local German with whom I worked came to the Judenrat and asked about me, since I did not come to work. They showed him where I was. However, I was afraid to go with him. I began to cry bitterly. The German began to calm me. Also the Judenrat person said that I should go with the German to my house and not be afraid because the Action was already finished. The German came to accompany me to my house.
It was already written on the entrance on the door of our house: Entrance forbidden. I entered with the help of the German inside. I began to search the rooms and to call: Mother! Mother! However, all was in vain. She already was not among the living. My uncle Yaakov Leib and my aunt Stirah answered my call from the courtyard and garden. The German permitted them to enter our house and wrote on the entrance that with his permission Jews live here.
I went with the German to work. There was no boundary to my anguish. The German acted humanely with me. He offered me food and when I finished the work, he suggested to me that I sleep in his house since he knew that I was afraid. However, I returned home.
My uncle, my aunt, their daughter and her child also came out from their hiding place and assured me the best they could. Life returned to its path and thus passed three months. There appeared the covered cars again in the market place on one clear day. I felt toward evening in the house of my employer the preparation of the SS. Preparations were again made for the eventuality. I returned together with all of them that evening to a hiding place.
Before morning, we heard steps in the house and the voices of the SS, who went around the rooms and searched the hiding places of their victims. The entrance to our hiding place was masked by a bed that stood on the entrance to the tunnel. One of the SS moved the bed with a blow of his boots. He opened the entrance of the tunnel and understandably found all of us. There were in one room my uncle and aunt, their daughter Lifshah with her child Lailah, their second daughter, Itkah, her husband, and daughter Rivkah, age 12, and son, age 9, and I together with them. The SS ordered us to follow them through the courtyard, one after the other, as one SS went in front with a whip in his hand, and the second, who looked like a monster, closed the procession.
There was found together with the SS, a representative of the Judenrat, a youth my age named Hayim Epstein. When we went, he whispered to the SS behind us that I was his girlfriend, and the German whispered to me to go away. I obeyed him and slipped away to the side of the house. I entered quick as lightning again the tunnel. The house was empty from any living being. I remained alone.
I heard in the hours of the afternoon sudden crying and recognized the voice of the daughter of my uncle, Itkah. I went above and saw Itkah and her husband (I forget his name) and their daughter Esterkah, her sister, Lifshah, and her daughter Lili. Their parents, my uncle and aunt, and their nine-year old son were taken to the place of execution. Lifshah and Lili, who were also together with me when our house was searched also succeeded in escaping from the line and hid, without my knowledge, between two closets that stood in the vestibule. I had passed by them in my flight without noticing them. They only left their hiding place when her sister and her husband came.
Again about four months passed. People were again taken to work. It was fall, the time of the potato harvest in the fields. There a total of about 300 people left in the ghetto.
Before dawn, when we were still asleep, we heard
cries of terror outside.When we opened the window, there was revealed the known picture of the crowd of SS, the police, armed from foot to head, and their faithful police helpers from among the Christian population, as they pursued their victims. I jumped outside into the courtyard of our house dressed only in my nightgown and from there I entered the garden of my Christian neighbor. I ran down the narrow path when suddenly I noticed a pile of empty bean sacks. I dug into the pile and held my breath. The hunters passed me, but they did not notice me. There, I remained the whole day.
I left my hiding place in the evening and began to seek an exit from the ghetto. On my way by one of the houses I noticed the elderly Grinman, aged 80, and her grandson, aged 7, embracing in death. I slowly approached the ghetto fence and began to dig at the frozen ground with my hand. After superhuman efforts, I was able to pass to the other side of the fence.While taking care that the Christian inhabitants did not notice me, I left by an alley to outside the area of town. I began to walk in the direction of the nearest farm, in which I knew one of the daughters of the Christian family. I entered the house and asked for my acquaintance, Ginyah, to give me some old dress. She said that I should go in the direction of the nearest grove. More Jewish escapees were there and tomorrow she would bring me a dress if I would now give her the ring on my finger. She did not offer me food and not even water to drink. Therefore, I understood her intentions and left the house.
