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Villages in the Vicinity {cont.}

[Page 143]

The Village of Glinna

Pinchuk Family (Israel)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

The village of Glinna stood out, in particular, among the ancient villages around Rokitno. It was named after its clay soil (Glinna). The village is situated on the bank of the Stviga River. There is a legend that says that Glinna was once a big city that was destroyed in the 17th century. As proof of this legend, there are two actual events. The village was surrounded by fortifications 2 km away, on the road to Yozfin - Prince Radziwil's estate. Also, the flowers growing in the area were beautiful and rare. It was said that they grew from seeds found in the hay fed by the Tatars to their horses.

There was an ancient cemetery in the village, the only one in the area. In 1937, when a new section was added to the cemetery, a skull was found during the digging for a grave. The conclusion was that even this new section was part of an ancient cemetery. The grave was closed and the section was no longer used for burials.

Yosef Shuster, one of the veteran residents of the village recalled that some ancient graves, hundreds of years old, were found in the hills of Glinna. There were also remnants of an ancient factory.

The beauty of the village was an old synagogue, built 500 years ago. It is mentioned in "Pinkas Vilna". Rabbis came from Vilna to Glinna and confirmed that the synagogue was an ancient one. It was built out of unplaned beams and planks. At the entrance there were three steps to go down, to fulfill the verse: "I called G-d from the depth". Inside were woodcarvings. Akiva Blizhovsky (130 years earlier), the right-hand of the great Rabbi Aharon from Karlin, renovated the synagogue. Prince Radziwil had donated the lumber for that purpose. The renovation was done very carefully so as not to ruin the works of art that had adorned the synagogue for many years. For that reason they left the old carved lintels and also built a women's section.

The ten Jewish families that resided in the village were either in business or they were tradesmen. Every family had a small yard in which they kept cows and chickens. In Yozfin, 4 km outside Glinna, there were sawmills and a tar factory. The village Jews also made their living there. Even the nobles who hunted in the thick Yozfin forests provided an important source of income.

The houses and businesses were inherited by the sons. Every son had first entitlement to his father's business. The Jews of the village were traditional and devout and there were no arguments about faith or difference of opinion. The children were brought up steeped in tradition. However, in time, they also established an advanced cheder where secular subjects were taught. The wealthier residents sent their children to Hebrew schools in the area.

The big event in the life of the village Jews was the visit of Rabbi Israelke from Stolin. It usually happened in the winter. The followers from nearby villages came to Stolin on sleighs to bring the rebbe. The trip included the string of nearby villages and lasted about a week. These were days of spiritual awakening and there were many celebrations with Hasidic dancing. In Glinna the rabbi slept in our house. The Jews came to greet him with horse drawn sleighs. The bells on the horses' necks were wonderfully sweet. The sound of the bells harmonized with the Hasidic songs and the roads were sanctified in honor of the Rabbi.

The entire Jewish village population - about 60-70 people -gathered in our house. They danced on benches and tables until after midnight. After a light sleep of two hours, the Jews came back to the Rabbi to present requests, to ask for advice and to give him donations.

Modern times did not miss Glinna. The Hechalutz movement came to the village and the youths began to think of new values and of preparing themselves for physical labor in Eretz Israel. The village young people gathered, here and there, and discussed different issues that troubled the Jewish world and the workers' world. The majority went to preparatory kibbutzim and some made aliyah. Glinna also served as a preparatory place for pioneering youths from area villages.

Although there were usually good relations with the neighbors, in times of upheaval, between governments, the locals would turn against the Jews ready to plunder and to kill. 1920 was a very bad year. The Bolhovtzis [2] gangs ran wild in the forests of Polesia. Jewish victims were brought to burial in the Glinna cemetery, from the village of Bukcha. The Jews gathered in the synagogue to fast and to pray. At the last minute, a miracle happened. A Polish army brigade came and saved the Jews from certain death.

