|WORLD JEWISH COMMUNITIES | ZAMBROW | A BINTEL BRIV|
... it is now a couple of months since I was liberated from the German camps. I struggled with death from all manner of causes: hunger, cold, illness. Thanks to my strong body and my strong will to survive against the Germans and exact vengeance from them – I remained alive. From the camp, I traveled home immediately. I figured that I might meet up with some of my own, my only sister, Zambrow Jews... and I wandered about, and I was alone, not sure whether I will wake up tomorrow alive. They reside, the Poles do, in Jewish houses, Jewish bakeries, Jewish factories, and if they should spy a Jew – they think that he is coming to claim what is his, and therefore he needs to be wiped off and gotten out of the way...
From a Letter, Written to Joseph Savetzky
... You ask: is it possible to prepare a list of those from Zambrow who are still alive? It is difficult. Because a small part of them were driven off into Russia – and we know nothing of what happened to them. Several of the Zambrow families came together in Zambrow, a few from the surrounding villages, and thought about establishing a new community, and to begin rebuilding the city anew from this. Practical considerations showed that our lives were not safe, that the Poles are no better than the Germans, and it is dangerous to go out into the street. So everyone fled – to Lodz, to Wroclaw, etc. At this day, in Zambrow, the following are found: Shlomo Pekarewicz – returning from Russia, Itka Morozowicz with a child – a scion of Lomza, who was hidden by a Christian. The writer of these lines – Fyvel Slowik, a baker, arriving alive from the German camps, and Moshe Levinsky. This is all of Zambrow... your packages that you are sending us are keeping us alive, and in our heart, there still flickers a spark of human love: we still have brethren in America...
... I am the only Jew in Zambrow. A few landsleit are holding themselves together in Bialystok and Lodz. I saw Berl Sokol in Bialystok. the Stupniks, Givner, Golombeck. I am here alone. My life here is also not secure – but my life, in any event, is broken... from time to time the feeling is awakened in me, that it is necessary to marshal the resources to rebuild everything from anew...
... after a great deal of effort, I found my brother, in Mexico City. I am waiting for exit papers to arrive from him...
Chaim Kaufman to J. Savetzky
Lineburg, Germany, January 1946
... have you perhaps heard from, or received a letter from Yankl Sztupnik, a shoemaker? I was together with him in Auschwitz until last year. I, and many other Jews, have much to thank him for in that we are still alive. The entire time, he worked in the camp as a shoemaker and helped everyone out...
... write to Moshe Levinsky about me, that I am to be found in Germany in the British Zone. He will be happy to know this, because before we were sent off to Auschwitz, I advised him to approach the Christians he knew, in connection with being hidden by them, and he did this. I also wanted to do this, but because of my mother I did not do so; my conscience did not permit me to abandon her to be alone – so I placed my life in danger for my mother. It is for my mother’s sake that I have remained alive.
... I work in a big hospital as a pharmacist, and [I] get a hundred cigarettes a month for this, lunches, and three hundred and sixty marks, and there is nothing available to purchase with this money.
...You certainly knew Aharon Leibl Karlinsky, a very reliable person, whom I became friendly with towards the end. He worked for the Russians as an employee, and his older son also earned a wage. As soon as the Germans arrived, they dragged the first fifty men away, among which were Karlinsky and his son. His wife, Sarahkeh was left by herself, until she was taken away to Auschwitz...
... In the previous week I received a letter from my friend Leibiczuk Golombeck in Israel. He wrote me that Beinusz Mikuczinsky [along] with Hillel Shiniak were murdered by Poles, six days before the arrival of the Russians. I cried very intensely when I heard this news. I had advised Beinusz that he should attempt to conceal himself among the gentiles. I was certain that he would survive the Germans. You cannot conceive of the extent to which Beinusz helped me and others in the ghetto. Together with him, I had the oversight for the sanitary conditions in the ghetto. There was no such thing as a job too difficult that Beinusz didn’t manage to see through. He was a loyal comrade for all of the Jewish people.
... I heard that Dr. Grunwald and his wife and children are in Lodz. I must tell you that he received much in the way of earnings from the last times. He was the only doctor in the ghetto.