When I went a little distance from the place, I heard voices of people speaking Yiddish. When I came near, I. found the wife of David Kaplan, her daughter, Hadassah, and her infant daughter, about a year old. Hadassah's mother began to insist that her daughter follow me. Perhaps, we would be saved. She should leave the infant at the entrance of the house of a farm of Christians. Perhaps, they would adopt it. She convinced with difficulty her daughter to take the desperate act of abandoning her infant daughter. She left the fruit of her womb under a window. When we left, we heard the shrieking of the infant, who awoke from her sleep.
Hadassah did not stop crying all the way. The crying of her daughter echoing in our ears did not give her rest. When we wandered that night, we were sure that we arrived at a settlement distant from Antopol. However, we found ourselves near again to the town. We began in haste to run in the opposite direction and we arrived at a farm before dawn.
Hadassah was not calm. She left me and returned to the place where she left her mother and infant. I managed to hide inside a pile of straw that was laid against the wall of the stable. I heard steps coming close after some hours. I held my breath from fear. Someone approached, raised slowly the corners of the pile, and whispered: Don't be afraid. I saw you hide here. Remain until evening and then you can enter the house. The man returned in the evening and invited me to his house. They fed me and gave me drink. The woman gave me a dress, boots, a blouse, and overcoat. These were used clothes. However, they were in sufficiently good condition. They were members of the Vitovits family, about whose humane actions to save Jews many know to tell.
Mr. Vitovits instructed me how to act in case I was caught by Nazis or local police. I was to say in this case that I did not know the people and I did not enter the attic of their barn with their permission and he, understandably, did not know that I existed. Thus, I remained with this family, in which all of them cooperated, the children and the wife, to save Jews, whom they hid in different places on their farm and for whose needs they undertook to supply.
I heard that night the whispering of people, who were also dwelling in an attic, near me. They were Shayke Neidus and his friend, who fled from a camp of arrestees in Kobrin and arrived at the family Vitovits. Mr. Vitovits passed us from the attic in the barn to the pit in a nearby forest, which was prepared as a hiding place during times of attacks. We remained here about two weeks.
Finally, Mr. Vitovits decided that we could not continue to stay with him since the Germans had advanced up to Moscow and the prospects seemed hopeless, especially since the neighbors began to follow after the preparation on the farm. Vitovits equipped all of us with food for some days and accompanied us until past the farm of Grushvah so that we would not stumble upon Germans, who were camping in the place, and advised us to reach the ghetto Pruzni, in which still no harm was done to the Jews. He also attempted to provide me with an identity card (passport) of a young Christian girl who had died at this time. However, he was not able to execute this for different reasons.
The three of us went to Pruzni and we reached the village of Zafrod at 2 p.m. on our way. The inhabitants observed us (as apparently, the village guard alerted them by ringing bells). Immediately, panic arose. We began to run in order to escape the village and were able to reach a grove at the end of the village. And here we separated in the dark of night.
I remained alone until dawn and saw that paths pass the grove in which cattle went to graze. I went farther into the midst of the forest so that no one would come upon me in it. I passed all day there. Before the evening when I was entirely wet from the rain that fell, I decided to approach the village and try my luck again. I knocked on the house of one of the farmers. He went out and asked who I was. When he recognized that I was not one of the women of the place, he shut the door. I drew a little water from the well in the courtyard. I took down from the fence a wet sack in which I covered my head with it and walked the length of the village until its other end. When I left the village, I met to my astonishment again with Shayke Neidus and his friend, and the three of us walked together upon the advice of Shayke to a nearby farm. Shayke suggested that for the ten dollars that he had he would ask the farmer to lodge them one night.
To be sure, one farmer agreed. He opened the barn and put us in it. However, before one hour was up, the police appeared, whom he invited, and they took us outside. We received murderous blows. I was separated from my friends and the police brought us to the station. The commander, who spoke Polish, began to examine me for my place of origin and other details. During the examination, I began to implore him to let me off and allow me to go to the ghetto of Pruzni as if in it were found my relatives. I succeeded in influencing his humane feelings and even tears were seen in his eyes upon hearing all that had passed over me and he agreed to free me. He advised me to wait until before dawn and together with the farmers bringing fodder to their farms to go towards Pruzni.