However, during the Holocaust, there were no saviors and the village Jews were killed. On the days before the slaughter, my father was deep in study of the unknown and the mysterious. He saw signs of the Messiah in his suffering. The fact that the Holocaust took place in the year 700 (taf shin) strengthened his belief in this. In an ancient book he found written that the number 700 (taf shin) announced a great disaster and that the strength of the world with the Jews in it, would end (tash). Perhaps after this Holocaust the Jewish nation would be revived. He lived and died with this belief.

[Page 145]

The Village of Drozdin

Ruhama Chechko [Polsky] (Givat Hashlosha)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

It was a small village between Rokitno and Stolin. It had five Jewish families. Its wooden buildings were low with straw roofs. The windows were dark. A low light was seen here and there and beautiful singing was heard in the evenings. Jews had lived in the village for many generations. They made a living and educated their children. They hired an excellent teacher even though it was a financial burden. Some of the children studied in the Tarbut School in Rokitno.

The Jews of the village were hard working. They made a living from physical labor, using spades and rakes, axes and saws. Their main source of food was potatoes and animals and fowl from their tiny yards. We grew up in green fields. There were beautiful gardens around our house. They enriched our soul and our imagination. In the yard we had fruit trees planted by our grandfather and intended for the enjoyment of future generations. We had vegetables and corn, a cowshed, a stable and a barn.

In addition to work in the field, the Jews also traded with poor peasants. The Jewish population was related and there were many children. Their social conditions were equal and they did not need much. However, in spite of the poverty, the children were happy and full of delight.

Hasidism contributed to the spiritual uplifting in the life of the Jews of the village. The Jews of Drozdin were followers of Rabbi Moshele Perlov, may he rest in peace, from Stolin. They fully believed the Rabbi could perform miracles. In times of difficulty and sorrow they went to pour their hearts to him.

The Rabbi from Stolin used to visit his followers in the area every year and he included Drozdin on his tour. Who among us does not recall the tremendous impression the appearance of the Rabbi and his entourage made in our village? We remember the Jews that followed him from village to village and who celebrated till midnight. The circle of dancers even pulled the children into it. Father accompanied the Rabbi and his music to the next village, Berezov, 10 km away. There were wonderful sparks from the aura of Hasidism spread among the Jews.

The pioneering Zionist spirit also came to our village and the longing for Eretz Israel enveloped us. My brother Nahum decided to break with tradition and went to a preparatory kibbutz to fulfill his dreams. One fall day he left the house secretly and disappeared. There was a pall of mourning in our house. Our mother read her prayer book in a sad voice. Loud crying was heard from the whole family, as if he were, G-d forbid, dead. However, soon, many other young people followed in his footsteps. The parents accepted the fact, were positively influenced and finally helped their children gladly to make aliyah. Today there are five sons and daughters from the house of Yaakov of Drozdin here. There are also many cousins who established families in Israel.

[Page 146]

The Village of Vitkovich

Reuven Ory (Jerusalem)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

The village of Vitkovich was situated, from the First World War until the beginning of the Second World War, between the borders of Poland and Russia. Today it is within Russia.

There were 15 Jewish families in the village. Most of them dealt in business. The relations between the Jews and the peasants were mostly normal.

Some of the Jewish youths managed to reach Eretz Israel, through Hechalutz. When World War II broke out the Jews of the village were killed, in a most cruel manner, by a group of peasants incited by the Nazis. Not one Jew managed to escape.

[Page 147]

The Village of Zolovey

Sarah Fuchsman (Ramat Gan)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

The village lies 50 km from Rokitno. When I came there in 1924 there were about 200 families of which only 2 were Jewish: the Fuchsmans and the Rosensteins.

My mother-in-law was a hard-working woman (a woman of valor). She earned a good living from a fabric store she owned in the village. The customers were all locals who were on good terms with the Jews.

Our children, Yaakov and Godel, were educated at the Tarbut School in Rokitno. It can really be said of them that they went to a place of Torah since our village did not have the facilities for a modern school and the materials available to the local teachers were not sufficient for us. The children lived in Rokitno during the week. On Fridays we leased a wagon harnessed to two horses and brought them back home. The children were very lonesome for their parents. Every day, when the school day was over, they wandered the streets of Rokitno searching for anyone from Zolovey who brought them greetings from their parents.

