Chapter 17

It was a Sunday morning, a day in October 1944. I was on my way to the cafeteria, when I met father. I left him in Izma and there were no plans for him to come toYaroslavl. He appeared very tired. He was not shaved. He was frightened. In a few words he told me that he was on the run. The order for his arrest was issued on the day he left Komi .At that time father was in charge of the health facilities over a large division of the GULAG. He had a lot of friends. He had also some envious enemies. They wanted him out. And the only way to have a person out was to report to NKVD that this particular person is an enemy of the state. Father was lucky. One of his devoted friends was a chief attorney of the entire division of the Gulag. He notified father of the plot. While he had to issue an order for father’s arrest, he also signed the permit for our family to travel to Tashkent Uzbekistan. He advised father to make a stop in Yaroslavl and with Ella and me to go to Moscow. His name was Krizhanovsky. He had an apartment in Moscow. His mother and daughter stayed in Moscow after he was exiled to the Komi republic Sam also was granted a permit to travel.  Sam collected our meager belongings and he joined us in Yaroslavl. We were very frightened. Father was hiding in the dormitory. We left Yaroslavl as soon as Sam arrived. In Moscow we stayed with Krizhanovsky’s mother and his daughter Marina. The apartment was large. The weather in November in Moscow is cold with a snowfall. The heating of the apartment was sparse. There was not enough coal or wood supplied. One had to use stamps to buy heating fuel. The electrical power supply was limited. There were no restaurants or food stores in Moscow. We had food stamps.  It was enough to prevent  death by starvation. The old lady was not friendly while Marina was a sweetheart . Sam managed to get a ticket for a ballet. What a treat it was! We stayed in Moscow for a few days. We needed time to arrange travel from Moscow to Tashkent It was a direct trip by train. It took us more than a week to reach our destination. There were no sleepers. Everyone had an assigned seat. There were no food facilities on the train except for boiling water. One could buy food from private sellers during the stopovers.  The local people with loaves of bread, or fruit and vegetables were on the platforms of the railroad stations waiting for the passing trains.  We arrived in Tashkent in the evening.
We were to stay with a family of Bukhara Jews. Their name was Eliasov. A member of the family was a prisoner in GULAG. He was not a political prisoner. In GULAG he was in charge of a supply magazine. He and my father became friends. When we had to leave for Tashkent, father wrote him a letter.  We were invited us to stay with his family until we could find a room to rent. The family consisted of two mothers, a wife of our friend; his younger married brother (a dental technician), his wife, and another brother,Boris, an engineer. Finally we had a regular bed with linen. The Boukhara food is very good. We had our meals at the table with the men of the family. The women were serving and they took their meal in the kitchen, sitting on the floor. They kept a distance from us. They did not try to talk to us, although they knew Russian.

While our father with the help of Eliasov’s brother was looking for a job, Boris took care of Ella and me. We visited the bazaar. It was colorful and noisy. The fruit and vegetables were plentiful It was very exotic. When I visited Tashkent 40 years later, it was not same. There were stalls with merchants from the farms selling  the same fruit and vegetables, but it was more a western market And I was different. I was an American tourist.  Boris invited me to attend an operetta “ the Gypsy Baron”. The show was excellent, but the unheated theater was very cold.

We arrived in Tashkent late in the evening. Sam left us on the railroad station.  While we were boarding the trolley bus, we were mugged. Tashkent muggers were very skilled and we were not prepared to be careful. The mugger got our important papers. The food stamps and our transfer papers from our Medical School were gone. The food stamps could not be replaced. We had to wait to the end of the month to get a new set of food stamps. The University transfer papers could be replaced by writing to Yaroslavl.    We did not stay with Eliasov more than few days. . The Boukhara Jews considered themselves completely different from other Jews. The only common bond was the religion. The Boukhara Jews came to this part of the world with the trade of silk roads. They lived among Moslems for centuries and they had the same customs and same traditions, with one exception, religion. They did not know Hebrew. They used  the Aramic language in Synagogue.

