by H. Rubin
Translated by Sara Mages
Dedicated to the memory of my father Pesach, my brothers Yitzchak and Eliezer Rubin z l
At the same time everyone wanted to get rid of their household items, like furniture and some personal belongings, because it was difficult to move them to the other side, and the monetary income was also needed.
Since there were many sellers the Christian buyers, who saw the Germans' abuse of the Jews, bought at half a price or even took without paying.
My father invited a farmer named Zich from the village of Lipiny to sell him furniture and other items.
Of course, my father told him a price that was ten percent of the real value of that time.
The farmer said: one way or another, you will travel and leave everything, so why should I buy?
My father took an ax and broke all the furniture in the house and said to the farmer, Now I will transfer the wood to a Jewish baker, and so it was - Garbine the baker received the wood.
My father managed to cross to the Soviet Union and stayed with us in Siberia. There, he fell ill and in 1946 we returned with him to Poland. A month after our arrival he passed away. We buried him in the Jewish cemetery in the city of Swidnica in Lower Silesia. The tombstone was destroyed by anti-Semitic Poles.
My brother Yitzchak worked in a tank factory in the city of Chelyabinsk where we lived together. He was an engraver by trade and one of the outstanding workers in his department. He studied this profession in Wolomin with the Letkes brothers.
In early 1942, the evacuation of the engine factory in the city of Kharkov began because the Germans were approaching the city. In Chelyabinsk there was a shortage of apartments and the houses commanders began to check the Jews' passports, especially Jews who had come from Poland.
|Yitzchak Rubin fell in the
Second World War near Leningrad
|Here lies an honest man .. R' Pesach son of R' Eliezer Rubin Katz, born in 1883, died in 1946, May his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life.|
At the time we were given Soviet passports with Section 38. Since we did not know the Soviet passport law, we thought our passports were like those given to every Soviet citizen.
My father, and the rest of my family, received a 24 hours deportation notice (my family and I survived because we lived in a different area that had not yet been checked).
My family left to live in a state farm far from the city of Chelyabinsk, and as soon as they left the city my brother Yitzhak was drafted into the Red Army.
For two years he fought on all fronts, and on 15.1.1944 he fell in the village of Il'ino in the District of Leningrad. According to the notification of the Soviet Ministry of Defense he was buried there in a mass grave.
My brother Eliezer was not with us. At first he lived in the city of Mogilev on the Dnieper River. He was drafted during the war and in 1941 returned with his unit to the city of Baku [Azerbaijan].
At the beginning of 1942, he was sent to the front in Smolensk. The last news from him was that he was fighting in the Smolensk area and his unit is trying to stop the advance of Hitler's army on Moscow. We did not receive more information from him, and to our questions to the Ministry of Defense about his fate, we received an answer that he was lost and his whereabouts are unknown.
by H. Kryger
Translated by Sara Mages
I was born in Wolomin in 1923. My parents were Peretz and Elka Kryger. In Wolomin we lived in a Christian neighborhood. The house where we lived was hit at the beginning of the war, my mother, my two aunts and fourteen neighbors were killed. I was wounded in my head. I had a ten year old sister and a four and a four and a half year old brother, and together with our father we lived with my uncle whose wife was also killed. My ten-year-old sister ran the household.
When the Germans entered the town they started to abduct us to all kinds of hard work. I worked in loading lumber in very difficult conditions. I started to hide and later decided to escape to Russia.
About ten thousand Poles and Jews wandered around the no man's land in the Malkinia area. We slept on the ground, in the cold, rain and the snow of the month of November until the Russians transferred us by train to Bialystok. There, I got job unloading cement. It was a hard work and I earned ten rubles a day. The foreman was a Jew.
I corresponded with my aunt in Moscow and she offered me to come to her. I informed my father about it in a letter that was delivered by Sedovnik. My father did not agree to my trip to Moscow and strongly demanded that I return to Wolomin.
I returned to Wolomin in the company of the same Sedovnik, who traveled all the time between Bialystok and Wolomin and specialized in crossing the border, but this time he was unlucky. The Germans captured us, twenty five people, Christians and Jews.
It was in January 1940 and the border was already closed. We have been told that the Germans would execute the Jews, but the Germans sent us to Malkinia. In Malkinia, the Poles attacked us and took all the money and valuables we had in our possession.
In Wolomin the Jews wore a yellow patch with a Star of David on their sleeves.
In Wolomin the Poles beat me and threw snowballs at me. When I returned home, my little brother did not recognize me. I was dirty, swollen, and my hands were frozen. The home this time was my uncle's apartment. My uncle and I were kept in the back room. The door that led to the room was hidden by a cupboard so that the Germans would not find us when they were searching for people for forced labor. For the most part the cupboard method proved itself.
