THE DESTRUCTION OF MALCH
By Schmuel (Samuel) Chamsky
During the night, when the Russian army suddenly smashed into our area, I, along with Herschel Pomerantz, were Zhabinke, where we were sent to work at our trade as carpenters. Upon waking from sleep, because of the sounds of gunfire that was coming from not too far away from the West, we went out into the street. We found all of the Soviet military division evacuating the area they had been occupying. Many of the Jewish homes were devoid of occupants, who ran away seeking shelter. The air was seeded with death and destruction all around us. Our first concern was how to reach Malch. We took a train in the direction of the Mavli and Lineveh Stations but the train was constantly being attacked from the air, and it was impossible to continue the trip. We traveled on foot and came to Malch, Monday, the 23rd of June in the afternoon.
We found Malch almost in a normal situation without panic and fear, as if the tragedy was far away from here. We were standing in line to get bread brought by the Russians on an everyday basis.
On the next day, Tuesday, came a very strong fighting force and the Russians had to retreat to the forest in Samearofke. The exchange of fire kept up for a few hours, and this came from the artillery. A woman, Rayzel Unterman, the daughter of Aaron Scheinbaum, died. The boy, Joseph Pomerantz, and the son of Abraham Yakutalis were also wounded. A few people gave first aid, including the Russian soldiers. Later on, a group of German scouts came through; they stopped at the house of a smith, looking for Russians. They asked for eggs and butter and went away.
On the same day, during the evening, from another street, some Germans, without caps, came on motorcycles. Just there presence alone made the people afraid and panicky, and they hastily fell down before the marching of the German soldiers, through our area on their way East. This lasted for another 2 weeks.
THE NAZI MURDER IN MALCH
The Nazi murderers started to organize the town their way. They ordered the people to be off the street from 9:00 in the evening. They ordered that Jewish homes should be identified with a Mogen David (a Jewish Star). Every Jew had to wear a yellow Mogen David on his sleeve and give up all the radios.
The Nazis, by their behavior, brought out a fear, and everyone tried not to be seen by them. People would sit in their garden, even when there was no need to work there. People would pray at home; they tried to avoid getting together in the synagogue. From time to time, the town was visited by the Gestapo, and their presence would bring panic and drive the people to seek places to hide.
Once, on a Saturday morning, 2 weeks after they arrived, they went into the Kafkayer synagogue, there they made themselves very "happy" and broke all the bookcases and destroyed the furnishings. Their helpers, the police, were joined by other Poles in the destruction. Naturally, the latter understood that they would benefit from our wealth.
The Nazis took from the Jewish population workers for different kinds of jobs, repairing sidewalks, brick and other kinds of work.
The Jews were looking for ways to make the situation a little bit lighter. They organized a committee, Joshua Nisselbaum, Jacob Applebaum and Samuel Mordechai Rubenstein. Their function was limited, only to give provisions to the Nazis, so they wouldn't invade our homes looking for eggs, butter and other provisions. The committee did this so there would be an official contact. It was also ordered to prevent fires and a warning that they would take prisoners.
In the meantime, there came to Malch news that they were establishing ghettos. A young man from the town of Chamsk, who had family in Malch, brought the fearful news that the whole Jewish population of Chamsk were killed, and he miraculously saved himself. All the knowing persons warned that the same fate awaits us.
The day before Rosh Hashanah, there came, by way of Kvonick, a caravan of homeless Jews from Byalistok and Shereshev, about 200 souls. They stopped by the Parova Mill. Our village welcomed them as brothers. We housed them in the big synagogue and all the Jewish homes, took care of their needs and made them feel at home, giving us an opportunity to pay respect to the group, who now represented one third of the Jewish population of Malch, so we gave an extra effort to welcome them. During the Days of Awe (the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), it gave us an opportunity to pray and say Yizkor for the people of Chamsk who died.
