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Szczuczyn Yizkor Book, Part 2B

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Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Jews Live On
The Creation of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the K'dushe Shtutsin (Szczuczyn), Z.L., in Israel
In Memory of our Beloved Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)
Boruch Fishl Zeml
The Great Mitsveh of the Gmiles Khesedim
Meyir Grinfeld
The Official Acknowledgment of the Founding of the Gmiles Khesedim in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)
The Solemn Declaration of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York
Heyman Horovits
The Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)
Yeshiah Skubelski
The Old and New Gmiles Khesedim
Ruven Finkelshteyn
General Report of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund
General Accounts; Cycle of Loans

Former Residents of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Now Citizens of Israel
The Managing Committee and Auditing Commission of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund
List of Photographs

The Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Holocaust, Part B

Life in a Bialystok Bunker, By: Chaye Golding-Keyman

The Golding family came from Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) to the Bialystok ghetto, where they continued to live after the dissolution of the ghetto, in a bunker (underground hide-out).

In a moving and highly interesting manner, Chayeh Golding describes her experiences in the underground hide-out in Bialystok. She begins her letter with a description of two children -- Yosele and Niyune -- telling about their virtues and intelligence. The two boys, who were it seems kindred souls, underwent together with the adults many trying times. They understood well however, their situation, and equally with the grownups held themselves courageous and bold. We have passed on here the largest portion from Chaye Golding's letter.

She writes:

Yosele was a skinny boy of 5 years old; dark, charming, fine and small, with a little bit of a temperament, He was fiery spirited joker. Niyune was my son, four and a half years old: a fair haired boy with large blue eyes, and broad shoulders. He was bigger and stronger than Yosele. They would play with each other till exhaustion. They loved each other loyally. Later in the ghetto, when we lived together, the friendship between the young lads grew stronger. Niyune was a real eater. When he would spot a full plate of soup his eyes would light up with joy... The boys were always together, wearing the same clothes; strangers assumed they were brothers. Because Niyune was the larger one, Yosele had great respect for him, and when they played at "campaign," catching Jews from the closet and in all corners of the house, Niyune was the commander of the "Gestapo" and Yosele was the Jew with the yellow star on his narrow chest. He would look daringly into the face of the "German" and proudly walk under his surveillance. Therefore when the real moment arrived later, when we had to hide in the "skhron" (bunker) beneath the ground, the children understood the seriousness of the situation and knew how to conduct themselves.

They were as quiet as little mice. They did not demand bread nor anything to drink. When we would hear heavy steps overhead in the house, when they hacked at the floor above us, the boys would hold in their breath and cling ever tighter to us. It was not the same with Sholemke, my sister Soreh's boy, who was six years old. He was smart but nervous. Other Jews who did not know us, threatened that we would have to get rid of him. Our first time in the bunker, we merely sat for one week, from the 16th to the 24th of February 1943. At that point they had removed 10,000 Jews from Bialystok and it was again quiet.

August 15, 1943, the last "campaign" began in the ghetto -- "a Yuden Free Bialystok." 30,000 Jews like sheep presented themselves for deportment, even though it was well known where they were headed for. At various points in the ghetto the young had put up resistance. Their heroic stands were squashed in bloody skirmishes. We descended to our "skhron." Instead of the 17 persons on which we had reckoned, 33 came down. It was dark and narrow. There was a shortage of air. Those times were too horrible to recount, yet we managed so for three months. In the beginning they would come to search for hiding persons: they banged and chopped at the walls, the floors, but found nothing. The entrance was well concealed under an oven, with a trick door that was difficult to open. My husband Moyshe Aaron, had dreamed it up, and with our help -- women and children -- had built the "skhron." Inside it was very primitive. We did not have enough means to make it more comfortable. We were not well prepared with food for a lengthy stay. We would clean the molded crusts of bread with a little brush, spread them with some "montshke" (powdered sugar), and give it to the children to eat. The soldiers searched, called us by our names and threatened that if we did not come out immediately they would tear down the house. But we were all of one mind: Better to be burned than to fall alive into their hands.