With the help of Eliasov we found a room on the street of Vinogradnaya. We rented it from an Armenian shoemaker. It was a kind family. They brought us our first meal and it was an Armenian Pilaf. We got one bed and two straw mattresses, a small table and some chairs.

A strange accident happened during our first trip to the University to sign in. While we were boarding the trolleybus, we witnessed a pocket picker working around. Ella grabbed his arm and called “watch out”. Then he turned and faced us with a blade in his hand. The crowd pulled us in to be outside his reach. If the same incident would happen in New York, we would be exposed instead of being hidden.

We were in the car, happy to become students of TASHMI, (The medical school of Tashkent.). A man standing next to us asked where we were from. I told him that we came from far away. No one in the Soviet Union would say they were ever in Komi or in GULAG. The people would be afraid to associate with us. Anyone who lived in Komi was considered an enemy of the state.  It is difficult to explain, but even the employees of GULAG, in important positions, were sent there to work as a punishment. It was the way Stalin isolated persons who were against his police state. They were considered to be disgraced citizens. As the man insisted on finding out where we came from, I told him that we are from Lida and that we are the Dworecki sisters. It happened that he was from Lida, and that he knew us as children.  He knew also, our parents and the rest of family. He went with us to meet father. They hugged and both were very happy to meet. His name was Maslovaty. He had an exchange office in Lida. Through him we got in touch with a Boris Cygielnicki.

Boris came same day carrying food package. He opened a purse full of money and offered to buy for father dental equipment to enable him to start private practice of dentistry. He paid the rent for our one room apartment. He introduced us a group of his business associates.

They were the Mafia of Tashkent. They operated an exchange on the street next to so called TORKSIN. It was a government run exchange where for gold one could get food stamps to be redeemed several weeks later. The food supply was sparse and food stores did not exist. Everything was on a black market and the dealings on a black market were not legal and there was always a fear of being arrested. These Mafiosi were like the Mafia of New York. They were the law. Boris and his associates managed their business, buying food stamps from the lucky ones who had something to sell in a TORKSIN. They offered them food stamps, which could be redeemed right away. They carried money in bags. They were immensely rich.

New Year’s Eve came. It was 1944. One of the Mafiosi invited us to a party in a private home of another member. It was a different world. The guests were well dressed, in  Soviet style dresses.  The tables were set with good china. The food was plentiful and different. We had not seen or tasted this kind of food since we left Lida.

Ella had a ring from home with a missing stone. One of the men asked for her ring and offered to replace the missing stone with a diamond. He brought the ring back in a few days, as promised. Ella  still had the ring with the diamond that was set by the man. I  remember that he was a refugee from Odessa. He invited me to a theater. I had no decent dress to wear, but I accepted the invitation.

While in the lobby of the theater, I met Sam with a well-dressed attractive woman. My heart sank. As it was in my character, I greeted him and he said “ Good evening”. No other words were exchanged. It was a painful encounter. Our affair was in suspension. We did not see each other. Sam left us on the rail road station. He went on his own to find lodging. He went to the International Hotel and although no room was available, he managed to sublet a bed. He shared the room with a woman Zenia. Zenia‘s husband was fighting the war. Zenia was working in an officer‘s cafeteria. She was able to take a meal out to bring it to her room in the International hotel.  Sam shared with her the room, the meal and most likely the bed.. Zenia was the woman I met with Sam in the theater, strolling in the lobby during intermission. I felt uncomfortable. I had a feeling of walking in a fog. It was like a bad dream. But as awful as it was, it was real and I was deeply hurt. I did not ask Sam for explanation until much later. Sam told me that he wanted to let me be free and to meet other young man and then to make a choice. He told me that he would be there for me, if I decide that he is the man I really want. You have to try to understand that while we were in Izma, Sam was the only man from Poland, the only man that I could trust not to hurt me. Our relationship was built on this trust and not on a dream of the future together. Both of us did not talk or plan the future together. I knew that Sam has a special feeling for me.  And for me he was the only one, no matter what.

