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The Destruction of Dynow (cont.)

Chapter 12

Life began to normalize slightly in Lemberg in 1940. Rays of hope began to emerge for Leibish. He was considered one of the best students at the art school. His painting appeared in the school newspaper. Everyone told him that he will be very successful. His material situation although improved. He earned money by painting decorations at club halls and party offices. He remained in the area while most of the Jewish refugees were dragged to Siberia. He considered himself lucky the he remained. This luck was short lived and soon turned into the worst disaster of the Jewish community namely June 1941 when Germany attacked Russia. History regressed by a thousands of years. The primitive night darkness again covered Europe. The German barbarians became drunk as a result of their easy victories in Western Europe. They launched an all out attack on Russia, the only remaining force in Europe and hoped to finish it within a few months. They wanted to establish the Roman Empire where every German will be ruler over his slaves.

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To their assistance, the Germans enlisted all the local sadists and perverts, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians of Vlassov's Army, and many Poles. All of these elements waited for this golden opportunity to rob and murder without punishments. For the Jews started a terrible period of life. The new Haman-Hitler issued the old new decree namely to kill all Jews, young and old, and to rob and plunder their possessions. The order was carried out with delight by the numerous nations. The first days of the war, Leibish was in Lemberg. With the approach of the Germans, he decided to head to Zloczew where his mother was staying. The road was clogged with tanks, and trucks. One walked practically over the dead bodies and carcasses of horses. Every hour, German air force formations flew over the area and strafed the people marching along the road. During one of these air attacks, Leibish received a bullet in his leg. He barely managed to reach Zloczew. He now had to give up any idea of moving further. Soon the Germans arrived and the Ukrainians began to rob and murder Jews.

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A beautiful sunny summer day, not a cloud in sight and very warm. Everything shines and emits thousands of colors. The wheat is ready to be harvested. The small stream flows and the sand surrounding each piece of broken glass shines like a diamond. The fruit tress are loaded with apples, red and yellow-gold ready to be picked. The fantastic plumes are also ready to be picked. The birds are having a picnic and they don't stop chirping. Everything is in blossom and tries to join in nature's parade of songs. Along the dusty road marches a long convoy of Jews wheeling heavy-laden wheelbarrows full of sand and stones. Amongst them wander German and Ukrainian supervisors with rifles or rubber truncheons in their hands. They hasten the tempo of the work and do not permit the Jews to rest a minute. It seems like a prehistoric picture of ancient Egypt when the Jews were the slaves of the Egyptians. They then build the pyramids under the harsh supervision of the taskmasters. Their clothes are already torn, their faces black like coal, and the eyes show no flicker of hope. From time to time, one hears rifle shots and the interrupted scream of anguish. Along the road remains the body of a person with his head split in two. His blood colors the sand in his wheelbarrow. Soon, his friends take him away and leave him in a pit near the sight where he was shot. Nobody is permitted to talk about it and the work must continue without interruption. Everybody feels insecure and faces death from every German or Ukrainian cannibal. Here someone is shoot for trying to rest for a minute, there someone is shoot for looking sideways, still further afar, they are simply aiming their

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weapons at a third Jew for the fun of it. Jews have here the same rights as do the flies. Life is counted in terms of days. Nobody is certain of the tomorrow and everybody depends on the whims of the brutal murderers.

Along the road sat Leibish and chopped stones with a heavy hammer. He was a skeleton and his face was full scratches and wounds from the stone chips that flew in every direction and from the beatings that he received. His eyes were red and swollen from hunger and fear of death. From time to time he glances at the nearby fields, and at the flowing stream. His heart trembles as though it received an electric jolt. His eyes then resemble the ones of a wild caged animal that still remembers the free forest. How happy he would feel if he could sit down as a free person next to the river and breath in the fresh air, listen to the cascading water and watching the small silver fish frolicking about. He was intoxicated by the endless blue sky. Never did the free natural life have such an effect on him. He was ready to embrace every tree, kiss every little flower and drop tears amongst the tall grass and bushes. He was convinced that every leave and flower lives within it's own secret life as his friend Chaim Stein has pointed it out. Happily his friend meanders there amongst the forests, the ancient Siberian forests of Russia and dreams