In the spring, I started to show up for work on my own free will because I somehow managed to bring home a little food and a little wood. It was possible to get along with the regular German soldiers. The worst were the men of the SS and those who wore black uniform. They pushed us with their rifles and beat us with very cruel blows.
In October, all the Jews moved to the ghetto in Sosnówka and in the Shtutman buildings (next to Sosnówka). At first we worked in processing skins and in baking bread which was smuggled to Warsaw. People smuggled grain into the ghetto, we secretly ground it and sold the flour to the bakeries. We also knew how to produce saccharin balls.
The situation worsened in 1941. The Jews were not allowed to leave the ghetto's boundary. The Germans had a special method of punishing those who were outside the boundary. They tied their legs, tied them to a sled and dragged them around the town until the victim died from the torture. The body was thrown into the main entrance of the ghetto.
In the fall of 1941 it was dangerous to leave the ghetto even with a permit from the Gestapo. The Germans used every opportunity to murder Jews.
At the same time a typhus epidemic broke out in the ghetto. There was absolutely no way of getting out of the ghetto. The Jewish doctors, who were in the ghetto together with us, were helpless. Medicines could not be obtained. Every day 5-15 people died. There were not enough horses to take out the bodies of the dead to the cemetery, and then the bodies were loaded on a human-drawn cart.
Once, on a dark and gloomy night, some friends and I snuck out of the ghetto and approached the railway tracks. As the trains passed we heard the voices of children begging for bread and water. Then we realized that our end was approaching.
From the beginning of 1942 trains traveled day and night with Ukrainians on the roofs of the cars. From Warsaw the trains were full of Jews. To Warsaw the cars returned empty.
Every day a hundred Jews left the ghetto for work along the railroad tracks. When they returned two or three were always missing, they were shot by the Germans.
On the holiday of Simchat Torah, after the hakafot at the Margolis Shtiebel, Polish policemen came secretly to the ghetto and told us that busses with men of the Gestapo, gendarmes and the SS arrived in Wolomin. It was a sign that the ghetto would be liquidated that night.
The manager of the Wolomin train station was a good friend of my father and had connections with a Polish anti-Nazi organization. He obtained an identity card for me and a Catholic priest from a church on Stelowa Street in Praga gave me a birth certificate under the name of Henryk Wozniak. Both certificates cost 700 zloty.
On the eve of Simchat Torah, at nine in the evening, I left the ghetto together with Frum and Rubinstein and we hid in Zielonka the third station from Wolomin. On the way the Poles attacked us and took everything from us and even the shoes were taken off our feet. This was the occupation of many Poles: to search and find Jews, rob them of all their possessions and hand them over to the SS for a kilo of sugar and a liter of vodka. For some reason they did not have the time to turn us over to the Germans. It was probably better for them to chase and search for more Jews. They were convinced that the Germans would find and kill us.
I had the face of a gentile and since I grew up around Polish children my Polish was natural. Therefore, my friends decided that I had to go to the station and buy three tickets to Malkinia. In Zielonka station a Pole approached me, started a conversation with me and asked about my occupation. I told him that I was smuggling goods to Austrolanka. Don't be stupid - the Pole said to me - come with me and we will catch a number of Jews. In any case, they will fall into the hands of the Germans and they would send them to Treblinka.
After the war I learned that the Jews of Wolomin were deported on foot to Radzymin, a distance of ten kilometers. The weak were shot by the Germans and the road was strewn with bodies and blood.
On the train from Zielonka to Malkinia we witnessed atrocities. The Germans rounded up Jews, ordered them to kneel and shot them in the head. We got off the train in Malkinia. We handed our tickets in the presence of a Polish student whose duty was to help the Gestapo determine which of the passengers was Jewish.
In Malkinia, the Germans rounded up about twenty Jews and tied them with barbed wire the way logs are tied. I learned that the situation in Malkinia was dangerous. We headed northeast. There was a Jewish camp there and the Jews lived in more or less acceptable conditions. They did not believe us when we told them what was happening in our town.
In the morning they gathered the people for work, each one was called by his first and last name and what he had to do In addition, a German approached us and told us that he knew who we are, that we tell all kinds of horror stories. Very soon the Gestapo will come and take us back to where we came from.