Our sweet small boys, little angels; how heroic, how brave they carried themselves! Our struggle against death began. I don't know where I found so much strength and energy. I was the first who dared to go out alone at night. I returned carrying a sack with food on my back. Like a cat I crept along the walls and stole into a strange apartment. On the table in cups sat undrunken tea. I glanced around: laundry in a washtub, an empty crib in the corner. It seemed as if people had just departed. I felt a piercing in my heart. The full closets did not interest me, nor the drawers with the best things. A sack of barley in the corner, a bit of potatoes -- these concerned my problem. The children swelled with pride over me. One time I even brought back raspberries and syrup. My husband Moysheh Aaron paid with his health; he was always petrified for me.

One time I was with Zalmen Vayntsimer, my brother-in-law, in a strange house. We were looking carefully at a bottle, when suddenly from behind we heard a strange voice in Yiddish. In that house, we realized, there was also a "skhron." We were overjoyed. It had been Gershuni, who had been hiding with three other women, on Tsieple Street number 2, in the house of Katsev Minem. We whispered quickly and quietly: Where was the front? What would happen to us? Often we would meet up with others hiding in the area. We developed a common signal: three strikes with the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and we would know who was coming.

In our bunker it was a problem to light a match because there was not enough oxygen in the air. Previously for a bottle of oil or sugar, we had acquired a box of matches, two lighting stones or a cigarette lighter. The smoke from the kerosene lamp irritated our eyes and nostrils. I saw myself once in a mirror in another apartment and I did not recognize myself. I was thinner and darker. My image so frightened me that I thought I had been caught off guard by a strange woman. The fleas drove us crazy. A merchant from Stavisk (Stawiski) by the name of' Goldflam, who Zalmen Vayntsimer had brought to us, had committed suicide; I think to a great extent due to the fleas.

We hoped and believed; the days dragged on in deadly silence, and the nights in struggling against hunger. We found no more bread in the house. At times baked rye cakes on a pan with a little bit of sugar. It had somewhat of the taste of haleva and we saved it for a snack. We yearned for a piece of bread. One day the idea came to us: Perhaps we should bake some bread in an abandoned bakery? There was plenty of flour; but what if they were to see the smoke from the chimney. The notion of bread stuck with us nevertheless and continued to tease us -- myself more than others. My family numbered eleven souls, not a small amount: my mother, may she rest in peace, Dora with her child, Sorehle, Zalmen and the child, we four, and Ezriel, Z.L., the Garbater shames [25] of Rabbi Reb Yosele, Z.TS.L.

Five healthy men were amongst us. Yakov Lakhovitsh was a carpenter from Ostrolenka (Ostroleka) with a pair of strong hands and broad shoulders. Michl from Sokole (Sokoly) was 27 years old. We gave him the name of "the wood man" because he had lived for 10 months in the forest in a cave. He had come to Bialystok to take his mother to him in the woods and had arrived at "just the right time." The third was called Moyerman, a young man from Grodno and big as a giant. We nicknamed him "the tank" because he was heavy. Although he always walked around barefoot the earth beneath him would tremble. In addition there were two other steadfast young men. I began to speak to them about baking bread in the bakery on Tsiepele Street 5. It was just a short distance from us in a low cottage. The walls around would hide the smoke. I would be the foreman in the baking. I spoke with courage and convinced the whole group. We decided that that night we would steal into the bakery. In the windows of the room we hung tablecloths and sacks. We turned on the power. We found three sacks of flour and some wood. I put on a large apron, rolled up the sleeves, and scrubbed and washed the tins. I poured in flour, not a lot. I mixed in water to make a sour-dough starter. We let it stand until the second night. The next day we held a conference in the "skhron" to decide who would participate in the bread baking. It was agreed upon that each family according to their size, must provide its bakers. The work in the bakery went swiftly and quietly. The fire crackled happily as in the good old days. Everyone's spirits rose and we even joked a bit. "We couldn't care less about them!" Yakov said. Forty four round breads we laid out on the boards and waited for the oven. Warmed up, I went to stand guard. There were no more sparks coming out of the chimney. It was dark and quiet everywhere. There was nothing more to do but watch.