The other family in Zolovey was, as I said, the Rosensteins. It included the father, Aharon-Ber Rosenstein, his wife Chava, his two sons Asher (in the United States) and Yaakov (in Canada) and his daughters – Baila and Haika (both killed in the Holocaust).

Aharon-Ber was a businessman. He traveled to the surrounding villages in his wagon. He bought pelts, pig bristles and grain and brought back to the peasants whatever they needed. The mother farmed the land. They had vegetable gardens. Some of the produce was sold and the rest was for the use of the family. The son, Asher, was a blacksmith. His shop was the only one in the village and it provided him with a good income. It was a hard working family.

Transportation to Rokitno was erratic most of the year. When the snow melted, after Purim, the area between Zolovey and Rokitno became a marshland. The trip was complicated and dangerous. Often, when matzos were brought for Passover from Rokitno, the horses would sink in mud and they could not move. Most of these accidents took place during dark nights when no one else was around. The people felt abandoned. They then had no choice but to sleep overnight in the forest or in an open field. They lit a bonfire and waited for daybreak when someone would come by and extricate them from the mud.

The Jewish homes in the village served as guesthouses for visitors from nearby villages on their way to and from Rokitno. In winter they arrived frozen from the cold and whipped by the winds. Hospitality was well developed and all guests were warmly received. When a Jew arrived shivering with cold, a hot drink, a sumptuous meal and a warm bed were immediately offered.

A special type of visitor who came to Zolovey was one who used the mikveh. The villages did not have a mikveh. The women fulfilled their obligation by immersing themselves in a large copper container. However, the G-d fearing men could not do without a mikveh. Therefore, they put their life in danger and walked tens of kilometers in winter storms to reach the mikveh in Rokitno. These Jews came out of the mikveh clean and pure and prepared for Shabbat. They made their way back on foot. On the way they nearly froze from the cold winds and the snow and barely made their way to us. After a good meal they continued on the way home to their families.

The road from Vitkovich to Rokitno went through Zolovey. Berl Turovitz from Vitkovich always went on foot from Rokitno to his village. When he came to us he was completely frozen. I immediately would say to him: "Reb Berl, wash your hands eat to your heart's content!"

The tasty meal would revive him and his strength would return. Berl would tell me that this mitzvah was as important as that of observing Yom Kippur. The many forest inspectors (brackers) whose work kept them in the forest and who were quite lonely away from their families also found a warm place in our home.

The two Jewish families in the village kept their Jewish identity and were careful to follow all the rules. Our forefather, Yaakov, said: "I lived with Laban and I kept all 613 mitzvot". In addition to making sure the children had a good Jewish and secular education, the families also kept their ties to the community. On the yearly memorial days they walked to Blizhov to say kaddish with a minyan. As the High Holidays approached, they removed themselves from everyday affairs and left all business to the other villagers. They felt the coming of judgment day. They put their families on wagons, packed food and went to Blizhov for the High Holidays. The trip took a whole night. The wagons traveled slowly since the driver would fall asleep and drop the reins. The horses made their own way since they knew the road. We would arrive in Blizhov at daybreak, tired and broken from a long sleepless night. The trip through fragrant fields and endless forests soothed us and gave wonderful memories.

When the terrible day came, the locals turned from friends to enemies. We left the village and went to the ghetto in Rokitno. We took apart the stable to use the wood for heating. Hershel and my two children returned to Zolovey hoping to find shelter with the villagers. However, they were cruelly slaughtered and buried in a communal grave.

When I was in the forests, the peasants told me that wolves found the pit and gnawed on the bones of my children. A partisan accompanied me to the grave. On the edge, I found parts of my children's clothes torn by the wolves. A local volunteered, in exchange for salt, to help cover the pit. This was the end of the two Jewish families in Zolovey.