When I left the police station, rain was falling. I didn't know where to go in the dark. I saw a pile of fodder under an awning especially set up. I penetrated under a layer of fodder and fell asleep. When it became day, I saw farmers' wagons loaded with fodder going in the direction of the border that the Germans set up for some reason near Pruzni. I joined one of the wagons without the farmer paying attention to me and walked after him. Suddenly, the farmer turned aside and I found myself facing the boundary. A farm woman, who was bringing a wagon full of cabbage, came towards me and to my question if she saw Germans on the way said to me that I could go forward without fear. The Germans remained at home because of the rain and were busy playing cards. I passed the boundary and when I went two kilometers, Shayke and his friend came out from the side of the forest. They told me that they were able to bribe the police with some dollars and thus were saved.
We decided to go separately with me going before them as a scout. Suddenly, there appeared three people in front of me. All of them were wearing German uniforms. One of them spoke Polish and two of them spoke German. When they saw me, they shouted to me, Stop! I pretended that I did not understand and continued to walk. However, the
Pole caught up with me and angrily stopped me, shouting: Why didn't you pay attention to the order? Tell me, who you are, Russian, Jewish, or Polish?
I said that I am Russian. I was working in the potato harvest in a nearby village and I am returning now to a second village near Pruzni.
Show me your documents, again ordered the Pole.
I said that in our village we still didn't receive any documents. One of the Germans confirmed that it was truly still before documents were given and thus they allowed me to continue on my way.
My two friends, who were walking after me, saw what was happening and had fled into the forest.
I continued to walk and near Pruzni met a cart. In it there were two youths with the identity sign of the yellow patch on their breasts. They recognized that I am Jewish and advised me to hide during the day in the nearby brick factory and in the evening they would enter me into the ghetto together with the women working in the field on the potato harvest and thus it was.
When I came to the ghetto of Pruzni, I went to the house of Yasha Lifshits, an inhabitant of Antopol. He came here before there was a ghetto when the Christians slandered him that he was a Communist. And after he received murderous blows, he left Antopol with his family and went to Pruzni. The meeting with the family was full of tension. They asked me a lot of what happened to Antopol, the town of their birth, and about the destruction of the ghetto. Mr. Lifshits returned home in the company of some men and among them, as was known to me afterwards, a Christian. All of them were dressed as Jews living in the ghetto with a patch on their breasts. However, these were partisans, who had already begun to act in the region.
On one winter night when there was a snowstorm taking place outside, the wires of the fence were cut and we passed to the concentration of the partisans in the region, who were armed with light weapons of all sorts and ammunition. I acted in the ranks of the partisans until the day of liberation in the month of August. It was the period of the grain harvest.
I decided to visit Antopol, the place of my birth. Alone and with the certain knowledge that I would not find one of my family alive, I walked to the place where the house had stood in which I was born and raised. I stood on the hill where our house had stood and I caused to come into existence in my imagination the house, its rooms, and exits. The good days of my youth passed quickly before my eyes. All this was no more. I was choked with tears and left the place.
This is my incomplete story because truthfully a person could not exhaust the description of the disaster that passed over all the House of Israel and the community of Antopol in it.
By P. Czerniak
In 1941 when the Einsatz Kommando of Himmler and Kaltenbruner arrived in the countries of Eastern Europe, their goal was to destroy people who were not similar or not necessary to their goals: Jews, gypsies, communists, intellectuals, nationalists, sick people, babies, and aged parents (who could not work making war materials). A Jewish doctor and partisan was to them a threefold criminal, most dangerous for the Third Reich.
