Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
May 14, 1948: Proclamation of the Jewish State
With this historical confirmation, many Jews came to their country and breathed new life into the land and built cities, towns, villages, planted vineyards, orchards, green parks and fields. They lived with their Hebrew language that brought blessings to all the inhabitants of Eretz Israel. On May 15, 1948, the short lived, malicious British Mandate and the last British soldier left Eretz Israel. The Jewish People living in Eretz Israel proclaimed on (פרשה אמור) תשח May 14, 1948 their independence and the establishment of the State of Israel. The blue and white flag was raised over the government buildings as well as in every home in the country. The National Council of 37 members, the best of the country, chose Dr. Chaim Weitzman as President of the country and 13 ministers with David Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister and Yehuda Leib Fishman as Minister of Religious Affairs.
The next day, Shabbat, פרשה אמור, there was joy among all the Jews in every prayer house with praise and thanks. “To you will be given all this land”. (לך אתן את כל הארצות האלה) The morning prayer gives us the hope and promise that we can borrow a national loan of five million lei for the new country.
We imagined that with the proclamation of the Jewish State, and after extending a hand of peace to all our good Arab neighbors, we would guard the peace and take part in the building of the country. However, we were mistaken. That same night of Saturday May 15, the bloody attacks began. Egyptian planes were seen over the skies of Tel Aviv, dropping bombs, killing people and damaging homes. On the following day, we renewed the battles on all fronts against the seven Arab countries that continued for ten days. Thank God, the hand of Israel prevailed and during the ten days of war, the Arab countries lost on every front, thousands killed, wounded and prisoners as well as losing large amounts of weapons. Who will give our people success and victory?
On June 11, 1948, the Security Council of the United Nations gave an order to Jews ands Arabs to cease fire, to stop the war. They sent a special envoy, Count Bernadette from Sweden, and several hundred observers to prevent any violation of the “cease fire”. The Arabs broke the “cease fire” and the war was renewed. On July 17th, the Security Council gave another order to cease fire. Count Bernadette and the observers went to all fronts. The war stopped but many incidents occurred, Arabs fired on Jewish settlements. (Note* Grandfather wants the section on Bernadette on page 160 inserted here.)
I received a notice from the American Council that my documents and my file had burned in Jerusalem and I had to bring new documents in order to get a visa. I handed in the documents as soon as I got them. However, in Israel I needed to get permission to leave the country for which I applied and hope to receive it soon, so I can go on my long trip to America.
I received the account from the firm “Bliss and Clavier” from Amsterdam. They wrote that according to accounts in their books, Aaron’s claim is only 5,000 Dutch Guilder which is equal to 500 lei. I claimed that the amount should be 1,500 lei. If they do not accept my figures, I will accept their amount. We have a lot of work to prove the amount of our claim for the inheritance of my son Aaron זל.
Count Bernadette was part of the nobility of Sweden. He was sent by the U.N., the United Nations, that was founded by 59 countries after World War II. The observers were not just sent to supervise the cease fire, but also to set borders between the Jews and Arabs. He set up his headquarters in Cyprus. He set up his plan of work and passed it on to his staff and observers. He flew on his U.N. plane to visit from time to time the Israeli Government and the Arab countries: Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, TransJordan, in order to hear their demands and ideas.
After several months of investigations, he wrote an accounting of what he found and his decision. He found and decided that there were two parts of the country, the Sharon and the Lower Galilee belonged to Israel and part of the Negev belonged to the Arabs, despite the decision by the U.N. that the Negev belonged to the Jews. The Jews would receive the Sharon and the Lower and Upper Galilee, about one third of the country. When the report became known, the Government angrily decided not to accept this traitorous decision. The Jews in Zion, Jews in America, as well as the Jews in England made serious protests. They would fight with all means for what belonged to them.
What did the surprised and hot-headed young people do? They were the Lehi party, the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel. They fought against the hated seven Arab countries that had about 40 million people. It was like the giant Philistine Goliath fighting the small, young boy David, (the Jewish people of 600 thousand, like the number that left Egypt).
Some of the young people together with Lehi and perhaps Etzel (National Army Organization) and the Home Front Volunteers, about 50 thousand, fought with heart and soul against the Philistine Goliath. David, the Jewish People, managed to take their revenge on Bernadette, the traitor. Lehi chose two heroes, Shimon and Levi, to set up an ambush on the outskirts of Jerusalem. When Bernadette came there on business and crossed the street, they approached him, shot him twice and killed him. This was shame and sorrow to all of Israel, especially the Government. This was an unjust act. To kill a man who did not sin in fulfillment of his task. It is forbidden to ignore the commandment “Thou shall not kill”, especially a man from the government of Sweden. In the time of WWII when Nazis murdered millions of Jews, the Swedish Government and its king saved several thousands of Jews, gave asylum to more thousands and helped others with money and medicine. According to what we know, Count Bernadette was one of those active in saving Jews. This unjust act caused the Government many difficulties on the way to achieving what they wanted which included reprimands and censures. There was an investigation by our government and their government.
They did not find the murderers. Sympathy for Israel in the world was lessened.
(Note* Grandfather comments: The 600 thousand Jews who left Egypt, not counting women and children, were men of twenty and older. 600 thousand, men, women and children were in the country in 1947. There were 50 thousand soldiers, half of them women that were not on the fighting front together with the young heroes. They were in army service in the interior of the country with various jobs in which their actions were outstanding for their country and people. In May 1948, there were now more than a million people in the country and about 50 thousands births, may they multiply. The remaining number came from the Diaspora within the last two years. May the settlement grow by a million people every year, so that in the future Eretz Israel will spread into the neighboring countries as in the days of David and Shlomo, Amen.)