Suddenly it seemed to me that from a distance I could see some sort of black spots. Trees perhaps? They were moving however. They were coming closer. My heart beat faster and faster. I ran into the bakery to warn them about the danger. We put out the lights and everyone ran. I don't know why I remained until the end; I didn't run but hid behind a door listening attentively. Two men in black approached. Through the crack in the door I saw that they were in civilian clothes and a feeling of relief swept over me. They crossed the threshold and whispered in Yiddish. I straightened up, stuck my head out and asked who it was. On hearing my voice, one grabbed my hand and kissed it. He called out trembling: "Jews, we've found Jews." I left them where they were, ran outside, and with the clucking of my tongue three times on the roof of my mouth -- our signal -- I called everyone who had hidden in the surrounding lairs back to the bakery. We rejoiced all together. The two young men came from a den on Nay Velt 20. They had believed that aside from them there could be no other Jews in the ghetto. They had ventured outside for the first time and smelled the odor of fresh bread. The smell had brought them to us. We told each other many things and while speaking did not notice the door opening. Two boys and a girl from another "skhron" had come in. They were delighted with the notion of baking bread and avidly inhaled the wonderful aroma.

The breads were ready -- shiny, beautiful, but instead of golden brown on top they were blackened; instead of dry inside, they were moist, sticky; but who cared? With two loaves under their arms the two young lads were off. The others requested from us the key to the bakery and the remaining sour-dough starter. All "skhronists" found out quickly about this and each night another "skhron" baked bread. "We couldn't care less about the Germans." Yosele and Niyunele were ecstatic, their teeth chewed once again and their eyes sparkled. Would cakes or marzipan then, have tasted better than the sticky bread with the burned bitter crusts?

Suddenly a misfortune. There was no longer any water or power. The Germans had shut down everything in the empty ghetto. Our struggle had all been in vain. We were lost. The next day, from the neighbor's yard, Yuravietske 26, twenty-five persons appeared with white bed sheets -- a sign that they were surrendering. It had been the Rude family with the Pleban's, the Finkelshteyn's, the Zelmanovitsh's and others. We did not want to give up our lives so quickly. We began to search for ideas. We hoped that in the large kettle in Rude's bakery, there would still be water. In the darkness we tapped the faucet, moved it back and forth, but no drop of water. We thought: Perhaps lower in the faucet? We tied a cloth on a long stick and pushed it down. It came up dry. We remained silent. It was bitterly hard for us.

The garden of the Jewish Council lay only thirty meters from where we were. There we had planted all types of vegetables. During the last roundup of Jews in the ghetto there had been a fight in that garden between the Germans and the Jewish self-defense group. The barbed wire fence had been crushed in some spots. I suggested that we go into the garden to look for some greens. We moved in the darkness over unfamiliar terrain and suddenly my foot remained stuck in water. I almost fell in. We investigated what it was and found a large pool covered with weeds. In the watchman's booth nearby we found a bucket and a jug. The weeds were brushed aside and the containers filled with fresh clear water. We tried drinking it. The water was cold and good. Our joy could riot have been equaled. I didn't look around for onions or potatoes, which were ripe in the bushes. I ran over wire and boards to the "skhron." I ran and rejoiced like Robinson Crusoe. Everyone in the bunker was ecstatic. Some sobbed for joy. The whole group gathered around the bucket with the water -- the greatest treasure. We were saved. We ran to inform others of our discovery.