 At the initial time in Tashkent, Sam certainly enjoyed meeting people who were living a, so-called, normal life. People who never experienced the deprivation due to the changes created by the war. Tashkent was a unique city. It was far away from the front. In addition, Uzbekistan joined the Union of the Soviet Republics much later.  It was not affected by the wave of political arrests and jailing as much as the European Soviet Republics. Because of it, there was still private enterprise. There was private medical and dental practice. There were private shoe repairmen, private tailors and dressmakers.  The market was very active in selling and buying produce. The milkman would come in the morning with a call advertising his products; the fresh cow or goat milk and the most delicious yogurt. The milk products were affordable. It  helped to fight hunger when eaten with bread. There was only one problem. How to get the bread? The bread stamps allowed for a minimum.

Father found employment in a factory. The position of a physician allowed him to have his meals in a cafeteria and also, to have a special allotment of food. And it also gave him the opportunity to make a deal with the person in charge of the food magazine to exchange food for doctor’s services. The services consisted of approving the food prepared in the cafeteria or to inspect the food magazine. Refrigeration did not exist. The spoilage of  products was rapid.  The second day on the job, father tried to take out through the gated factory, a package containing dried fruit. He was stopped at the gate. The guard made with him a deal. Father will share with the guard what ever he was able to get from the cafeteria or from the food storage, and he (the guard) will carry it out of the gate. Since that day we were not hungry but not well fed either. One day it was dried stinky meat, another day oil, or flour or dried fruit. It was always in small quantities, hardly enough for a meal. But it created possibilities for exchange.

Late evening people would gather on corner of the street, carrying what ever they had for exchange. There were deals with no money involved, it meant there was nothing illegal about it. I was our family messenger to the market. Ella refused to go.

I was not in touch with Sam for several days. Sam lived and worked far enough away that I had to take a trolleybus. to see him.  Sam was working privately at the office of two dentists. He was doing well since his first days in Tashkent. He seemed to enjoy the freedom and the big city.

Ella had her private life. There were a few students from Poland, studying at the University of Tashkent. There was no tuition and the students were receiving scholarship. The scholarship was enough to survive. The group of students from Poland had their own organization and at the end of the war they received help through JOINT organization. Most of them, after the war, went directly to Palestine and fought in the War of Independence. We met some of them when we visited Israel in 1958.
 I will come back to my love affair with Sam.  A short time later, Sam rented a room in the neighborhood he had been working. It was a tiny room with a window overlooking the backyard. There was no plumbing and no toilet or kitchen. He had a hot plate. Everybody  spent most of his or her free time in the yard, cooking outdoors, washing laundry and gossiping and gossiping. We were spending our scheduled dates in his room under the watchful eyes of his neighbors. It was important that I return home for the night. Sam would take me home by trolleybus and he would run back to catch the same car making the return trip.

  It went on for some time before I decided to stay with Sam overnight. In the beginning Ella covered for me. The story was that I am on call in the hospital. One morning when I returned from my date, Father demanded explanation and I told him that I have an affair with Sam. My father’s reaction was strange. His sense of morality was totally different from my understanding of right and wrong. Father told me that I should not have an affair before I marry, but he really meant that there is nothing wrong cheating on one’s spouse. My response was rather angry. I told him that what I do now, concerns only me and me alone, but when I marry I should consider both of us. I remember this morning so vividly. Father was not sure how to approach the problem of his daughter being a mature woman. He decided, suddenly, to launder his shirt.  He never did it before or later.

Ella and I did all the laundry. We did it in a very primitive way: water, gray soap and a scrubbing board. We used lines to dry the laundry in the yard.

Our next door neighbor was known to be a thief. We had very few worldly possessions, but what we had, was everything we possessed. One evening, I went to Sam, Father went someplace, and Ella went to a movie or on a date. Father decided that it would be safe if he asks a thief to watch our room. When I returned home in the morning, everybody was upset. Our room was burglarized, our possessions taken. The special loss was Ella’s watch that she had from home in Lida. Father did not wait for the police to find the stolen property. After reporting the theft to the police, he went to the bazaar and he found a girl trying to sell our clothes. He also found the wristwatch, hidden under her skirt.

