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[Page 301]

From Kalush to Striyj,
From the Pit to the Trap

by Hella (Anna) Bickel-Horowitz

Translated by Sara Horowitz Kurtis

Kalush is far from the old border between Poland and Germany hundreds of miles away. However, the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, was well-felt in our city. Even before the war began, many of the residents of Kalush, from the three nationalists [national communities] that populated there [Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian], received the same recruitment orders as reserve soldiers of the Polish army. Others, who had never served in the Polish army, also received military orders. But within a few days, it was felt that the Polish government was decaying, and therefore the response to the mobilization calls was low.

We saw Polish civilians rushing through our city as they approached the Romanian border, intending to arrive as quickly as possible to safety place [a safe place] outside Poland.

Following in their footsteps, Jewish refugees from western Poland cities were also seen fleeing the Nazi invader. Some remained in Kalush, especially those who had relatives or acquaintances in our city. Some Jews of Kalush tried to join the escapees to Romania, but only a few succeeded, most of them returning to Kalush.

On September 17, the Red Army entered from the eastern border into Poland. At the same time, the German army was approaching eastern Galicia, and the town of Striyj [now Stryy, Ukraine], 40 kilometers from Kalush, was also occupied by them. In contrast, Stanislavov [Stanislawow, now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine] won the entry of the Russians. Kalush remained in the middle; will the Germans conquer, or will the redeemer come from the east? One day, the city remained without any rule, and there was much anxiety in the hearts of the Jews.

The first Russian tank that entered Kalush stirred [in] the city's Jews, even those who were not enthusiastic about the “reds” and their regime, a wave of joy. We were lucky...

Not many days passed, and the Soviet government that began to establish itself in the city, showed its character. The rich and wealthy were its first victims, their property nationalized. Those who were reported to the new authority as Zionists, or were suspected of anti-communist action during the time of Poland, were not able to improve their lot. Some were arrested, and some also sent to Siberia. At night, several families were taken out of their apartments and taken to unknown places within Russia.

Everybody tried to prove his competence to the authorities and their aides, first of all by getting some work, so as not to be considered an unproductive element.

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With great effort, I also got a job as a cashier at the government bank, the only one in our city at the time. It was a difficult and dangerous job, and nobody jumped for this job for fear of getting too involved, and as a result being sent to Siberia. Only because of no other choice did I take on the role.

In my I.D. (Passport) was a clause that restricted me for work. For a while, I worked at the bank with great tension, until I was able to convince my superior, a Soviet citizen, to release me from that position. Because I received a good recommendation from him, I was accepted into a convenient and less responsible position in managing a large laboratory for grain seed testing. During this time, the German-Soviet war broke out.

Already in the first day of the war on 22.6.1941, the laboratory manager, a Soviet engineer, left Kalush, and even failed to say goodbye. Likewise, Russian officials began to leave the city, along with several dozen Jews from the city. Some survived and returned after the war to Kalush; others were killed on the war front or died in labor camps in Russia. A small number remained in Russia to this day.

Even before the last of the Russians left the city, much tension was felt in the air.

The Jews, none of whom could estimate the magnitude of the disaster that is about to occur, knew that the Soviet government's troubles were nothing compared to what is expected to happen to the Jewish population after the German entrance to the city. Against this, one could see the looks of the Ukrainians, and even hear how happy they were for the arrival of the Germans.

After the Soviet withdrawal became a fact, the state of panic prevailed.

The nationalist Ukrainians took over all public offices and institutions, and declared them the property of the Ukrainian state that is about to be established.

Some of them approached me and demanded the keys from the lab that I was working, in order to confiscate the grain stock in the warehouse.

There were cases of bodily injuries, and it was possible to hear from the Ukrainians that were yesterday in good contact with the Jews, that the time of revenge has come.

To our delight, the city was taken over by the Hungarian army. The Hungarians did not excel in their love of Jews; however, their hatred of the Ukrainians was no less than their hatred of the Jews.

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But the Hungarian occupation did not last long. At the end of July, the Germans entered Kalush, and then there was a serious deterioration in our situation. The apex of the injuries to the Jews at that time was the “Aktzia” (action) against the Jewish intelligentsia at the end of August. With the help of the Ukrainians, who compiled lists of educated Jews and others who were known to them, the Germans then destroyed several hundred members of the Jewish population of Kalush. With my own eyes, I saw them being herded in trucks to an unknown location, being brutally beaten with rifle butts by [the] Ukrainian policemen who guarded them. It was soon learned that they had been shot dead and buried secretly in Poilo [Pojlo, Puylo, or Piilo] forest, next to Kalush. My brother, the lawyer, Dr. Eliezer Bickel, was also on the list to be killed; however, they did not find him at his house, nor Izio Holder, nor Adzio Helman. The assassins reached all three of them later.

