** Webmaster Note: The following
is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
as sponsored by George Zilbergeld.
Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).
I WAS A YOUNG MAN
Remote Regions of the Town
stood on a side street in the remote regions of the town.Not far from the house, the large meadow the poplav
spread all the way to the forest, which obscured its end.Our house was low and old.Part of the roof was made of wooden shingles, and part of
straw, but moss and greenery were already growing on both.You could put out your hand and touch it.
We were a
house comprised two apartments, each containing a single room.A corridor separated the two apartments, and in it there
was a large cellar for storing potatoes and other provisions
that needed cold storage.In the corridor, we kept wood for heating the house
during the winter and for cooking all year round.The long logs were piled on top of each other, from the
floor up to the top of the wall.In the yard, we had a cowshed.
apartment, where the five of us Ima, Abba and three sons -
lived, was in the room to the left of the corridor.I was the youngest of the brothers.Abba's name was Zeev; Ima's name was Gittel.My big brother's name was Bezalel and my middle brother
1940, a sister was added to our family her name was Yehudit.
In the room
to the right of the corridor lived Saba
and Savta [Grandfather and Grandmother].Moisheder shuster Moshe, the shoemaker
that is what the townspeople called Saba.At the beginning of 1939, Saba
passed away at the age of 75.And this is how he is preserved in my memory:
his height was slightly
bent, and his beard was long and white.He prayed in the synagogue of the Trisk Chassidim.After his death, Savta lived alone in her room.
very little furniture in the house.Two beds stood in one corner.In another corner was a sofa, that we called the
middle of the floor was a rickety table, and next to the wall, a
chest of drawers that held various linens and clothing.Apart from these furnishings, the stove took up a large
portion of the room.The stove had an upper level "on the stove" and a lower
level, the "understove."The "understove" was a kind of niche for chickens and the
upper level was also used as a place to warm ourselves in the
room, there was a similar set of furniture.Her room was very neat and clean.She was very particular in this regard.The beds were neatly made and the pillows were piled on
each other by size like a tower, whose base was a large and wide
pillow, ending with the smallest pillow.In Savta's room there also was a small mirror, and next
to it was a flowerpot with artificial flowers that were spotted
by flies and whose color had already faded from dust.But on the windowsills there were flowerpots with live
was made of wooden boards upon which yellow sand was spread.In honor of the Shavuot holiday, we would cover the floor
with greens that we brought from the poplav.We brought water from the krinitsa the spring.When I was a boy of 10, I already would go to the
krinitsa to bring water in a pail.
One of the
sources of our family's income was the cow in our shed.It happened that our cow died of some illness, and the
house was dark and in mourning.The cow was part of the family.Every morning we brought it to the flock going out to
pasture, and every evening we stood and waited for it to return.Once a year, the shepherd would bring us a small calf,
the offspring of our cow, and then the joy would be very great.Savta also had a cow, and she would sell its products
cheese and cream and buttermilk.Savta kept the dairy products in all kinds of clay
cellar was her "refrigerator" in those days.We used the milk and dairy products for our home only.We had additional income from fertilizer.In exchange, we received a field for planting potatoes.After we lost the cow, we made many efforts until we
bought another cow.
inherited the shoemaking and sewing trade from his father.I remember periods of my childhood when my father would
sit at his little table repairing shoes.But mostly, I remember him stricken with all kinds of
illnesses once he had an eye disease, and once he had strange
sores on his neck.
He was hospitalized for many weeks in various hospitals in
Rowne and in Lutzk.
In such a condition, our household was always lacking.
cold were ordinary visitors to our house, and the charitable
organizations of the town took care of us.One winter night, Abba suddenly lost consciousness.One of his eyes was very swollen.In the house, they talked about an illness called
came up to the house, and the neighbors ran around with worried
they took Abba to Lutsk.This event is engraved in my memory, not in all its
details, but in its general outlines and in the shadows of worry
that wrapped around the house.Ima travelled with Abba, and we children remained alone.Savta would come into our apartment to bring us food.But that was not enough.We had to sell the cow in order to finance Abba's stay in
the worry of one Friday, before we went to the synagogue.We found out that Asher, who was a good friend of Abba,
was called to the telephone, and we worried that the call was
connected to Abba's illness.Perhaps he had passed away already, and they didn't want
to tell us?A dark
fear fell over the household.Somebody ran to Asher to find out, and he wasn't at home.Our Aunt Rivka, Abba's sister, came to our house, and she
walked back and forth, tearfully whispering to herself:
Please don't interrupt your Sabbath, and don't turn it into the
Ninth of Av!"
Asher arrived, and told us that Ima had notified him that Abba's
situation was satisfactory.He had successfully undergone surgery, but he needed a
And so the days of our childhood were caught between illness and
distress, but from then on, Abba recovered.
Yaakov learned in the yeshivas in Sarny and Luninetz, and
excelled at his studies.Our parents had hopes for him.My big brother learned tailoring, and even though he was
talented and learned quickly, he wasted many years as a tailor's
apprentice, as was the custom at that time, until he was allowed
to do the actual job of sewing.Those in the know used to say that he was destined to be
a superb tailor.My
brother was already going to buy a sewing machine and begin to
work as an independent tailor, but for some reason he
encountered many difficulties in the matter of the machine and
he decided to leave tailoring and turn to a new profession
accepted by Elka, di pikarnichka [the baker], and here as
well, he excelled in his work and after half a year he began to
work as an expert; he already had helpers that he supervised
events I am telling about occurred near the time that World War
II broke out.With
the entrance of the Soviets into our town, the livelihoods of
many Jews were destroyed, mainly among the more well-to-do
families. Those in our situation enjoyed an improvement.As opposed to the distress and poverty with which we were
familiar in the past, we now saw relative prosperity.Abba had plenty of work.His health had greatly improved.Bezalel was now appointed as the chief baker, and he had
to supply bread to the army that was camped nearby.His salary was very good, and we did not lack anything.During the Soviet regime, Yaakov continued to learn in
time, a Yiddish-language school was established by the
principal of the school was Yitzchak Pinchuk.My teacher was Yitzchak's sister Charna.When the Soviets entered, there was a great awakening in
the town, in any case, among us children.During the days of the Polish regime, for example, a car
would rarely come to Vladimirets, but now, cars were a daily
little ones ran after them, sometimes suspending ourselves
behind them and getting a short ride.Our school was not far from an airfield that the Soviets
we merited not only cars, but also airplanes.The airfield was next to the Polish cemetery.
One day we
sat in a nature class, and suddenly, we saw out the window that
two airplanes were hovering and coming lower, as if they were
preparing to land in the airfield.All the children became very excited and they all jumped
up and ran to the open windows to see the airplanes land.A large group of children went outside to the airfield.The pilots, in their special hats and goggles, came out
of the planes.