[Page 149]

The Jewish Settlement of Toupik

Yitzhak Meir Chechik (Herzliah)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

This tiny settlement has its own history, just like all the Jewish settlements that were destroyed and that had their own past. However, this story is unique since it was founded by Jews exclusively. Its eradication from the world during the Holocaust was therefore, quite final.

Early in the twentieth century the railroad from Olevsk to the middle of the forests of Polesia-Volyn was built. It was meant to transport trees cut down in multitude by Jewish lumber merchants. The single house that was built as an office near the Toupik track was occupied by a Jew called Yaakov Freger. He was nicknamed Yaakov of Toupik. He settled there with his entire family – three sons and two daughters. Eventually, they too built homes there for their own families. The Jewish settlement grew.

At first, the occupation of the area served as a place to earn a living only. Eventually, it became a special place – a Jewish agricultural settlement.

Up to World War I, Yaakov and his family performed different jobs, such as the "trusted employees" of the Jewish lumber merchants and the provision of food to the forest workers and their animals. Yaakov's house always hummed with many workers, clerks and merchants from Russia and elsewhere who were involved in the lumber industry. The house was also used for prayer services by the Jews since it held a Torah scroll.

When World War I broke out all work in the forest and on the railroad stopped. Everyone returned to their homes and only Yaakov's family remained. The war left its mark. Most of the Jews in the area, whether in town or in villages, suffered from hunger and were pursued by criminal gangs.

Since the sources of income were no longer available, Yaakov and his family decided to work the land and live off it. They uprooted trees, prepared the fields and pasture areas, ploughed and sowed, cultivated sheep and cows and lived well. They were highly respected by the local residents and were not bothered by the gangs – in contrast to the suffering of other Jews. Many Jews escaping from the gangs found a haven in the settlement. They were thus saved from starvation.

In this way the residents of Toupik tilled the land during World War I. When the war ended and new borders between Poland and Russia were drawn up, Toupik remained part of Poland. The railroad was moved. Just as once Toupik served as a shelter for those escaping from the Tsar, so now, it sheltered those escaping Communism – Jews and non-Jews alike.

The Jewish lumber merchants continued their business. A small railroad track was built from the nearest train station, Ostoki. A sawmill and a flourmill were also built. The village of Toupik began to bloom again. Many Jews made a living from the stores and many workers were employed in the sawmill and the railroad. However, Yaakov and his family continued to be loyal to the land.

The Jewish merchants in Toupik employed a group of pioneers from the Klesov kibbutz. Here many young people were prepared for future pioneering work.

In the thirties the Jews continued to build the railroad from Toupik to Vitkovich. A tar and turpentine factory was built in Toupik. The people of Toupik were pressured by the Polish estate owner to buy the land. Even though the payments were annual, it was a great burden. They worked hard and paid for their land.

In 1933 life stopped in Toupik. The sawmill burned down and all work stopped. Most of the temporary residents moved to other locations. Only the original residents remained and Toupik again became an agricultural settlement.

The residents of Toupik followed tradition. On Fridays and on the eves of holidays the shohet came from Blizhov to slaughter animals. On the High Holidays the residents of Blizhov, a nearby village, came to pray together. On Succot, Yaakov Freger's lulav and etrog were brought to all Jewish homes. The younger generation was taught Hebrew by excellent teachers. Many of them studied in Hebrew schools in Stolin and Rokitno. The rabbis of Stolin, Karlin and Brezhne came on annual visits on their way to see their followers in the area.

[Page 151]

The Vilage of Snovidovich

In memory of my father Yaakov Shmuel and my mother Rivka

Avraham Shafir [Shvindelman] (Naharya)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

The village of Snovidovich was situated 13 km east of Rokitno. It was on the border of Poland and Russia. Foreigners were permitted to enter only by special permit from the Security Office. The crossroads in the center of the village led east to Bilovizh, north to Zolovey, and south to Dert and west to Rokitno. As you stood at the crossroads it seemed that here were the roads that connected the whole area and that its center was Snovidovich.