After the elimination of the Jewish intelligentsia, the German decrees began to take place upon us, one after another. Even earlier, a ransom had been imposed on the Jewish population of Kalush, ordering it to hand over to the Germans a large amount of gold and valuables. As winter was approaching, the Jews were ordered to hand over to the Germans all the skis and ski equipment, including clothes and shoes, that they owned, and later all their furs. Anyone with only a sign of unreleased fur was severely punished. The skis and clothes were the Jewish “donation” to the German military campaign to enter cold Russia.

Every morning, people were sent for various jobs. My nephew, a 15-year-old boy, Alter Bickel, from Borislav [now Boryslav, Ukraine], while at work, found an apple and ate it. He was immediately shot on the spot.

The oversight of Kalush's Jews was by the German “Krippo” (krigspolizei) and the Ukrainian police. From time to time, the Gestapo from Stanislavov came to our town to conduct “Aktzias” (actions). They were assisted by the Ukrainian police and the Krippo, as well as, unfortunately, by the Jewish council, the “Judenrat,” which was obliged to assist the Germans in the extermination process by preparing lists, etc. In the first Judenrat was Dr. Shoalev, teacher Friedlander from Dolina, and later attorney Daniel, a refugee who came to Kalush with his family from west Galicia. Among the most recent Judenrat members, I remember Leo Artman from Prehinsko [Perehinsko, now Perehins'ke, Ukraine], who came to Kalush during the war. The Judenrat composition had been changing from time to time, most often sending those, who had been in the Jewish Council for Stanislavov for several months or weeks, to their death.

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The actions were once aimed at elders, once against children, but the killers did not maintain a uniform composition of the ones being carried to extermination. On the day of the action, freedom of action was given to the Ukrainian police, and they added to the “quota” whoever they wanted. The ones sentenced to death had to dig holes for themselves, and they were shot as they fell into the graves that they dug for themselves. Because of the atmosphere of terror that was going on in the city, even people with paperwork, which indicated that they [were] working essential work for the Germans, did not dare to be seen on the streets.

At first, the Jews were allowed to live in their [own] places, but over time, all those who lived outside the Jewish neighborhood near the Rynek [marketplace], were obliged to move into the narrow area of the Jewish Quarter, the ghettos. At the beginning of the German rule, Jews from the villages and towns in the vicinity were brought there, and therefore there was a horrible density. But worst of all was the hunger. Bread, potatoes, and flour became increasingly scarce. Jews were not allowed to go outside the ghetto, and if a Christian brought a little food into the Jewish neighborhood, at his own risk, he demanded for it valuable payment - gold, gems, or clothing and bedding. Despite the ban, there were Jews who risked themselves and set out to obtain food outside the ghetto. My husband, Dr. Weiss, who was a doctor and carried besides the Jewish star on his sleeve, also a sign that testified to his profession, and therefore felt freer, once went outside the ghetto to look for food. On the street, a Ukrainian approached him and simply told him: “Give me your coat, it is not needed for you, tomorrow you will most likely go to hell.” My husband came home, wearing his coat, but the outcomes of such meetings between Jews and Ukrainians were [often] much worse.

The hunger was catastrophic. Children and adults roamed the streets begging for food, and were rarely answered. Starvation deaths were increasing day by day. At first, it was hard to see the people crashing under themselves in the streets starving, but over time we got used to these scenes. The corpses were cared for by the “Kadisha Society” [Chevra Kadisha, or Jewish burial society], and their hands were full of work. Even though death was a common occurrence in the ghetto, I will never forget seeing the Filler brothers lying on the pavement of the street. The two brothers did not die of starvation; informers revealed that they had forged certificates that they acquired, in order to be able to get out of the ghetto, and when the certificates were found on their bodies, they were shot and killed. Their corpses were taken out on the pavement in front of their house, with a sign on them: “This is how every Jew will find himself when we find him with fake certificates.” The corpses were lying in their places for many days, in order to scare the Jews. The tailor Mendel's [Fendl's] house was also searched. He was brought to the Krippo building, and there he was shot dead by one of the vicious Krippo commanders - Krayevski.