Hanging from their hips were long pouches for maps.
children, do you want to be pilots?"
entire crowd of little ones answered unanimously:"Yes!"
there for a little while and returned to our classroom.
beginning, the teacher was angry, but when she discovered that
the children in all of the classes had gone out, she found some
comfort in that and accepted the deed, and we got away from the
entire matter with a lukewarm rebuke.
soldiers in Vladimirets were mainly from the engineering corps,
whose job was to install airfields, pave roads, and the like.
was traditional, and Abba continued to fulfill the religious
commandments also during the time of the Soviets.Our parents suffered a great deal when we were forced to
go to school and write on the Sabbath.
before the long [summer] vacation, and we went out to the park,
a group of children with our trainer a young Russian
of medium height, with a powerful back.His chest was decorated with letters of excellence
sports medals and Komsomol [Communist Youth Union] symbols.In the days of the Polish regime, I had never gone to
this place in our town that was called the "park," not even
once.And now, it
was a public place.
Here the Russians conducted their various demonstrations, and
here they made their speeches.In the middle of the park there was a nice mansion a
three-story brick building with a metal roof.The surrounding view was wonderful hills and valleys,
lawns, flower beds and ancient trees.This was a park mainly for amusements in both winter
and summer.Now, we
practiced running exercises.After the exercises, the trainer sat with us for a
concluding talk and to determine the next training session.
still sitting and talking when somebody passed by and said that
news had been received that the Germans had invaded Russia.We were children, and we did not yet know how to estimate
the full meaning of this news, but we saw that our counselor's
did not finish the conversation.He only stood for a few minutes, lost in thought and
then he told us to go home.
returned to the town from the park, the fear and impression made
by the news were already felt.People stood and talked about the draft that would begin.In a short time, signs of the news began to be visible.The draft to the army began.Young men were taken.Parents cried and mourned.There was immediately a shortage of essential provisions,
such as flour, and more.
After a day
or two, the recruits were seen to withdraw.Rumors began that the Ukrainians who lived in the area,
who had been hostile to the Soviet regime, were now opposing the
worn out ones like you, YOU want to fight against the Germans?You?"
from the surrounding area removed their weapons, changed their
uniforms for civilian clothing, and deserted the ranks of the
gathered the weapons and hid them until an opportune time.
The fear in
the town was great.
There were those among the young people who fled eastward with
the retreating army.My brother Yaakov returned home at that time from
continued to work in the bakery, and Abba still had work fixing
remained without any regime.Goyim from Vladimirets and mainly from the
surrounding villages, began to wander past the houses, robbing
Germans will come, and then they will shoot you, cursed Jews!"
We had many
friends among the goyim, among them some who would visit
also had some business relations with the goyim she
would buy and sell a bottle of vodka, and the like.The villagers came to us regarding shoe repairs.A goy who was waiting for his boots to be sewn
would sometimes remain to sleep in the house.He was satisfied to sleep on the floor, and he didn't see
anything wrong with doing so.Here, they prepared tea and also their meals.But many of them now alienated themselves.
fear dominated all of the houses, including ours.Our Aunt Rivka, with her four daughters and two sons,
came to us to sleep, because we had a better connection with the
thought that in our house they would find protection and
it was a moonlit night, one of the nights in the middle of the
month an hour or two before midnight, everyone in the house
was sitting tensely, and here, suddenly there were knocks at the
with fear, and our teeth chattered.
door!" repeated shouts were heard.
the house approached and opened the entry door to the corridor.
opening we saw four goyim.One of them was an acquaintance of ours, the son of
strong young man.
He was the sheigetz that I was teaching to speak Yiddish,
and who lived opposite the spirit factory.He remained standing next to the door, and the other
three came inside, each one turning toward a different place, to
Matavy's son was the group's guide.Matavy's son told the goy who had begun to search
in our room that here there was nothing to take, and he directed
all of them to Savta's room.All four of them were armed with rifles and bayonets.They opened Savta's cellar and took all kinds of things
out of their hiding place.Among other things, there were several bottles of
alcoholic wine Savta's merchandise.My big brother dared to say a word of reproach to them,
and one of the goyim hit him in the face.The presence of the goy who was acquainted with us
certainly influenced his partners and somewhat reduced their
out, and all of us remained sitting, frightened and tense, until
the next morning.
of transition in the town, without any regime, continued until
the entry of the Germans.At that time we would go out in fear to the street.Rumors circulated of murders in the area.One day we were informed that Shmuel der toiber
[deaf one] had been murdered by robbers.He was an old Jew.It was said that he began to reprimand the robbers when
they came into his house, and they murdered him.The dangers drew me, as a boy.I wanted to see them face to face.So I ran toward his house to prove whether the rumor was
true, and indeed, I saw him lying there, dead, soaked in blood.At that time, Berel der guncher was also murdered
by robbing goyim, and i also saw him lying next to his
der blecher [the blacksmith] was also murdered.He was found in the poplav [meadow].I knew Berel's children very well, and so I gathered my
strength to enter their house after they brought the body inside
from the street.
One day it
became known that the
Germans were already in the town.I first saw them when I walked down the street.There were about 20 soldiers.They were tall, and had motorcycles with them.This was near the police station at Zvi Lerner's house.Next to this house there was a large, wide square, and
here they stood, together with several Ukrainians, absorbed in
looked at them from a distance.At that moment, an elderly Jew passed by them on his way
from the synagogue.
I don't know that Jew's name.A German hinted to one of the Ukrainians with a movement
of two fingers, like the movement of a pair of scissors,
indicating cutting, and he immediately went and brought
grabbed the Jew and cut off his beard, and again, they broke
into loud laughter.
always sneak out of the house to see what was happening.Authority was in the hands of the Ukrainian police, who
walked around the town in dark blue uniforms.In the town, they were speaking with fear of the fat
German who was living in Beider's house.They called him "the hangman."Every one of us had already received the yellow patch.
began to be felt in our house more and more.But the situation of the craftsmen, we among them, was
better than that of the other Jews.Abba continued to work for those goyim who paid
him with food staples, mainly potatoes.There were those among the goyim for whom Abba
worked but they evaded paying.The Germans had already imposed financial contributions
on the entire town, and everyone was obligated to give his
portion of these payments.With the shortages that already were rampant, we found
some help in our cow, which supplied us with a bit of milk.In those days, cooked potatoes with milk or buttermilk
were a really royal meal.And then a decree was issued:all of the Jews must turn in their animals to the regime
horses, cows, goats, and the like.
family tearfully accompanied our dear Trulke that was our
cow's name as she was taken by Abba out of the cowshed and
brought into the street.The streets were filled with Jews leading cows and
of the cows rose like a lamentation of parting.The entire herd of animals was taken to Horodetz, and
there they were given to the Germans.
its mark in many homes.Sometimes we would meet children from the nearby houses
and consult with each other as to how to satisfy our hunger.Someone told of a boy who became a shepherd for one of
the farmers, and his wages were food.I remember that I regarded this as a very great
filled with the desire for such an achievement.