The Last Night With My Children in a Bialystok Prison, By: Chaye Golding-Keyman

Chaye Golding-Keyman from Szczuczyn, now in New York, describes in a moving manner the last hours with her two children in captivity in Bialystok. With them were also other children. They were all exterminated by the murderers.

We were 44 souls in one cell of the Bialystok prison. Ten children were with us. Our earlier hardships -- sitting 3 months in a bunker beneath the ground on Yuravietska 28 -- had already destroyed in the children whatever spirit there had been.

Only the very first day of our arrival in prison, November 16, 1943, did the youngsters feel refreshed, a little encouraged. Here it was different than under the ground -- even better. There it had always been dark, narrow, stuffy and frighteningly quiet; and they had had to sit. Here the room was large. One could go freely from one end to the other. One could talk as loudly as one desired. The children could call their mothers, or call out: Bobe, Yosele, Moyshele, when you wanted. Here it was light even though we were in the cellar. We had four windows with iron bars. The boys became accustomed once again to light.

The children spent the entire day by the windows. Through them they could see snow and rejoiced. It awed and delighted them; soft fluffy snow, with thousands of sparkling flakes. Their eyes beamed, a light rosiness appeared for a while on their cheeks. Only to touch it, to pat the white snow. "I would kiss it," the fair headed Mirele would say. Sholemke had a lightening quick idea. Like a squirrel he sprung to the corner of the cell. There stood a threadbare broom. He pulled out the twigs one by one and ran back to the little window. The boys began to brush the snow towards them, using the thin twigs through the iron bars. The one who finally reached a bit of snow, felt it in his hand, was treated as a hero. The others wondered over him, marveled at him: "Give me a lick, give just a little bit, for one minute to hold."

The squeak of the door, the appearance of the pot with food immediately made the children forget about the snow. One grabbed for the bowl, which the guard had brought as a favor, another for the pot, a third for a jug or a gallypot. A clamor broke out; the server of the soup, a tall blond goy with a long mustache, glared at us with fire in his eyes. He had it all figured out so that no one could fool him into letting them have soup a second time. He did not even give a full portion -- only 3/4 full -- and ladled it out from the top, the thinnest part, so that one tiny piece of cabbage chased after the other. In some bowls he would give a larger measure. For this he would, with his ladle which was attached with a nail to a stick, let it deep down into the pot, and remove it full with potatoes, cabbage and golden carrots. The lucky ones received this, for which the goy had taken their clothes, watches and money.

The small Niyune, four and a half years old, my son, was a smart young lad. He had found a groshen in his pocket and boldly requested with it, from Antoshevitsh, a little more soup. However Niyune came back to his place with a sour face and an empty bowl.

Along row of beds stood cramped one by the other. There was an iron candlestick stand and five boards on the floor. There was no straw or anything else to cover these floor boards. They were hard, dirty and cold. When night approached it became even more dismal. Perhaps tonight would be our last night, perhaps tomorrow they would lead us to our death. How could one lay down their tired exhausted limbs on the hard boards? People sought comfort with each other and snuggled up close. Two people would lie with their heads together and then two with their feet together, so that it should be warmer. God have pity on the children, we thought. I had two kids -- Shulamiske, a 10-year-old girl, and Niyune, a 4-year-old boy. I pulled my boy towards me so that he should not feel the hardness of the boards, and at the same time I placed one arm under Shulamiske's head, instead of a cushion. The coat did not warm her; her face was transparently pale with bags beneath her eyes. Her hands and feet were withered. Not so long ago it seemed she had been blossoming, and so well built. It pierced my heart. The hot tears I shed would wash her pale small face. The poor thing tossed from one side to the other. An expression of pain appeared around her lips and her small nose. Suddenly she opened her eyes. Without words she gazed at me, a deep look of sadness and grief. "Shulamis my child! You are quietly angry at me, but I can not help you, I can not save you." Sometimes she would tremble like a leaf and just as in the bunker, in hours of danger when they would be searching for us, she would often entirely lose her speech. My heart was bursting with pain, fury and helplessness. My arms, my limbs were weak. I was afraid to move closer to Niyunele, in case I would disturb his sleep. Each morning his eyes were swollen. Just yesterday he had asked me: "Will I never see my father again? Mother, will I ever again sleep in a bed?" He never cried, never asked for anything. I spoke to him, promised him, and sobs would stick in my throat. My son, believe, trust me and hope. My poor son, you have not tasted even one good day in your life. You innocent little soul of mine, young Jew, why has this come upon you, upon us, to suffer here. Answer God!

