The next day, towards noon, Mother went to deliver half of the ransom. However, in the evening she did not return home.
The following day my sister Miriam walked to the city’s center. When she arrived at Aunt Alta’s house, she was told, “Yesterday afternoon your mother came here. She told me that she was coming from the meeting with the head of the Ukrainian police. She paid him the agreed ransom. She was promised that in two hours the men would be released. She was on her way home to prepare some good food to celebrate your father’s release.
At that moment a Jew entered. He was known in the city as a denouncer. He told my mother to hide immediately because the police wanted to arrest her for trying to bribe them. My mother disappeared.
I went to visit our friends the Grinszlags; their house was situated near the railway station. The windows of the room we were sitting in faced the parkway. Suddenly, through the windows, we saw a group of people. Among them I saw my father and Uncle Israel. They were marching toward the railway station, escorted by several policemen. I wanted to run outside to be with father, but my friend Jacob caught me. He forcefully grabbed me, saying, “You will do damage to them and to yourself.”
That was the last time I saw my father. After some time a package arrived. It was father’s clothing covered in blood. Father was 42 years old. I’ll never know how he died or where he is buried; may his soul rest in peace.
One morning my mother appeared at our home. She risked her life because it was Erev Pesach and she didn’t want us to be alone for the Sedarim. My mother began cleaning the cupboard to make it kosher for the Pesach dishes when Ukrainian policemen appeared. They thoroughly searched the apartment. It was exactly the same as on the day my father was arrested. This time they didn’t find the hiding spots. Still, some expensive things were found and put in a pile that was taken, together with my mother who never returned home. My mother had been home exactly one half hour. Probably the same man who warned her before now handed her over.
After two days I was informed that my mother was taken to the railway station to be transferred to the jail of Stanislawow. I quickly ran to the station. My mother was standing on the ramp. A Ukrainian policeman watched over her. I came closer and asked if I could approach my mother. I was granted permission. My mother kissed me and embraced me long and strong. “They are taking me to Stanislawow where I will be prosecuted for trying to bribe the police … Part of the jewelry is with Miriam.” Suddenly she added, “It is still very cool. I don’t have enough warm socks with me. Please run home quickly and bring me two or three pairs of warm socks.”
When I returned to the station the ramp was empty. My mother knew that I would not make it back in time. So she had embraced me tightly to say good-bye and then sent me away, to save us both a painful separation.
For how long were you and your sister able to remain home?
In groups of three or four, we climbed the ladder into the dark attic. Mr. Eisenstab was the last to climb in and from there he lowered the ladder through a hole in the floor. It was completely dark. We went down one by one and silently lined up against the walls.
Fourteen people crowded in. The oldest son of the Eisenstabs was not at home when we left and therefore was not in this hiding place. There was a small barrel we would use if we needed a bathroom. The next day we heard a low call from the adjacent warehouse, “Mother, Father, you can come out.” It became clear that it was the Eisenstab family’s older son. He came to tell us that we could get out of our hiding place; the Aktion was over. Just like after the first Aktion, everything returned to normal. Only those who lost family members cried and grieved for them.
The Germans no longer relied on the Jewish police and began, by themselves, to hunt for the Jews destined for deportation. The old people and the children were murdered. They snatched babies from the arms of their mothers and threw them in the air until the baby fell on its head and died. In addition, they held a baby by its legs and smashed its head on the edge of the curb or on the trunk of a tree. They didn’t bother to bring the Jews who lived in the distant environs to the city square; instead, they murdered them instantly.
The Book “A Jew Again” was published recently by Shlomo Adler; ISBN # 978-965-550-403-3. For purchasing information please contact email@example.com