One day I
decided to do something for the household.It was before a holiday.I and my brother Yaakov snuck out of town.We went through the fields and arrived at
Dibovka-Kanonitz, two villages where goyim lived who were
among the visitors to our house; among these were some who were
in debt to us for work that Abba had done for them.When we went out, we disguised ourselves somewhat, and
gave ourselves the appearance of non-Jews, as much as we could.We took off the yellow patch.We went barefoot, like the village children.We didn't enter the goy's house through the main
entrance on the street, but we came to the house through the
entrance was always done with great care.That day we succeeded in gathering two pounds of
this treasure of ours into sacks we had brought with us from
home, and when darkness fell, we returned to the town.This walk took place when the local guard was not yet
strong, but after a time the guard was strengthened and the
danger in leaving the town was very great.Simultaneously, the deprivation also grew stronger.
went out to one of the villages.This was in the summer, and when I walked outside the
town, the field crops were already very tall.The goy I was going to see lived in a Ukrainian
farmstead, a distance of two kilometers from the town.
It was an
early hour of the morning, and I was heading past the
tsiglenia (the place where the brick kilns were located).The owner of the farmstead was a wealthy goy, who
owned many fields and properties.I asked him to employ me in any kind of work, in exchange
for food.He agreed
that I could work for him as a shepherd.I got up early every morning and went to the farmstead to
evening, I returned home.The path was full of dangers, but nevertheless, I
continued doing this work for about two weeks.Most of the way, I ran.I was a lad of 12 and I believed that by running, I would
quickly pass by the danger.Sometimes I met the children of goyim, who would
throw stones at me.
the goy ordered me not to come any more to his house.After that, I worked for a time near the railroad tracks,
My big brother worked in Antonovka near the bridge.One day he returned from work beaten and wounded, and his
body was swollen.
no river in Vladimirets, but water was not lacking there.In our yard, for example, and in our surroundings near
if one were to dig at a depth of a meter and a half or two
meters, water would bubble from the ground.After the ghetto was established in the town, the
bathhouse was outside the area where the Jews lived.The Chassidim among the townspeople were left without a
bathhouse and without a mikve [ritual bath], and they
looked for a possibility of installing a mikve for
our neighbors was Shmuel Elimelech's son, Yaakov Slipak.He had a large family of many children.For some reason, Yaakov left his house and went to live
with his family in his father-in-law's apartment, which was next
to theirs.His own
apartment remained empty.Yaakov, who was one of the Karlin Chassidim, agreed that
they could install a mikve in his apartment.I remember that the Chassidim would come to the place and
dig in secret.
Inside the pit that they dug, they installed walls made of wood
like the walls inside wells.They even installed stairs so that a person could go down
water in these places flowed forth at a shallow depth, the
installation was quickly filled with water.The Chassidim would come here to dip themselves before
remember slightly that the opening of the mikve was
accompanied by some kind of ceremony to render it fit for use,
but I do not remember it clearly.
time after the Germans entered Vladimirets, the large stove in
our room collapsed.
In other words, the bottom of the stove sank down and broke, and
it was impossible to light a fire in the stove to cook.Our family moved into Savta's room to live with her, and
our room remained empty.Since the Germans had turned our synagogues into crop
warehouses, and the synagogues were left outside the Jewish
living area, the Jews looked for empty houses to use as places
apartment turned into a place of prayer.It is not clear to me whether Abba suggested it, or if
they came to him with the suggestion and he agreed, but I do
remember that the room was cleaned and arranged, and a holy ark
was brought with Torah scrolls, as well as a table and several
benches, and that people came there to pray until the day of
remember that once there even was a Kiddush held in honor
of a boy's bar mitzvah.The prayers were conducted with weeping and pouring-out
of the soul.
Sometimes special prayers were held for the safety of the
The Day of
was the month of Elul.My brother continued to work in Antonovka.At that time, I no longer pursued the development of
memory was accompanied by distress and fear.I would meet with the children of Yeshayahu the tailor
and other children, and I remember that we would talk about the
rumors that had reached us from the goyim, that they had
begun to dig large pits next to the smalarnya.The Jews that worked in Antonovka, including my brother,
were returned to town.There were some Jews who tried to escape from the town.It was told that a roll call of the residents would be
held, as had already been done several times.Rumors were flying about Jews from Vladimirets who had
given money to goyim to take them out of town and hide
them, and the goyim took the money and murdered them.There remains in my memory an incident of a woman whose
son wanted to leave the town and he was murdered next to the
park.It was told
that the woman ran through the pasture toward the park to find
her son, and when she found him and bent over him to mourn, a
Ukrainian policeman approached and murdered her as well.
that Thursday, the day before the massacre, as a day of fear.My mother cried a lot, and even Savta shed tears.The congregation that prayed in our house recited the
prayers with the holy ark open.We knew that the roll call would take place the next day,
and the fear aroused by this day was great.
the morning, the shouts of the police were heard, hurrying the
Jews to go outside to the roll call.From the window, we saw families going to the gathering
morning, Aunt Rivka and her family came to us.The police had not yet come to our house.From the window, I saw how they took the family of Yaakov
Slipak out to the street a large family that also included an
Here, a few
police came to our house also, and began to scream:
for one day and come out.Come out immediately!"
left the house, Abba said that each of us should take a prayer
book and his tefillin [phylacteries] with him.I had already begun to put on tefillin.Yehudit was a six-month-old baby and Ima carried her in
Germans announced that we were only going out to a roll call,
but our hearts were full of fear, because this was not an
ordinary roll call, and something threatening awaited us.
We left the
house and kissed each other.Our whole family went together. In spite of the fear, a
weak hope flickered:"Maybe it really is a roll call?"When we went past the flour mill, we saw a murdered Jew
Somebody said this was a Jew from Antonovka.Many people cried as they walked.I myself did not shed even one tear.I felt all of the terror around me, but I was unable to
cry.My heart, for
some reason, had turned to stone.
at the gathering place, next to the pool behind the
municipality. I stood next to Ima, who was holding Yehudit.We were close to the Germans who conducted the roll call
the head of the officers was the fat German who was called
to him stood two other Germans, and near them were many
was heard that craftsmen should go out of the crowd and stand
separately, and suddenly everyone began to be pushed, as if they
had asked all of the people gathered there to go out of the
crowd and be counted with those who were able to work.People began pushing and running about. Suddenly I saw
that the German officer had lowered his rifle from his shoulder,
aimed it at the crowd, and began to shoot.Many people fell to the ground, and a shouting voice was
heard from within the crowd:
yourselves and flee.Shma Yisrael! [Hear O
the voice of Yerachmiel the blacksmith a strong Jew whom we
knew well, because he sat next to Abba in the synagogue.His voice was usually high and strong, and now its
strength was increased because of the danger and fear.The entire crowd was shocked by his call, and many people
began to run away.