... Yesterday, I received papers from my cousin to be able to travel to America. I immediately went off to Hamburg and registered in the American consulate. ‘Also you send me papers,’ she writes to me, which will make it easier for you to obtain an American visa. After several months, I will leave this dark ‘camp life’ forever. My friend Brenner, from Wysoka Mazowiecka, also received papers to travel to America. Think of this: we are managing to hold on her from Auschwitz and [Bergen] Belsen, and also here in the camp... the foreign hospital where I used to work has been closed up – and so, once again, I am without work and without food.
Dearest Joseph, I thank you yet again for the package and for your letter. I get a letter from my friends in Israel every other day. Also from friends from America, such as Malka Koven-Scheinkopf, Joseph Wierzbowicz-Waxman, and others, write to me.
Please send regards to [my] friend Moshe Eitzer. I have a great deal to tell him about Freidkeh Shafran, his mother-in-law. She clung to my mother up to the last minute...
... from the family: Shlomo was taken away immediately with the first transport to Szumowo. His wife and children, as well as Basheh with the oldest of the sisters, were in the ghetto until the last day. They had a good place to live, with Menachem Dunowicz, in a new house...
... regarding Nehemiah’s (Golombeck) family, I remember how his brother’s wife was taken away in the first transport, meaning (Meir) Bronak’s daughter, their little girl remained alone, a very pretty little girl – who later died in the ghetto, while Bronak and his older son and his young wife, Leibl Rosing’s daughter, also went off in the first transport...
I received the package and letter today. You are so punctual with your writing and mailing: in a week’s time, I have an answer from you, and a package takes only five weeks. All of the packages that you send to my address arrive regularly, and I divide the contents up, in accordance with your instructions, on that same day.
You did well in looking up the friends of Yossl Schmidt and made an effort with the Rutkers to help him.
... Who has returned from Russia? It is interesting to me to find out, if those who were sent there, are returning. I am imagining the multi-branched and tireless work you do in writing so many letters, so many people to reply to, to fulfill their requests, to try and locate their relatives and to help them...
... together with a partner, I have opened a wholesale pharmacy, because I received a good recommendation from the Red Cross, for the work I did at the hospital that has since been closed. It is possible that it will develop into a good business, even though I strive to flee this place. I am among the few that have abandoned the sordid life of the camps and have moved over to the city, in order to achieve some independence. I am occupied here with community work, and in the Jewish society...
... You cannot imagine the joy with which I received the letter from my elderly Rebbe, written in the style of Sholom Aleichem. It restored many memories of my first Heder, of my childhood. Give this elderly Rebbe Bercheh Sokol my heartiest regards and wishes. May he have as many years to live, in wealth and honor, as the number of smacks he laid upon his pupils, and I will write to him later on.
Chaya Kaufman writes:
The war has completely broken me. It took everyone and everything away from me. The worst blow for me was the loss of my best friend, my husband. With his death I feel like I have lost my life, and I no longer have any will to live. I live only because of my two children: my daughter, who has remained behind in Russia, and a little boy that was sent off to Israel by way of a kibbutz. My daughter is studying in Russia, and chafes to get out of there to be with me together. I am now in Silesia, in Reichenbach, and am preparing to travel to Israel, and I have become a member of a kibbutz...
Could you perhaps put me in touch with my friend in New York, Alta Pakczor, and with the daughter of the Zambrow Hazzan, Wismonsky, who calls herself Adina Cantor in America. My one desire at this point is to find young friends and immerse myself in the depths of the past....
P.S. Because of
the political life of my husband – I have not changed my family
The Two Kalesznik Sisters
Dear Friend Savetzky,
... We have received your letter containing the gift, and we heartily thank you. We do not need the clothing as much as the foodstuffs. The matter of domicile has not yet been resolved, and we are living on a roof without a kitchen and without gas...
... Tomorrow is Yom Kippur Eve. We are going to buy candles for the memorial lights of those departed souls who were exterminated, and carry them off to the synagogue. We still have to locate a synagogue that should be nearby, so we will not have to say the Yizkor prayers after using the Metro... The holidays had a different look to them back in Zambrow... We remind ourselves of how, during the High Holy Days, we would run to the synagogue to our mother. Yes, we too, at one time, had parents (when that was, we no longer recall...) We went to hear the sounding of the Shofar here, and did not go to work on Rosh Hashanah. And so the local Jews here laughed at us. And so as the holidays arrive, we become even more broken, both spiritually and physically. The French Jews don’t feel this...
blessings for the New Year. Give our regards to Yudka and Naomi
... Thank you for
your letter and gift. We want to pass along some news: we have
received visas for Australia, along with exit papers. This will
spell an end to our wandering. Perhaps, once again, we will be
able to live like human beings...