Some of the natives of the village settled in Rokitno and were active in the life of the town – in business, cultural and social affairs. Any Snovidovich natives who went out into the world adapted to any society because they had a good foundation and they were broad-minded.

There were twenty Jewish families in the village. They were ambitious and energetic and held important positions in business, trades and agriculture. Every family had a house with some land. The Jews worked hard all week and rested properly on Shabbat. The sanctity of Shabbat was felt fully in Jewish homes. All the stores were closed on Shabbat. Everyone rested and the locals knew not to disturb the Jewish day of rest. Shabbat was Shabbat. On Shabbat it was easy to find a place to pray since there were several minyanim in the synagogue. There was no need for a cantor from the outside because Shmuel; Yitzhak Spivak with his magnificent white beard, led the services all year and on the High Holidays. Baruch Gluzman, an educated Jew, read the weekly portion on Shabbat. He was the lively one in the village. He was always full of jokes and anecdotes. He never stopped telling stories and he never repeated an anecdote or a joke. Before the war, a new Torah scroll was brought by the residents.

It was a great pleasure to carry pails of "our water" from the river for matzo baking. The young people considered this to be one of the most important events in their lives.

The parents looked after the education of their children and brought into the village highly qualified teachers. Among them were Dr. Shvetz and Chuprik. My father, Yaakov Shmuel, was in charge of hiring teachers since he had eight children and they would constitute the majority of the class. For that reason he worked hard to find exceptional teachers. Some of the teachers in Snovidovich were university students who came there to save money. The salary was decent. Every family had to host the teacher in their home for a certain length of time. The school moved from house to house. In addition to Bible and Rashi, Hebrew language and literature were also taught. The lessons were conducted in Hebrew. The parents were always concerned with giving their children a proper basic education. They helped those who could not afford to pay school fees. Some of the children studied in the Tarbut School in Rokitno and some went to yeshiva in Rovno or Stolin.

The youngsters were educated in the spirit of Zionism. I cannot remember any house that did not have the blue JNF box. It was emptied regularly. The Betar branch in the village conducted Zionist, cultural and social activities. There were meetings almost every evening. The Zionist movement captivated most of our young people. They prepared themselves for making aliyah in Voltche-Gorko, 3km from our village.

rok140b.jpg [18 KB] - Hebrew School in Snovodovich, 1928
Hebrew School In Snovidovich, 1928
Standing in first row from top to bottom from right to left:
1. Teacher David Schwartz, 2. Avraham Shvindelman, 3. Pessia Shapiro
Second row:
1. Liova Shapiro, 2. Freidl Gluzman, 3. Hassia Shapiro, 4. Haim Shvindelman,
5. Freidl Shapiro, 6. Shlomo Lederer, 7. Ida Lederer
Third Row:
1. Sheindl Gluzman, 2. Moshe Barman, 3. Miriam Gluzman,
4. Sheindl Barman, 5. Mushka Shapiro
Fourth row:
1. Sheindl Barman (daughter of Yitzhak), 2. Henia Shapiro,
3. Moshe Gluzman, 4. Moshe Barman, 5. Haim Barman, 6. Isser Shapiro

A preparatory kibbutz of Hechalutz was established and the members worked in the sawmill. The Betar youths went to the Ostoki kibbutz where they worked in the brick factory and the sawmill. In the Rokitno kibbutzim, they worked in the glass factory. Even in the Betar kibbutz in Klesov there were members from Snovidovich.

Wherever the young people of Snovidovich went they worked hard and were among the leaders. The secretary of Kibbutz Grochov in Warsaw was born in our village – Moshe Gluzman. (He returned home from Warsaw after it was conquered by the Nazis. He was in Russia and then volunteered to the Polish Army. He became a captain and was killed together with Moshe Barman in battle in Warsaw). In 1933-34 Israel Kek worked in the Palestine Office in Warsaw as a representative. He made aliyah before the war.