I was pushed by the crowd and detached from my family.I was young and light on my feet, and I began to run.I ran because of the will to live I ran behind the
There was a little passage there between two houses, but it was
closed off by a low fence.I jumped over the fence and arrived in the yard of the
Cossack a goy who worked as a feldsher in the
remember that several gentile women were sitting in the yard,
and their faces expressed surprise.When they saw me, they got up off the benches as if they
were afraid, and went into the house.I did not delay and didn't wait.What I saw, I saw while I ran.I crossed the yard, and now I had to cross the road.
for a small moment.
Here a great danger waited for me the police were standing on
they were not close to the place where I had to cross here and
there, people could be seen fleeing and the police were shooting
at them.One of
them saw me and shot toward me.There was a well surrounded by a fence.In other words, the fence continued on both sides of the
crossed the street, and instead of climbing the fence, I climbed
up on the walls of the well, which were lower than the fence,
and I crossed over to the other side.I continued to run.I was in a field of potatoes and spelt that had not yet
had already gone a short distance away from the danger, but I
was not free of it.
field, I saw Asher Kamin, Zelig der androyer with his
8-year-old daughter Chayele, and Shneur Pinchuk.They were running from the left side of the field, and I
from its right. Bullets shrieked over us.I stopped for a moment to take off my shoes, and
continued to run barefoot.I had one-fourth of a loaf of bread, my tefillin
and prayer book.I
reached the forest.
I went deep into the forest, and here I met Shneur Pinchuk and
Zelig and his little daughter, and also Yisrael, the son of
Shlomo the sewer.
We went deeper into the forest.We were very tired, and we decided to rest.A few more people joined us, whose names I don't
confused, not knowing what was happening.It was as if we were in a dream of terror.Someone was of the opinion that what happened today was
only passing anger, and that tomorrow or the next day, we would
be able to return home.We sat there until late at night.We found a large tree with a thick crown, and we lay
beneath it in a pile of fallen leaves.The night was very cool, and we lay crowded together.One of us covered himself with his tallit [prayer
shawl].We were in
the forest next to the village Zhulkin.
morning, Zelig suggested that we go deeper and deeper into the
that toward evening, he intended to go to one of the goyim
to get some food and find out about the situation.We went deeper and deeper into the forest.We found some remaining black and red berries, and we ate
them.Zelig was a
Jew of about 50 years of age.Toward evening, he took his daughter into his arms and
went to his acquaintances in the village.We waited for him until late at night, and he didn't come
worried as to their fate.The next morning he came back, and brought with him a bit
of food, along with the story of the destruction of Vladimirets.The goy told him that all of the Jews of the town
had been murdered, because many Jews did not go out to the roll
call and some ran away.But the Germans were conducting precise searches, and
they were torturing and murdering every Jew that they found.
the first news of the destruction of our birthplace,
we knew that all of the thoughts of "passing anger" were in
bread and potatoes with him, and a few bottles of water.
were together, but each one consulted himself and made plans.Whoever had a chance, grabbed onto calculations for the
future.I had no
people depended on goyim they knew, whom they believed
they could lean upon.We were wandering in the forest and going from place to
wandering was some kind of strategy in our war for survival.We were afraid to remain in one place, lest we be seized
by the Germans or their accomplices.
After a few
days, the group fell apart.Before that, together we determined a meeting place in
the forest, with the agreement of everyone.This was in a section of hyssop a clearing in the
that we were together on Yom Kippur.The day before, that is, on Yom Kippur eve, we arranged
the meal before the fast, the main part of which was potatoes.Toward evening, we held a kind of public prayer.Shmulik, who had ordination as a rabbi and was one of the
refugees who had lived in the town, and Zelig from Androya, were
the leaders of the prayers, and they prayed with broken hearts
and in weeping voices.
day, we continued to wander in the forest, and even though we
had potatoes with us, we did not eat a thing and all of us
fulfilled the commandment to fast, except for Zelig's daughter.In one place, we saw shepherds from a distance.We hid from them, and when it got dark we arrived at a
place to rest and have the meal after the fast.
Yisraelik, the son of Shlomo the sewer, remained together in the
the Polish autumn with its driving rains had already begun
to show its signs of wind and rain, and we were wandering from
place to place, eating the remaining berries that we found.Yisraelik was well dressed and he had several thousand
rubles with him.
Money now had no value, but the clothing that he wore did have a
were lightweight trousers and a shirt.But the cold ruled over Yisraelik and me to the same
degree, and the dampness ruled over him perhaps more.His clothes were also wet, outside and in.We found a huge tree in the forest that had been uprooted
by a storm, and we lay under its trunk, next to its roots, but
it was a shelter only from being seen.However, we had to flee from this place as well, and it
happened like this:
when we were near our tree, a forest guard, known in the local
language as a layshnik, suddenly came out from the
his rifle at us and ordered us to stop.
come with me to the city, to the Germans, and you won't continue
to wander around in the forest." That is what the guard said.He certainly said this to frighten us, but I immediately
began to plan an escape.My will to live never left me the entire time.The guard ordered Yisraelik to undress completely, to
take off his shoes, his coat and his suit.There was nothing to take from me.He asked me what I had in my pocket.I had my prayer book and tefillin, and he did not,
of course, take them.
"Get out of
here, quickly," he ordered us."Remember, if I find you again in this place, I will kill
you with no warning at all."
We began to
quickly distance ourselves from the place, but we kept turning
our heads to look behind us, from fear that he intended to shoot
continued to go deeper into the forest.Toward evening, we decided to go out to one of the
villages to get some clothes.A poor village family lived not far from the forest.We saw that next to the house a goy was standing
and chopping wood.
We did not reveal ourselves to him.We took a strategy first, we wanted him to sense that
we were there.
Indeed, we succeeded in attracting his attention toward us.We wanted to see what his reaction would be.He began to look to his sides, in order to find us.He surveyed and searched the area with hesitation and
suspicion, and when he saw us, he began to investigate us from a
you?Who are you,
distance, we asked him if he had an old garment, because we were
and get out of here!" the farmer shouted, from emotion and fear."I don't want to see you here.They murdered all of the Jews from the town.Get out of here fast, because if you don't I will call
people from the village and they will send you back to the
We began to
run back to the forest.After we went a great distance, Yisraelik began to linger
and began to argue with me:
am telling you, we have to go back to the town.Let's go back and hide by one of the goyim we know
was depressed by everything that had happened to him in the last
spirits were very weakened.All of his confidence was undermined.