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about his mystical dreams that deal with holy sparks and the movements of the souls. However, he Leibish has to drink the bitter brew to the last drop. He had to witness the gruesome killing of his mother, his sister and brothers. Lonely and lonesome like a stone he is presently. Today or tomorrow will be his turn and the bandits will shoot him and ditch his body in the ravine alongside the road. Nobody will shed a tear for him. The dogs will drag about his bones. A tremor passed through his body. Tears dripped from his swollen eyes on the stones in front of him. At night, he was unable to sleep due to hunger and the filthy place. The bugs were eating away of what was left of his body. He tried to take inventory of the situation about him. Many thoughts and ideas went through his mind. Did the world indeed return to the primitive stage of cannibalism where man eats man or is it merely some European tribes that resorted to this regression of cannibalism and slavery. Where is the conscience of the entire cultural world and why does it not take steps to punish these cruel people and murderers of children or at least make an attempt to save the victims. No the world has no conscience. It bases its existence on the sin of Cain. Modern culture is far worse than the ancient civilization of Rome, or Greece or Egypt. The same professors that study Homer, Plato, Kant and Goethe assist in the murder and enslavement of people. You find them at the top echelons of the cruel swastika movement. Worthless was the role of the professors

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at Heidelberg, Berlin, Warsaw and Lemberg since they could not extract the beastly behaviors from their students. The Jew should have run from all the killers and murderers in human disguise to his own land and live by the commandments of his ancestors and the prophets. Too late did he realize the situation. The fire of hell had already reached his legs.

Chapter 13

Thus said G-d: “I shall forgive them for three sins but not the fourth one,
namely for selling the holy man for money or selling a poor man for shoes”.

Sunday, the first day of Slichot in 1941, there was a heavy traffic along the road leading to Zloczew. The farmers, young and old, in their best Sunday clothing were heading to church to attend services. Here they confessed to the priest all the sins

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that they committed during the week. All of them were well dressed, nice suits, silk dresses and shoe-laced shoes. They no longer needed to feel ashamed. At home, the granary was full of wheat and the rest of the house was also well stocked. They can now afford to give thanks and accept blessings that the situation should only continue. In a deep cave, a distance from the road, between the tall pines and needle like bushes was hiding a seriously injured person that was left for death by the same people that were presently rushing to services. His appearance was terrible and his clothes were drenched in his blood He received several bullets and had terrible pains. This was an unhappy Jew from Dynow named Israel Moshe Einzidler that lived for forty years in Zloczew. For some time he hid in the attic of his own place. Then he hid with a Polish farmer and gave him the last few dollars that he had in his possession. The farmer took the money and his boots and handed him over to the Ukrainian police. The latter took him to an assembly place with other Jews and shot them the same evening. However he was merely injured and will suffer for another few weeks, several bullets were in his body. When the murderers left, he started to get up and looked about with bewilderment. He was totally confused and disoriented the whole night. In the

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morning he realized where he was and what happened the previous day. He decided to try to join the labor camp where his two sons worked. He paid lots of money to get them into the place. He also wanted at the time to join the labor camp but they refused to accept him on account of his age. Perhaps he will succeed this time to enter the place. As the day broke, he decided to hide from the churchgoers for fear that they would stone him or kill him with sticks. The chiming of the church bells that called the faithful to service annoyed him greatly. These nicely dressed people were actually beastly wolves that just finished robbing and murdering Jews. They entered the church wearing the robbed clothes. The priest will not admonish them, he will not preach to them morality, he will not chase them out of the church for the deeds that they just performed. He is one of them and therefore he will not ask them what are you doing in the church. The priest himself was formerly a member of the Petlura gangs. He raised generations of youngsters in the spirit of the Banda gangs. He and others like him waited for the day when they will be able to satisfy their thirst for Jewish blood. Indeed the Germans gave them unlimited freedom to act. Hidden for hours that seemed like years, many thoughts

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crossed his mind. He saw the shtetl where he was an important person. He gave charity, invited poor people to eat, visiting rabbis stayed in his house when visiting the hamlet to meet their followers. He was a member of all the charity organizations in the shtetl as well as a member of the burial society, treasurer of the revolving fund for the needy, member of the sick association. He helped everybody and now he is being hunted like a wild dog and nobody shows the slightest pity to him. On the contrary, if some farmer will spot him, he will kill him or stone him. Lucky was his wife that died a few years before the war and did not have to witness these events. He suddenly remembered that today was the first day of reciting Slichot. He used to get up at four o'clock in the morning and head to shul where he recited the line: “Already on Saturday night we rush to pray to You. Listen from the heavens to our prayers and songs for You”. Presently, I only remember the first line by heart: “The non Jewish hamlets and villages are untouched and the churches are packed with worshippers while your lonely corner namely the synagogue is totally destroyed. The worshippers have been killed, or meander hopelessly sick and injured along the roads and hiding places”.