 There is so much to tell and so little time. I want the next generations to know our generation as much as possible. We did not have this luxury. No stories told, and very little to remember. I am so afraid that I will forget the stories I remember .I am spending more time that I thought I would, to write this down.

Life in Tashkent became normalized. My dates with Sam were on a schedule. The schedule was strict.  It happened that one evening. I came to see him not on the day assigned to me. Sam was surprised that I came and he told me so. He told me that this day was not my day. I am sure that he did not have anyone else. I returned home crying all the way. Sam insisted that I attend the dances and parties at the University.  He insisted that I meet other men and that I discover that he is not the only one. Even if I went, I was not happy. And, finally Sam stopped pushing me. He introduced me to a group of couples and we would spend time all together. Tashkent had a very good opera, excellent ballet, and concerts.

There was a Musical Theater and a Yiddish Theater with most of the performers from the Yiddish Musicals of Romania. Almost all of the performers were refugees.

Among our friends were people living in Tashkent for years. Their families were there before the Revolution. Some were well known and wealthy. Since Uzbekistan joined the Soviet Union late, in the end of twenties, Stalin had not enough time to start the massive arrests, except for the Uzbek nationalists who opposed the transition.  Uzbekistan is a Moslem country and it was Moslem during the time we lived there. The mosques were active. Boukhara Jews had their synagogue. I do not remember anyone mentioning the western Synagogue. Among the friends of Sam and, of course mine, was a family of Friedman and Rottenberg. Both families occupied two attached houses, which had been in their possession prior to the revolution. They were also, owners of a private hospital across the street. They donated the hospital to the government. Prior to the revolution these families divided their life between Tashkent and St Petersburg. Mrs. Friedman and Mrs. Rottenberg graduated the Dental School in Berlin and they had a successful private practice in their apartments in Tashkent. Sam was working with both, doing the prosthetics Dr Friedman was a widow with two grown up daughters and two lovely grandchildren. One daughter, Mara, was married to a Tatar. Her husband was mobilized in the beginning of the war and there was no news from him. The other daughter, Luba was married to a Karait, a very cultured, elegant gentleman. Luba died while we were in Tashkent.  Sam went to the funeral. When he was strolling in the cemetery he noticed a stone with inscription “ Bella Tunis-Dworecki, Doctor of Stomatology and Philosophy, signed by husband Leon Dworecki and daughter Ruth. This was the grave of my cousin’s Ruth Dvir mother. It was the way we found out that my uncle was alive and that he was in Tashkent at some point. Much later we were informed that he enlisted in the Polish Army and that he left for Persia, and then through Pakistan to Palestine. I will never understand why his brother Jack in the USA was not able to get him to the States. Leon was with the little daughter, alone, without any money. The gold and valuables were taken away by a Jewish man from Lida, Boris Cygielnicki, who blackmailed him. Leon met him few years later in Israel. Leon had to be stopped from killing him on the street of Tel Aviv. It is a real quid pro quo. Boris Cygielnicki was the man who helped us to our start in Tashkent. He never told anything about meeting Leon.

Dr Rottenberg , the husband, was a professor of Surgery. He had been receiving medical journals in English. I was helping him with translations. They had a tiny dog Timka. Timka hated Sam. Sam teased Timka. It was funny. Timka, the dog, was sitting on the professor’s lap waiting for Sam to walk by and then he would jump to attack Sam’s ankle.

Sam had a special relationship with Mara.,the daughter of Dr. Friedman.  Until now I don’t know the character of the relationship. I knew only that when I came and Sam was not in the front office, Dr. Friedman would call loud “Frances is here” as if she wanted to alert them that I came. Mara certainly was flirting with Sam. I felt uneasy about their friendship.