I told him
that there was no purpose in going to the town.I pointed out the dangers awaiting there.I said to him that I would not go back by any means.I explained to him that conclusions should not be drawn
from the failures that we had during the last day.I said to him that in my opinion, we should change our
on, we will not continue to make requests from the goyim,
but we will sneak in secretly and take some clothes from the
laundry hanging in the yard, and that is how we will solve our
never be too late to return to the town.As long as we have a possibility of staying far away from
the town, we are obligated to exploit it.
evening, we went out to one of the houses, and indeed, we saw
laundry hanging on the line.We took down some shirts and trousers.We put the clothes on and returned to the forest.But Yisraelik did not change his mind.He cried a heartbreaking cry:
have nothing to do here.Come and we will go back to the town.There we will find shelter and we will survive the bad
arguments returned and were repeated every day.
time, we again met Zelig and his daughter in the forest.He told us that he had met all of those who had been
together with us.
Zelig suggested that together we should build a zhamlanka
[bunker] in the forest.Several Jews who had not been with us before joined our
his wife from Zhulkin, and another Jew from Zulkin, with his two
did not give up the idea to return to the town, and one day he
carried out his scheme.Shneur Pinchuk went with him to accompany him.After some time, Yisraelik was caught and murdered.So was Shneur.
we were nine souls, and we began to build the zhamlanka.The autumn passed and the winter approached.In the morning hours, the ground of the forest was
covered with a layer of frost.Snow also began to fall.We worked very hard and finally our den, the zhamlanka,
was built.Most of
us had acquaintances among the farmers, and we would go out
every night to bring food potatoes, mainly.
my own method.
After the welcome we had received from the goy
woodcutter, I decided not to go back to the doors of the
generous, but to take what I wanted from the goyim.I went out at night to the fields of the goyim.I found the pits where they stored potatoes, carrots and
beets for the winter.I dug next to their pits and took out some of the
treasure and carried it to the forest.Every night I visited a different pit.This was only because the goyim suspected
something and set up an ambush.
when I approached one of these pits, I suddenly heard a shout.The shape of a man appeared nearby a goy with a
sickle in his hand.
I threw my entire load on the ground and hurried to escape.He began to chase me.And here, a second goy also appeared, running
toward me.Thus my
pursuers were in front of me and behind me.I was in great danger, but I quickly changed the
direction in which I was running.I got away from them and arrived in the forest.They continued to chase after me for a while, but they
didn't dare to enter the forest.Since they didn't succeed in grabbing me, they took out
their anger in curses and insults only:
Jew, cursed Jew!"
The Jew who
came to us with his two sisters was named Feivish. I was going
Feivish brought me a pair of lapchos shoes made from
rags and wood fibers that were usual among the farmers.During the days, we made a bonfire in the forest near the
We also dug a well for water, and so we were able to make a
bonfire also inside the zhamlanka.We continued this way for over a month. The Jews from
Zhulkin taught us how to distinguish between goy and
goy which of them were generous and good-hearted, who we
could trust, and which were cruel and we should not come near
Baptists, who generally showed a generous attitude, lived in
this village.I was
accustomed to going out to the village early in the morning,
gathering food and returning to the forest.One morning when I returned from the village, the snow
began to thaw and my lapchos got very wet.The dampness penetrated into my feet.I sat next to the bonfire outside to dry the rags on my
heard a shot that came from nearby.I understood that they were attacking us.I jumped up quickly from my place toward the zhamlanka
and shouted into the entrance:
shooting at us, run away quickly!"
All of the
residents of the zhamlanka had heard the shot before I
notified them, but when I frightened them by telling them to
flee, they all began to huddle together.I ran first, and all the rest ran behind me.
burst out of the trees and grabbed me by the hand.If I am not mistaken, it was the chief of police
Mezalochik Yayachnik.With him were three other police who spread out to grab
the rest of us.One
of them also shot one shot toward those fleeing.I didn't know how I had the strength to remove my hand
Afterwards, one of the goyim told us that the police knew
where we were in the forest, but for some reason they thought we
had weapons and they didn't dare to approach us.I found some explanation in this story for the success of
When the policeman heard a shot, he certainly imagined that our
people were shooting, and in the fright of the moment, he
loosened his grip on my hand and I certainly exploited the
opportunity and freed myself.I continued to run and he started to chase me at some
distance and shoot.
I ran barefoot, because I had left the lapchos next to
among the trees had little value.After a few minutes, I saw Feivish's two sisters and
Zelig's daughter near me.We went deeper into the forest but from its depths we
continued to watch the police and their actions.I saw that one policeman was holding Shmulik.Zelig and Benyamin's wife from Zhulkin had also been
caught.We went far
away from that place.I tore my shirt and wrapped my feet in the strips.We made a fire and warmed ourselves.In the evening, we went back to the zhamlanka.It was burned up.The potatoes that had been inside were baked in the fire.When we found them, we ate as much as we wanted.We returned to the place we had come from.On the way, we passed by the well we had dug, and we
found Shmulik there.He was dead, lying over the edge of the well.His head was over the water in the well and his body was
his body a distance away, dug a grave in the forest ground and
continued to wander.After a few days, we found out that Zelig Slivkin and
Benyamin's wife were brought to Vladimirets by the police and
Pinchuk's husband; Feivish from Zhulkin and his sisters;
Benyamin and me, and Zelig's little daughter were all that
remained of the residents of the zhamlanka.Thus, we were four men, two young women and a little girl
8 years old.In the
beginning, the little girl cried all the time, calling "Abba,
Abba," but after that she became familiar with the situation and
we didn't hear her crying again.
guide was Feivish, who was very familiar with the surroundings
and had friends among the villagers.He took us out of the forest and brought us to a building
made of clover.It
was a kind of heap set out to dry.We climbed up on the pile and stayed there for two days.The place was five or six kilometers from Vladimirets.We thought about what had happened the entire time.We did our best to take care of Zelig's little girl, but
our possibilities were limited.I myself suffered greatly from the cold, which was
My feet froze, since I was without shoes and only the torn
pieces of my shirt served to cover them.I rubbed the soles of my feet, but the advantage of doing
so was very small.
were already there for more than a day, Feivish from Zhulkin
expressed his opinion that we would not be able to survive here,
and that we must leave the place before the goyim would
was a village Jew, strong and broad.His speech in Ukrainian was similar to that of the
decided to go down from the pile of clover and approach the
village in order to get some food.He returned at night, bringing bread with him, along with
news regarding the murders of Zelig and Benyamin's wife.We divided the food equally between us.At an hour toward morning, when it still was dark, we
came down from the pile and turned toward the forest.
