KARTUZ-BEREZA 1993 YZKOR

 

Chapter VIII - C

 

AFTER LIBERATION

By Tzipora Brener

 

My dad arrived from Tshiliabinsk to visit us for some weeks. He had also traveled to Bereza and sent us our belongings that were kept there. He returned from a Bereza that had been totally destroyed. I realized that his hair was completely gray and he was sunk into a deep sadness. He did not speak and refused to tell us what he saw in Bereza. However, little by little, he began to open his heart and to tell us. Half of the town was set on fire, and the houses on one side of the road and the market burned down. After the Germans set the wonderful Beth Ha'medresh of the Chevra Kadisha on fire, it spread to the whole town and all wooden small houses also burned down. Of Ghetto "A" it was ruined, it embraced several streets and was for "useful Jews" while Ghetto "B" was for "Jews of whom you could not take out any profit". Under the green small trees of Bereza there are no longer any Moisheles or Shloimeles. Not a single word in Yiddish is heard and there are no Jewish prayers in the Beth Medresh or in the cemetery....

 

My father told of the terrible cemetery in the forest of Brona Gura. It is the forest to which we used to come with our friends at school, to go for a walk and to enjoy being in contact with nature in Lag Baomer. Now silent trees observe the collective witness of the Jews of Bereza. Grandparents, parents, youths in their tender days and loving children, the Nazi murdered all of them here in October of 1942, after torturing them for one year in the Ghettos of the city.††

 

Dad was wandering around the ruins of the place in which he was born, grew up, married, formed a family, and maintained, with great effort, a worthy life. All that was left of our house was the base of the terrace, a gray stain of cement, like a dead stone...

 

I heard from the mouth of a former partisan, my friend Moshe TUCHMAN, more details about the annihilation of the Jews of Bereza. He escaped from the Ghetto, as a refugee and fought against the Germans as a partisan, in the forests of Polisie. Jewish partisans together with Russians and White Russians derailed German freight cars on the tracks of the train and they killed Nazi gendarmes in all places that they could.†† Partisans suffered, and they tolerated ice, rains, mud, snow, hunger and illnesses.

 

Moshe told me that in Brona Gura, Jews of Bereza were transported to the train, Nazis made them enter into the boxcars on one side and they threw them out on the other side, directly into the mass graves that were already prepared. Then the Nazis shot and killed them. The empty boxcars littered with clothes of the martyrs, returned to Bluden, the railroad station of Bereza... Only a few were able to survive and to leave the mass graves. A woman with her baby in arms who was not reached by the shots, left among the fire of the night. Before the complete liquidation of the Ghetto, a lot of people committed suicide, without waiting to be killed by the Germans. HERTZEN hanged his children and then himself. The teacher Rachel SHAPIRA poisoned her daughter, her husband and herself with cyanide.

There were also rebellions against the Germans. Jews dug a tunnel to leave the Ghetto in the event of emergency, but without success. People suffocated due to the smoke when fire annihilated Bereza.Some traveled to Pruzhany that had been annexed by the Third Reich, with the false hope of being in their service.

 

Beside the ruins of the monastery of Kartuz Bereza, Germans shot any Poles who had given refuge to Jews. In the house of the pharmacist of the town refugee Leitshe KAZIRSKY, one of the most beautiful girls of the town was killed. They also killed those that studied Torah, those that gave refuge to Taibele KAPLAN and to all the Jewish women that tried to save their lives.

Some Jewish youths of Bereza were able to escape to the forests, some escaped to Russia, and, in this way, they saved their lives. Among those favored was my family, although we also paid a costly price as my brother Berele fell in the war against the Nazis. My parents were fortunate to have lived through the Shoa and to be able to live the remainder of their life and to die in Israel when they were in their 80's. They died with the clear idea of not having been a burden to anyone. They worked until the last minute in business together with my brother Leizer and my son Benny. Resting in peace under a double matzeva are my father and my motherís remains, in Kiryat Shaul, in Tel Aviv.

We, the Jewish survivors of Bereza both in Israel and outside, some years ago erected a monument as a reminder of our town, in the cemetery in Cholon.

(From the book by Fanny Bund "The first half of my life",

Ed. Y. L. PERETZ, TEL AVIV,1989, Pages 132/137}