Four years passed. With great delay, justice returned to the world and also after a delay began the judgment of the murderers, who were professionals with diplomas, after they managed to spill 24 million liters of Jewish blood from among the 52 million liters that they spilled like water. And they likewise produced tons of soap from the remains of fat left
on the bodies of the starved Jews, who were destroyed. The wind blew the ashes of the chief murderer. As to his assistant hangmen, some of them were sentenced, and some of them still compete with the genius of the accursed Jews so that they can find holes under the earth to keep justice from reaching them. The threefold criminal (Jew plus doctor plus partisan), who was judged to death by Hitler, returned from the forest, from the underground to the city, so that he could fulfill his function as doctor. He summarized and compared the action of the murderers, the super-men, on the one hand, and his, the persecuted animal, the accursed Jew, the gypsy, the Zhid, on the other hand.
He began the search for his colleague doctors and was informed: one from Brisk (A. H.) poured sulfuric acid on his murderers, who came to take him to execution, and jumped from a high story in his house. Thus, he preferred to end his young life rather than by being pierced by German bullets. One from Kobrin (A. G.) prepared two hand grenades and threw them on his enemies and himself. The third in Horodets (Z. A.) was forced by them to dig a pit near the stable in the courtyard. They threw him dying into there together with his wife, who held in her arms their two-year-old child. The fourth in the nearby city of Drohitsin injected into his veins a sufficient dose of morphine while he still had time. The fifth and sixth, may their memory be blessed, did not leave the community that they treated before they were killed like tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters and thrown into a common grave. There were killed by the Nazis in two and a half years in my Lithuanian town: two young doctors, a dentist, two pharmacists and three assistant pharmacists, two barber-surgeons, two midwives, three nurses and other assistant medical help.
I remained alone, abandoned and wretched. I heard questions not just once: Did many Jews not succeed to save themselves and stood organized in line to be killed? I will answer with a question: What were the possibilities to be saved? The answer: 1) To hide with goodhearted people, not Jews; 2) to join the partisans in the forests; 3) to move to a strange place with the forged identity of a non-Jew. However, then the question to ask is When to carry this out? 1) To flee early while there is still time or 2) to flee in a time of the Action, partial or final destruction of the ghetto. The first way was connected with severe repressions by the occupants. If a person disappeared from the ghetto, they took out in his place for execution 50 or 100 others, relatives and town notables. And who wanted to try to save himself at so frightening a price? The second way demanded from the person undertaking it much inner strength and strong desire to live, despite the psychological disease of psychological totoplegy, which took hold of those who lived in the ghettos. From the medical viewpoint, this paralyzing disease is the reason chiefly for the ease by which the homicidal people destroyed millions.
How were they able to cause totoplegy? Please imagine the following. They took people, who until then had been free, cultured, intellectual, active in science, commerce and industry, active in the free professions, children of parents, brothers, and friends. They humiliated them according to plan slowly, continually, indifferently, with mockery and contempt, laughter and cruelty that were inhuman for people lacking defense or even supporters, for people not necessary to anyone, no value, for whom anyone in a green uniform, having a problem, could at any time, at any place, as he being intoxicated, wanted to kill them for a made up pretext. They locked these people in ghettos, crowded, poor, primitive, hungry, and dirty. They cut off all connection with the world; near and distant. They put on them a regime of prisoners, orders, contributions, theft, and forced labor without payment and without any satisfaction in addition to continual fear of death, concentration camp, and destruction without judgment and reason, without argument, with the natural fear of their hiding place being revealed and the removal of adults and children, like mice from their holes, and bringing
them to mass graves or killing them on the spot, after murderous blows. In addition to living like that, without any hope for a change for the better and thus during a year and another year: 360-720 days.
What becomes of the psyche of people in these conditions? What value does their life have for themselves? Why live, for whom and for what? This is a condition so severe that I heard young and strong people in the past, with whom I waited in one group for a van to come to take them to pits where they would be made to undress and get a bullet in the neck, and I heard them say: May the end come quickly, but quickly! We do not want to live and suffer any more. Death was like freedom from a burden. When I turned there to the young doctor V.P., who had graduated a year ago from the Faculty in Vilna and requested: Rafi, come let us escape. I received the answer: There is no value and I will not leave my mother here. This is a psychiatric disease and its name is totoplegy, a self condemnation to death. This is self degradation to zero, with resignation from life. This is what helped the homicidal people. Only a remnant of much inner strength that was superhuman, beyond normal, and a weak hope drove individuals to try their luck. And when the first stop, running away, succeeded, there remained still a long way to remain in life, after the escape.