When I came
down, I almost could not feel my feet; it was as if they were
only walk very slowly, and could not keep up with everyone else.I was walking as if I were using someone else's feet.After I had gone a short distance, I was attacked by
knew that the members of our group would get far away from me
and that I would not be able to catch up with them.It began to get light.I was not far from the houses of the village.There was light shining from one of the windows, and I
decided to go to that house, even though the light of morning
was already growing stronger.
the house and opened the door.Inside sat a goya, spinning thread.When she saw me, she began to cross herself and whisper a
buzhinko (my G-d, my G-d)!What they have done to you?How you look!How is it that you are running around here?The Germans will catch you!"
that she wanted me to leave the house, and I already wanted to
go.But she said to
owner of the house, came out and he didn't say a word.I sat down in the corner next to the door.It was very warm in the house, and in the heat, the pains
began to take the rags off my feet, and I saw that the soles of
my feet were black and full of blisters.The goya approached me.She looked at my feet and tears streamed from her eyes:
you be able to walk in such a condition?"
and brought some goose fat and rubbed it on my feet.She wrapped them in bandages and gave me some lapchos.She put some baked potatoes and some raw potatoes into my
walking on my heels, because walking on my toes was horribly
The heat in
the house intoxicated me, and I didn't want to leave.A kind of sluggishness fell over me.But the look in the eyes of the goya taught me
that I had no hope of being able to stay in the house, and I had
to leave.She told
me a bit about the fearful searches they were conducting here,
so as to prove to me how great the danger was.
saw that she was looking out the window with a great fear, and
she immediately said:
dangerous man is coming close to the yard.A very dangerous man.You must run away or hide."
know what to do.
There was no logic in going outside, because as soon as I did, I
would encounter him.I confined myself into the corner where I was sitting,
with the feeling that everything was lost.Suddenly, the door opened and a goy came into the
house very hurriedly.In his haste, he went away from the door to the inside of
the house, and he didn't see me sitting in the corner.But I saw him very well.I saw him and the knife in a leather pouch attached at
his hip.I saw him
in a flash, and in a flash I got up and opened the door and
Outside, a thick snow was falling.Suddenly all my pain was forgotten and I found
inestimable strengths.I began to run in the direction of the forest.
But he also
felt my departure.
When I was not far from the house, I saw that the goy was
chasing after me.
His knife was in his hand, and as he ran, he shouted:
"Stop him!He's a Jew!
know where I found the strength, but my running grew stronger
and faster, and the distance between us grew greater.Outside there was no sign of life.I
reached the forest, and he came after me.He continued to chase me for a distance inside the
forest, but I saw him stop and hesitate.He stood there wondering for a few minutes, and then he
retraced his footsteps.I continued to go farther into the thickness of the
Afterwards, I was told that this was a goy
from Dolgovolya, who caught Jews that were hiding and turned
them over to the Germans for payment.
I came to a place in the forest, but it was not the place where
I was supposed to meet the people in my group.I sat down, breathing heavily, without knowing what to
do.I felt that the
will to live that had been lit and awakened in me wonderful
strengths to flee, was fading and going away.My strength was almost depleted.I sat on a tree trunk, and I didn't know what to do or
where to go.I
couldn't even cry.
There was a Polish village in that area.There were plenty of rumors that the Poles were better
than the Ukrainians, because they suffered from the Germans and
also from the Ukrainians.This made them and the Jews brothers in trouble
While I sat, discouraged and without direction, I remembered
that village, and I decided to go there.But I didn't know the way.I remembered that the village was located on the other
side of the forest, and that the way there was a long one. I
regarded the matter as a purpose to be used at the right time.For now, I decided to go deeper into the forest.I came to the place where there was a lot of hyssop
growing.I dug into
it.In my pocket I
had a few baked potatoes.The winter was not yet at its full strength.Shepherds came here to find food for their sheep.I was very afraid of them.During the days I took the trouble to hide myself well,
and I only went out of my hiding place at night.I was lying in wait in my hiding place for the shepherds,
and I surveyed their going and coming.I waited for the right time when only one shepherd
would be nearby, and then I would be able to go out and talk to
One morning, I saw that the right time had come only one
shepherd, a boy of about 14, came near me.He sat on the stump of a tree and ate.I approached him.I was dirty, and my hair was ruffled and wild.I had been alone in the forest for about 6 weeks.My appearance frightened him greatly.He wanted to get up and run away, but his limbs were
suddenly paralyzed and he couldn't move.I said to him:
"Don't run away, and don't be afraid.I won't hurt you.I am very hungry.Maybe you have something you can give me, maybe a slice
He took some of his food out of his bag and gave it to me.When he calmed down, he wanted to know who I am.I told him that I am a Jew.He told me about the Jews that the Germans caught.I did not stay near him for long; I knew it was dangerous
and returned to the depths of the forest.
The situation continued for two weeks.Inside the bushy hyssop, the cold did not rule over me.On the contrary, a warm vapor stayed within.But the vapor had a bad influence on the condition of my
feet.I felt that
not only the skin, but also the flesh was turning black, rotting
away.I told myself
that I would collapse here and rot away.I decided to leave the place and go to the Polish village
One of the shepherds told me that the distance to this village
was five kilometers.The path passed through the middle of the forest.It took me an entire day to do the five kilometers.I went very slowly and carefully.Toward evening, the houses of the village were revealed.There were 12 houses.I had been told that in the house at the edge of the
village lived one Pole who was kind to the Jews, and that his
name was Gomolka.
At first, I was afraid to approach the house and inform on
myself.In the end,
I gathered the courage.I approached the door and knocked slowly.I heard a voice answer.I was given permission to enter.When the housewife saw me, she grabbed my hands and
pulled me behind the stove.
"Woe to me," said the goya."I have my own troubles.My husband isn't home.The Germans are looking for him."
She invited me to sit down, and hurried to serve me some food.I asked her to prepare a bandage for me.From her hurriedness and fear, I learned that it was
forbidden for me to remain there, and I already wanted to leave
"Don't hurry," said the woman."If you have already come here, you can stay here to
expressed sincere participation in my troubles and showered me
with words of comfort.She brought me various rags and all kinds of ointments
of course, they were home remedies.She spread these over my wounds and bandaged them.After that, she told me to go up on the stove to get
warm.She sat near
me and poured out the bitterness in her heart they suspected
her husband of having a connection with the partisans.I didn't close my eyes all night.My pain was great, but I conquered my groans and tried to
Toward morning, when the darkness was still thick, the woman
came and talked to me to justify herself.She wanted to convince me that her intentions were good,
but she could not continue to house me, because they were
following her husband and they were liable to come here at any
moment, and if they would find me in her house, she would be
burnt along with me.Therefore, she asked me to leave the house as soon as
suggested that I go to the Polish village Krusheva, where,
according to what she said, there was a Pole who had connections
with the Jews, and without a doubt he would help me get to the
place where they were.She gave me a few signs how I would know what house to go
to, but she warned me to go there secretly and not to ask anyone
on the way where the Pole lives.