 Sam met in Tashkent two friends from Krakow. Both had girlfriends. Ameisen‘s girlfriend was Maya Katz, who was my age. Maya was a pianist, a graduate of Tashkent Music Conservatory.  Her family lived in Tashkent for many years. They had a nice, nicely furnished apartment. For us, the refugees, it was good to see families who did not suffer  flight from the enemy and the loss of possessions. Maya had friends in the musical crowd of Tashkent. We would visit or we would go out together. Tashkent had a beautiful park in the center of the European part of the city. In the park was the Club of the Red Army. Sometimes we were able to get tickets to their shows. The actors were members of the military force. Most were professional performers.  There was a tea room in the central square.  Sometimes we met there. The evenings are very pleasant in Uzbekistan, except for December and January when it may be cold and wet. It may be but it does not happen every year .In the summer the evenings are pleasantly cool. The boulevards have narrow canals between the sidewalks and the streets.  At sunset they are filled with the water. When I visited Tashkent forty years later, the square was still there. There was no water running in the canals. A modern hotel was built next to the square. Tashkent changed. The old Opera became a concert hall. The Opera that was under construction in 1944 and we expected it to become a spectacular theater, appeared delapidated in 1984.  Years of neglect did  this to the beautiful building constructed by  Japanese Prisoners of War.

My first full orchestra concert I attended, in Tashkent, was a piano concert of Chopin. I was very happy to attend it with Sam. The pianist was excellent. She wore a blue silk dress. I see it and hear it, even now. We went to the opera at least once a week. Sam was always able to get  us good seats.

As far as food is concerned,  Sam maintained a business arrangement with the woman he rented a room from in the International Hotel. She was working in the NKVD cafeteria, and she was able to bring home a dinner. I shared the food with Sam and sometimes Olek Ameisen joined us.

Sofia and Max followed us to Tashkent. Sofia got a position as the director of the pharmacy within the camp for the Japanese prisoners of war. They were building a new opera house. It was a real POW camp where the officers were not forced to work. Their living conditions and the food supply was better than that of the regular Soviet citizen. Father was working in the factory as a medical director. The salary was negligible. The main benefit was the food supply. Life was more or less normal. Study in the medical school was interesting as we began clinical medicine. Our professors were very good. The clinical practice was excellent. One has to understand that we did not have the benefit of laboratory tests. Our examination of a patient was based on detailed history of the disease, and physical examination. Logical thinking was emphasized. This was a training that helped Ella and me  in our practice of medicine We were very fond of Dr Kagan (ob.gyn) and of the professor of surgery (name forgotten).The professor of Surgery was originally from Persia. He was a Communist. He immigrated to Uzbekistan because of his political beliefs One did not reveal the truth of one’s political ideology. The truth if opposite to the Stalin regime was punishable with years in a GULAG or by forced resettlement in secluded country sites.

We were not sure what to do. Ella and I had one more year to go to receive the M.D. degree.  I trusted our Professor of Surgery to ask him for advice. He answer was; if you leave now in the worst case you will lose a year of study, but you will gain Europe”.  When the opportunity came the family decided to apply for an exit permit.

Dr Kagan, the Professor of Gynecology was handsome, well dressed. I met him few times in the Yiddish musical theater. There were rumors that he had an affair with an actress. She was an attractive Romanian singer.

It was the end of the winter of 1945-1946. Rumors were circulating that an agreement was reached between the Polish government in exile and the Soviet government that Polish citizens will be allowed to return to Poland. There were some problems. First, most of people who were incarcerated did not have any proof of  Polish citizenship. Second - the inhabitants of the West Belarus and the West Ukraine had had to submit the Polish document for exchange for a Soviet passport.   It was an order given in the early spring of 1940.  A small number never accepted a Soviet  passport. They became stateless. There were cases of marriage between a Polish citizen and a Soviet  .The families had to separate without a hope to ever see each other.