Niyunele would wake up by himself. The adults as well as the small ones always ran an entire night to the large bucket which stood with a cover in a corner of the cellar. Although both children could help themselves, I always accompanied them each time to the far end where the pail sat I did not want to lose even a minute, not a moment by day or night, of being close to them. I felt and knew for sure one of these days, any day, any hour, death would separate us.

Two weeks went by like this. Across the corridor was also a full cell with Jewish women and children. There were: Mrs. Levitan with three daughters, Dora Damaratska, Blume Ginger with her girls, Tsikhotska, Seratsik, Fadorovska, Eti Kosovska, Minet, Grinberg Rizikov, Faktar, Lev Gotlib and Atlas. The women from Grodno: Horadoker. On the other side of the corridor were cells with men. Whoever had a gold piece or a dollar in banknotes would receive special treatment by the guard, who made it possible that a man could see his wife, a mother her sons (Mrs. Freyde Kagan), a daughter her father. One would give to the other little pieces of bread they had saved. Questions, words, would pass hurriedly between them with fear. The men would sell everything they had for bread. Some even parted with their pants. The prison guards, Poles, were in fact very happy with the 312 Jews, who were kept in the cellars. Often they were friendly and talked with us. Then they would tell us, that here in the cellars, were only those who were sentenced to death. They would add that whoever is smart should sell everything he has because in any case...

One evening the door opened and 5 new people were thrown in: three women wrapped in cloths, with two children. It was Berta Fuks, Manye Mankus and the young doctor Peta Fuks -- the children of the Fuks textile manufacturer... and with them came in two small boys. One was Salush Neyman, 5 years old, and his cousin Mankus, 9 years old. We had lived in the ghetto as neighbors on Yuraviyetska Street. Our children were happy to see the little Salush. Salush and the 9-year-old boy could not walk anymore however. Both had to be carried. It seemed to me that the women who were carrying them were about to collapse. We discovered that they had sat hiding in an attic with a group for more than 3 months. In the same building there was also a bunker beneath the ground which had been found in the first days of the campaign. The Germans had fired into the bunker. A bullet had immediately hit a Jew from Grodno by the name of Yasem. The others in a panic ran out. In the mix-up and rush the father, Avrom Neyman, had forgotten his small son Salush. He remained a day and a night in the bunker all alone. He did not cry or shout out but huddled close to the body of the dead man. The Jews in the attic who heard their neighbors being herded out, risked going down the second night to the discovered bunker after the remaining food. To their astonishment they found the weak and terrified Salush. They brought him up with them to the attic. It had been much worse there than by us in the bunker; they had had no food or water. Amongst them there was not one person who would risk going out in the night, to search for water or vegetables in the garden of the former Jewish Council. They ate raw grains. They devised an ingenious way to bake rye crackers. Water was acquired only when a rain fell. The young rare beauty, Berta Fuks, told me how she had had only one desire: to drink enough water before her death. Thereafter they were discovered and brought to us in the prison cell.

During the three months the boys had lost all the vitality in their feet. Salush would follow with his eyes the other children as they ran to and fro in the large cell. An abyss of sadness showed in the aged face of the young Salush. Only one single time did I see him smile. The boys in their play had grabbed an older lad, and proclaimed him the German. They tied his hands with a belt. They prodded and pushed him, told him to kneel and cry. Salush laughed and in the end called out "Shoot him...!"