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In light of the awful situation, it was not surprising that there were people who decided to put an end to their lives, and committed suicide. I know of some who asked my husband, the doctor, to provide them with poison, in order to put an end to their lives before the Germans and the Ukrainians will do it. In another case, girls asked for poison for their parents. However, these were exceptional cases. Despite the physical and mental suffering, which cannot be described in words, most of the Jews, who were in fact held to death, exhibited a strong desire for life. The murderers had already made sure that the people would die in all sorts of strange deaths, without having to take their own life.

During a year and a half, I lost almost all my family members, including my mother Sara, my brother Herman with his wife and son, my sister Malka Treitler with her husband and two children. My brother, Dr. Eliezer Bickel, escaped to Dolina and was murdered there. My sister Lea, along with my cousin's (Rabbi Dr. Kohlberg) wife, Irena (née Milstein), and daughter, succeeded to escape Kalush and arrived at the open ghetto of Striyj. Irena was carrying her girl in her arms all the way, and on arriving at Striyj, it became evident that one arm had frozen and needed to be amputated. My sister Lea had to support herself, Irena, and her child, but at the end, they all encountered the bitter fate.

In October 1942, the large Aktzia (action) was carried out, with the vast majority of the victims of the city being Jews who were still alive after the previous acts of extermination. Officially, Kalush was declared “Judenrein,” clean of Jews, but [a] few Jews managed to hide and were not added to the large shipment, which was reportedly deported to the Belzec extermination camp. We, myself and my husband, also found a good hiding place, and the Germans did not discover us during their searches during the Aktzia (action).

Shortly after the Aktzia, we were sent to the labor camp at Ugerstahl [Ugartstal], near Kalush. [Ugartstal is now part of Sivka-Kaluska, Ukraine.] Conditions at the camp were relatively comfortable, and hundreds of Jews who were there, most of them from Kalush, could see themselves lucky to be there, since they did not have to hide from the Jew-hunters like persecuted animals. However, our “good” situation came to an end.

One morning, the camp in Ugerstahl was surrounded by Ukrainian police; a portion of the camp residents was taken under heavy guard, to a transport place in the reading hall of the village,

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a hall that was not yet complete when the Germans turned the village into a labor camp. According to what scale were the people selected for this Aktzia was never clear to me. Anyway, among the people who were brought to the reading hall were also myself and my husband, who worked as a doctor in the camp.

In the reading room, we were commanded to throw whatever valuable items we possessed on a table in the middle of the hall. We were warned that anybody who would still be found with valuables on himself, will be immediately killed.

After following the command, we lined up at one of the walls of the big hall. Suddenly the police started shooting at us. First a baby was shot in his diapers, whose parents brought him to the hall and put him on the floor not far from where they were standing. It was the baby of the Barons, who owned a leather store in the Rynek of Kalush. At the sight of this horrifying scene, the daughter of Mrs. Rothfeld (the widow of advocate [lawyer] Rothfeld, who worked in the camp as a cook for the “workshutz” (workers' court)), shouted: “Mom, Mom!” The girl was immediately shot dead.

After the murder of the children, it was my turn. Tzafko, one of the head of the Krippo in Kalush, who was notoriously cruel, aimed his rifle at me. Seeing this, I hid my face, shouted, “Tzafko!” and fell on the ground in front of him. Apparently, my shouting startled him, and instead of shooting me, he exclaimed: “If you don't stop screaming, I will kill you like a dog!” At the hearing of these words, a general shouting began. The gunfire stopped, and the people, gathered at the hall, were led to the “workshutz,” the workers' court. From there, they were going to send us to Kalush. Perhaps they wanted to hide their atrocities from the farmers in the village, thinking that in Kalush they could execute us quietly.

Being in the yard of the “workshutz,” I decided that I should do an act that would save me from the brutal murder by the Germans. To do this, I would go to one of the policemen [and] pretend that I am about to hand him something; while by his side, I will try to escape, because the murderers will shoot me during my escape, and thus my life will end without torture. I said goodbye to my husband with a secret handshake, and went to fulfill my plan. And here a miracle happened. At this moment, carts arrived at the courtyard, aimed to confiscate property of the people who were about to be sent for extermination in Kalush. The policemen did not notice me; all their attention was on the carts outside. Of course I did not return to my place, avoided the guards' eyes on us, and went outside. Not having the strength to escape, I walked slowly without knowing where to go, every moment expecting a bullet, and it was not shot.