The youths of Snovidovich were healthy and courageous. There were no shy and fearful Jews in the village. When necessary, the Jews knew how to retaliate. However, as a rule, there was no need for it since the relations between the Jews and their neighbors were good. They found a common language and were helpful to each other.

The soldiers of the Nazi machine came and completely destroyed this Jewish settlement – except for those who were in the Soviet Army or who fought, with the partisans, to save themselves and to annihilate the enemy.

I cannot give specific details about the extermination of the Jews of Snovidovich since I was drafted into the Soviet Army before the war and I participated in battles against the Nazis. When I returned from Russia via Poland, I could not go to the village to obtain details about the killing of the Jews who had been there for many generations.

[Page 154]

The Village of Kisorich

Liza Polishuk (Kfar Bilu)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

The village lies about 10 kilometers from Rokitno. There were about 100 peasant families and a few Jewish families who resided in eight houses. My grandfather, Ruven Shapira, nicknamed "Ruven from Kisorich", was one of the veteran settlers in the village. The other families were the family of Yakov "the mailman" who brought the mail to and from Rokitno in his cart; the blacksmith Shimon Gendelman; the Broder family and two other families who owned department stores. In 1910 the Polishuk family arrived from Olevsk. Yakov Polishuk built a sawmill and lived for several years in the village with his family. When World War I broke out in 1914, this family left and settled in Rokitno.

Grandfather dealt in lumber and became wealthy. He used to travel in a fancy wagon pulled by two horses and was like a Jewish "landowner". He was known in the area as a clever and wise man.

Although our home was traditional, we were exposed to western culture. My grandfather, who dealt with the governor, spoke Russian. The sons and daughters received a secular education. Grandfather felt it was important to teach his daughters language and he explained it by quoting one of our sages who said: "It is permissible for a man to teach his daughter Greek since it decorates her". So, in addition to Russian, our mother tongue, we also knew German - we read German books. The children had music lessons and played violin, guitar and mandolin. Higher education was pursued in Zhitomir. His grandson, Kutzin, had a university education. He studied dentistry in Zhitomir. When he graduated, he settled in Kovel where he had a dental practice.

My niece, Hinda, had obvious literary talents. She was born in Kisorich and by her, self-taught, reached a high level of proficiency in Russian literature. She had a brilliant literary style. She was inspired at a young age and began writing novels in Chekhov's style. She sent her creations to Leonid Andreyev. The famous Russian writer was impressed by Hinda's talent and wrote her letters full of praise. He told her that he was very jealous of her because she knows how to value and to describe the essence of loneliness.

Our house was large. Five families lived in it. One stove did not suffice for cooking and baking. We built a kitchen with two huge Russian stoves. Each stove occupied half the room. They were built with fireproof bricks. Between the stove and the ceiling was a space that was constantly pleasantly warm. Guests, whose feet were frozen and who came to spend the night, would climb up and spread themselves there. There was no lack of guests. Our house was always open and available to passers-by. Everyone came and ate and drank. Grandfather used to say: "They are not eating my food. They are eating food sent by G-d".

Since there were so many people in our house, we had, on a permanent basis, a shoemaker and a tailor who made shoes and sewed clothes for the family. They were always busy with work. These tradesmen had vacations during Passover.

There was also a synagogue in grandfather's house. For the High Holidays, Jews from Karpilovka, Dert and Borovey would come. Although we were not many, during the High Holidays there was a spirit of sanctity in the village and even the peasants were afraid of judgment day. During the closing prayer (neilah), the peasants were afraid to go outside and stayed inside their homes.

rok140c.jpg [15 KB] - Youth Group in Kisorich
Youth Group In Kisorich
Standing Right to Left:
1. Haya Shapiro, 2. Dvora Shapiro, 3. Nissan Polishuk,
4. Eidl Kutzin, 5. Rivka Schwartz (Polishuk), 6. Boria Polishuk.
Second row:
1. Golda Shapiro, 2. Moshe Kutzin, 3. Feiga Gutman, 4. Esther Shapiro.
Third row:
1. Moshe Polishuk, 2. Liza Polishuk (Shapiro).