We fled from the place. We walked to Zambrów and there we found acquaintances who gave us food. A rumor circulated that at four, or five in the morning, the Germans would come to abduct people for the camps, therefore we left Zambrów and headed for Lomza. On the way I parted from my friends. They walked to the big ghetto in Lomza because they had relatives there. I remained in Czerwony Bór and worked in the quarry for four weeks. The employee was the Judenrat.
Four weeks later we learned that the men of the SS had arrived. My friends to work tried to calm me down and told me: don't be afraid, the Germans would not do anything to us. But I was already educated and knew what to think about all this. I took a loaf of bread and escaped to the forest.
At four in the morning I heard shoots. Sometime later the same people, who tried to reassure me that the Germans would not hurt them because they were doing productive work, arrived.
In the morning I parted from them and walked to the unknown.
I had a birth certificate and a little luck. I thought of joining the partisans. I wandered from village to village and the Poles gave me advice: come with us, we will search for Jews, catch them, hand them over to the Germans for a fee and divide the Jews' money and diamonds.
In the village of Poczta I stayed to work for a farm owner who later discovered that I was a Jew and insisted that I should leave the place. He was afraid that the Germans would confiscate the farm.
The farmer's son felt sorry for me and hid me in the storeroom for a week.
I tried my luck in another village and managed to find work. However, after three weeks came an order that everyone must obtain a Kennkarte [identity] document. Otherwise, he would be considered a Jew or a partisan and sentenced to death.
I turned to the head of the village and he gave me a document that I am a good worker, I worked in the village for over six months.
My homeowner harnessed two horses to a cart and we traveled to the city to obtain a passport, but the clerk was very busy and had no time for me. He told me to come after Christmas.
After Christmas I traveled again to the city and managed to get the passport.
My intention was to get to Germany. I found a family whose son, a sergeant in the Polish army worked for a German farmer in the vicinity of Hanover, fell ill. The farmer agreed to let him go as long as another worker would be sent in his place, and I was chosen to work for him.
It was a complicated process. I needed a doctor's certificate. We turned to the doctor's assistant, gave him sausage, eggs and lard, and in exchange he gave me a document that I was healthy and able to work.
In Lomza we tried to get a ticket to Germany not through Warsaw, but through East Prussia. My contention was that in Warsaw I might be abducted for work.
In Hannover I turned to a policeman, showed him my documents and he put me on a train that took me to the village where I worked until the end of the war.
by Shmuel Zuker
Ah, my only father, full of
You fell with your face to the earth.
Snow and rain have washed away the evidence of murder,
I see your sacred image
The fervent desire
I owe you a monument,
Far way on the road to Russia
With nothing etched in a stone
In a terrifying storm
On your frozen fingers
Wearing only torn shreds,
When you considered the wounds
We must assume
Your strength gave out
Mother, father, brother
|My shtetl off Wolomin,
the sound of your labor
and your Talmudic study
in the beis-medresh
mark your eternal
existence. Your light
shines for all time.
Over the dark abyss
The quiver of your holiness
Your children are scattered
Rescued from death,
Wolomin, my sacred town,
by Menachem-Mendel Teiblum
Translated by Sara Mages
I was nineteen at the outbreak of the Second World War. I attended a vocational school in Warsaw and in my spare time I helped my father in his business. The work in the shops, and in the lumber warehouses, was difficult and my father was already old then.
On the seventh day of the outbreak of the war, Radio Poland announced that all young men should leave their place of residence and head east.
Chaim Rubin, Lestvogel, Mendel-Lipa Teiblum and Zagoshtinsky and I left the town and headed east. During the day German planes bombed the roads and shot at pedestrians and we had to hide in the forest and in the field. We walked in the darkness of the night until sunrise and again we looked for some shelter, until we learned that the Russians had invaded Poland we decided to go towards them.
We were among the first refugees to arrive in Bialystok.
Our legs were swollen and injured and wrapped in rags, and when we got to the first aid station our appearance was so miserable that the people of Bialystok thought we were beggars and wanted to give us alms. We explained to them that we did not need money, only a home where we could rest.
A Jewish woman took pity on us and took us to her house. She fed us, prepared hot water for bathing, until we managed to find an apartment in a baker's house. We lay there for ten days. We could not get up and were served food in bed.
We stayed in Bialystok until the first snowfall. When it started to get cold we had nothing to wear so we decided to go back to Wolomin, once again on foot, to pick up our winter clothes.
When we arrived to my parents' home they already lived with my uncle, Yitzchak Teiblum, on Koshchelene Street, and refugees who escaped from Warsaw, lived in our home.
In Wolomin the Germans imposed a curfew from seven in the evening until the morning hours. The town was in the jaws of the predatory Nazi beast and depression and despair prevailed in it. The noise and joy, the bustle of commercial life and the voices of youth, fell silent. Many left the town and never returned.