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I walked in thick snow-covered fields, until I reached the fence next to a church. For several hours I stood there in the cold, not knowing what to do and where to turn. It was only in the evening that it occurred to me to visit the house of advocate [lawyer] Arnold, a refugee from Kraków, who lived in one of the small houses in Ugerstahl. Arnold's wife and two children committed suicide even before the big Aktzia. He himself tried to put an end to his life, but was rescued at the last minute by my husband the doctor, who was called over to him. Around that time, my husband also rescued another refugee, a doctor from Kraków who lived with his wife and mother at Zuker's house, but that doctor managed to commit suicide at a later date.

When I told advocate Arnold what happened to me, he did not want to believe. I could hardly convince him that I had escaped the murderers' hands. I also told him that while being in the reading hall, I threw away a sum of money to one of the corners that was covered with sand, since they had not finished the flooring yet. He was not lazy, and in the darkness of the night he went to the reading hall, which was already empty, found the money, and brought it to me. It was a gesture of gratitude to my husband for rescuing him from death. From attorney Arnold's house, I went to poor Mrs. Rothfeld's house, who lost her only daughter that day and buried her near the reading room where she was murdered. I was with her until morning.

Unfortunately, at dawn, the Ukrainian Guard Commander, Pedorniak, entered Mrs. Rothfeld's house. He demanded that I accompany him to the guard room, and when he saw that I was in no hurry, he told me that if I did not go with him at once, he would immediately count to 3, and then shoot me to death. Having no choice, I got up and went with him to the guard house; there he put me inside the bathroom. It turned out that I was not alone in the room; even before me, other Jews from the camp were brought there, and even after I was put in that room, the door was occasionally opened and someone else was thrown into the room. After a while they took the people out one by one and put them on a cart that was supposed to take them to Kalush. I was the last one to be called out of the bathroom. The person who was in charge of my transfer to the cart was Pedorniak's deputy. I begged him to keep me alive, that he would not send me to be killed in Kalush. Much to my delight, he abided by my request and hid me from the eyes of the commander who was looking for me. Moreover, he ordered one of the kitchen workers to serve me bread and coffee. It was above and beyond what I could expect from this person, whom I did not know and who played a major role in maintaining order, especially over Jews in the camp.

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After [my] eating voraciously, he said to me: “You must get out of here, if you do not want to be hurt, and me, too.” He ordered a worker in the kitchen to take me out of the village, and in order not to be noticed, we exchanged our coats, me and the woman in the kitchen.

In the horse stables in Ugerstahl, worked a Jew from Ugerstahl whose nickname was Popzak. I decided to go to him for a shelter. Popzak worked at the stable only at night, and in the morning he would return to his place of residence in Ugerstahl. Luckily, I found him in the stable before he was about to leave. As I expressed to him my situation and told him everything I had been through, he hid me under a haystack in the stable, and told me to lie down there until his return to work in the evening. I lay in the hay all day without moving, having to do my needs right there. In the evening when Popzak approached the haystack, he was sure that I suffocated there; however, contrary to what he imagined, I was still breathing.

As I lay in the haystack, a thought entered my mind, that if I could get out safely, I would do anything to reach the city of Striyj, since I heard that in Striyj, there are still many Jews in its open ghetto. I said goodbye to Popzak and headed to the train station in Holin [now Holyn, Ukraine] to get to Striyj.

I will skip everything I've been through until arriving to Striyj, suffice it to say that I've had, all along the way that included off and on the train, across stations and the like, to make sure that my Jewish identity is not revealed. It was not simple at all. Not only my visual appearance, but also all my movements and behaviors could easily reveal my identity. In indescribable fear, I arrived [in] Striyj early in the morning.

While in Ugerstahl, my husband and I were once assisted by a Polish engineer, whose name sadly evades me. With great self-risk, he hid me in his house for two days. He told me, while I was with him, about another Polish engineer, named Pashistolic, who works at the “Gasolina” factory in Striyj, who likes Jews. Among others, he hid the daughter of Goldworth, the owner of a flour mill in Kalush, but the poor girl did not escape death. I went to the office of Pashistolic the morning I arrived to the city. I introduced myself as a Christian, the wife of a Polish officer who was taken to Auschwitz. I told him that I am hiding my true identity as a Polish officer's wife, so that I would not be pestered. I came to him to ask for a job, and it is very desirable to have a modest job that will allow me to remain anonymous.