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Kol Nidrei in the camp

The smoky oil lamp projected a dim light since it had no glass cover. The long barrack barely received a flicker of light and the other end of it was totally dark. Hundreds of human skeletons lay about restless on their wooden planks. They were hungry, emaciated, and their eyes half-crazed. They were physically and emotionally drained. Amongst them were many sick inmates that suffered from typhus, consumption, and high fever. Some were dying or in convulsions. Those that died were never reported for a few days so that the neighbors could get their bread rations. Life and death intermingled constantly, the distance between them was but a stePage Now they live but tomorrow they may be dead and delivered from all the sufferings. Around the flickering light assembled some worshippers that continued to resist hopelessness. These were the remnants of the very active Jewish people in the community. They remembered Yom Hakkipur or Atonement Day when the Jew takes stock of his deeds for the year. Jews throughout the world meet at the synagogues to hear the prayer of Kol Nidrei. The worshipers at the camp wanted to add their voices from Hell to those of the entire world. They prayed with great fervor reminiscing of the Spanish Jews in the cellars of the inquisition.

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The mere though of these events fills the eyes with tears. Today's beaten and bloodied victims at the hands of the German inquisitors recite their last confessions before they will be burned at the stake. Nobody dreams of surviving, everybody believes that it will happen tomorrow or the after day after. The cantor was the young poet and cantor of Dynow, Issachar Grinboim. In spite of his terrible psychological, mental and physical experiences as he witnessed the killing of his father, mother and sister, still managed to retain some of the old cantorial abilities. As the old tune of the Kol Nidrei echoed through the barrack, inmates left their planks and approached the area of the smoky dim light. Amongst them was also Leibish Roth that was recently transferred to the camp and Israel Moshe Einzidler that managed to infiltrate the place with the aid of his sons Aaron and Mendel that were already there. Moshe Ber Kalech, the son of Zishe Kalech, sexton of the local synagogue, was also there. He was a great scholar and Hebrew teacher. For Leibish Roth it was pleasing to be with some of the old acquaintances from home, especially with Issachar Grinboim. After a day of hard work, they would spend hours talking about their shtetl. Frequently, Moshe Ber Kalach joined their discussions and told them Hassidic stories and thoughts of the moral preaching that reinvigorated their spirits. These discussions left a good feeling for he had no one to talk to. He had no father, mother or close relative to confide in or talk to.

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Betrayed by all the beliefs that he once wholeheartedly supported and believed in. The bearers of modern culture namely the professors, engineers, writers, and medical doctors were the leaders of the killings. He now had contempt for modern literature and blamed the non-Jewish world for all events aimed at the Jews that were taking place. None of the great writers helped fight anti-Semitism in their country. Most of them helped to popularize it by painting the Jew in the darkest human colors. Even the great Shakespeare also shares some of the blame as illustrated by the “Merchant of Venice”. According to Leibish Roth, most of the writers sold their souls for money or careers and would not hesitate to use anti-Semitism if it meant more publicity for them. Few were the great writers namely Lord Byron, Lev Tolstoi and Emil Zola that defended the Jew. Their voices were drowned in a sea of Jew hatred. He saw but one great and powerful fist of all nations aimed at him. He was deeply moved this evening when he heard the old moving tune of the service. In spite of the shadow of death, he was slightly invigorated. Let all the nations beg for forgiveness for the sin that they committed in not protecting the weak Jewish people. The Jews should curse all their enemies that a deluge should obliterate them and cleanse the earth of the wicked

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people. Let all the creatures bow to you and let them form a union that will wholeheartedly worship you. Leibish himself feels guilty and asks for forgiveness for all the sins committed in action or in thought. But you nations, writers, psychologists and researchers of the soul have you the slightest understanding of the personality of the Jew. Have you ever come across his suffering soul that feels the pains of all nations. He stressed for generations the concepts: do not surrender the escaped slave to his master. Or the strangers are your guest and treat them well, or do not inflict unnecessary pain to animals or creatures of the universe. God even thought of the wild animals by ordering that all the fields be left fallow during the seventh year and the animals can graze on them. But most of the nations did not want to adopt these concepts since they would prevent them from following beastly behavior. You picked on the smallest of sheep and put all problems on its back and labeled it swindler and robber. Just like the dove is the symbol of peace yet it is hunted and eaten by people.