Silence in the streets, worry at home. The Germans are robbing and there is no security in life. Every now and then - a Jew is murdered in broad daylight.
Therefore, we sit at home, but even here there is a bitter feeling of melancholy and despair. The life of the Jews is worthless. Outside - abuse, beatings and forced labor, at home - fear. At any moment, they are likely to evict you from the apartment and rob your property.
Not a trace remained from the public life that Wolomin was blessed with before the war. Nothing survived from the youth organizations, the activities, youthful joy and hopes.
Under these conditions I decided to return to Bialystok. I tried to convince my parents to leave with us, but to no avail. My father remembered how bitter was the fate of those who left their home in the First World War. Could he have imagined the horrible plots that the Germans had plotted against us?!
In Bialystok the Russians demanded us to declare: who is interested in Soviet citizenship, and who wants to return home. We all stated that we intend to return, and that sealed our fate.
In the middle of the night we were taken out of the house and led to an abandoned factory where all those, who had stated that they wanted to return, were concentrated. The overcrowding was terrible, people fainted and there were also deaths.
A few days later we were loaded on a train, in freight cars, without windows, in the cold and hunger, until we arrived, two weeks later to a dense forest near Arkhangelsk. We lived there in barracks and worked in logging.
I, along with Beni and Noah Brisker, belonged to a group of excellent workers, stahanovichim. We worked in unloading cargo from ships, a hard and tiring work. Sometimes I got tangled up in logs and found myself in the water. The situation worsened with the arrival of winter. The logs were immersed in ice at a depth of a meter or more, and I had to blow the ice with dynamite.
I worked in this job for over a year, until the outbreak of the war between Germany and Russia, and then we were given the opportunity to arrive in Samarkand. There, I met Beni Brisker and from him I learned that my sister Chana and her husband were in Turkestan. I decided to join them.
When Polish citizens began to be drafted into the Polish army I was one of the few Jews accepted and sent to Persia.
The conditions were harsh and I contracted typhoid fever. I was hospitalized in Tehran for about two weeks and after I recovered I was taken to a secluded camp where there were only Jews. The Polish army was not interested in us, did not take care of us and did not provide us with food.
The shocking news that came to us about the Nazi atrocities made us want to fight, we wanted to defend the Jewish honor.
Having no choice, we decided to leave the camp and demonstrate our desire to fight. We lined up as a regular army, left the camp and marched toward the British headquarters to present our problems to them.
We marched through the streets of Tehran and suddenly a Polish colonel stopped us and asked for the reason of t the march.
We told him the truth and he ordered us to return to the camp and promised to take care of things.
He kept his word. The next day we received food and equipment. Sometime later, we left on a train to which special cars were attached for the Jewish soldiers.
We arrived in Eretz Yisrael and underwent intensive training for six months. Then, we were transferred to Iraq to teach the soldiers in the Polish army camp the new methods of warfare that we learned with the help of the British equipment in Eretz Yisrael.
From Iraq we returned to Eretz Yisrael and held various positions until the order came to leave for the front in Italy.
I passed a long way by car and on foot, I saw flowers of Jewish life that were trampled and burned. To this day I hear their death's whispers and I cannot describe all that we have suffered. I have told very little of my journey, from the day I have left Wolomin and until my arrival in Eretz Yisrael in the uniform of a Polish soldier.
Life taught me how to overcome my suffering. Oh! How painful it was, and the wound had not yet healed.
Yet, despite all our torments and injuries, we, the survivors of the terrible Holocaust, continue to build our lives and before of our eyes the greatness of our holy ancestors, the greatness created day by day, and hour by hour, even in the smallest Jewish community.
Wolomin, my hometown, you remain real and alive for me to this day. I still remember most of the day and night events in your alleys and your extensive market, and they fill my heart with both horror and happiness from passed worlds. My childhood atmosphere in your alleys, from the joy of life to the horror scenes I saw in you, and the horror news that came when I was away from you.
Despite all the tears our ancestors shed on your land, there was also joy in their lives, joy of work and creation.
Under your sky generation after generation forged a chain of customs and lifestyles, of holidays and Sabbaths.
My ears pick up the voices of my brothers and sisters, and I see before me the delicate faces of my parents, uncles and aunts.
Almost all members of the Teiblum family engaged in the lumber trade. Their economic situation was good, and they had a good reputation because many of the townspeople made a living from them. They also had a generous hand, gained the trust of the town's residents and enjoyed the respect they received from Jews and Christians alike.