I would participate in every game, discussion and quarrel with the children. Less time remained for me to spend with my sisters and our mother, may she rest in peace, who were together with me in the same cellar. My mother prayed half the day and her lips constantly murmured. "Seven children I am leading to the chupe [26]". My sisters would feed and fondle their children, and pass away the time with the other women.

Twilights were sad in the prison. The darkness was like an enemy, silently and quietly encroaching. At its appearance the people became listless, silent; and each one would remain at his spot. One time a hearty song broke the silence. Soreh Nomberg had sung Eli-Eli. That song, the burning prayer to God, had released sobs from all of us. In the cellar it was dark. One could hear groaning and sighing. "Someone please sing" a voice begged. My daughter, who I held in my arms on my lap, began the ghetto song - Rivkeleh the Shabosdike. A deep silence. Everyone listened. Her high voice was wrought with emotion, with suffering, yearning and love for her father. It cut through the heavy air and the darkness in our cell. When she had finished, she quietly said to me, "I sang this to my father. Every evening at dusk we will sit together and sing mother, like today, all right?"

Often we would lie together all three, both small bodies of the children on my breast. Their hands rested in mine. I would be so happy. I would hear their pulse, the beat of their hearts; I would feel their warmth and embrace their breath. Each day, each hour, a voice from inside would prompt me: "Enjoy, they are still yours, they are still warm. Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, death will separate you." These were horrible thoughts accompanied with a pain which is impossible for me to describe!

Slumber, for awhile I napped and dreamt: I saw a stormy sea with black and red waves. Later the sea quieted down. The water turned again calm and blue. I found myself in my new house a darling beautiful room, wherever the eye fell there were luxuries -- but I saw myself alone in sadness, completely alone in the bright summer days... I woke up with a start, embraced and pulled both children to me strongly; and I was so happy that I was lying on the boards in prison with them together.

It was the last evening with our children. They had all gathered in one corner of the cell. Two new boys had arrived -- two brothers. The older one was eleven and the younger, five. Everyone surrounded them. Moysheleh told them that his father was a bootmaker. When the Germans had, in the days of the campaign, come and taken his hiding parents, he had crawled under a bed. He lay there for two days. Anew group of Germans came looking. They found Moyshele but he did not want to crawl out. They beckoned to him, spoke softly, but he continued to lie there. One German offered him bread and real chocolate; then Moyshele came out. The Germans brought him to the prison like all the rest of the Bialystok Jews. When the 5-year-old Moyshele finished, the older one began to recount his experiences.

Together with his mother and father he had been in the train car. People were pushing end shoving. The boy had squeezed through a small window in the wagon while his father held him steady. He jumped out and banged himself quite badly in the process. He could not run. The train had long departed. He lay alone in a ditch. The Germans found him and brought him to the prison. Here he met up with his small brother Moyshele. Both children had suffered greatly from the cold. They did not have any piece of warm clothing on them. Their hands were blue. The entire time they sniffled with their noses. Milk still lay crusted on Moyshele's lips. He could not pronounce the letter kuf. He was beautiful and sweet like a little girl. When the two had finished talking, other children began to tell them their experiences. Niyune spoke bluntly, loudly and with a coherent order. Like an older boy would, he described in length event after event. Everyone listened attentively to him. I lay not far from the children's circle. Niyune took his new friend Moyshele by the hand and led him to me. With great pride he said: "This is my mother, you see?"

It was already late. Everyone waited impatiently for the evening soup. We wanted to refresh ourselves with a little warmth. Hunger tired all of us out. The black soup from rye sweet flour was to us absolutely delicious. It seemed, that if only we were to live, we would never taste a better dish than that. As if to spite us the door did not open. The food did not come. The children became tired and sleepy. They had resigned themselves from the hopes of food, those poor ones. For me it was a shame that they should go to bed hungry. I tried to cheer them up. I gathered them all around me and began to tell stories. They listened as if enchanted, about the queen and the green frog, about the woodcutter and his seven children and others. Niyunele stood the closest to me. He perked up his nose beamed with happiness that his mother could tell the nicest stories.