Each word, each movement of the young cantor Issachar Grinboim affected emotionally Leibish Roth. For a moment he felt he was

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back in front of the congregation near the Holy Arc in Yatche cantor's choir. The sympathetic youngster that used to sing together with his older brother Hake the lines of the prophet Yeshayahu: I shall now sing for my friends friendly songs. Or the composition made famous by cantor Yossele Rosenblat “look from the heavens and see us now”. Even the cantor shed some tears as he was praying before the remnants of the Jews and considered his situation and the experiences that he witnessed. He would have been happy if he could pass away with the tune of the services and end his sufferings. Put an end to all these sufferings so that my ears will no longer hear them and my eyes should not witness the terrible and cruel pain.

Moshe Ber Kalach sat on his planks near the smoky lamp and recited in a crying tune the prayer that proceeds the Kol Nidrei prayer. He begged for forgiveness for all the sins that he committed in listening to evil advice. Of course, he did not tell the truth, his soul was clean and white as a dove. He spent his entire life at the synagogue in Dynow studying the Talmud. He was part of the synagogue in every sense of the word. He was an encyclopedia of Talmudic knowledge as well as the histories of the various Hassidic courts and their rabbis. There was no book in the study center of Dynow that he did not know of its existence. He read or reviewed

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practically everything that dealt with religious literature. He was well versed in all areas of the Talmud. He read many books on the subject of piety and morality. He refused to accept a rabbinical or judicial position believing in the old saying of the sages that an ax is not for digging, meaning his knowledge is not for hire. He assisted his father in the synagogue. During the winter he would get up at five o'clock and heat the place. He taught older students Talmud and the commentaries for a few hours each day. He was well liked in the hamlet even within the modern circles for his deep and profound scholarship. The angel of mercy resided in his heart for he helped the poor people by collecting monies for food and worrying over them. He looked a shamble, it was difficult to recognize him. The Germans plucked his beard, his face was shallow and black from hunger and pains. Non-kosher food he refused to eat. His clear, gray sympathetic eyes looked presently like deep seas filled with terrible pains. His brain still functioned in the past, in the Reisher (Rzeszow) and Blazower synagogues where he did not miss the holiday service in ten years running. He was a welcome guest at the court of the Blazower and Ribiczer rabbis and remained there each year from Rosh Hashana to the end of the Sukkoth holiday. These were his best and most memorable days. Here he met the finest and brightest students and scholars, old and young, from the entire region. He

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also met them at the house of the Rabbi of Dynow, Rabbi Dawid Schapiro. It was a great spiritual feast to listen to the Hassidic discussions, especially to hear the words of the younger Rabbi Israel Schapiro. He still remembered the enthusiasm with which the Blazower Rabbi used to recite the prayer preceding the Kol Nidrei prayer. Mendel Weinshelbaum who was a follower of the Bertcher court conducted the actual service. He would open the prayers by stating the he came with a torn and broken heart to beg like a beggar for divine helPage The voice was that of humbleness and pity and tears would stream from the eyes of the worshippers. He also remembered the earlier period of his youth when he was a student in Reishe at the house of Rabbi Yossef Reich, well known scholar and cabalist. He ate at various homes of the well to do in order to sustain himself, amongst them the leader of the community, Motish Eksztein, Abraham Schapiro, and Motele Mintz. These were Jews that combined scholarship and charity. The times when he used to sit in the small Sandzer chapel with friends who were followers of other rabbinical courts and argue with them the importance of his rabbis' views. He would then return to his own chapel and continue to browse and study the many volumes. In the summer, he would get up at sunrise and in the winter he would still be in the

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synagogue when everybody had already left the place. Still his voice echoed through the empty place and the sweet tone of his study chant could be heard all around.