This way from the ghetto under siege, from the square awaiting expulsion to a place of refuge was very difficult. It was dangerous and the chances for success rare. Those who passed through it did this not according to a single rule. Each one had his or her own odyssey. Here is one of them from Antopol. It is April 1942. A farmer appears before the Jewish doctor with a pass from the German gendarmes in this language: We approve for the Zhid doctor P. Ts. to leave the ghetto for twelve hours and to visit the sick person in the village H. The cart brings the doctor to a house at the edge of the village. A sick person with jaundice enters the room. His dress, his gun, a machine gun on his shoulder and hand grenades in his belt testify who he is, which he says: You and I are persecuted We have faith in you. Act and be silent There will come a time and we will help you. Similar episodes occur. It is October 1942. The Einsatz kommando had surrounded the ghetto for final liquidation of its last 300 or so inhabitants.
The doctor decided: I will not go to undress at the edge of the pit, to receive a bullet in the head, and to fall on a pile of bodies that preceded me. He succeeded on his third try to escape the Umzatsplatz. The places and addresses of the Jewish academic were these places: fields, stables, ruins, piles of straw, under the floor in those days. This was until he made contact with the people in the forest, and the Jewish doctor, who escaped from human hunters, began to act as a person needed to someone. He began to devote himself heart and soul to his saviors. He found in the Yokhni forest, near the village of Odrinkah in the district of Antopol, a group of about thirty people in the underground. They dwelled in tents or on the grass under a tree, near the swamps. They still had only a few weapons. They were in one place today and in another place the next day. This was because the Germans ambushed them and sent spies. It was always an emergency situation. However, you were breathing freely. You had a weapon in your hand to fight and hope in your heart. It was not important that exclusive of your professional knowledge in your brain that you had nothing. There were no medicine, instruments, professional help, work place, light, and the like. Work goes on even under these conditions. This is especially the case since there is a great desire and volunteering without bounds. Behold, you are free and equal among equals. You have absolute responsibility in matters of health in the camp and for those who believe in you. The Jewish doctor began to act.
The first examination of the fighters was done behind a sheet between trees, on a blanket spread on the grass. There was a handkerchief in place of a stethoscope. It became clear that half the people suffered from scabies. Treatment was immediately begun. They brought sulfur and pig fat (Adeps
suilli). The pharmacist, G. Ts., the wife of the doctor, who also escaped from the ghetto under siege, prepared an ointment of twenty percent sulfur. During a number of days the odor of sulfur spread among the trees of the forest. They washed their bodies in the nearby swamp. They boiled part of the clothes and threw away the rest, burning them. The people in the forest said after about two weeks: How good it is for us; we can rest and sleep. The ointment doctor, of the threefold criminal doctor, Jew, and partisan was given without payment to people in contact, to sympathizers, to the village population. There were among them many sick with scabies. This helped. The Jewish couple who escaped the hunters became blessed people.
At the same time history tells according to document no. 94 of the Nuremburg trial for Nazi criminals that a German doctor, with blue blood in his veins, belonging to Einsatz Kommando A found among the Jews of Newel and Janowiczc cases of scabies. (No one knows if it were really scabies. The diagnoses of the blue blood were wrong more than once). As a diligent epidemiologist, the doctor sought to eradicate the disease so that it would not spread. The deed was done in an original, contemptible Hitlerian fashion. They killed 640 Jews in Newel and 1,025 Jews in Janowiczc and burned their houses. So, here you have the method of public medicine for dermatology as done by Jews and as done by Nazis. The odor of sulfur and healing of the disease without any fatality in the case of thousands of people in the district of Antopol and the smell of burning and piles of ashes of houses plus the smell of lime from the mass grave; of l,665 Jews, the 1,665 victims in the district of Newel. Light versus darkness, blacker than darkness.
