Wyszkow, Poland Yizkor Book

From SEFER WYSZKOW, ed. D. Shtokfish, 1964, Tel Aviv, pp. 164-166.
Translated by Jane, Sofia, Mikhail Freider and Mikhail M., Vladimir Fronton.

In the First Days of the Destruction

By Moyshe Venger

Friday, September 1, 1939. I arrived in Wyszkow. I had to be with my family during the most difficult times. In the morning radio announced that Germans attacked Poland. All people from Wyszkow ran from the town. But journalists found out last news in the town. At the same day people from other places near the border arrived. They told about mockery of Jews by Germans. It was said that polish authorities are going to leave Wyszkow. We were left without passports. Germans were bombing the railroad bridge and other locations. On Sunday and Monday everything was silent. On Tuesday, September 5, German planes were bombing Wyszkow. In our house my sister Khletche was sick of lethargy for 8 months already. That's why my brother Moyshe and I created a stretcher to carry on the sister to the house of Moyshl the Baker at the market plaza. There were many families on this plaza because they thought it was safe there. All the time planes dropped bombs on the town and all people went through wooden bridge and ran into the forest. My mother Rivele, brother Moyshe, little Sorele and I decided to stay because of sick sister. Later she woke up, kissed everybody and asked: "Let's take me underarms and run to save ourselves".

We passed the bridge and entered the forest with many other families from Wyszkow: Malkhiel the Ritual Slaughterer, Pshetitski and others. Planes fired on the running people and spread death. Every couple minutes we were lying on the ground, once going up we found that my coat has got holes from bullets. We were running through the forest in the direction of Jadow.

Wanders During Voyage

At the end of forest on the way to Jadow we met wounded people after the bombing. Among them there was Rokhele Shkarlat. She was being taken on the cart to a doctor. At that time everybody ate together in one common because Leybish Pshetitski had taken some food provisions from his bakery shop. We arrived in Jadow in the early morning. Immediately we were bombed by planes. A lot of people hid in a grocery store but I don't remember the name of this store. One rich and kind Jew invited us and gave us food, drinks and beds. There were no authorities left in Jadow at that time. Polish army ran and Germans were expected to arrive in the town. All of us left this town and hid in trenches from guns' firing. Someone shouted that it would be better if Germans had come already because our fear was too big. Next day Germans came in the town and found hammered doors and gates. It took them half a day to do all their affairs and they started goods requisition. Some families from Wyszkow stayed too long in Jadow that time. Leybish Pshetitski went to look at his house and didn't come back ever. Germans killed him on the way.

During those days Germans and Poles killed all Jews in Wyszkow and burned everything. People told Germans occupied Wyszkow in vengeance because Poles killed fifteen German spies there. We saw a lot of Jews from different towns in Jadow; they passed me this hard news. My mother's sister and all her family Youngsteyn were killed in Karlishem.

Under Soviet Rule

There were rumors that Soviet Army was coming. In the beginning when Soviet authority just settled everybody was glad. People prepared to meet the ones who would be walking through the town. When we were going through Wengrow we've spent a night in Reyzman family and visited our acquaintances there. We met the Rubin family and also Fayvele Shran with his wife Ite who was in a dangerous condition (her leg was injured with bomb's splinter). Fayvele Baharav, their father of son-in-law, a very good Jew, never left them and helped her all the time before she died.

We arrived in Kosow at night and Red Army detained us. In commendant's office we explained (with arms and legs) that we ran from Germans and now we have families and jobs here. Later we were freed. First days in Kosow we felt very free. Red Army showed movies on the streets. They propagandized how to behave in foreign country. Red Army didn't stay in Kosow for long.