...We are going to Australia. While still in [Bad] Waldsee, we made the acquaintance of two boys who later went off to Australia to their families. When they found out that we were in Paris, they sent us exit papers and visa, through the British consulate. They sent us ship’s tickets, which we are expecting to receive soon. Should we not receive the ship’s tickets, we ask you to permit us to borrow the costs, and we will pay you back double... only with them will we be able to be happy, and live once again...
The Kalesznik Sisters
Our Respected Joseph Srebrowicz,
... I remember you very well. I guard the memory of everyone and everything that has any relationship to our hometown. Foremost, I am happy at the thought that in your second letter to me I will receive regards from all of our landsleit who find themselves in Tel Aviv, what their fate is, and their current circumstances... Only one sister has survived from my family, Esther. She is with me. My sister Sarah was killed in the shtetl of Radun, near Lida, where she was working...
...After two years of fighting with the partisans, I turned back to more satisfying work. I say ‘turned back.’ There will no longer be any satisfaction in my soul, until I draw my last breath, I have had no rest in the Byelorussian forests, where day-in and day-out we paid the debt of blood. I have no rest here [either], when I pay the obligation to the memory of our slain brethren through my modest literary work. This is the destiny of my generation. To tell the truth: I am applying what remains of my energies to once again restore our people. I exert myself to do what is more basic – seeing in this the sole possibility to still my raging heart...
Herschel Smolar Proposes the Publication of a Zambrow Yizkor Book
And now, I wish to approach you on a more general issue: Zambrow, as a Jewish city, no longer exists. However, our home city continues to live in the memory of all of us, as it once was. I am trying to say that it is our collective responsibility to place a memorial marker for our hometown, and in memory of the lost lives of our dearest. My proposal is that you should gather a specific sum for the purpose of publishing a Memorial Book about Zambrow. In my opinion, such a book this sort of a book should accept an array of articles and writings, memories about Zambrow of yore, and a greater section of material about the destruction of Zambrow during the German occupation. From my end, I am prepared to devote all my energy to help you to realize this plan. I await your reply to my proposal.
Dear landsman Savetzky,
I have received your letter and package. I want to express heartfelt thanks for your special effort in trying to locate my family: my grandfather and great-aunt. My grandfather has sent me money. I am in a Kibbutz and I am waiting for a certificate. I do not wish to travel illegally, because I have bounced around Russia for five-and-a-half years – and that is enough for me. Now, I wish to enter Israel legally, and get right to work. Costs here are very high: a pair of boots costs twenty-five thousand zlotys... I am preparing to get married with a pretty young lady, also in the Kibbutz, solitary and poor, just like me... Shlomo Pekarewicz has already received the visas for Mexico. He is waiting for a ship’s ticket from his brother...
... I am from
Zambrow, Dobka Wonsever, a daughter of Topol. My mother Yehudis
Topol is a daughter of Kosciol. I am in Germany with my husband
and child, and I am in need of help...
I am from Zambrow, Hona Goldwasser, a son of Goszer the Shoemaker. I have a brother in Brooklyn, Israel Goldwasser, and a sister Golda. Her husband’s name is Hona-Yudl Katz. I would very much like it, if you would be so kind, as to locate them. I have already written to the paper(s) and to the Union of Polish Jews, but without success.
With thanks [we acknowledge] – receipt of your letter and packages.
... We are in Milan for four months already. Pretty soon, I will be going to Israel. The following people from Zambrow are found here: Reineh Sokol, Moshe Khanit, Yaakov Sztupnik, Abraham Kron and others.
... In 1939, I was compelled to flee from Zambrow, from the Russians, because of my Zionist activity. They seized me in Lithuania, and had me arrested. For five-and-a-half years, I served time in Siberia at hard labor, in a climate of seventy degrees below zero, wearing threadbare rags. I worked for twelve hours a day under armed guard. Our food consisted of soup made from nettles, and I was left sapped of all strength. When we were let go, I walked twenty meters and collapsed. A Jew, in the street recognized me as a fellow Jew, and took me into his house, until I came around a bit. I came back to Poland, and went off to Zambrow. I did not encounter anyone who I knew there anymore. So I began to wander from border to border, until such time that I will come to my home – in the Land of Israel. Now, we are sitting in Milan and waiting... with our eyes turned to Israel.