I went out of the house.Outside, it was still dark, but I did not turn toward
found a device for drying fodder at one of the farms and I hid
time to time, the owner of the house came to take some clover
and it was a miracle that I was not wounded by the pitchfork
that he used to dig into the heap.
In the evening, I went out of the pile of fodder to examine the
neighborhood, and I didn't know where I would go.I wandered outside confused, and returned to the pile.This occurred several times, until one evening I started
out on the way as the Polish woman had instructed me.
I came to the village in the late hours of the evening.I found the house according to the signs that the Polish
woman gave me.I
stood and waited next to the house.Ifought
with myself whether or not to go in, because of the worry that I
had made a mistake nevertheless.I was still standing and hesitating, when a goy
was the Polish man, the owner of the house, and he asked me:
"What are you doing here, aren't you one of the Jewish
I told him that I had heard that in this village they knew where
the Jews were hiding in the forest, and that I came to find a
way to reach them.
He took me into his house and began to question me as to how I
found this out.I
did not reveal who had told me about this.I just said that I had been in Porosl.
In the end, he said that indeed he knows where the Jews are
located, but he did not have permission to reveal it, because
the Jews themselves made him swear not to reveal the matter, not
even to a Jew.At
the end, he added that because I was still a young lad, he would
try to find a way for me to go there.
I remained in the goy's
house for a night and a day.The second night, he came to me and said:
"I will harness my horse to my sled and fill it with fodder.You will hide in the fodder, and that is how I will bring
you to another Polish village, to a villager who lives at the
entrance to the forest where the Jews are located.That villager you can trust him.He will direct you and show you where to go."
And that is how it was.We travelled about four kilometers from the village until
we arrived at the house at the edge of the forest.Not far from the house, he took me out of the sled and
"There are a lot of girls in the house.Don't be embarrassed and don't be afraid.Gird your loins like a man and go inside.There, they will already tell you what to do."
The villager returned as he had come, and I approached the house
and knocked on the door.
The door opened, and the goy,
the owner of the house came out.Again, the same questions as always: where was I from,
and who sent me?
The questions were asked almost severely.In the end, I was brought into the house.I was given food and drink, and they even interested
themselves in the condition of my feet.I remained all night in that house, and early in the
morning when it was still dark, the villager took me out of the
house and brought me 200 meters into the forest.Caution had become second nature to me.Even though I knew that this villager was my benefactor,
I nevertheless took the trouble to go at some distance from him,
and I watched his hands the whole time, so that if I would
reveal a plot against me, I would have time to evade him and
"Do you see the footprints in the snow?" he asked me."Follow them and you will get to a certain place.Somewhere you will find a bunker dug into the ground and
there you will find the ones you are looking for."
I Found Jews
I walked for about an hour and a half in the forest, following
the footprints, until I arrived at a place where I saw a kind of
raised mound covered with snow.A bare log, without a covering of snow, stuck up out of
the mound.I looked
hard at the log and I saw that it was a chimney.I understood that this was a zhamlanka.Now, I started to look for the entrance so I could go
inside.I found it
in a few minutes.I
opened the door, and a great warmth hit my face.The bunker was empty.According to the various possessions in the zhamlanka,
I understood that Jews were living here.A torn prayer book was placed in one of the corners.I found some cooked potatoes, slices of bread, and a
stove with whispering coals inside it.All of these signs testified that the people who live
here went out a short time ago.I closed the door from the inside and lay down to rest.Many thoughts pressed upon me:perhaps Germans had been here and took out the Jews who
evening, I heard people approaching and talking in whispers.Suddenly, the door was opened and somebody waited next to
the entrance and asked:
iz dorten da?
(Is there someone inside?)
"Don't be afraid," I answered."I am a Jew!"
All at once, 13 or 14 people came in.
"Were you here all day?" someone asked.
I told them how I had come here.It was explained to me that the Germans had conducted a
hunt in the area, but they didn't come here.Feivish, Charna Pinchuk's husband from Vladimirets, lived
in this zhamlanka.The others were village Jews from Zholudsk:
Kendel, Noach Kantor,
his brother Leizer-Velvel and his three sisters, Ziskind, and
four Poles that the Germans were searching for.
Feivish told me that our group had separated.He headed for the Polish village and the rest of the
members of the group spread out in different places.When the owners of the zhalamka
came in, an argument broke out.There isn't any room, argued part of the inhabitants.But Noach Kantor and the Poles were on my side.
"Where will he go?
He is still a boy.
He will stay here!" they argued, and finally their argument was
In this zhalamka
there were two rifles, a Russian sub-machine gun, ammunition and
weapons belonged to the Poles.
The flesh on my feet began to fall off because of rot, until the
bones could be seen.A terrible odor came from my feet.I was assisted by all kinds of worthless remedies
If we got news that a hunt was taking place, and everyone fled,
I would crawl like a snake to a place not far from the zhalamka
A few kilometers from our hiding place, there was a very large
bridge over the railroad track from Kobel to Sarny.The bridge extended over a large valley.The place was 15 kilometers from Vladimirets.This bridge was carefully guarded by the Germans.
One night, four men wearing berets and armed with Russian rifles
came to us.They
were brought by a Pole who was a contact.The purpose of their arrival was reconnaissance and to
become familiar with the territory before an act of sabotage at
stayed with us for a time.They spoke in Russian, but it seemed to me that one of
them was a Jew.
They told us that after they blew up the bridge they would take
us to a safer place, near Pinsk there the regime was in the hands of
time to time, they would go out on their excursions in the area,
and after several days they would return.When they left us, five of the men who were residents of
Kantor was one of these.
After a time, the condition of my feet improved.All of my thoughts were given to obtaining a weapon and
joining the partisans.
In the zhalamka
I enjoyed an attitude of mercy, also on the part of the Poles.They took care of me and treated me to food that they
brought from their expeditions.They allowed me to take care of the weapons, and they
taught me how to take them apart and put them together.And I was drawn to these instruments; I found them very
end of these Poles was that they were denounced and caught, and
afterward they were hung.
At that time, there was a horrible incident in the Polish
day, many partisans arrived in this village.They were Ukrainian nationalists, but they disguised
themselves as Soviet partisans.In that village there were two Jews who were working
there secretly.One of them was named Feivish Krock, a shoemaker by
name of second Jew, who worked as a tailor, was Velvel.Both of them lived in a cellar in the house of one of the
Poles, and there they worked.Everyone in the village was full of happiness at the
arrival of the battalion of partisans, and the goy
who was their benefactor went down to the cellar and said to
"My friends, our hour has come.Now you can come out of the cellar and see the light of
day and get some pleasure from our army, who will take revenge
on our enemies."