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When Pashistolic, who was a true Polish officer, heard my story, he offered me, as the wife of a comrade officer, a position as an assistant cook at one of the “Gasolina” factories. It was a kitchen in Dashawa [Daszawa, now Dashava, Ukraine], not far from Striyj. To that end, he invited me to come the following day, to the gathering place of the workers with whom I will go to Dashawa. I thanked him, of course, for the generous offer, and rejoiced at the prospect he put before me, after I was able to inspire his confidence in me. But now I was facing a new problem: how and where I would spend the 24-hours' wait until leaving for work. I didn't know where and who to turn to; someone could easily recognize me, especially because at that time so many people in Striyj knew me from Kalush.

As previously mentioned, the Striyj ghetto was still open at that time. Jews were allowed free movement outside the ghetto, but they were obliged to carry the Jewish sign on their sleeve. While walking in the city streets, without the Jewish sign, of course, a young Jewish woman from Kalush, named Malter, crossed my path. She gave me the address of my friend Mania Bleiberg, who was then living in Striyj outside the ghetto. To my delight, I found her at home; I reached her without the Jewish sign, and also asked her not to reveal my true identity to her neighbors, and indeed, all the tenants of the house considered me to be Polish. It turned out that I was not the only one with dual identity; I also met Stach Sokal there, and he also worked in Striyj as a Pole. In addition, I saw there Mushka Eisenbruch, daughter of Dr. Eisenbruch from Kalush. When I came to Mania Bleiberg, I found her packing her belongings. It came clear to me that on that day, all Jews living in Striyj outside the ghetto, had to enter the ghetto; that very evening the ghetto would close, and except for Jews with work permits signed by the Gestapo, no Jews would be allowed to leave or enter the ghetto.

I didn't know what to do. I fell from the pit to the trap. After consideration, I decided to stay overnight in the building, be what may be. The three-story building remained empty of people. I was afraid that I will be found by looters who came to the apartments that were previously occupied by Jews who had to leave. I hid in one of the bathrooms, and fortunately the night passed by peacefully.

At dawn I headed to the Dashawa employee gathering point. It was a little strange that I came to the place without any suitcase or bundle in my hand, and it started to arouse suspicion in the people with whom I was about to travel; however, I managed to get out of this test peacefully.

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In Dashawa, I worked as a kitchen assistant, who prepared meals for 200 employees every day. I tried very hard to please my superiors and to have good relations with my co-workers, with two of whom I shared a room. But unfortunately, shortly after I started working in the kitchen, they demanded me to present my I.D. It was a real disaster, since I didn't have any paper to prove my identity, let alone the “kancarta” (I.D. card). I tried to postpone the matter with all kinds of excuses, until one day they brought me to the Ukrainians, and they questioned me for 24 hours regarding my identity. Because I could no longer use excuses, the idea of playing a crazy woman popped up in my mind: I scratched my face, laughed unreasonably, talked content-less stuff, and so on. It wasn't easy to pretend to be crazy, especially when I realized I was constantly being watched; someone monitors all my movements and behavior through a hole in the wall. I had to play my part without letting go for even a moment. And as if that were not enough, a Gestapo police officer entered the police station that day. When he saw me and heard about me, he said without hesitation: “Don't you see that she is Jewish, she is an imposter, pretending to be crazy, but she won't fool us, she understands everything I say.” The Gestapo police officer commanded to take me to the prison in Striyj, and the policeman who led me in a cart, threatened to kill me if I tried to escape.

On the way to the prison, “my mind settled” and I stopped talking nonsense; having no choice, I became normal. However, even in front of the investigators at the prison, I continued to claim that I was Christian. They interrogated me a lot, several times a day and also photographed me from all angles. One of the officers-investigators told me: “Do not think that we believe you....We do not want to eliminate you yet because we want to make high-quality soap out of you.....” Only one of the commanders in the prison, a Pole, believed me and did not suspect that I was a Jew pretending to be Christian. I asked him to give me some work so as not to be idle in the cell, and indeed, I was sent to help builders, who were doing construction work in the police yard outside the prison area.

While still working previously in the kitchen, I met a Polish woman from Striyj, a mother of one of the workers who worked with me. I became friends with her and gained her trust, perhaps because she saw me as the wife of a Polish officer. When she learned about my job in the police yard, she started visiting me daily and would bring me hot food from her home.

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She encouraged me and often told me that nothing will cause me any harm; the Germans only kill Jews.