The new American Consul was shot and killed by an Arab. After ten months of trying, my second request for a visa to travel to America was postponed. I handed in all the necessary documents at the beginning of September. My son David and I were full of hope that we would get the visas and leave in October or early November. David would accompany me. In addition to visiting the family, he would be working for his company to buy scarce material in America.
It is doubtful that my son David will succeed in this time of emergency and war. Meanwhile David has been called up to serve in the army. Will I live to see the face of my son Nathan who I have not seen in 34 years and my brother David who I haven’t seen in a jubilee of years? Time will tell.
My brother sent me the bad news that his oldest child Aaron had been very sick for a long time, was in the hospital and died on the first day of Tamuz 1948. He was 41 years old. It is sad that the fruit of the tree was taken before its time. תנצב'א I sent him my deep condolences in the month of May.
In the month of Kislev 1948, I got a letter from my son Nathan that he and his wife have decided to settle in Israel. He planned to build a factory together with his partner. On the basis of this, my son and I cancelled our intended trip to America and are waiting for them to come.
In the month of Tevet 1949, I received a letter from my friend Max Hellman from Stanislau who is now the manager of the Jewish Counsel of Poland in the city of Breslau. In this letter he gave me all the details of the murder of Aaron’s family זל. On August 29, 1942, Aaron was pulled out his house by the Angel of Death and brought out, shot, killed and thrown into a prepared trench. The bearers of death were a Ukrainian officer accompanied by some Jews. They came to Aaron’s house and found Naomi (Zissel) and her younger son Joseph Shimshon, who was fourteen, and ordered them to come. Joseph was a nice looking young boy who spoke pure Polish and lite a spark of pity in the heart of the officer who left him alive in her house. But Naomi called out “I will go to die with my beloved son. If my dear husband is dead, what is life and what is there to live for?” The little one, Shimshon the hero, declared with a proud voice and standing straight, “If father and mother are murdered and among the dead, then I, their son, will be with them”.
The two of them went together to the sacrificial alter, giving their souls to God. All three were shot and fell into the trench that was prepared by the Hitler murderers for 2,000 victims that fell on that holy Sabbath. This trench was on the plot on Bulvedere Street, close to the Yeshiva, the institution of the Head Rabbi of Stanislau, R’David HaLevi from Harvitz.
About 200 boys studied in the Yeshiva. Several of them finished with teaching certificates under the guardianship of the Rabbi R’David HaLevi. This was the first important Yeshiva in which the brilliant Rabbi, R’Arie Leibish Hurvitz זל, wrote and assembled Responsa “הרי בשמים” (Heavenly Hills). Hundreds of learned Rabbis, students and legal heads of religious courts came from this Yeshiva. Connected to the Yeshiva was a Talmud Torah where young boys studied from the age of six to twelve. Outside of their intensive study of Chumish, Rashi, a little Gemorra, there were rooms where they rested and were given good food.
I got Max Hellman’s address through a friend, Max Fogel. Hellman’s information was more accurate than that of Max Fogel. Hellman continued his information. Aaron and Zissel”s older son Menachim who was sixteen years old was attached to a work battalion in a concentration camp and got some rest and food with his uncle, R’Nachum Shlein; who was still alive with his wife Miriam זל . My grandson Menachim זל was shot and killed on February 25, 1943 תנצב'ה.
The holy book “Zohar” זוהר with the commentary “הסולם” was published in Jerusalem. In the beginning of each volume was listed those who died and their souls rose. In the sixth volume on the portion “וישלח”, Mordechai Dov after contributing five lei from his pocket, wrote down in my name all of our family, Grandfather Nathan and Grandmother Freide, Grandfather Itzchak Isaac and Grandmother Tova, as well as the parents of my children that were killed by the murdering Nazis from 1942/1943 and my son Joseph who drowned in the ocean. May the name of Mordechai Dov be blessed.
In the beginning of the month Adar 1949, the book “עיר ומתים” [A City and the Dead; Zablotov Alive and Destroyed] was published. All the events that happened in the past were written about the city of my birth. Writers and refugees from Zablotov contributed in the writing of the book. I wrote about 100 pages in Hebrew dealing with people of past generations and about sixty pages in Yiddish. The people of Zablotov in Israel and America requested that I write in Yiddish and they contributed in publishing the book. This book is a good deed and blessing to the memory of the people who lived from the generation of 1790 to the bitter end when they were wiped out in the year 1942 to 1943. May their memories be blessed תנצב'ה.
(Note* The English translation of “A City and the Dead” in on the net and a Hebrew copy is in Yad VShem. RDK)
On the way to the Beit Knesset on Erev Shabbat on April 22, 1949, I received a letter in my mailbox. The first line blackened my eyes with the terrible news that my son Nathan died on טז בשבט 1949 in Fall River, Mass., America. In a state of shock I returned home, fell on my bed and the well of tears opened. My head spun like a wheel and my spirit seemed to end. After an hour, I went to the Beit Knesset to pray Kaddish for the newly fallen. Even though it is forbidden to say Kaddish on Shabbat, it calmed me and my tears dried. Food and drink did not cross my lips outside of the Kiddush which is obligatory on Shabbat. On Saturday night, my son Jacob and I sat Shiva for an hour. I said Kaddish the entire year and studied Mishnah and Gemorra and the portion Kaddish “פסוק קדיש” I doubt if his two sons Aaron Joseph and David Arieh, college students, will fulfill this obligation.
Content last updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 08:10 PM Mountain Standard Time