But the goy's
wife, who was more hesitant, said that nevertheless, it would be
worthwhile to wait a bit and not hurry to come out.First, we must be convinced who they really are and see
how they act.
The village woman's words were accepted by the two Jews, and
they remained in the cellar.In the village, there was a holiday feeling.The partisans resided in every house; they ordered
abundant meals; they also asked that afternoon meals be prepared
for them.All day
long they played music and sang, and acted like real Russians.One day, toward evening, the partisans came and said that
they didn't have time for food; they must leave the place, but
so that the residents of the village would not see the direction
where they went, they ordered everyone to be blindfolded.In every house, that is what was done.
The entire time, the two Jews sat in the cellar and did not go
there were the sounds of blows and something falling down.Afterwards, it was silent.In a short time, they knew that something was dripping
into the cellar, and it quickly became clear to them that it was
a red liquid.They
sat, frightened, not knowing what was happening.The liquid was blood.Their hearts told them that something had happened and
that they must wait and not go out of the cellar.After a time, they tried to lift the trapdoor of the
cellar and they were unable to do so.Something heavy was lying on the door.When they finally got out of the cellar, they were amazed
to see that the entire family was lying there with their heads
cut off.The two
Jews snuck out of the house and fled to the forest.In shock, they found their way to us and told us what
happened, but they didn't know whether it had happened only in
their house, or also in other houses.
The next day, news reached us from the neighboring village that
all of the Polish residents of Porosl, from infants to the
elderly, had been murdered in that way.My benefactor Gomulka, his wife and their children, were
also among the victims.
One other incident already in the warm days of spring:five partisans came to us in the forest.We received them in friendship and they sat with us
outside the zhalamka
and told us a lot about the experiences of the partisans and
their various activities.We drank their words thirstily.At that moment, a Polish man who had contact with us
approached our place.From a distance, he saw only the partisans and not us.For some reason, he thought that they were Ukrainian
imagination awakened the estimation that they had murdered all
of the residents of the zhalamka
and that now they were planning to attack the Polish village.The Pole began to run from the forest toward the village,
in order to warn them in time.While he was running, he met one of our people, who had
difficulty in calming him down after hearing his story and
convincing him that he was mistaken.
With the Partisans
These were days full of blood, in which life and death were in
the hands of blind coincidence.The illness of my feet ended in my being deprived of a
toe and half of another toe, but in the end my feet healed.I went around a lot with the partisans who were located
in the area and came to visit us.I explored the area quite a bit.I did this with the excitement of an energetic lad whose
vigor of life had not dried up.In spite of all that threatened, the will to fight the
Germans, the destroyers of our people and my family, beat
unceasingly within me.At that time, great danger to the village Zalaviche was
after night, the Poles were attacked and murdered.
I remember that one night, we decided to go outside the zhalamka
because it was unbearably suffocating in there, and sleep in the
field on the fresh and fragrant fodder that had just been
We were five people.At midnight, we suddenly heard shooting and explosions,
and we saw a large fire rising from Zalaviche village.We began to run back to the forest.We heard them chasing after us and shooting.We did go deep into the forest, but the shooting did not
stop, and there now were many dangers involved in our remaining
here.We decided to
leave the place and wander toward the concentrations of
We walked for two nights and a day, stopping occasionally to
rest, and passed over a distance of approximately 40 kilometers.Thus, we arrived at the village Molczicz.In the past, its residents had been murderers par
but now they extended their help to us and took an interest in
Here, I met Jews from Vladimirets:Sender Appelboim and his father; Asher Kamin; Asher and
meeting with Asher Kamin was emotional.Asher was from a good, well-established home.The hardships in the forest broke him completely.He sat and cried while he told me about everything that
had happened to him.He asked me if I had met anyone from his family.He was crushed and broken, and he never stopped talking
about what had happened to us.
We were together for only one day, and then our paths parted.I continued to go with my group.I arrived in the area around Melinuk.Here, a new partisan group was being organized and I met
Yerucham, Yisrael-Yossel's son.He also was very broken, and when we met, he cried a lot.His clothes were worn out.I took off my coat and gave it to him.I also met him several times after that.
The battalion that was formed was named for Wanda Wassilewska.They accepted only fighters with weapons.The officer of the battalion was Bogulek.He chose me to guard his horses and be his messenger boy.In those days, this was an appointment of honor with many
Consequently, he liked me.I served in this position for a few months.I was well-dressed, with a nice fur and good boots.I was like a member of the family to him and his family,
their favorite child.But this became loathsome to me.The bitterness in my heart sought another horizon.I had thoughts of obtaining a weapon and running away
from here to another partisan battalion.But because of my young age, it was doubtful whether they
would accept me as an actual fighter.
A typhoid epidemic was spreading, and its victims were many.I also was struck by this illness.They took me to one of the villages and left me there.For weeks, I lay on the floor and was fed potatoes, until
Bogulek was murdered by Schmidt's men men of the Armia Kariova
(A.K.) and the battalion fell apart.During the withdrawal, I succeeded in buying a French
rifle and 15 bullets and in hiding all this under a pile of
began to search for the rifle, their suspicion fell on me.I was beaten a great deal.Nevertheless, I succeeded in sneaking away from the place
and even took the weapon with me.I joined the ranks of partisans that were heading toward
the Russian front, in the direction of Sarny.Many of the Russians and Ukrainians deserted the
partisans and went home.We Jews, of course, had nowhere to go.I made a strong decision to get to Sarny and volunteer
for the army.I was
15 ½ years old at that time.I had only one thought that filled my soul:to avenge, to avenge!
I reported to the Russian headquarters and requested to be
looked at me with a negative smile and answered:
"You must go away from here and learn in school, not fight.You are still a boy."
A Further Price
In the end, I was transferred with other draftees to Cracow, for months of training.I received a uniform and was a real soldier.I trained for five months.The War still continued.I was worried that meanwhile, the War would end and I
would not be able to take revenge.
I submitted several
requests to be sent to the front, and every time my request was
rejected, always with the same excuse, that I was still too
young.A short time
later, I was sent to a communications course.I spent a month in the course, where I learned the rules
of field communications.Again, I submitted a request to be sent to the front.This time, I was answered positively.They promised to attach me soon to one of the battalions.And so it was
I participated in many battles until we arrived in Germany and
fought on its soil.
In April of 1945, a large battle was spread for the purpose of
eliminating the remains of the German army, who fought very
battle was a bitter one, and I was injured in my right arm.As a result of this wound, they were forced to amputate
part of my arm.
This was another price that I paid in addition to everything
else and everything that I lost in the War.Only the feeling that indeed I fought and took revenge,
only that could somewhat sweeten the heavy judgment.