The pot of food after all that, still had not come. The children had been refreshed and lost their sleepiness. Now each one of them was to tell a story. Moyshele told one which his mother used to tell -- a story about wolves and goats. He spoke, inhaled with his nose, and instead of kuf he would pronounce a tes. The children would laugh out at each kuf which should have been in the word. their mood turned happy and all the while they let out long and hearty laughter. Even Salush was carried away. Each child told what he could remember. They giggled and giggled. The last one Shepsele, performed different tricks, made faces with his upper lip, his eyelashes, he comically danced around and the children laughed more and more, and I with them. They were really rolling on the floor. Such theater! Shulamiske held her belly from too much laughing. That was the last laughter of our children.

They went to bed hungry. Very early the next day -- it was a Thursday in the month of December, 1943 - they came and took the children from us in a brutal manner. Forty four children from the last 312 Jews in prison were removed.

The prison head, the S.S. men, the Polish officials with their lists, the row of armed Ukranians in military uniform, the rushing, the clamor -- all of it so stunned us that we did not even cry during the entire episode, not even protest. Quiet and frightened, the children stood in a row, already far from us, in the long dark corridor.

Only in the cattle cars did we come to the horrible realization of what had happened. Then also, I could not cry. Even today, I envy those who have enough tears.

The laughter still resounds in my ears, the last laughter of those dear sweet children.

Shtutsin -- (Szczuczyn) -- My Old Home, By: Ruven Finkelshteyn

Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) -- for 28 years I ate your bread and drank your water, until the air began to choke me, the bread and water turned bitter, lost their taste -- I left your land to travel across the sea.

Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) -- I do not yearn after your name or place, but after my youth which wilted there, and after those closest to me now in their graves, and after those who were tortured by Germans and by their own Polish neighbors.

God in heaven -- our God! In order not to destroy the city of Sdom the merits of ten tsadikim were sought after. Were there not ten tsadikim in our city? I have the boldness to say that all the Jews were tsadikim. And had there not been any, what then?

Our father in heaven -- our father! Whose father can look on indifferently as his children are beaten, more so killed by indescribable sadistic violent deaths.

I bow my head for you dear holy martyrs, your vicious fate is also our punishment. We miss you here with us in building a new life in Israel -- they did not tear up the tree with its roots. "Long live the Jewish people." The creation of the State of Israel is in your honor; God's ways are incomprehensible. "The Merciful's ways in the end are for the good." I am amongst those who believe that "he will avenge your spilt blood."

Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) has been erased for us. The Jews of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) -- tortured. The grave stones and the one-hundred-year-old trees taken away, the ground evened out; all because they wanted to enlarge their fields but lacked the space...

In the first World War our refuge was the House of Study. Reb Yosele, Z.TS.L., said then: "God is our guard and will save us, prayer is our weapon and the House of Study our fortress." In the recent second World War, our Houses of Study were burned down before us, prayer no longer helped and our God was no longer guardian and savior.

Asking questions is not the point. Because we are able to learn from those who perished we say -- "Blessed be his judgment and Yiskadal Veyiskadash Shemey Rabah." [27]

Memorial Prayer

For the destroyed kehilah of Szczuczyn.

We provide for all landslayt [28], wherever they may be, the order and version of the memorial services for the dead. which should be observed annually, for the holy martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and those from the neighboring shtetlach.