Dear Friend Savetzky,
Today is the eve of Yom Kippur. I am moved to write and thank you for everything that you do for us. You do more than a father would. I received the tallit and tefillin, and how can I thank you? Such a prayer shawl cannot be found in Poland, and wrapped in it, I go to worship, walking with great pride, knowing that we have such good brethren. Mrs. B. needs to receive assistance. She is a grandchild of B. who worked in Abraham Schwartzbard’s brick works. He was called Abraham Strikhar. She is here with a small, sick child, and has a right to the help sent by the Zambrow committee. Rachel Rubin’s daughter is in Cyprus. Rachel and her son feel well. I do not know the landsman Kron. Sztupnik divided the money for all of the people from Zambrow, in my house...
Bad Reichenhall, 25.12.46
.. I am in Bad Reichenhall to be cured. In the year 1942, I was run over by an auto. For the entire time I was in the camp, I did not have any pain. However, recently, the place where I was hit had begun to hurt, and I am in Reichenhall to take the waters...
... Regarding the landsleit: In the previous week, Shlomo Lehrman received an affidavit. Sztupnik has received a national exit permit for Australia. In Facking, there is a Lifschitz and a Golombeck – Abraham Shlomki, the son of the Melamed. The Kasha Maker’s children were with me. Herschel the Tinsmith’s second son – came back from the Russian Army. He is found in Feldafing (Lower Bavaria) together with his brother. I forwarded them the letters. Wahrszafczyk was also to see me. I have received a letter from Chaim. It is entirely possible he will come to me, in which case, I will help him get settled....
I am Israel Rabinovich, a son of R’ Mendl Olsha, who was called Motya’s son-in-law. My father was a Melamed, on Bialystoker Gasse No. 3. My mother died in the year 1939. I do not know my father’s fate. As the Rabbi, the Russians exiled me in 1940, having found my credentials of rabbinic ordination and other writings in my possession. They proceeded to torture and oppress me. It is four months since I have returned from there, destitute, and without anything, with sick children. I met up with a landsman in Lodz, a neighbor, Mr. Moshe Levinsky, and he has helped me a great deal. Now, I am in Paris. I already have papers from the Baltimore Yeshiva, named for the Chafetz Chaim, as a teacher of Talmud. My father-in-law will be traveling with me, a former shokhet, who is an elderly man. When you are able to find the address of a relative of mine, David Cohen, in Detroit, and R’ Yaakov Yellin in Buffalo...
Rabbi Israel A.
... The Yeshiva of Lomza, where I once studied, brought me to the Yeshiva in Brooklyn from Italy. Now, I am studying at Yeshiva University. I am, however, in need of resources for support...
Zlota Gora, 23.4.1949
... I thank you for the package that I have received. It is not effective to send clothing to Poland at this time, because the [local] factories are working, and there is now sufficient clothing [to be had]. What is worth putting in the packages are: black pepper, bitter cocoa, penicillin, streptomycin...
Dear Friends, Savetzky, Moshe Eitzer,
I am Khatzkel Givner from Zambrow. I am here for two years already. I have never before asked for any help or a package. Suddenly, from Golombeck’s address, I receive a package from the Zambrow Help Committee, which moved me greatly, to see that I had not been forgotten, despite the fact that I had not asked for anything... and I thank you. I am a son of Chaim-Hirsch Szatka and a brother of Aharkeh’s.
Dear Friend Savetzky,
... I am from Zambrow, and my husband is from Goworowo. We have come back from Russia broken, impoverished, and isolated. My husband was wounded in his right hand during the war. I have five children, may they live and be well, and we need much for them. My father’s name was Mendl Denenberg, and was a cousin of Abcheh Rokowsky and Abcheh Frumkin. I ask that you add us to your list of those eligible to receive assistance...
Sanatorium Byelokhonko, 5.4.1949
... I am from Zambrow, my father was Pinchas the Tinsmith, on the Bialystok Road, my mother Tsirl. They were murdered. I was sent off to Russia and liberated not long ago, with lung disease. I find myself in a sanatorium in a struggle with death... coming back from Russia, I came for a visit to Zambrow.... I was unable to find a single person that I knew...
