Collected Memories of the Holocaust


       From Szczuczyn to Bialystok,
From Russia to America

  • born in the 1917 in Szczuczyn, Poland
  • family: parents Avram Eli (b. Radzilow) and Chana (nee Elterman) Boginsky (b. Szczuczyn); sister Belke; brothers Yankef, Itzchke and Sender.
  • address in Bialystok: Marmurowa 2


My father was Avram Eli Boginsky and my mother was Chaya Elterman. He was born in Radzilow and she was born in Szczuczyn. I don’t remember much about my early years because I was a little boy then. My eldest sibling was Belke; my eldest brother was named Yankef; then there was Sender, Itchke, and me. I was born in 1919 in Szczuczyn and I lived there seventeen years. Then most of my family and I went to Bialystok before the war, and we lived there till the war broke out. There had been anti-Semites in Szczuczyn, and my family decided to move to Bialystok, where there was less anti-Semitism. There had been many pogroms by the “Endekes” (National Democratic Party) in Szczuczyn in 1936, 1937 and 1938. They were Polish anti-Semites who wore uniforms, and they made the pogroms. A lot of Jewish people from Szczuczyn went to Bialystok. In Bialystok we were living near a church because we thought we would be safer living there, because no Jew could go walk on the same side of the street where the Christians walked. If I wanted to go somewhere, I had a problem. I was afraid to go anywhere because I was afraid that the pogromists would kill me. It was the same in 1933 when the Germans took over and marched in Germany. The same thing had occurred in Szczuczyn. Right away, they tried to use excuses against the Jews. They created pogroms and beat up Jews. And then people went to Bialystok and the same thing happened. Anti-Semitism began in Bialystok too. I went on the street one evening, and all of a sudden somebody hit me on the head. So I asked, “Why did you do that?”  A policeman was near there, and I went to the policeman to complain. The policeman told me not to say anything, because I will get worse than that. That was an example of the anti-Semitism. The Poles would be standing in front of the stores, and they wouldn’t let Jews go into the stores to buy anything, and they didn’t let you leave. They had big rubber sticks. We couldn’t go out shopping, we couldn’t go out to a shoemaker or tailor, because right away we’d be putting our lives in danger. We couldn’t go to work. There hadn’t been any opportunities to work.

Two of my brothers were married—Yankev and Itchke in 1937, but not Sender. My sister was married, Shaya Mendel Kadish, and she and her family lived in Stawiski. Only my parents and brother Sender were left in the house. We all went to Bialystok. Yankev and Itchke got married in Bialystok, but they moved away to some stranger’s place, with their wife’s parents. Belke was married before we all went to Bialystok. I was married in Leningrad after the war.

So in 1937 we went to Bialystok, when I was seventeen years old. In 1939 the Germans came into Poland. I disappeared from Bialystok even before the Germans got there. Before they closed the ghetto, I went to Russia and was taken right away into the Russian army, in 1940. When the Russians/Poles marched into Poland in 1940—Russia and Germany had split Poland in two, i.e. half of Poland belonged to Germany and half to Russia. According to the Russian-German agreement, Bialystok belonged to Russia. Sender stayed in Bialystok when I left and travelled east. Sender left later and also fled into Russia and was taken into the Russian army too. At that time, I didn’t know that Sender had gone to Russia. After I last saw him nineteen years before, I finally found my brother. I had been told that my brother had been killed. I found out after the war that Sender was in Moscow. I had been looking for him for a long time. He’d been injured and became an invalid. He was limping on one leg; it was terrible. The doctor in Moscow had taken him to the hospital and fixed him up to keep him alive. He lived seventy-two years in Moscow. He married a woman named Katie. When my brother passed away, she didn’t even let me know that he died. She was Russian and a schikse.

What do I remember about Bialystok? I remember where I lived. I lived at Marmarova 2 in 1939. I worked as a tailor there too. I had worked as a tailor since I was a little boy, when I helped my father. My father was a shoemaker and sold shoes. He came to America twice, in 1930 and some other year, I don’t remember when, but his mother-in-law tore up his papers and didn’t let his wife and children go to America.


From Bialystok I went to an area 200 km from Moscow, but I don’t remember the name of the city. We walked and walked. There weren’t any trains running. I travelled by night because I was afraid to go by day. I travelled with different people from Bialystok. We ate by asking people for bread. We worked for people and got food in return. When I got to Russia, I had no chance to speak to my parents ever again. Then, after only three weeks, I was conscripted into the Russian army. I was a master sergeant in the infantry. I was fighting on the front for a whole year. I fought in Nowgorod, Porkhov, Ostroff, Nobskoff; I was in the army for one year. Then the Russian army told us, the Poles in the Russian army, to go into the Polish army that was in Russia. They took all the Polish people who were in the Russian army and sent us to the Polish army. There were three different Polish armies. The Polish army and the Russian army were fighting against the Germans. After one year in the Russian army, they tried to make a Polish army. So they took the Poles from the Russian army and put them into the Polish army. They wanted the Polish army to fight against the Germans in Poland because the Poles wanted to win the fight against the Germans over there. We were sent to Svierdlovsk. Here we went to work in a factory where bombs and other ammunition were being made for the war. So I wound up in the Polish army where they made the ammunitions and different cannons. It was difficult working making ammunition. You could get sick and die. So before they organized the Polish army, they sent us to an ammunition factory to work. Some of us lived, others died. I worked in the ammunitions factory till the war was over, so I never got to fight in the Polish army. After that, from Svierdlovsk I went to Leningrad in 1948. I worked as a tailor there. In Nov 1993 I came to the United States.

There was a lot of anti-Semitism in Russia. This is why I left Russia. I worked hard, I had a nice house in Leningrad. I could go on vacation outside the city somewhere. They sold propaganda against the Jews there. They didn’t like the Jews and that’s why we left. They tried to give us a hard time.


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