Everything was destroyed, the rabbis and their followers together with the synagogues. His friends, parents and acquaintances were brutally murdered before him. He still had to suffer some time for the sins he committed. He had a thought that may be he should recite the book of Job. For few Jews of Dynow survived, namely the seriously injured Israel Moshe Eizindler and his sons, Issachar Grinbaum and Leibish Roth. They all knew that the Germans were going to kill them. He exclaimed the sentence: “Why did you leave me ?” But he soon remembered that a Jew can not afford to be hopeless, he must accept his fate with love and be ready every minute to pass on to the next world. Israel Moshe Einzidler did not stay to long in the camp since the Germans became aware that he resided illegally in the place. He was seriously wounded in a pogrom staged by the Ukrainians in his hamlet. The Germans found him, dragged him out of the barrack and shot him with two other seriously sick Jews. He was buried in a

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prepared grave and his two sons and Leibish Roth attended the simple funeral in the forest. They cried and his sons recited the kaddish amongst the naked trees of the forest.

Shortly after the above event, there occurred a major selection and Moshe Ber Kalach and Mendel Einzidler, a weak small fellow that barely managed to walk, were removed from the camp. Aaron Einzidler, the latter's older brother, and Issachar Grinboim were sent to a weapon factory in Reishe. Only Leibish Roth remained from all the Dynower Jews. He was shaken up by the latest selection and realized that his days were numbered. He was getting weaker by the day and feared that at the next selection he will be assigned to the left namely to be shot. This reminded him of the columns of the condemned to be shot like sheep at the slaughter he thought to himself. Or better yet, the German murders order the Jews to lay themselves next to the grave in order to facilitate the shooting process. Of course, the victims have to remove their clothes so that they would not be stained by blood. He realized the hopelessness of his situation and decided that only revenge could motivate him to stay alive longer. There was no sense in waiting to be shot or loaded aboard a cart with other sick victims and be dumped somewhere. There was no point in working for the Germans in the camp and then be shot like a dog. The daily

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fear that was his steady companion suddenly disappeared. His mind was made up to seek revenge. He was ready to use the spade over the head of an SS man or a Ukrainian. But he hesitated, suppose I do not kill him with the first blow then what? He would probably kill me. The exchange did not seem fair. He discussed the plan of escape with some co-workers and presented his plan of action. They would kill the guards and escape to the forest where they will join the partisans. To this end he hid the ax that he used in the forest. His friends made knives from pieces of steel and waited for the proper moment. The moment presented itself during a rainy day when the SS men left for home and left four Ukrainians to guard them. Leibish Roth then gave the signal and swiftly attacked one of the guards with his ax. He killed him instantly and the others attacked the other guards. Suddenly all three guards were dying and bleeding on the ground. Roth finished them off with the ax. He was pleased and felt

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lighter as though he got rid of a heavy load. At least once did I succeed in taking revenge, a justified revenge on these killers who asked Israel Moshe Einzidler to lay down naked next to the grave and aimed at his head. They will never kill again. Armed with a rifle he headed to the forest with his accomplices. They run all night through the forests and fields chased by fear. In the morning they split up in two groups of two so that they would not attract attention. He spent the first day hidden in the trees and at night rummaged through the fields where he picked up potatoes, beets or cabbage and ate the items raw. He was now convinced that it is safer to live in the forest amongst the animals than amongst the two-legged beasts. He remembered as a child how he feared to walk alongside the trees in the evening for fear of encountering ghosts. Now he saw that the ghosts do not necessarily reside in the forests but in the cities and villages in comfortable homes and palaces and there they celebrate their wild orgies.

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Chapter 14

Found a brother

Wandering from forest to forest he met Fishel Feldstein, a person from Dynow, that was hiding in the Premiszlaner forests where he worked for years as an employee of a large wood concern. All the farmers that he knew well betrayed him when he asked for help and even refused to admit him through the entrance door. They chased him like a dog in the street. So he decided to use his knowledge of the forest and live with the trees and the animals in the forest. These elements accepted him as one of them and did not chase him away. He led him to the bunker that he build in the forest where he found Eliezer Feldstein, the father of Fishel Feldstein. Eliezer Feldstein was an excellent Hebrew teacher, knew his Hebrew grammar and also the entire Bible by heart. He even wrote Hebrew poetry in his youth. He used to write Hebrew letters for those that wanted to show off for their intended in laws that they knew the language. Leibish Roth's father also used to check with him the tombstone inscriptions as well as the contents to be written. He had a fine ability to translate thoughts into Hebrew words that could then be inscribed on the tombstone. On the tombstone of the Hebrew teacher Mordechai Eliayahu he wrote. He was a pious man, old and happily content. His house was open to all visitors, and he gave charity from the little that he possessed. Even at midnight you could hear his intonations to the heavens on the destruction of the temple and the desolation of the holy city. Thus in a few lines he described the individual.

