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[Page 5- Hebrew] [Page 11 - Yiddish]

Upon the Publication of the Book

by Dov Joel

Translated by Mindle Crystel Gross

Edited by Toby Bird

This book, “Our Town Svir”, will immortalize our birthplace, her Jewish past, her social and cultural life and will erect a monument to the martyrs who were murdered, who perished at the hands of the Hitler bandits during the Second World War.

This book is written in Yiddish so that it can be read by all from Svir who, regretfully, do not know the Hebrew language because they are spread throughout the entire world.

Preparing a book such as this for publication took many years. The bulk of the material had already been completed about ten years ago, but we decided to wait and gather more material.

However it turned out that we received too much material, and we did not have the financial means to print all of it.

As a result, this book contains no more than one-third of the submitted material.

This book incorporates a number of articles and descriptions written in different ways.

  1. “The Little Town of Svir” by Dr. Chanoch Drutz, which, in the original, consisted of 260 printed pages.
  2. Articles by Herzl Weiner, Sarah Nakhum, which consisted of approximately 100 pages. He is known as an author whose poems have been published in various newspapers.
  3. Memories and descriptions of Berl Alperovitz, Paris, consisting of approximately more than 50 pages.
  4. The book by Fonye Fisher which consists of 120 pages.

He expresses the pain and sorrow of a woman from Svir who escaped from Hitler's bandits, but who lost her husband and children.

Because of financial reasons, we decided to print only a portion of this colossal material.

In order to select the material, we elected a group of editors – colleagues from the following friends:

Dr. Chanoch Swironi, 2) Hershl Miller, 3) Gershon Yael, 5) Shmuel Dobkin, 5) Hertsl Weiner

Chief editor was Dr. Chanoch Swironi (Drutz)

In addition, the decision was made to print a complete list of all the martyrs of Svir in alphabetical order.

In conclusion, I fulfill my debt by sending a hearty thank you to all the friends who helped in the publication of this book, both those who live with us in the State of Israel and those who are elsewhere in the world, most especially in the United States of America.

[Page 6 - Hebrew] [Page 12 - Yiddish]

A Book – a Monument

by Heshl Miller

Translated by Mindle Crystel Gross

Edited by Toby Bird

Now, at this time of the publication of our Yizkor book, it is worthwhile to note the responsibility we all feel to the memory of our holy martyrs with the placing for them of a monument in the form of a book.

This book will remind our generation and future generations of the little town of Svir and her Jewish community which was ripped out by its roots and of which no remnant remains.

All our nearest and dearest who perished in such a barbaric fashion are mentioned in this book with the greatest heartfelt pain and rivers of tears spilled by those remaining from Svir around the world.

Therefore, it is understandable that all those from Svir who find themselves here in the State of Israel did not rest, and despite all difficulties, decided to publish this Yizkor book.

Each one of us is responsible to his children to relate the contents of this book and to tell them about the horrific destruction of the old home. We here must do everything so that our slaughtered families are not forgotten.

All will be able to read in this book the tragic history of the destruction of Svir, a beautiful Jewish community which disappeared in blood and flames.

[Page 7]

These things I remember,
and pour out my soul within me

(The Book of Psalms 42:4)

Shmuel Dobkin

Translated by Sara Mages

With awe and compassion we publish the memorial book for the community of Svir which was destroyed.

Almost seventeen years have passed since that bitter and impetuous day in which our parents, brothers, sisters and loved ones, were destroyed in all kinds of unnatural cruel deaths.

The farther we move away from the day of disaster, the more we feel the bereavement and the void that was created in the world of each one of us. And even if our Sages of blessed memory said (Blessings page 58): “The dead is only forgotten from the heart after twelve months”, these words are only related to one mourning, but not for such a terrible Holocaust that destroyed millions of our brothers. And for that reason, the wound is deep and bleeding. Our soul will cry in secret and there is no consolation. The blood of our loved ones is crying out to us from the Valley of Death, demanding of us to reward them with a last loving grace, and it is: to establish a monument in their sacred memory so we won't forget them, and for the future generations, so they'll know the pure and innocent martyrs who were destroyed. After many deliberations and efforts, we were able to establish this memorial project in the form of a memorial book for our community, the holy community of Svir.