Kaparot time was an exciting moment with a mixture of happiness and sadness. At midnight, the children were awakened for the twirling of chickens (kaparot) and the shohet from Rokitno stood with a sharp knife held in his teeth, ready to perform the deed of sacrifice. It was always a sleepless night. All the children were busy plucking feathers from the chickens and preparing them for cooking. Large vats stood on the fire and the melting chicken fat spread a wonderful, enticing aroma.

Mother's blessing of the candles before Kol Nidrei was very moving. Her crying created fear and trepidation. What didn't mother ask with her heart-rending prayer? That her sons would remain good Jews, would study Torah and would perform good deeds all their lives, that their homes should be blessed and that they should have a substantial income so they would not need any charity. There was a special sanctity in our home on Yom Kippur and even the younger children shed their everyday existence and prepared themselves for the great day of judgment.

The baking of matzos in our house was a joyful event. The preparation of "special water" was unique. At midnight, my uncle, Moshe Shapira, would wake me up by saying: "Get up, my child. Let us go to the well and pump still water". My uncle meant that at night, when water is not being pumped, it is still. That is why it was called "still water". My eyes were still nearly closed. How I wanted to stay asleep, but I overcame my desire and I went with my uncle. It was deathly quiet outside. The village was asleep. The night was full of magic and my uncle and I were doing sacred work. We went back and forth with pails of water in order to fill a small barrel.

The boys had a traditional education. A teacher was hired and he lived in our house. In the yard there was a tiny house and this is where he taught his pupils. The teacher was mean and he beat his pupils without pity. The children decided to get even with him. How? They went out on a snowy evening and built a snowman near the teacher's window. At midnight the teacher woke up and saw a man covered in shrouds peeking into his room. He almost died of fright. After that day he stopped beating the children.

In the 20's the number of Jews in the village diminished. The elderly died and the young went away.

The fate of the Kisorich Jews was told to us by one witness who remained alive. There was once a family by the name of Knishkov in the village. They eventually moved to Rokitno. When the Germans entered Rokitno, the father escaped to Russia. The mother, with two small children, returned to Kisorich hoping to find refuge with one of the peasants. There was an infamous peasant in the village that dealt in business with Knishkov. When the Germans came to Kisorich, they ordered all of the village Jews to gather in the forest. Even the boy, Yakov Knishkov, was taken to be slaughtered. As they came to the forest, they were surrounded by the peasants who were armed with axes and spades. The killers cut off the heads of the Jews and buried them using their spades. The boy, Yakov, managed to save himself and returned to Kisorich. He went to the house of the infamous peasant. The latter had pity on him and hid him in the yard under a stack of hay. He warned his family not to harm the child. At night he would bring him food and water. The neighbors sensed that something was going on in the yard and they discovered that the peasant was hiding and feeding a Jewish child. This man had many enemies in the village. Now they were ready to take revenge on him and they informed on him to the Germans.

The peasant knew that the boy was in grave danger and he immediately harnessed his wagon. He put Yakov into the wagon, added a sack of bread and pork and took him into the forest. There he told him: "Run straight ahead and you will reach the partisans". Indeed, he reached the camp of the partisans, among them Jews from Rokitno, and he was saved. When the man returned home, a German unit was waiting for him. They ordered him to gather his family inside the house and with them locked inside; the Germans burned them all alive.

Yakov Knishkov remained alive and came to Israel. He worked on the ship "Henrietta Szold" which traveled between Germany and Israel. The father, Moshe Knishkov, who had escaped to Russia, was saved and came to Israel. While he was still in Germany, he found out that his son had been saved and wanted to see him. The father spent some time in Israel and eventually returned to his friends in Germany. One day, he was found dead. He was killed in a mysterious way and to this day, in spite of the son's efforts, the killers have not been caught.

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  1. Village is actually located in western Ukraine, original text written this way. Return
  2. Word probably should be "Bulbovtzis" gang but original text written this way. Return

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