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He converted his house into a reception center for visitors and prayed each night passed midnight. He was known as a smart person that listens and helped. He was always surrounded by people that liked to listen to his stories about days gone by in Dynow. Stories about rabbis, and community leaders. Fights between Hassidim and Maskilim (enlightened ones). He was well read and like a historian marshaled his facts. When Leibish Roth entered the bunker for the first time, he thought that he entered a tomb. The picture he saw shocked him. The people that stayed there for a mere few months no longer resembled human beings. They seemed like rotten skeletons and he had difficulty standing next to them. For they had buried their dead in the bunker. Thus the living and the dead decomposed slowly. There was no evening or morning, no today or yesterday. Time stopped moving here with the normal course as though it disappeared. Yesterday and tomorrow mingled together to create a dark sea with no shores or end in sight. The tiny little lamp gave some flicker of light. Even this light resembled more the light of a cemetery tombstone. He looked for some time at the face of Eliezer Feldstein and tried to compare the picture with the one in his mind of his old teacher that he liked very much. Gone are these days when he sat in the attic and listened to Moshe Eliezer read in tune the line: “You take the skies and I

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shall talk and the earth will listen to my words. Let my teachings fall like the rain and may my words drip like the dew”. Each word sank deeply into his young heart and played havoc with his imagination.

At the time, the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall intermingled, the wilted leaves, the naked trees, and the song recited by Moses before he passed away chased each other in his thoughts. All this made a strong impression on the young boy and transported him into all kinds of realms. He was especially affected by the “Haftorah”, (translator: a section read after the reading of the weekly portion of the torah) of Shabbat Hazon: “and the ox knows who kicked him and the donkey is familiar with the owner of the whip but the people of Israel do not know nor do they want to understand...” Furthermore from Shabbat Nachmo he quoted the line “Sympathize with my people, tell them that their sins have been forgiven for they have suffered enough...” His green eyes lit up and saw green fields. The long eyebrows trammeled, the entire face indicated happiness. Apparently the lines of the prophet uplifted his spirits and affected his soul. Everything disappeared as a puff of smoke and the cruel reality reappeared. He faced a skeleton of a man without a drop of blood who had a snow-white graybeard, and red swollen eyes. He was half blinded by the constant darkness, constantly trying to suppress his cough, he gave the impression that at any moment he could leave this world. The sight touched him in spite of the fact that his eyes have seen some pretty cruel events in the past. His cried like a youngster as he saw the remnants of the Jews of Dynow disappear one by one. Abandoned by the others, he faced death in a cave all by himself as though we returned thousands of years back in history. Even worse than in the period of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote his experience in the book of Job. He quoted some lines from the book namely: “How have you become isolated, all your friends have deserted you, all seek to seize your soul...” Eliezer Feldstein looked for some time at his former student and in spite of all the sufferings, he recognized him. Yes, Leibtche, he said, I used to write the lines for your father for his tombstones. Presently there is no need for tombstones since there are no Jews left to bury. One day there will be a need for a big tombstone for the entire community that was destroyed during the big slaughter. Let G-d take pity on you youngsters so that you should be able to tell the story of our hellish experiences, to say Kaddish and recite the Yizkor for all of us. Both began to cry. His son Fishel was not in better shape, he suffered from consumption and was getting worse by the day. They lived on potatoes and beets that they rummaged from the nearby fields. Since Leibish joined

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them the situation improved somewhat. He often brought milk and bread from the village. But the angel of death already hovered over them since the great slaughter. The father soon passed away in the dark airless bunker and his son shortly followed suit. Both found their eternal peace in the bunker of the forest. Leibish again assumed the function of gravedigger and buried them in a lonely place. He felt terrible that he has to bury the remnants of the Jewish community of Dynow.