This book will fold in it the scroll of the beginnings and the aftermath of our town. It will tell us, and generations to come, about the vibrant life of our town, in all areas and periods. About it's glory and sufferings, rise and fall, joy and grief, and the community's last days – about its destruction. And the beloved images of our parents and loved ones, who perished somewhere in the Vale of Tears, will hover before our eyes. We will read this book in moments of memory and communion, lend an ear, feel that we breathe their breath, and hear their voices, thoughts and conversations. Then, the heart will sight and the soul will be shocked because an entire world was destroyed, and our lips will whisper: These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me!

[Page 8]

The Town of Svir

Dr. Chanoch Swironi

Translated by Sara Mages



The town of Svir is located about 80 Kilometers from Vilna, the capital of Lita, in the Švenčionys district. Its closest neighboring towns are: Kabilnik, Mikhalishak, Sventzyen, Lintupis, Adutiškis, Oshmiana, Postavy and Smarhon.

The town lay by a rather large lake, from which a stream flowed to the Viliya River, a tributary of the Nimen River. At the outskirts of town, a wooden bridge crossed the river and served as the main gateway to the town. A mound, which was known in the area by the name: the “Svir Mountain”, rose in the center. Napoleon built on it an important military position during his march to Russia. The town was established at the end of the 18th century, and a few Jewish families are mentioned in a government's document from 1770. After the expulsion of Jews from the villages, the settlement started to grow and develop. Before the First World War, the Jewish community numbered approximately 200 families, 1100 persons.

A great fire broke out in town at the end of the 19th century, and almost all the houses went up in flames. The town's residents quickly raised its ruins and re-built it.

Most of the Jews engaged in retail trade. Only a few merchants rose to the rank of wholesalers. Only several dozen families made their living from farming and labor.



Svir wasn't a large Jewish community, but a vibrant colorful cultural and social life pulsed in it. The Jewish elementary school, which was founded by “Tarbut”, stood on a significant educational level.

The youth organizations, which were affiliated with the Israeli labor movement: “HeHalutz”, “HeHalutz Hatzair” and “Hashomer Hatzair”, teemed with life and gathered around them almost all the Jewish youth.

There were magnificent public institutions for mutual aid in town: “Mishmeret Cholim” [sick fund], “Gemilut Chesed” [acts of loving kindness] and a “Jewish National Bank”.

[Page 9]

The youth invested a lot of thought and energy in the “Drama Club”, which managed to produce a number of elaborate plays. The wind instruments band, which was established by the “Volunteer Firefighters Association”, served as a superb cultural tool and contributed to the success of various public appearances. Various divisions were operated by the sports organizations (“Maccabi” and “Hapoel), and the soccer teams acquired a good name.

The public library consisted of about 3,000 books from the best of Hebrew, Yiddish and world literature.

In general, the Jewish population stood at an adequate cultural level. Almost every Jewish home read a daily newspaper that was published in Warsaw or Vilna.

Due to lack of means, two or three families have signed for one newspaper. Everyone wanted to know what was happening in the world and in Israel. When a lecturer came to town, he always found an alert audience.

The older generation sat every evening in Beit Hamidrash and listened to the daily Gemara page.

In short, all the social circles were thirsty for knowledge and driven for education. Many parents went hungry in order to send their children to study in the capital city of Vilna.

All the former residents of Svir, wherever they are, in Israel, Europe and America, are attached to the cradle of their childhood with their heart and soul, and remember it with love, quiver, anxiety and love.

With the destruction of the community of Svir during the terrible Holocaust, which all the European Jewry experienced during the Second World War, a pure Jewish spring dried up and a good Jewish heart stopped beating. A cultural nest, in which our parents, brothers and sisters, the honest and the innocent, working people, dedicated and loyal to the Jewish nation and the country of Israel, was destroyed.

