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[Page 84]

Russian Captive

by Asher Hurnik

Translated by Deborah Schultz

At the end of the First World War, a Jewish soldier from the Russian army, who had deserted from Austrian captivity, reached Kalush. He hid himself for a time by going up on the roof of the synagogue in Siwiecka Street, until [eventually] he was obliged to go down from there; my brother David (may his memory be for a blessing) discovered him. The runaway was in a bad situation, barefoot, without a hat, sick and hungry. We got him to our house, and took care of him until he recovered. When he returned to health, he told us his name – Tsvi Ulshanski – and asked if we knew a Jew by the name of Ardshtein. It became clear that his intention was [to meet] a citizen of Kalush, recently released from the Austrian military due to illness. He [Ulshanski] possessed – so he said – something belonging to Ardshtein. Father (may his memory be for a blessing) brought Ardshtein to our house and asked him if he had lost something. In response, he broke into a shout – “My wallet.” Ulshanski then took a wallet from his pocket, and gave it to Ardshtein. A lot of money was in it, evidently all the wealth of Ardshtein, who wanted to give a reward to Ulshanski for the return of the loss. However, the honest finder declined in all firmness, and continued to go around barefoot. Under absolutely no circumstances would he agree to receive any help; he said that he was ready to do any work in order to survive.

When it became clear that Ulshanski was an educated man, able to give lessons in mathematics and German, they soon found him students, and he began to make an honest living. Thereafter, we also received from Ulshanski our first lesson in [self-]defense. We learned it when a rioter from Petliura's bands tore apart a room chasing after one of the tenants of our house. He [Ulshanski] caught up an ax, and prepared to kill the rioter. My parents, who feared the consequences, begged him to leave behind the ax from his hand, but he hardly listened to them. Fortunately, the rioter departed, in contrast with the way he had entered.

Ulshanski was among the first immigrants to the Land of Israel in the Third Aliyah [a movement of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe to the Land of Israel, after the First World War]. When I met him after my [own] arrival in the Land [of Israel] as a khaluts [pioneer or settler in the Land of Israel], he was already a veteran there. He filled important roles in security, and [also] in teaching at the Technion [a university in Haifa]. Ulshanski today lives in Tel Aviv.


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