Chapter 15

Death shall never part them

During a cold winter day when everything was covered with a blanket of snow, Leibish sat near the fire to warm himself and roasted some potatoes. Other occupants of the bunker also sat there, amongst them a man, his wife and child. The husband was a friend of Fishel Feldstein and worked with him at the wood company. Suddenly, Ukrainian lumberjacks attacked the group with axes and long hooks. They thought that they would find large treasures hidden in the bunker. Leibish Roth used his rifle and killed one of the attackers and injured two more. He fought like a lion until he was killed and his crystal clear soul left his body just as he started to enjoy life, to enjoy creation and art, to describe nature in lyrical terms and to represent humanism and human finesse. His soul was drowned quickly in the sea of pain and cruelty by the same peoples that he so much esteemed and praised. He was killed like a tree by the Ukrainians murderers that were looking for a treasure in the cave. The murders also killed their former bread provider, his wife and child and converted the cave into a slaughterhouse. The brain of the child was splattered all over and instead of gold they found some potatoes, beets and some writing Pages that belonged to Moshe Eliezer Feldstein. The only inheritance that they carried away consisted of a few gold teeth that they extracted from the woman's mouth. They returned to the village covered in blood and told their wives and children that the Jews in the forest attacked them and they barely overcame them. The entire village escorted the dead Ukrainian to the cemetery where the local priest conducted a service and asked G-d to send the murderer to heaven. The priest also warned the worshippers to be on the look out for the Jewish partisans and to denounce them to the Germans the moment they

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located them. The bodies of the killed Jews remained exposed for several days until the old ward keeper passed and saw the bunker. He entered the place and saw a terrible sight, gelled blood, parts of intestines and a head of a child. He was terribly embarrassed by what he saw and he also knew who did it, namely well known peasants, the lumberjacks. So they paid back their late Jewish providers of food. They brought upon themselves and the entire village the curse of child killers and murderers. The entire village stood accused of shedding Jewish blood. The priest that incited against the Jews was but a German collaborator. The simple ward keeper was ashamed of the sight but he kept it to himself for fear of his life. He was one of the true pious men where the flicker of decency continued to shine in spite of the sea of cruelty about him. He knew of the bunker and occasionally left some items for them. He buried the victims, covered the bunker and placed a stone as a marker. At home, he lit a candle for their souls and prayed to the G-d of the Jews that he should accept their souls to heaven and punish the murderers.

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The Jews of Dynow as well as their brothers and sisters of all of Poland were brutally murdered along the roads, cities, and villages of Western Ukraine. Mendel Frenkel, a fiery supporter of the “Hovvei Zion” movement and a leader of the community, the Ukrainians burned him, his wife and his two daughters. Dynow was “Judenrein” in 1943. The last remaining family: Hama Jahre, Pertche Rosenberg with two children and Rachel Goldschmidt were loaded on a cart and sent to Brezow. The last Jewish victims in Dynow were two young girls. Hannah Shreier, granddaughter of Berl Shreier, and Nathan Reich's daughter. Both passed off as Aryan women. They were denounced and the German arrested them. Both were executed in a public display. Their crime, they remained alive after all the Jews were killed. They were killed in the Market Square on Goldhammer's place and buried there. After they finished with the living Jews they started to attack the dead Jews. They took all the tombstones and used them as pavement stones for the sidewalks of the hamlet. They also destroyed some Jewish houses while searching for hidden money. On the place that used to belong to Shlomo Leib Lishner they planted potatoes.

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The last shadow in the hamlet

At the beginning of the summer in 1944, the sky was sparse as though it was hidden by blue silk. One halfhearted moon was providing weak light on the horizon. Pitiful looked the pines surrounding the hamlet; it seemed that they were conducting a special service. Emptiness and depression emerged from the destroyed hamlet and from the devastated homes of the Jews. The latter were killed but the cupola of the Church of Dynow stood there in all majesty and gave the impression of a prison of the middle Ages. At the top of the mountain where there used to be the old cemetery, passed in review the only living witness to what happened to the Jews of Dynow. She remembered the hamlet in its full glory when the small streets were full of life, the children played, the merchants hawked their merchandise, the artisans produced their goods, and from the synagogue came the beautiful tunes of the prayers. And then to see the tragic developments of