We were allowed to go with the army. The border was opened for about two weeks. A very small number of people went with army. But we wandered with a hope to find a better life those days. My sister Khletche prepared to go in Wyszkow. In days of wandering she recovered and hired a cart to go to Lochow and then to Wyszkow by train. Her speech and appearance wasn't similar to Jewish woman. Her travel lasted ten days and she came back with bad news. We found out that Wyszkow was occupied. Our house was destroyed. And we had to think of place to live. These days Germans came in Kosow. A lot of Jews didn't come back there and tried to find a job.
Our family had important discussion and it was decided that my brother and I had to cross the border, find some job and later the whole family will come to us. We and many other families hired a cart to go to the border. We went through the forest avoiding any bands of robbers. This was we arrived to the German border. We were examined and all our things were taken away. Every Jew received ten golden coins and we were taken to the river so that we can swim through the border under gun's fire. We had to pay two golden coins per a person for this. When we reached another bank a few soviet people with rifles came to meet us. And they clearly ordered us to go back. My brother Moyshe told them something in Russian and explained that we can't go back because we would be killed there. Soldiers told us to go to the commendant's office. There we were examined again and we were told to wait in the yard. This night we were taken somewhere. On the way we met other groups of Jews that were convoyed too. We arrived in neutral zone near Malkin. There were people from special services. Near Malkin station Soviet soldiers gathered together about six thousand old people, children, parents. There were staying on the open field in rain and cold. Speculators sold bread for big money. A lot of people died without medical help there. We sent a delegate to ask to free us but it didn't help. After that we decided to explode a bar and free ourselves. We waited for a moment when there were fewer guards. Mothers with little children were moved to the front and old people stood behind them. On the predefined time the bar was exploded and a mass of people went out. Young girls began to kiss soldiers. Some people were so excited because of these events and then all people were singing "International". Soldiers who sat in trenches near border greeted us. We arrived to Zareby Koscielne station. At about two o'clock at night there were several thousands people from Poland in the forest. Together we moved forward to Tshehanovcy where we've been met and given a cargo train to move to Bialyastok.

In Bialyastok

In Bialyastok we came to town committee. They gave a half loaf of rye bread to everybody and told to go to Folvark that is about 15 km from Bialyastok. We came to the town committee of Folvark. They didn't admit us and we came back to Bialyastok under a heavy downpour. Nobody admitted us again. Then we decided to come to Jewish baker.

You can't imagine how bad was our situation at that time, we took off our boots, dried them our and sold them to buy bread. Then we spend horrible days when we had no place to sleep. Even synagogue was completely full of people. There we met the Farber family who wanted to give us a place to sleep for a night but they had many louse. Then we ran to the rail station but there was no place too. We were wandering around this way until we get a job in the bathes where we could wash ourselves. My brother Moyshe knew this job before from Israel. From this time we slept at our workplace. In Bialyastok we met with many families from Wyszkow: Asti and his family (I've heard they died from hunger in Russia later), Tchekhanogura and his family, the Shults family, Srebnik and his family, Shran with his son and daughter, Itche Baharav, Nayman with his son, Frayman and the Segal family who had a place to live. Many people from Wyszkow found each other. We gave a place to sleep to others together with Moyshe Stolik. All were glad about this meeting. Ours from Wyszkow were working and trading buying old clothes on the market and then selling them. Everyone who was from Wyszkow let in others in the lines. My brother Moyshe couldn't be in Bialyastok any more and was pursuing every possibility to return to Kosow to my mother and sister. At this moment I've got a postcard from my family to return back to them. Also at this time Soviet authorities started registration. Everybody who wants to get a passport must stay in USSR and move forward because they didn't allow to stay in Bialyastok; others had to go back to Germans. Most of people signed to go back to their families who were left in Poland. Many families who went together with echelons further into Russia couldn't live there and came back to Bialyastok. These families signed to return back to Germans. Many people thought that it would be better in Poland in the end. But the end came actually. We were not allowed to go back. We started to grow accustomed to the new life. Everyone lived as one can. Some tragic night around 12 o'clock, everyone who didn't have a soviet passport was arrested. Immediately they were taken in the echelons to Siberia, into the jails and concentration camps.

Michael Tobin
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