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[Page 10]

The Destruction of Globokie

By Michael and Zvi Rajak

Translated supplied by the Kotz family and Eilat Gordin Levitan

To the Reader

As we commence to depict the events that befell upon us, the horror of the plight of the Jews and their eradication…. Their slaughter by the German murderers. We will pause briefly to describe the circumstances under which the writing of this testament was carried out.

This dairy was written after fleeing from Glubokie at the time of the abominable slaughter on the 19th of the month of Av in 1943. It was written during the time of our wandering - wandering in numerous forests, fields, swamps, etc., where we had to hide from the Germans and their local assistants. And there we wrote on one side of the page something of our encountering, but we were not able to write the other side of the page, aware that we were constantly forced to change our “dwelling place”, migrating from one mire to another, from one forest into another..

Frequently, we changed location several times in a 24-hour period, where we were during the day, we were not during the night and vice versa. Very often, while gathering our thoughts to proceed with the task of recording we were alerted: “Germans are about”… and we had to run… not knowing how or where to….

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Zvi Rajak

Secondly, we constantly found ourselves in a condition of starvation, and many a time, the hunger made itself so strongly felt that our heads swarmed from dizziness, and we had to abandon our writing to scavenge for something to eat. Seeking this type of “hospitality” was fraught with great danger on the one hand, and with difficult moral choices on the other. Besides which, we were not always too successful in finding something. And if there were those who were “humanitarians” and did toss us something to eat, no sympathetic expression was ever displayed.

The main impediment to our task was our dreadful mental state. It was written after the liquidation of the ghetto of Glubokie on August 20, 1943. During a time that those earlier deep wounds had not yet even begun to amend. We refer to the wounds inflicted on us 13 months prior to the final Destruction, the day the Germans murdered our beloved mother.

Added to those deep wounds; I, (M. Rajak), involuntary parted with my dearly beloved wife, Helena, and dearest beloved child, 8 years old Aaron Yitzhakel…, may their memory be blessed…. As the Glubokie ghetto, with its Jewish inhabitants was burning, we were able to flee together at dawn on August 22nd. As we arrived about 3 kilometers from the city, German vehicles with the Glubokie hangman, Vitvitzki, at the head, overtook us, and for 2 hours shot at us with machine guns and rifles. Being confused, we ran from the firing without presence of mind to varied directions, not knowing for many months whom ended up where. As it turned out, we were separated forever! That was the most grievous and catastrophic moment of my life. We were “saved”! Saved in body! My soul remains throughout eternity with my wife and child. My wife was a dear, compassionate woman, but also a renowned, beloved physician, who had saved many children. (She was a pediatrician.)

Feeling the sacred obligation to eternalize the gruesome events that befell the Jewish community of Glubokie, which came to such a violent end. In order to set up a memorial, such as it is, for the holy Glubokie community. For the thousands of Jews who perished with their wives and children, for our dearest and most beloved, who fell for the “Sanctification of the Name”, we have, in spite of our personal devastation and ceaseless despair, sanctified this immense, significant and sacred task.

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To the Story of Globokie

By Zvi and Michael Rajak

Translated provided by the Kotz family and Eilat Gordin Levitan

Glubokie is an old city, her roots go back to the early 1800's. She lies on a low plain, enveloped by hills. From her topographical image originated the name; “Glubokie”, suggesting certain “depth”. She is located about 200 kilometers northeast of Vilna and 90 kilometers from Polotzk, covering an distance of about 8 square kilometers. Among her monuments most significant is the old castle on the Polish “cemetery” that was named “Napoleon's Tower”. Likewise the thick, checkered boundary, of about half a meter, that encompass the city public garden (park). It was to some extent ruined. Also, in Glubokie of that bygone time, there was old synagogue with a high, far-reaching cupola which made for a splendid vista. Inside, on the wall of the synagogue, there was a very beautiful, skillfully carved Holy Ark, above which, there hung a large Czar's eagle. The eagle was fastened to the very top of the ceiling right into the cupola. In 1920, when Glubokie was taken over by the Poles, the Russian eagle was removed.