The End of 1943 to the Beginning of 1944
The working conditions of the doctor, Pyotr Aronovits, the threefold criminal, improved. The scope of his work increased. We were already 700 people in two camps: the fighting group (about 400 soldiers) and the family camp hidden in a safe place in the region of the Sporowo swamps. I sent there the doctor, Trushnikovah, whom the Germans brought to Antopol in my place and had fled to us in the beginning of 1944 when the condition of the front worsened for the Germans. The Jew and his wife remained in the operative camp. The number of victims went up and also the number of wounded and sick. The partisan unit took on itself to supply medical help to the population of the villages in which it camped. Since it was forbidden to us to travel to the district city of Antopol, we had a lot of work.
1. A partisan infirmary was set up. In the beginning it was a tent and after that one of the houses in the village to which the group entered. An adjutant soldier was assigned to the authority of the doctor, a horse and wagon, and equipment for packing. We worked out a plan according to which we could quickly pack up the infirmary and leave the place together with the bed in times of emergency. This infirmary worked all hours of the day and night because there was constant movement in the camp. The groups of fighters would constantly go out to fight, sabotage, scout, make contact, and other things. Partisans from other groups would come or pass on the way to their goals, and among them there were not a few needing medical help. Sick people from the population would knock on the door after they received permission to enter our area from people whom we trusted.
A partisan pharmacy was set up and instruments assembled. The soldiers were asked in a general assembly to bring medicine left behind in village houses. The action was successful. There quickly appeared a pile of packets and boxes with pills, injections, ointments, and powders. The pharmacist counted the property. The Nazi pharmacies were a secondary source of medicines. People of the Third Reich would sell for pig fat to our contact people medicines according to the lists of the Jewish doctor. Also, the central medical service of the partisan unit was also sent from time to time a certain supply. Finally, there served as a blood bank after steriliza-
tion in a barrel for homemade vodka bottles with physiological water. There was also organized a clinical laboratory for chemical examinations of urine.
The collection of medical instruments was done in a similar way, including local inventions. For example, we invaded the village of Demidovshtsinah. In about a half hour, there appeared a local inhabitant, who was crying: Help, my wife is going to die. It became clear that she had a miscarriage in the third month. There were no instruments for scraping. We mobilized a village blacksmith, who worked for two hours. We made tongues from iron rods which had been used to clean rifles. There were joined pieces of tin from the copper of a battery to another iron rod. Another tool was made from an aluminum tube of different size, which had been used in the village to distill homemade vodka. Similarly, a speculum was made, which completed the gynecological tools. A pot served as a sterilizer and the kitchen table became a gynecological one. The scraping was done and the bleeding stopped. The woman got better. Her future pregnancy would be better. In another village (Drobnoyah) a pregnant woman began to give birth and she had triplets. To my good fortune, everything went well. I tied the umbilical cords and made a massage of the area of the womb so that the placenta, which was late in coming out, would come out.
At that same time, Nazi doctors stopped the natural bleeding of Jewish women in concentration camps, with completely different methods, with a goal that the women would never be pregnant again. And here again you have the contrast of the gynecological and birthing methods of the Jewish doctor in comparison with the Nazis: treatment of a woman's bleeding with the human goal of her getting better and to save her future fertility as opposed to the method of castration by those, whose names should be blotted out, of young Jewish women to sterilize them and destroy their fertility.
The special worry of the Jewish doctor was the sanitary condition in the fighters' camp, liquidating and preventing epidemics. An epidemic of typhus broke out in our area at the beginning of 1944. The soldiers would sometimes remain to sleep in the villages and have lice attach themselves. They brought the epidemic in this way to the camp. The number of sick people was ten. We began to act. We built at the entrance of the camp in the ground a room for preventive disinfection with steam. There we hung all the clothing and bed utensils for two hours. Hair was cut and all bathed in a bathhouse in the field. The orders were carried out. The soldiers were freed from the third plague of Egypt. The sick were separated for treatment. The results were good. We reached the number of 22 sick and all of them recovered. There was not one death. This was in spite of the fact that the Nazis attacked us during that time with the help of the Hungarian cavalry. We were forced to leave the place and drag four very sick people on stretchers made from the branches of trees and cloth.