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events, namely the slaughter of the Jews, the wanton destruction of the synagogue with all its religious treasures and the priests. She was the only symbol left. She was a Jewish woman that lived in a bunker in the village next to the hamlet of Dynow. She now carried a few items that she received from a well-known Pole in the city. She looked like a skeleton that arose from the old cemetery. Her hair was totally gray in spite of the fact that she was only thirty-six years old. She was dressed in a torn peasant skirt that barely covered her body. Barefoot she slid down from the small streets leading from the old cemetery like a thief in the night that does not want to be recognized. She carried her treasure that consisted of bread, some potatoes and some carrots. Her eyes were swollen and shifted in all directions. The slightest noise caught her attention like a frightened animal that everybody wants the fur. She was a thief that tried to protect her embittered life from the German cannibals. As she approached the banks of the river San not far from the destroyed Jewish saw mill to an old moss covered weeping willow, her heart trembled. She suddenly saw a picture of herself in her youth, about sixteen years ago. It was a pleasant May evening, the trees and the bushes

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emitted a fine scent. She and her friends sang with ecstasy the Hebrew Zionist song: In the middle of the road lies a red rose that attracts attention, she is carried by the wind and her leaves wilt with each minute, she remains here for a few days. She begs all the passers-by not to step on her for she may be squashed, instead to take her from the road and place her in her paradise. I am from Zion (Palestine) and my name is Judea, presently I am in exile and from that moment I have no peace. Lonely I lie here, the rain merely helps me to rot, I no longer have the power to live. This one cuts, and this one robs, this one devours and this one squashes. Then the song provoked tears in her eyes but she did not understand them. Presently she understands perfectly the meaning of the song. On this spot used to meet the youth of the hamlet to listen to lectures about Hebrew literature and Palestine. She and her friends were then dedicated Zionists ready to build the Jewish Homeland and most of them let to fulfill their dream. She was the only one that remained and even discarded her old boy friend. She decided to marry a rich fellow from a nearby hamlet.

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He was a wood merchant and had a few thousand dollars for which she abandoned her dream of returning to Zion with her true love.

Shortly after the wedding, her bliss stopped, her husband lost everything. No more dollars, no more forest and no more home life. He was a simple man, far behind in her in intelligence. He did not understand her and vice verse. She was always embittered and sour faced and apparently regretted the entire story. But she could no longer return events to the previous stage. With time, she got accustomed to poverty and needs. She devoted herself to the children. Suddenly the great destruction, her husband was killed immediately the second day of Rosh Hashana of 1939 during the great slaughter. The children later died of typhus and tuberculosis. She remained alone without friends and home. Cannibals and killers surrounded her from all sides. From all her belongings she had in her possession only a picture of her youth. The picture was in color and one could see her beautiful head of hair as though a full blossomed rose bush. Next to her were all her friends that managed to escape from Hell and were now happy in the Holy Land. She had terrible remorse but knew that she herself was responsible for her tragic decision. She could have left with her

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friends but she decided to stay in exile and enjoy the fruits. Her knees started buckling, she felt weak and fell next to a tree where she began to cry and asked G-d why he had abandoned her. She embraced the tree with her skeleton hands and remained lying there for a while as though condemned to death without any illusions of seeing spring again. For an instant, she forgot that she is constant danger. She awakened from her sweet and lethargic dream of the past fifty years ago. She again faces the harsh reality that she faced the hangman and there is no salvation. Tears streamed from her swollen eyes that saw the killing of her husband, brothers, sisters. From her parents they made soap. She was the only left from the entire hamlet of Jews, She thought that she cried on a tombstone. Only with the morning cold weather that affected her skeleton body, did she remember to get up and take her little package of food. She crossed the river San and headed to her hole in the ground. The entire summer she meandered about the area, the farmers crossed themselves when they saw her. In the winter, the farmers found her frozen next to the tree.

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A few Jews survived from Dynow, mostly in Russia. Some survived the camps notably Issachar Grinboim. It was difficult to recognize him. From the sympathetic dark haired boy he became a disabled person with a nervous condition. His eyes that saw so much terror and pain, the killing of his entire family, seemed like they will pop out from the sockets any moment. Frequently when he was amongst former residents of Dynow, he reminisced of the beautiful period his youth when he sung solos for the cantor Yatche. Then his eyes shone and tears rolled down. From his throat emerged ghetto and partisan songs that he used to sing with his friends. These songs were sung with blood and tears of the period, namely, “Ghetto, I will never forget thee”. From his heart emerged the pain and sufferings of the entire hamlet that once used to live and sing and presently there was nothing there but dust and ashes from the greater part of the Jewish people that were so tragically destroyed.


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