Yaakov Moshe M.
Dear Friend Savetzky, Yossl
President of the Zambrow Scions,
... I am from Zambrow, Menachem ben Yekhiel Blumstein. We lived at the house of Gershon Jablonka, my uncle, in his yard. We had a large family – and now, I remain the only one... I spent five years in the Russian military. After the war I returned to Poland. I was too frightened to go back to Zambrow. The Poles stop the buses and drag Jewish passengers off in order to kill them. I could no longer countenance the Poles, who were Hitler’s accomplices – so I went over to Austria. My friends in America help me a bit. Please send my regards to my cousin Judka Jablonka. Can you send me cigarettes? I smoke a great deal out of nervousness....
Giveat Brenner, 14.6.1947
[To my] best friend Savetzky,
By happenstance, I became aware that you are the one who answers all of the letters and send each and every package. I am in the Kibbutz, and I lack for nothing. I am a daughter of the tailor, Abraham Posner. My husband is still in Germany, and he is yet to arrive.
I have only one request to make of you: help to locate my brother, who has been in America for forty years already. His name is Yaakov Herschel Posner. Because of the war, I lost his address.
Regards, Malka P.
Milan, Italy. 4.10.1947
I have received your letter of 19.9. and this is my one solace. I have many friends in America: Abba Sztupnik, Leib Becker, the Blumwalds, the Fyevkas, the family of Elya Weinberg. I write to them – but the letters are returned to me; the address is incorrect. The only one who gets my letters and replies is – Joseph Savetzky. I have also received the package that you have sent to me... there are a number of people from Zambrow milling about in Italy: Moshe Pekarewicz, the Topols, with two daughters and a son-in-law, having returned from Russia, Reizkeh Sokol, Menachem Blumstein. Give regards to all the folks from Zambrow.
I have received your parcel and it has sustained my soul. I haven’t written to you in a long time because my wife was seriously ill. However, thanks to my great-aunt Liebeh Pekar who sent over doses of penicillin injections to us through our Zambrow Relief Committee, my wife stayed alive. Now my child, who is six months old, has need of penicillin, and it is very difficult to procure it here. We are yearning to leave Poland and travel to the Land of Israel, but difficulties remain yet... I do not know the situation of our landsleit in Lodz. Dr. and his family are found with me in Kalina Jospa.
Honored friend Savetzky,
I thank you for your letter and the five dollars. Thank you for the packages. Should you be sending parcels for Passover, please send tea in one box, not in individual small packets, send pepper. Do not send margarine, only olive oil. Do not send borscht kosher for Passover, because there is no lack of beets in Poland. Please send some snacks for my rascal, meaning my little boy. I have managed to acquire a bit of down, and if it is not difficult for you, can you send me something to fill, because that is hard to come by here. Please send eighteen meters of material – for a down blanket and two pillows. It is very forward for me to ask this, but I have no choice. My husband is working, but he is an invalid. Send regards to everyone from Zambrow.
Your Peshki G.
Best friend Savetzky,
...You have forgotten me, and don’t even ask if I am well or sick. You sent a tallit and tefillin to our friend M. [but] he doesn’t need them because he will not put on the tefillin. Rabbi Olsha thought he was observant, and demanded of you that you send this to him. I have remained the sole survivor of such a large family, and have need of medical help. I am selling my clothes in order to buy medicines...
... I swear by God, that I will never forget what you have done for me. The medicines are getting me back on my feet, and I get better day by day. The twenty grams that you sent me are almost gone, and the doctors say I need a hundred grams. It is getting cold already, and I am naked and barefoot and sick. I am tranquil because you will not abandon me.
I received your package only after a great deal of exertion, because the address was incorrect. You got the package to me just as Elijah the Prophet would have... I have recently hosted a circumcision ceremony. Accordingly, two people from Zambrow were invited: Rachel Rubin and Moshe Levinsky. They are set to travel to Israel soon. Regrettably – my husband is sick. As a result, my family and I must continue to suffer here... can you send us powdered milk? The little children don’t even lay eyes on any milk...
Adapted from the Zambrow Yizkor Book, with the cooperation of the United Zembrover Society.
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