Once upon returning from work to the prison, the manager informed me that in a few days, I will be executed, because all the information that I gave them about myself was found to have no basis. Just one more day I'll be off to work, and next week I will be killed. When I heard this judgement, I decided to run away, be what may be. I was lost anyway. The next day, on Saturday, when the Polish woman brought me the daily food, I told her my decision, and she took it upon herself to help me.

Because of our acquaintance, it was clear that after my escape, they would come looking for me at the Polish woman's house; so, she brought me to a building that was destroyed during the war, which was not far from her house, and I hid in the basement of that building for two days. Apart from this good woman, no one knew of my whereabouts, neither her husband nor daughter.

On the second evening in the basement, the Polish woman came over and brought me food. She told me that they were looking for me at her house, but she strongly rejected any connection between her and my escape. She suggested that I move to another hiding place, where I could be safer.

From her I learned that not far from her house was another ruined building. The “Gasolina” company renovated that building in order to provide apartments for its employees, including the woman's husband and family. The renovation was done by forced Jewish laborers. During her frequent visits, she met the Jewish workers, and since she treated them pleasantly, she gained their trust. They revealed to her that in the basement of the building, they erected a hidden wall whereby they left a small opening, [and] filled it with bricks so that they could get into this “bunker” and hide. They asked her to provide them with groceries for a fee. She agreed to their request, but the whole plan fell through; they were all executed the day after their secret was revealed.

I accepted the woman's offer, and accompanied her to move to a new “shelter.” I lay there in complete darkness for a few months, without any blanket or any cover. The woman was worried that if they will find any item on me that belongs to her, our connection will be revealed. She would visit me from time to time, but in fact, I was cut off from the world, not knowing when is day and when is night.

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My only “friends” at the basement were rats, who also shared in the food that the good woman provided me from time to time.

One day, I heard someone taking out a brick from the wall, and in the darkness I noticed a human figure. It turned out to be a survivor from the people who built the wall. He, like the other partners to the secret, was already in the grave, destined to be killed. At the last moment he managed to escape, naked as of the day of his birth, and reached a nearby forest, where he found a sack and covered himself with it. He had hidden in the woods for a while, but all he wanted was to get to the “bunker” of which he was part of building, and now he achieved his goal.

When the good Polish woman found out that I had a “roommate,” she brought us a double serving of food, and so we spent our days and nights. I once woke up from my sleep when a light in the basement suddenly came on. It was my “roommate,” who lit a candle with matches that he owned. The man's appearance was like that of a mad man; he gazed at me with a very pale look. When I asked him what happened, he simply told me that he meant to kill me. I begged him not to do it and let me live, especially after what I have already endured. It was also rumored that the Russians are already approaching Striyj, and it was not worth it pushing the end when redemption is so near. My words affected him and he relaxed. However, he told me that he was not responsible for his actions, and if I wanted to stay alive, I will have to get out of this place.

At the first opportunity, I told the Polish woman what had happened, and I asked her to remove me from the place where the danger from my Jewish neighbor was to me like the danger from the German murderers. Once again, the woman moved me to the hiding place in the ruined building, where I hid before. I lay there for about 2-3 weeks. It was at a time when intense fighting erupted between the Russians and the retreating Germans, in the summer of 1944. When I was finally given the opportunity to go free, I couldn't walk, nor could I look at light. It was only with the help of the good woman, my “redeemer angel,” that I slowly began to recover.

However, now a new turn began in my life. I was left alone, without a home, without a relative. I wanted to see what was left of the city where I grew up, and where I lived my good years and the horrible period until I came to Striyj. I found the city almost empty of Jews. With Salka Shapira, wife of Shalom Shapira, I went to the Jewish cemetery, found my mother's (who perished in the Holocaust) grave and poured on it all the sorrow and pain that I carried in my heart, for what happened to my family and to my Jewish nation.

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On the way to the cemetery, our former housekeeper met me. I know about her humiliating behavior, and the behavior of her policeman husband during the German occupation, but that didn't stop her from inviting me to her house for lunch. Of course, I refused. I decided to leave Kalush as soon as I could. It was clear to me that the purpose of the lunch invitation was to take my life so that I could not take my family's property from her parents, the Ukrainian “heirs.”

With the good Polish woman and her daughter, who lives in Klodzko, Poland, I am in regular contact to this day. At her request, I omitted her name, because, according to her, she would not be regarded favorably in her community, for the fact that she helped save a Jewish woman.

 

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