At that time, the history of the criminal of blue blood tells: the commander of Einsatz Gruppe B, Nebe, sent on October 10 a proud report to Berlin. He informs in it that there was typhus in Vitbesk. There was suspicion that its source was the ghetto that was crowded. Therefore, 4,090 Jews were taken for execution and the ghetto liquidated. The sanitary authorities found in Radomysl that the ghetto was, so to speak, filthy. They suspected that this was likely to cause an epidemic of typhus. Therefore, 1,668 Jews were killed and the fear of the potential epidemic passed.
It is possible to distinguish the difference in the methods of epidemiological work. The Jewish doctor (the: anti-Nazi criminal) effectively fought in the forest under the conditions of partisans against lice that spread the disease and the pseudo scholar doctors of the group of criminals that thought itself to be at the height of humanity fought the epidemic by killing the sick. Didn't they show to their contempt both their bravery and their skill what is Nazism?
We were concerned for the wounded and sick who needed hospitalization. It was the ambition of the Jewish doctor in the case of the wounded to return them to the front as soon as possible. Small operations, bandages, and taking care of breaks were done in place. We had in our possession a large amount of plaster from a captured van with some things necessary for us. We would transfer the severely wounded to behind the front lines with the help of planes, which would come at night from time to time to the partisan airfield in the forests.
And here is an episode. Behold, there was a small boat with the adjutant and wounded soldier. It was scouting. It came upon a German unit and there was a battle. The person wounded in his foot fell to the ground. A German soldier came up. He gave him a kick with the foot and said dead. However, he shot a bullet to the region of the jaw neck to be more sure and left. The bullet passed the jaw and the mouth. The jaw was paralyzed and the lungs got gangrene from swallowing.We traveled with this wounded person in the canals between the swamps many kilometers and many hours to the partisan airfield. A Piper plane came at night and took the wounded person and brought him to a hospital where the Germans were not in power.
Another image appears before my eyes. I am brought to a corner of the ghetto for final liquidation on a Sunday. We are waiting for the van. An excellent young carpenter is brought to the area. The Nazi found him in a hole and shot him because he did not hurry to leave. The bullet struck the stomach, through which opening the small intestine came out. The young man was suffering from terrible pains. He held his head in his hands. What help could I give him? With the help of a handkerchief with traces of blood from a blow which I received on my forehead in my first attempt to flee, behold I put back his intestine and closed the opening. The pains became quieter and that is all. I knew that in 10-20 minutes they would come to take us and also the youth to there for execution. And I made the third attempt to flee before the van came and I succeeded.
And again the comparison of the two methods of medical surgical help: the help to him from the free Jewish doctor, traveling with him to distances while risking life with the goal to save the wounded, and the German method without any concern to give medical help to wounded, without any humane feeling to do something for the wounded. Just throwing him on the ground in a camp to kill the wounded. Is this thing believable?
As said, the partisan doctor was also a doctor for the village population in which we temporarily dwelled. However, sick people from the distant region, who heard about the Jewish partisan doctor working with the partisans, would make efforts to reach him. They sought help from our contact people and the end result was the need to give them medical aid. It was also necessary to travel to villages where the sick were lying, according to recommendation of our staff. The underground medical help was maximal and free.
And, behold, there was an event about which I knew later. A child from a family in the service of the occupying authorities received lengthy treatment from the Russian doctor in Antopol, who took the place of the Jewish doctor, whom they wanted to kill and who had fled. The treatment of the child did not succeed. Then, the authorities of the district gave this advice: Go the village of Haroshvo, seek protection from the partisan doctor, and we will hear what he says. The thing was done. The medical treatment was successful.
And at that time history tells of Nazi horrors against Jewish children. A German doctor found in Shimiatitsi sixteen retarded Jewish children in a medical institute. According to him, they were not receiving the necessary supervision. It is for that reason that he shot them in the head and killed them with great German precision. And in those days in another place, the representatives of the Hitler youth would take Jewish children from the Lemberg ghetto and use them as targets for good shooting. Is it necessary to compare the pediatrics of the
Jewish criminal doctor and the medicine of the super-humans?