The Council in Israel found it necessary to establish the yortsayt on the 15th of Kislev, this means the evening of the 14th until the evening of the 15th. When the date falls on Friday or Saturday, then the hezkoreh [29] is put off until Saturday evening or Sunday. No real documents or data exist telling when the cruel massacre took place. Going by the old enactments of our forebears from the pinkes [30] of the Chevreh Kadishe in Szczuczyn, the 15th of Kislev was chosen by them as a public fast day with special prayers reading "Vayikhal Mosheh," and also performing the synagogal commemoration of the dead. They would also gather on this day at the cemetery and ask for pardon from the dead. To our great disappointment there is no longer any sign of the cemetery or the gravestones.

Therefore a holy mission lies on us, the surviving generation to continue the old enactments and the sacred traditions from the ruined Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) kehilah In this evening of commemoration we should together go through a spiritual stocktaking in their memory. We should also give charity to strengthen the activities of the Gmiles Khesedim in Israel in the names of the martyrs of Szczuczyn.

The order of the Yizkor evening is the following: by lit Yizkor candles basking in sadness, some of the landslayt eulogize the martyrs, Z.L., and share with us memories of the former Jewish Szczuczyn. The chazzan recites the chapter from Psalms number 16, where it is written -- As for the saints in the land,"... The first mishneh from the tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud, chapter 10, "Every Jew has a portion in the world to come," along with the explanation of Rebe Ovedye Bartenurah, is read. After this the Kaddish DeRabomim is said and the chazzan recites a memorial prayer for the martyrs, Z.L.:

"El Meyleh Rakhamim"

The Judge of widows and the Father of orphans. Do not remain silent and restrained over the Jewish blood which has been spilt like water. Grant complete and peaceful rest to the holy martyrs, on the wings of the Divine Presence, so that the splendor of heaven should illuminate the names of our siblings, children and relatives from the holy city of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and the surrounding towns: Reynror, Grayeve (Grajewo), Vanses (Wasosz), Radzilove (Radzilow), Stavisk (Stawiski), Kolna (Kolno)... They were killed, slaughtered, strangled, drowned, burned and buried alive at the hands of the Nazis and the Poles -- may their names and memories be blotted out forever -- in the years l939-l944. All were holy and pure; amongst them were geniuses and righteous, heads of yeshivahs, and students. The cedars of Lebanon, the mighty of the Torah, may their rest be in Gan Eyden. Therefore Master of Mercy, bind up their souls in eternal life. God is their portion. And he will remember their sacrifice for our sakes. May the earth not cover up their blood, leaving no place for their cries. By their merit may the dispersed of Israel return to their territory. May the martyrs be set before God in everlasting righteousness. May peace come and rest upon their graves.

And we will say Amen.

The entire congregation says Kaddish.

Go to Yizkor Book, Part 3


25. A rabbi's personal assistant. [Back]

26. The marriage canopy. [Back]

27. First words of the Kaddish (prayer for the dead), praising the glory of God. [Back]

28. Jews from the same town in Europe. [Back]

29. Memorial ceremony. [Back]

30. The ledger of the burial Society, including the minutes of their meetings. [Back]

My thanks to Dr. Alex Stone for contributing and granting me permission to reprint his English translation of Hurban Kehilat Szczuczyn, published in Tel Aviv, 1954, by Former Residents of Szczuczyn in Israel. Dr. Stone had graciously sent me copies many years ago, when I first learned of my family's Szczuczyn roots. All spellings in the portions reprinted here are written as they appear in the translation, with a few exceptions, most notably, substituting "Ch" instead of the "Kh" as is found throughout for such names as Khaye (Chaye) or Borukh (Boruch).

Optical scanning and editing of Dr. Stone's translation, by Jose Gutstein.
Photos contributed by Mike Marvins and Jose Gutstein.

This version of the Szczuczyn Yizkor Book is Copyright 2002 by Jose Gutstein.
NOTE: A few names and phrases have been deliberately inserted throughout the text, which are not in the original, but which do not alter the context, to easily detect unauthorized use and publication of this material, on the internet or elsewhere.