Picture: Michael Rajak

Two kilometers from the city stood an old Berezvetsher monastery. Here, nature was abundant and kaleidoscopic - blessed with a exquisite forest, orchards and gardens. The lake, which was called “Lake Berezvetsher”, gave the city a distinctive aura. On the other side of the lake was the Jewish cemetery, in which, until the devastation, one could come upon tombstones erected more than 150 years ago (c 1790). Until the war, Berezvetsh had a laboratory that analyzed flax, hemp, and alike. Students, who were specializing in this field, would come there from all over Poland.

A small stream divided the city into two parts - eastern and western regions. A bridge linked them. The stream banded Lake Berezvetsh with the lake to the south of the city. There was a very picturesque nook by the lake, so called, “Kopanitze”: An avenue lined with trees on both sides. At some places the walk took you deep into the lake and the lake penetrated into the dry land, so there came about a system of inflow and outflow, creating an intricate panorama of peninsulas and islands…

On Shabat afternoons, during the summer, the Jews of Glubokie would serenely stroll on the esplanade. Here you would meet the town's teacher, who after an exhausting week of teaching the children in a dampen, confined room, would come to catch his breath and fill his lungs with a little fresh air. Here, adorned in their Shabat finery, would promenade; the shoemaker, the tailor and denizens with their wives and children. Here, a young couple would set their rendezvous and go on “dates”. Very often the Shabat tranquillity would be “agitated” by the joyous playing of Jewish children, who were released on the Sabbath day from school and studies. The air would resonate with their juvenile, high-pitched voices. Their joyful chatter clustered with their adolescent laughter would be heard from afar.

The “Kopanitze” was a part of the town garden (park). There on a Shabat day, the Jewish youth, children from the orphanage, Cheder students and school children milled about. Very close to the city, was the railroad line - Vilna - Kruleveshtzine - Polotzk. It was a very busy line. The tie with the center, with Vilna, was very firm. Three or four passenger trains a day would pass through, going to and from. On each trip the trains would be overflowing with Jews. Besides which, various freight trains, with imported merchandise, and commodities for export, would pass through. From Glubokie they would send flax, grain, eggs, pelts, rags, hogs-hair, and alike.. Merchandise from the provinces, manufactured goods, grocery wares, fancy goods, and alike., were imported. The entire business was in Jewish hands. The city, in general, was a large trade center and densely populated. In recent times Glubokie was called “Little Danzig”. Up to the war, the population numbered 11,000. Jews made up about half of the population, Poles about 48% and the remainder, White Russians and other nationalities.

Picture: A class in the Hebrew Gimnasia ( high school) The authors; Michael and Zvi Rajak were the heads of the school

The Jewish dwellings were concentrated mainly in the central streets and around the market place. The humble Jews lived in the old and new Kishelaike and pubrove and Polne Streets and at the end of Vilna Street, and alike. The so-called “Mashiach's Colony” was very prevalent, due to the fact that in that area there lived a prolific family, named “Tzemach”, a synonym for “Mashiach”, which means Messiah. The residents of the area were made up of strong Jewish porters, draymen, and ordinary working Jews, with whom Jewish Glubokie had to reckon. The family rapidly multiplied, and if not for the catastrophe, they would have contributed greatly to the increase of the Jewish population in Glubokie.

Most of the Jewish businesses, stores, workshops, and similar, were in the center of the town. On the edge of the town were the mills, leather factories, a sawmill, and alike. In Glubokie there were 2 cinemas that also belonged to Jews. The electric station belonged to the municipality. On the outskirts of the city lived the so-called “town peasants”, they were involved with cultivating the land. There were small-scale fairs but, once a week, on Thursday, there were large fairs. Christians and Jews would arrive from far-away places. Even Jews from Vilna would come to the fairs. With the development and expansion of the commerce, the prosperity of the population increased. The majority of the Jews were well to do. The cinemas showed movies on a daily basis. Very often, a Jewish or a Polish troupe would come to present a play, and the performances would be well attended. During the summer Jews would go to repose in their summer homes. In town there were about 1,100 dwellings, many two-storied, and, a few, even three-storied.