Yes, the methods of work and medical and human ethics of the Jewish partisan were entirely different than those of the Germans. Even then in the case of the Jewish doctor there were no differences in the treatment of the sick whether they were Jews or not Jews. Jewish partisans received treatment similar to that of non-Jews and also all the non-Jewish population, in which perhaps more than one of them showed Anti-Semitism in other circumstances received similar treatment. However, when they needed the medical help of a Jewish doctor, there was professional knowledge verbally and actively, objectivity and similar devotion day and night.
There will testify to that some figures that were gathered by the Jewish doctor in the forests: in the course of 18 months, he saw 7,320 walk-in patients of partisan sick and 2,400 sick from among the population, which lived in the region of action of the partisans. There received treatment 58 wounded partisans and 6 citizens. There were made 35 small operations, there were 213 sick people put into the hospital, and there were 152 visits to the sick who lived in about 46 points of settlement. He participated in 9 big military actions.
In order to carry out the great amount of work and to take care to provide quick first aid, which is certainly known to be frequently the determining factor in the fate of the wounded, it was necessary to have a staff to help during military engagements. There were no qualified people or very few qualified people among the fighters. Certainly, the Jewish doctors, barber-surgeons, nurses, and sanitary workers had been killed. Therefore, the doctor in the forests had to teach practical nurses and sanitary workers among those present. In the course of a number of months, sixteen young girls received lessons and examples in first aid. Every one of them was attached afterwards to a certain unit of fighters. In cases when the staff and most fighters would go on a big action, the Jewish doctor was also permitted to join and see with his eyes acts of vengeance and actions taken for freedom, as he was considered a member of the staff. The practical nurses and combat sanitary workers, who were instructed, filled their task faithfully, devotedly, and professionally in a way worthy of distinction.
It is unnecessary to emphasize the differences in approach and instruction in giving first aid, including the staff treating the sick, which on the one hand the accursed Jew showed and which on the other hand the hunters of humans showed. The former attracted medical staff, taught the art of medicine to assistants, and increased their number in order to offer medical assistance to the needy. And the Nazis killed in that region and at the time of occupation doctors, dentists, pharmacists, midwives, nurses, and sanitary workers and destroyed clinics and the regional hospital. In doing so, they destroyed most of the existing medical help.
The Last Battle with the Germans
At the beginning of June 1944 our contact people informed us that a group of German soldiers were dug in the forest in front of the alcohol factory. All of us went to attack from the side. They were frightened and fled. There was fire seen in the horizon from Brezah-Kartuzkah. Evening came. The skies were red from the fires that the Germans lighted before they retreated. However, there were no Germans. We were free. There was the light of redemption before us. We came to it and it came to us. There was made on the afternoon of the second day the first contact with the shock troops 373 of the army that fought, like us, against criminals, frightened people, small and sad, who fled in such great haste and who on the 22nd of June, 1941, with the sound of orders and spark of the sword invaded a country not theirs, to our Antopol, and turned it into a pile of ruins.
Exactly after three years, on June 22, 1944, we entered Antopol again with a group of fighting partisans. There was quiet, an empty vacuum no Jews all lost. There remained one comfort for a Jewish doctor, who returned to this place to devote
all his strength and time to the restitution of medical service and to find comfort in that. And in that time, to realize his dream, from the time of his youth, to seek all possible ways in order to reach the homeland that he was lacking and to those like him in the course of a dark and long exile, to live in it free and to work for its good and greatness.
There ended a chapter that was not forgotten in the lives of Jews and in the lives of Jewish doctors. Many enemies had surrounded us and caused great harm. Much blood had been shed from our bodies. However, there were those who wept bitterly with us. Their anguish was deep when they killed us and also deep then when the remnant that was saved began to leave for goals it had. And here are the words in parting of one of these Polish friends:
Smoke goes up from the chimney of the crematoria
We are with you when it goes up from your bodies.
Know, your souls were not burned
They remain in life forever and instruct us
With their understanding, emotions and greatness
How we should act in order that the German beast
Does not arise forever Brother Jews we are with you always
To wherever you turn and go.
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