The chapter of my parents' life in the town hovers before my eyes. All their days a good word shone on their lips, and a warm and endearing smile was kept within them for each person.
My father's mind absorbed every detail in the lives of the residents of Wolomin, and it was a real pleasure to listen to his opinion in various fields.
I knew my mother's love in all its deep clarity and she gave me moments of glamour and happiness.
Wolomin is empty of its Jews.
They are gone. They were annihilated, executed, massacred, and burned.
|The Teiblum family|
by Sara Baum
Translated by Sara Mages
In this book we seclude ourselves with the memory of our martyrs and loved ones who perished in the terrible Holocaust. We all carry in our hearts the town of our childhood and youth. Sometimes, we wake up at night from insomnia, turning over from side to side, our eyes heavy and our thoughts leading us in different stations of our lives towards the distant past. Before our eyes pass the events whose impressions have left their mark on us and we live them again.
In these moments stand before me the Baum family and I see the noble figures of R' Yehudah-Leib with his wife Shprinze, and their daughters: Friedeleh and Scheindele. Here, Friedeleh is about to get married and Scheindele, on her way from Eretz Yisrael to America, stopped in Poland. Her husband was waiting for her in America and Scheindele wanted to meet with her family in Wolomin.
The war broke out and prevented her and her little daughter from leaving Poland, and their fate was sealed. They all perished in the cruelest way.
As if from a dream I bring up in my memory these good people from my husband's family. I remember the Sabbaths and the holidays when I was invited to their table. I am trying to recreate what my eyes see and bring up from the abyss of oblivion our beloved figures that are no longer with us…
Here, we arrived from Warsaw to Wolomin, Friedeleh, my future sister-in-law, and me. We got off the train and turned to Dluga Street. The store was already half closed. At the door stood my future mother-in-law and welcomed us with a bright face. I hear her soft voice:
Sara'le, how glad we are that you came. Come, get into the house!
The sun of the Holy Sabbath eve has not yet gathered its last golden rays into the endless heavens. By this time the house was already clean and dignified and all the secular tasks in honor of Shabbat HaMalka had been completed.
On the table, covered with a white tablecloth, clean of any stain, were laid, in holiness and purity, two braided challot, a reminder of Lehem Mishneh. The challot were pointed at both ends and smeared with egg yolk. Poppy seeds were scattered on their surface, as is the custom of the seven species that our country was blessed with. Next to the challot, which were covered with a tablecloth embroidered with gold threads, was the knife, and the words Sabbath Kodesh were engraved on its handle.
In the middle of the table stood a beautiful polished bottle, shiny as crystal, inside it shone spectacular clear wine, and colorful small glasses for Kiddush stood around it like guards. The silver goblet for Kiddush was decorated with flowers, made by an artist.
R' Yehudah-Leib, and the rest of the family, had already bathed and were dressed in Shabbat clothes. The mother, in her Sabbath clothes, was standing by the silver candlesticks that stood on the table. She stuck the candles in them, put a white scarf on her head, tucked her hair inside it, tied the ends of the scarf under her chin, and with shudder of holiness, which surrounded the family members, lit the Shabbat candles.
And it seemed to us then that lights were turned on in her eyes as well.
She spread her hands three times until she covered her face with her palms, and the blessing was heard from her mouth in a clear distinct voice: …lehadlik ner shel Shabbat.
And her lips whispered: …like the light of these candles my son's eyes will shine in the light of the Holy Torah.
Her face glowed from her spread fingers in a supreme glow and a tear dropped from her eyes.
After lighting the candles her eyelids trembled in the glow of Sabbath HaMalka.
In a quiver of holiness, and in her soft feminine voice, she greeted us with Good Shabbat.
These two words, in which a melody of melancholy was hidden, still resonate in my ears to this day and will not be erased from my memory forever.
The men, R' Yehudah-Leib and his son Shamai, my future husband - went to the synagogue and I stayed with the women. We chatted. Scheindele's friends immediately arrived, the Sabbath's expression was spread over their faces and time passed pleasantly.
The meal, the Friday evening meal, was held in good taste and knowledge and excelled in the abundance of her special dishes, and how wonderful and glorious were the Shabbat songs that the father and son sang and excited everyone with sacred feelings.
The house was illuminated in a pleasant light and the mighty singing burst through the windows and resounded in the city streets. Is it possible that these voices are no more, and with the disappearance of the city these voices were also silenced and disappeared?
In these moments I hear the voices that filled the space of the town, its streets and its houses, the voices of the residents of Wolomin as they greeted Sabbath HaMalka.
The voices remained within me. They did not leave me or let go of me.
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