May our sons and daughters keep the memory of the martyrs of Svir's community in their hearts forever, and like us, they will remember it with love and gratitude.

This will be our consolation in our deep grief over the loss of our precious loved ones.

[Page 10]

To the offspring of former residents of Svir

Dov Joel

Translated by Sara Mages

This book “Our Little Town of Svir” describes the lives of the Jews in the town of Svir – the birthplace of your parents.

The book is written in “Yiddish” – their childhood language, which you don't speak and for sure you can't read in a book. You grew up under different circumstances than your parents, and maybe you know very little about Jewish life in towns in Poland and Russia, a generation or two ago.

But perhaps, when this book will arrive to your home, you'll want to know what's written in it, and maybe you'll be interested to hear something about your parents' childhood place.

The Hebrew article of Dr. Chanoch Swironi (Drutz), the editor of this book, describes the town of “Svir” in the most general terms.

For sure you know that many Jewish communities were destroyed in the Second World War by German soldiers, that the Jewish nation lost 6 million sons and daughters, and we, the survivors of these communities, must always remembers the members of our nation that we lost. We hope that you want to know about the past life of the Jewish nation, and that you will also keep in touch with the present and future of the Jewish nation.

[Page 13]

A Book About Svir

by Aaron Koury, New York

Translated by Mindle Crystel Gross

Edited by Toby Bird

The book, “Our Little Town of Svir” is nicely presented and a sincere “Thank You: is due our friend, Dr. Drutz, for the time and effort which he invested in it.

Having left Svir so many years ago and leaving it in a state of filth in which Jews lived, because life must be lived without questioning it, where there was no place to spend a pleasant hour - being away from Svir for so many years, and returning from larger cities, a youth such as I who had to spend some time in Svir felt the stifling atmosphere in the life of the town. That is why, reading this book, a newly-born Svir opened up before me, a town where one could enter a library and a club, discuss, delve into a single purpose, see a theatre performance, skate with real skates on the lake, ride a bicycle, hear Svir trumpets in a quartet. This was as fresh water for me who was in the desert. I was astonished when I read all of this in the book.

I want to remember the difference between my time in Svir and the time which is described in the book.

When our boys wanted to skate on the lake, they had to hide so that the fathers would not know because it was not seemly for Jewish boys to think about such foolishness. Swimming was so difficult and so seldom that a Jewish boy could not learn to swim. He was always reminded that he was not a “sheygets” (non-Jewish boy), that he must have in mind his future.

When I was in Svir the last time, many, many years ago, I was already quite a grown-up youth. Bentchl Zlatayobke and I agreed to go fishing. We made a fine rod with a string of real horsehair and worked it all out at the mill. We sat at the water, talked about various worldly topics which Bentchl solved, and the rod stood hidden in the water for hours and did not catch a fish. Each day we hid the rod for the next day or the day after that, Each time no fish was caught even though our rod was in the water. We were still pleased with our fishing and our secret because if the Jews of Svir would have known we would have really been severely punished. We most certainly would have gotten the nickname of “Fisher” or “Fish-catcher.” We decided once that if, G-d forbid, we were caught with the pole, we would buy a few fish from a Christian and march into the lake with them to demonstrate that we knew how to do this. But we were very afraid of what they would do to us, and we were thrilled that nobody ever caught us near the mill. This is how it once was in Svir.

Now I read that Jewish boys rowed on Shabos, skated, played football and published a newspaper. Residents of Svir write poetry, act in the theatre. It is virtually unbelievable.

This book, for those from Svir who are scattered all over the world, revealed a new world, and it is pleasant for everyone to read that our beautiful old home had changed.

The horror is that this warm and beautiful home was so tragically destroyed.

Halutzim from Svir in Israel 1924

In this photo we find two halutzim: Chaim Chayat and Shoshana Chazan whose aliya took place before the big halutzim movement in Svir. Thanks to them, the Svir Jewish kibbutz in Eretz Israel has more than 100 members


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