Abraham Shatz


I arrived in Kartuz Bereza in 1928 with my grandparents and my brother MOISHE, now member of the kibbutz "Sarid". My grandfather, DAVID SHATZ, hoped their sons settled then in Leningrad, to get closer to Judaism. My father, ZVI, his brother SHLOMO and his daughter YDA, were all born in Kartuz Bereza. Only my father, after much insistence from my grandfather, managed to be allowed to leave Soviet Union.

My grandfather, DAVID SHATZ, was born in Brest Litovsk in a honorable family of rabbis called SHATZ YOPHE. He got married in 1880, to CHAIE ROCHEL BROIDA, daughter of a traders family settled in Kartuz Bereza from generations ago. The history of BROIDA family is known since 1800. My grandmother ROCHEL SHATZ's parents, and CHAIM and PALTEH BARUTZA, were born in Kartuz Bereza and they lived in a spacious house beside the bridge, on main road. They worked on food wholesale. Grandmother PALTEH lived 104 years, and I had the pleasure of meeting her. After her death, his son ISRAEL continued the business. Her other son SHLOIME had a tavern in Bereza, and the daughters left the town.

Grandfather CHAIM BROIDA got married very young, and while he was studying at the town's "Talmud Torah", he was announced of his son SHLOIME birth.

Grandfather DAVID SHATZ had a big food store beside military headquarters. Most of his customers were officials of polish army, and traders of the area. They respected my grandfather for being a upright man, precept keeper, and high qualified studious.

My grandmother ROCHEL was a virtuous woman. She was who really leaded the store, and grandfather checked accounts during night. ROCHEL was an extraordinary woman, brave and clever. Christians respected her very much. Her house was never damaged by  bandits. I remember she used to walk between the drunks, and they always cleared the way.

My grandfather was a lover of Eretz Israel, and he contributed money for the KKL and the "Keren Ha'yesod". He had the typical blue money box at his house.

When we arrived in Bereza, we children didn't speak any language but Russian. Very soon we learned Yiddish and I also got to reach 5th degree on Tarbut School. Later, together with my brother MOISHE we frequented local branch of "Betar" and among my friends were the best Jewish youths of Kartuz Bereza.

In early 30's, when the echoes of Hitler speeches came to our town, my grandfather seemed to wake up from a dream and said: "Children, we have to escape to Eretz Israel, it's going to be a mess here!"

When the military camp was turned into the first concentration camp of the PILSUDSKY regime, and police guards began to arrive from Poznan, enemies of Jewish people, my grandfather understood we had to hurry up.

Besides, these policemen and detectives followed every man they found suspicious, and they couldn't tolerate Jews who walked by the streets calmed and innocent, talking and laughing in Yiddish. They called them all sort of humiliating and offensive names.

My grandfather sent first my father to Eretz Israel. That happened in 1933 when Hitler raised to power. Later I emigrated in 1934 as a pupil of the farm school "Mikve Israel". In 1935 and 1938 emigrated my mother, my brother, my grandfather DAVID and his wife RACHEL. My parents settled in Hadera, but my grandfather couldn't live there because they saw Jews traveling on Saturday. That's way my father rented a house for him in "Bnei Brak". There he was known as a man cultivated in mosaic laws, and many years later when he died from a heart disease, liturgical singer (blessed his memory) said during his burial about him: "There was a man, DAVID SHATZ, and there won't be another like him!"  My grandmother ROCHEL died at 96, and she was buried in Hadera.

Thanks to the famous honesty of my grandfather, I was saved from prison at the concentration camp. This happened one year before emigrating to Eretz Israel. Suddenly, detectives turned up at home, and took me away for investigation reasons. It seems that among the stuff in my grandfather's store, to supply the camp kitchen, there was a pack wrapped in "Moment" newspaper sheets, and on a blank space was a handwritten sentence in Hebrew, written by my grandfather: "He hasn't come yet". Sure my grandfather thought about the Messiah then, so he wrote that sentence in the paper wrapping the soap. Detectives thought that I, the younger grandson, had some secret contact with prisoners. My grandfather, as soon as he heard the incident, addressed to town's Mayor and Police commandant; they recognized him, they believed him, and I was immediately released. This was a big miracle, given that no prisoner left that prison alive. I still remember the tortured yells at the concentration camp; they easily reached me because my house was 100 meters apart it.

I have of my town Kartuz Bereza very good memories, good hearted and pious. My grandfather built a hospital and other charity works. From our family, 53 members were exterminated during Holocaust. May their memories be blessed, together with all immolated when sanctifying His name.