Can you tell us about your stay in Dubove and your further travels?
The houses in Dubove were made of wood; if one house caught fire it spread very fast. I recall one incident where six houses were burnt in one night, while people dragged water from the nearby river to put out the fire.
I was in Dubove for approximately one and a half years. The war had already begun. At this point my parents took me to a town called Kolta. Kolta had a rebbe, Reb Mordechai Leibovitch. (Later Reb Mordechai took on the position of the gabbai of Kollel Shomrei Hachomos in Yerushalayim.) He had a very large family; all of them perished.
After this my parents moved to Nove Zamky. We shared a courtyard with three other families. Nove Zamky had a beautiful kehillah where Yiddishkeit flourished. Here they had big shuls, a beis medrash which was newly built just a short time before the ghettos were started, a chazzan and three shochtim. In addition, they had organized Jewish schools. The two rebbeim were Rabbi Chaim Duksler and Rabbi Yiddel Friedman. In a separate building they held classes for limudei chol.
The town had a Rav, Harav Tiegerman, who was 94 years old. Being that Rav Tiegerman was the oldest Rav in the Oberland area, all the meetings between the Rabbanim took place in our town. I remember watching Rav Tiegerman daven Shemoneh Esrei. He would stand very straight for a very long time, without swaying back and forth. The Dayan was Harav Avraham Stern, zt”l, the father of the Debrecener Rav, zt”l, in Boro Park; these Rabbanim paskened she’eilos.
I recall the last she’eilah the people of the ghetto had. There was a woman who gave birth to a baby boy and she came to ask the Dayan a question. We all knew that we were about to be deported. The woman didn’t know if she should make the bris and then take the sick baby for an unknown amount of time on the cattle cars, or should she hold off on the bris? They could not give her an answer. The woman ended up making the bris. She then brought the baby to her gentile friend whose husband was a police officer and she was hoping that this friend would agree to watch her baby. Upon seeing that the child had a bris, the woman felt it was unsafe to take him for fear of being discovered, and she refused. The mother managed to find another gentile willing to take her baby. Many years later I heard that the mother and the baby survived the war.
Another story of this nature happened to a friend of mine, Reb Shraga Jungreis. He was 11 years old at the time, staying with a relative in Budapest. He received a message from his mother to come home because they were beginning the deportations. Travel was very difficult and the trains were unusually full, with people trying to return to their families and others trying to flee. The only ticket he was able to purchase was one where he would have to travel on Shabbos. He took this she’eilah to Harav Yonasan Steif, zt”l. Rav Steif took the young boy into his sefarim room and showed him all the sefarim. Rav Steif said to him, “There are many she’eilos that can be answered from these sefarim, but none of the sefarim deal with a situation like this. You can do whatever you decide.” Young Shraga did not want to be mechallel Shabbos and thereby lost his chance to return home to his family. He was the only person from his family to survive.
to be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.