The Jewish Executive Committee of the Community of Glubokie was a wealthy one. It owned a large amount of land dubbed the” Jewish Pasture”. The Glubokie Jews also had their personal meadows for feeding their cattle, and from it, the community derived a nice income. The community also had, in the center of town, its own shops, which were rented out to Jewish shopkeepers_ The Jewish population paid, into the community chest, a special tax. Besides that, the community had income from birth certificates, weddings, circumcisions, burials, and similar activities. For it's part the community supported the Rabbis, ritual slaughterers, various communal institutions, insolvent individuals, bankrupt Jews, and other needs. The head of the Glubokie community, before the war, was Rabbi Mordechai Lev, of blessed memory, an enlightened Jew, a master of the Talmud, and a fervent Lubavitch Hassid. He was also a writer, with an elegant, enticing mode of speech. He conducted a daily study group in Talmud, in the Starosyelier Synagogue, which was always very well attended. Outwardly, he did not make a very powerful impression. The reason was that he supplemented his income by being a flour merchant, and except for Shabat and holidays, was always dusted with flour. His integrity and eloquence could only be truly appreciated when one conversed with him, and became better acquainted him.

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The chidren organization in the Yiddish school

The organization, “Toz”, helped sick Jews. “Toz” had its own infirmary for out-patients. Over the years all kinds of doctors had worked there. During the last few years, Dr. Yitzhok Britanishsky of Vilna, was employed there. He was also the deputy mayor of the town. There was also a children's' consultation clinic, administered by a woman physician, Dr. Vilkomirska-Rajak, (the wife of M. Rajak). She, and their 8 year old son, were murdered by the Germans on the 21st day of Av, in the year 5703 (1943).

The women's' association in Glubokie was composed of local, dynamic women, who would aid poor brides, support orphans, help out during childbirth, and other comparable activities. A unique institution in Glubokie was the Child Protection Society. Jewish youth, regardless of their social standing or economic circumstance, cared for the destitute Jewish children. They would go to the cheders (one-room schools), schools, children's' homes, and also private insolvent homes, and concern themselves with the children, their circumstances and necessities, and they would do their utmost for them, especially those in greatest need. They would provide them with food and clothing. The Jewish youth organization would especially display their efficiency during the cold autumn and winter months.

The Jewish bank, which was held in esteem, did an enormous volume of business. For both the large and small merchants, the bank would grant assistance in the expansion of their enterprises. In volume, the Jewish bank outdid the local Polish Government Bank. A very important institution, was the “Free Loan Society”. They would lend out money, for a long-term duration, without charging any interest, and the repayment would be made in installments. Hundreds of craftsmen and small shopkeepers were put back on their feet by the Jewish “Free Loan Society”.

A Merchants' Union and a Hand-craftsmen's' Union was established. Both vibrated with activities for the mutual benefit of the members. The task of the “Bread for the Poor” Society, was to provide impoverished Jews with “challahs”, meat and other necessities for Shabat. They also saw to it that Jewish prisoners would attain kosher food on weekdays, Sabbaths and holidays. On the High Holy Days, the Society would arrange for a “minyari” (quorum of 10 adult males) for the incarcerated Jews. It is worth mentioning some of the names of the participants in these good enterprises: David, the carpenter, of blessed memory, who died before the war. He was an elderly Jew, who, during his entire life, enjoyed working with his hands, and sought to help the needy in whatever way necessary. He stuttered, but everyone could comprehend what he said. The entire Jewish community of Glubokie properly honored His valuable activities. Often, he would leave his workbench, cut short his work, which was his livelihood, and go out to collect money for the “Bread for the Poor” Society. Not a single Jewish home would deny him a donation. Everyone contributed joyously. The Jews of Glubokie respected his dedication, which was completely selfless. On a holiday, he and another person would go out with a large basket from house to house, gathering “challah”, fish, meat, and alike., for the Jews who had been arrested. “They also have to eat!” he would contend. “It's a holiday!” He would organize other fairs to help carry out these righteous projects. And thus it became a tradition, for the Jews of Glubokie, to bake and cook for the Jewish prisoners in the local jail, before a holiday.

R' Shlomo Bogin, now in America, the former editor of the local Jewish newspaper, also helped this Society. A very active participant in the leadership of local Jewish and social institutions, was David Munvoz, who came to a tragic end. He would work everywhere, whenever he was needed, the House of Study (Beis Hamedrash), the library, Mizrachi or Poale Zion, religious or secular enterprises. He never refused a call for help. Everywhere he was “exploited”. Very often, he would put out money for one or two institutions and be paid back in installments. He was a devoted director and put the needs of the public first. He was the Gabbai (man who distributes honors and keeps order) in the big Synagogue. He worked tirelessly until the day he was murdered by the Germans - may their names be blotted out.

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The Glubokie Library during a special day


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