These few last months in Tashkent were full of anxiety. Some, brave enough to reach Poland on their own, left Tashkent and went to Moscow and from there farther west.  Our family did not have any documents indicating that we were Polish citizens prior to the invasion of the Red Army. Sam did not have any documents either. The only solution was to find someone with papers and to marry this person. Sam had a patient, the father of a family of two. Both children were the correct age to marry and the family saved documents that were needed for return to Poland. Sam arranged for him to marry their daughter. He paid a considerable amount of money. He also was ready to do the same for me to marry the brother of the girl. Our father met a young medical student from Warsaw, who very generously offered help. He had the needed documents. This man was Michel Garber. When father presented the possibility to my sister and me, Ella told me that I should marry Michel. My response was that Sam will arrange everything for me and that this time she should help. Daddy invited Michel for supper. I remember Michel to be very polite and there was a funny incident. Sugar was very valuable and rare commodity. While Michel carried a spoon of sugar to the glass of tea, he spilled few grains. He was so apologetic and felt so guilty, that we had to assure him that he did not commit any crime.

Any way it was settled that Michel and Ella will get married on Tuesday.  Ella and Michel met at the City Hall in the afternoon after the oral examination in Clinical Pathology.

The examination itself needs special attention.  The professor, in his sixties, was known to give special preference to attractive women. We all tried to look well and our most difficult problem was attire. It was very difficult to dress well, while it was almost impossible to get proper cloth in a legal way. Dresses and coats, of course, second hand, could be found on black market and bazaar. There was one pair of high heel shoes, that most of us shared to enter the office for the oral examination. Two students took the examination at the time. It lasted no more than 15 minutes. It was very personal and it was influenced by some kind of chemistry between the student and the examiner.

The same system was used in Poland. After the examination Ella left to get married in a City Hall. After the ceremony Ella returned to attend more lectures. The following day Michel invited Ella to a musical show.

On Fridays, I usually visited Sam and I stayed with him overnight. Father used to visit Sofia and Max and stayed there overnight. Ella and Michel had the privacy of an empty apartment. I was not there, but it was clear that they decided to consumate the marriage. When I returned home the following day, my sister had her meager belongings packed and she announced that she is moving to live with Michel. I cried, Father was very upset. We did not know Michel. We were upset with the sudden decision, since the marriage was to be considered only a sham, to be dissolved as soon as we are safely out from the Soviet Union. The marriage, however, is still lasting. It is not a marriage made in heaven, but it endured. Andrew was born. The only son, spoiled rotten by his mother, Ella was and still is very protective of her son. Ella moved to Michel’s apartment but not for long. About a week later Ella and Michel moved back to our place. Ella and Michel slept in a small alcove next to our room. Michel continued his work in the department of health. Michel had three years of medical school in France. He came home to Warsaw for summer vacation. In the beginning of the war of 1939, he was advised by his parents to go east and to try to go to the free countries. He was stuck in the Western Ukraine and finally ended up in a labor camp close to Arkhangelsk He was liberated in September of 1941 and went south to Uzbekistan. It is as much as I know.

Life among the community of the war refugees became very tense. Papers had to be found. Decisions had to be made. In our family everything was arranged through Michel’ s document. Sam had it done through the girl that he “married”. Our friend Olek Ameisen did not want to wait for transport He decided to travel towards liberated Poland. He asked Maya to go with him. Maya’s parents did not want to give permission for the marriage and did not want to allow Maya to leave the country. At that time it meant that they would never see her again. These conditions changed after Stalin’ s death and Maya’s mother as well as her brother David visited Maya in Krakow. David with his wife and a child joined Maya and Olek in Melbourne Australia in about 1960.

In my lifetime, people moved around, families were separated. It was complicated. We had to go to any country that would let us in. There was a joke circulating that if the countries of one globe do not accept refugees, one has to ask God for another globe. It was not funny. It was the reality.

France and Nancy were liberated. I wrote to my French medical school asking for my documents in their possession. They mailed me my birth certificate from Lida and also the certificate of graduation from Gymnasium in Lida in 1938. When my ex-boy friend was searching for me he contacted the office of medical school. They told him that I requested the papers but he was not able to find me until much later in Krakow.

