Letter from Uncle Herman Berlas
(Stryj, Ukraine)

49°15' / 23°51'

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This letter was written by Erus's uncle, Herman Berlas, on the 6th of June 1945 in reply to letters that I, Erus Schützer, the son of Dr. Marceli Schützer, wrote to him after V.E. day

Uriel Zur Schützer z”l

Translated by Esther Csasky

Stryj  6 June 1945

[Page 1]

My Dear Erus,

Your card directed to this municipality written on 22 August 1944 and delivered to us just before.  Each of us has replied straight away, separately in three languages, perhaps one of them will arrive to you more quickly.

We wrote a short letter that we are alive - Bola, Linka and I.  We are healthy and we are doing well.  Unfortunately, the rest of our dearest (…….?) they are not with us.  Our grandparents perished with a terrible death like millions of our brothers. They were lead to their deaths by those cursed and hateful Germans and they lead even more (?) and beat the old man, 82 years old and the old woman.

How has the world created such a cursed human beast?  I don't know how to write, how they stained humanity, such filthy German dogs.

[Page 2]

It is possible to rehabilitate only oneself, to burn out the disease from the place where this disease broke out. From your mother, we received the last news. Her handwritten letter, a few days after the Germans penetrated Belgrade. In this letter, the unhappy had written that dear Theus was captured by those leprous dogs…..to the camp.  A few days later a letter came from the landlady where your mother lived that tells us that she was captured and taken to the camps.  From then on, no news, perhaps…possibly they are alive because it seems that people are returning from the hands of the cursed murderers.  We live in hope that perhaps they will come back and we'll be able to smile at our dearest brothers ( ?) and sisters.  Your father tried to go to Hungary three times…..followed?  Twice he returned from the border where he was beaten up by the 'bad people', he was robbed.

He went a third time but after he tried to cross the border, he found out that on the other side, there were also people who were not good to them, that people were caught and disappeared. Although I think about him, I am not allowed to think of him as a lost one because there are some cases of people who have come back even though they were left in the graves together with hundreds of others.  Everything is possible and truthful(?).

[Page 3]

Erus, terrible things happened that are hard to describe and up to today, people cannot even describe/share the reality of what was.  Most probably, the horrible thing is that people are trying to convince themselves that if people can do such things to others in reality, it's really not worth living. Even I survived life with a wife and child (?) Even I am trying to have a normal life. I don't feel that I lack anything in my daily life but the horrific events, the terrible loss of the dearest…. This creates heaviness on my soul so we can no longer think of enjoyment.

Really, you want to know how we survived this hell. I want to describe in> short, our hell.

From the moment those bastards attacked………thousands were selected from a list and my name was on this list.  Luckily, I went into hiding.  After this, they started killing thousands in three Aktions.

Before the Aktions, people were herded to one place and from there, they took thousands to their death. About a defense, there certainly wasn't any possibility. How could it have been possible

[Page 4]

… to defend oneself in the surroundings of children and older people.  Ours and some other  catacombs ?? disappeared.  The last Aktion was in our town in Feb-March 1943. In this Aktion, our dearest perished. Your grandparents (on 2nd/3rd March 1943). In April 1943, your father undertook the last try to go to Hungary………but 10th June 1943, Adas, who lived with Nadzia from 1939 in Stryj.  They died of TB. [your father], he had to hide himself and not show himself so people would not notice him.   He had no medical help and soon after the loss of his parents, he died.  He is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Stryj. Linka and I found people who risked their lives to hide us. From November 1943 to the 8 th August 1944, we sat in hiding in terrible pain.  Bola and Linka were on the edge of exhaustion – their nerves could not go on much longer. There were many occurrences that people left the hiding place straight into death, free willingly.

During this hiding, your father's problem that I wrote above, he preferred to make it to Hungary. We waited for the liberation and we managed to settle ourselves in our new life with whatever we had left and we are completely satisfied with that.

[Page 5]

In the near future, we will be heading towards the west.  We don't know specifically where we will be settling.  Our first destination will be with Bola's sister, Haline Brand, and from there, we'll see further.  Most probably from there, we will go to visit Marse, who people say has his own farm house* .

About others of our relations, there is no trace.  We have heard nothing of Zirler Geldbard.  Most probably, some of our relatives from Zbaraz, may have survived. Maybe some of the younger generation survived.

Till today, nobody has appeared. Today, we found out that your cousin, Benio Schützer, has found out that we are alive. He believes us to be the only close relatives and he wrote to us. How he writes, Fredy, mama and father perished…..

[The cousin] is in a rehab hospital and hopes that soon, he will be liberated and wants to visit us.  I wrote to him how truly happy I was with the news that he survived.

[Page 6]

I gave him your address and where he can write to us or eventually find us when we are settled.  I am sending you his address:


Please write precise details about yourself and about our relatives about whom you have news, in particular people who lived in your neighborhood or Karol Zipper and his family, cousins…..

Your uncle,
Munio Berlas


* Munio knows that Erus's father had bought an orange plantation in Israel and hopes that he will someday go there. This sentence is in “code” because of Russian censorship. Return to text

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