Kartuz-Bereza Yzkor Book
About the Book
Kartuz-Breze was a small town on the eastern border of the State of Poland. Till 1920, it had been part of Greater Russia, but between 1920 and 1939 it was ruled by Poland. At the end of World War II it reverted to Russian rule, and today it is part of Belorussia. Thousands of similar towns — some bigger and some smaller — were in that area, as well as in Eastern and Central Europe. It was the concentration camp which the Polish government established there between the two World Wars for her political opponents — mostly Communists — which brought fame to Kartuz-Breze.
Before the Second World War, about 4,500 Jews lived in and around Kartuz-Breze. These were Jews of all kinds: a small number were wealthy, but most were ordinary folk, who struggled day by day and hour by hour — each at the work or vocation which was his fate — to eke out a living.
Kartuz-Breze had all the earmarks of a Jewish town in Eastern Europe: synagogues, a Hassidic "shtible", a bath house and mikveh, an organization dealing with charity and good deeds, and also, of course, beggars, Torah students, pious and charitable people, and many righteous women... to these were added all the accoutrements of modernity and ‘Haskala" such as political parties (both Zionist and non-Zionist), youth movements, communal activities, as well as a Yiddish school and even a Hebrew school, ‘Tarbut".
And nothing is left of all this. It was all laid to waste. Everything was destroyed.
In the forest of Bruno-Gora, where the members of the Zionist youth groups used to celebrate Lag B’Omer with bows and arrows, the Germans amassed more than 100,000 Jews from the area — and among these were almost all the Jews of Kartuz-Breze — and there they shot and killed them, men, women and children. Earth, do not conceal their blood!
In Kartuz-Breze today there is no sign of the vigorous Jewish life which flourished there. Even in the forest of Bruno-Gora where these Jews perished there is no sign.
Less than a handful of Jews from Kartuz-Breze remained alive after the Shoa. Of these, some came to Israel. Others migrated elsewhere before the Shoah. There were those few who passed the war years in Europe, mostly in concentration camps (among these were partisans and soldiers of the Red Army). All the rest are no longer.
So it was decided: we would memorialize our town, and commemorate the lives of our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our friends who were killed; that we would publish their names, as well as something of what we remember from the life there, of what we saw there: the people, our own life experiences, and some of the history of the Jewish community in Kartuz-Breze in general.
We approached this hallowed work with trepidation; two editorial committees, one larger and one smaller, spare no efforts on this labor of love:
1. Zipporah Brenner, decd.
2. Moshe Bernstein
3. Simha Nosatsky, decd.
4. Baruch Fisher
5. Noah Paniel
6. Penioa Rabb
7. Moshe Tuchman
8. Shmuel Tinari
9. Chaim Ben Israel, co-ordinator
The material in this book was taken from encyclopedias and Memorial Books, and books about our town published by neighboring communities. Writings marked in the Table of Contents with a (1) were translated from a book published in Yiddish by members of our town in Argentina during year 1958, and these with the sign (...) were published by this Organization. We publish specially, writings and people's personal memories of Kartuz Bereza. The reader should keep in mind that personal memories are subjective things, since each one describes personal impressions about things, while other people can see it from another approach. Therefore, there will be small differences among diverse writings.
In particular, we have not made any changes with regard to what was written by participants of this book. In grammatical proofreading, intervened my brother-in-law Ephraim Even, that was in the past World Chairman of Labor Zionist Council from "Histadrut" (Central Labor Organization) . This work was made with a lot of zeal and love, and goes to him our gratefulness for this.
I want to thank to the Emigrants of Bereza and their descendants, in Israel and abroad, that collaborated economically to publish this book. I also thank to the friends that had written in spite of all difficulties.
I want to thank specially my friends, Directors of the Association: Tzipora Brener, Baruch Fisher and Penina Rab for their efforts and their great help. While this book was being prepared, left us an Association Director, Simcha Nosetzky Z"L (blessed his name), whose collaboration was important. Be blessed his memory.
I also thank a lot Mrs. Sarit Tinari, owner of the Editorial "Soul" that offered voluntarily to help in the preparation of the book for it's printing.
Also receive thanks and blessings PENIEL and his wife for their great help, and especially for translations from Yiddish to Hebrew.
Thank you to the designer Moishele Bernshtein for his help to achieve a beautiful and artistic presentation. He was also in the Council that defined graphics to print in the book.
Also receive thanks and blessings the editing friend Schmuel Tinari for his general contribution and especially for his help for fund raising to publish the book.
And a special gratefulness for the editing friend Moishe Tuchman that drew with accuracy and care the map of the city, and surrendered with fidelity the names of Jews of the town, that were annihilated or died in fight.
The fruit of our effort, the book about Kartuz Bereza, is presented to the reader. May this book be like a candle in memory of the communities of innocent and pure Jews of K. Bereza, and especially to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren until the end of the generations, to strengthen Jewish State and to fortify it that the Jewish people will never again know a Shoah!
Chaim Ben Israel
Chairman, Organization of Surviors of Kartuz Bereza and surroundings
Tel Aviv, July 1993