 It was an anxious time. At that time I was able to contact my Uncle Jack in New York, and Leon in Palestine. Jack notified us that my cousins Sonia and Monia Glazman survived the war  (Sofia and Edek - Adrian’ mother and her brother). We, also found father’s sister Tania, with her husband Mietek and their 8 years old son Olek. They were in Chorzow, Poland. They survived the war.  In the beginning they were hiding, helped by a Russian Orthodox priest. After they lost the hiding place, they ended up in a small local labor camp. And when there was an organized outbreak from the camp, they joined the partisan movements in the forests of Naliboki Pushcha.  Mietek was a dentist and therefore he was needed.

The spring of 1946 was a chaotic time. Everyone was discussing the questions should we return to Poland or to stay in Tashkent?  Sam knew that he had to go to Krakow to find his family. My family could not return to Lida. Lida was annexed to Belarus. With the rest of family killed and the city destroyed, there was no logical reason to return to Lida. We decided to go to aunt Tania to Chorzow in Polish Silesia.

 Tanya, her husband Mietek and son Olek moved to Chorzow as soon as the German Army left. They took over the office and the apartment of a German dentist with all belongings.

Father was nominated the medical director of the transport.  The transport consisted of about 30 boxcars. This kind of transportation, in normal condition, is used to transport cattle .In this case it was to move people from Uzbekistan to Poland. It was a long and unpredictable journey. There was no schedule and no information regarding the route.

Ella and I we were studying until the last moment. We were able to complete the fourth year of the Medical School.

I am trying to describe our life in the Soviet Union.  No matter how I try you will not able to visualize it. I wrote about the inability to buy food or cloth or anything at all. The government stores had empty shelves and several employees doing nothing. There was no unemployment in the Soviet Union, but the salary was not enough to survive. The black market although illegal was very active. The sellers and the buyers strolled around holding a coat, a dress, a pair of underwear, a piece of bread, a dried fish, few carrots, a container of rice, anything. Mostly goods were exchanged. Then the soldiers were coming back from the liberated countries. They brought a lot of goods, mostly stolen.

The day of signing the peace agreement was exhilarating. However, then the news started to come about the mass killings. The notices from the government notifying about those who were killed fighting the enemy.

We were preparing for the trip to Poland. In the six years of deprivation during our life in the Soviet Union we lost a sense of reality. The ‘idee fixe’ was to bring to Poland rice and cotton. Both are the products of Uzbekistan. Later, in Poland, I was walking from store to store selling it. It was not the most pleasant part of our life in free Poland.  I had to do it, because it was the only way to survive. I found it to be a very demeaning thing to do. It was almost begging. My sister refused to do it. At that time she was married and her husband did what I did, until they were assigned to work in a hospital. Both were medical students.

It was June of 1946. Everyone was anxious about the return trip. We did not know what to expect. There was no encouragement coming from Uncle Jack or Paula and Zalmen. They sent  packages of clothes and food through UNRA to Chorzow to aunt Tania. Eventually some reached us.  Sam was able to buy gold and he made a simple wedding band. It was thick and big. It was our wedding band. Later Sam sold it to buy dental equipment and to start dental practice. For this reason I never had a wedding band.

A few days before the scheduled departure father was called to the police and was detained. When he did not return late evening I went to look for Sam. I found him during the intermission at the opera. We went together to the police station. While I was waiting outside Sam went in to talk to someone. He did not accomplish anything. We returned to our apartment. Father did not return until the following evening. Sofia managed to bribe an officer of NKVD. (Soviet Police)

The reason for father’s detention was simple and here again the person responsible was Boris Cygielnicki, the same man who robbed uncle Leon and helped us to get started in Tashkent. During the time limited for filing the papers for repatriation, the police detained Boris. Father gave him a false statement that he was ill and was not able to file the required documents .The falsified statement was discovered and father could face another imprisonment. Luckily for us it was resolved by proper bribery and we were ready to leave.

Previous | Next

Table of Contents

Lida District Home Page 

Jewishgen  | KehilaLinks

copyright 2002, Frances Dworecki M. D.
html by Irene Newhouse