THE SABBATH OF LECH L'CHA
(When God tells Abraham to leave home and go to the Promised Land)
On that day, very early, the town was surrounded by the Gestapo and the local police. The Jewish population was driven out from their homes and concentrated in the middle of the market place. The Jews, in fear that, God forbid, there should not be a repetition of what happened in Chamsk, started to run away. But unfortunately the enemy's sword reached them. The unfortunate ones perished that day Sime Pomerantz, Samuel Leibke's daughter, Teibel Kaplan, Abraham Buchalter, Babel Cherniak, Meir Rabinowitz (taken from the market place and shot. Sime was shot in the Samarake Forest.) Wounded in the finger was the young survivor from Chamsk. All the people concentrated in the market place were taken to the school and shot. A group of Gestapo agents went away to Kvonik. There they found the old Matthew Miskin and his daughter, Mariashe. Both of these unfortunate ones were shot. Concerning the old man, the murderers rejoiced. They sat him down on a stool and shot him in that position. In the same house, they found Samuel Maltscher from Lodz who had family in Malch and who came here right after the invasion of Poland in 1939. This last one, noticing the murderers through the window quickly jumped up and thus was able to run away.
Some of those who were fleeing were able to get to the Koti plaza, which lies on the road to Seltz, but did not escape the murderer's hand. The same murderers from Kvonik reached Koti and shot afterwards the young Jacob Winograd and Israel Scheinberg. And the healthy and strong Joseph, Moses the tailor's son, was shot by two bullets and until the evening was lying in the mud, and was able to flee to Bereza, where he succumbed to the slaughter in Bereza.
From the school, the other evening, those who were concentrated there were freed, with the order to get ready for the next day, Sunday, to leave their homes. The next Saturday night, the townspeople accompanied to their eternal rest all those who were killed, the last to find their "peace" in the cemetery in Samorovke. On the next day, early Sunday morning, the Nazis gave out to every person a passport. It was understood that this way it was a legal document to have the right to travel. They told the Jews to leave Malch and pointed the way to Bereza. They (the Jews) hired a horse and team and loaded up what was possible, what they wanted for food, and went on their way. Astonishingly, the murderers were so sure that the unfortunate ones would not deviate from the path, they didn't find it necessary to accompany those who were leaving, and they didn't send any guards.
The same morning, they ordered that all the smiths remain in place, but not for long. On Monday, all the smiths were also in Bereza.
On all the roads that were leading to Malch, there were signs with orders, that whoever would touch the Jewish wealth would be shot. However, this order did not last, for, as soon as someone came to Malch to look for his things, he found that everything was stolen. The Poles moved into the good Jewish homes, and the old houses were stripped for firewood. In Bereza, we were all welcomed like brothers. The committee provided us with a home and all our needs. We were incorporated into the Bereza community. They took us to different jobs, and so we lived like this for six weeks. In Bereza, the atmosphere was not too calm. There were rumors that Bereza would end up in the same way as Chamsk. Instinctively, they were looking for a way out.
We heard that in Prozany it was a lot calmer, where it was possible that Prozany was a different type of area, that it would be safer from harassment and we started as a family to move to Prozany. In a short time, approximately 60% from Malch sought a new home in the Prozany Ghetto. In the Prozany Ghetto, there was already formed a committee called the Judenrat. This committee, to our luck and to their praise, did everything for our needs, staying on a high plane to do all our needs in a time of sorrow for the Jews. They provided us with lodging, food, with everything in their power, and wished everything for the people from Malch, who could be called neighbors and also strangers, whose fate brought them to look for safety in the Prozany Ghetto. In that way we bonded our future fate with all the people in the Prozany Ghetto.
THE JEW FROM MALCH WHO BECAME A "NAZI OFFICER"
(The following facts were told by a renowned man from Kotletz,
the son of a resident of Malch, Chaim-Beryl Lazars
by Herschel Pomerantz).
Feivel Goldstein, from Malch, was in a Partisan Group in the area of Lublin. He was the leader of the group; he was able to form a "Nazi Group" which conceived a new approach. In the group, under the leadership of the "Nazi Officer", Feivel Goldstein, there were 8 men who were his helpers ("Storm Troopers"), and among them the boys from Malch, Nahum-Sone Friedman, Lazar, the smith's son, Jacob Futterman, and others. Their work consisted of falsifying Nazi documents; they would come to different prisons and take out those who were arrested, waiting to be shot. They used to take these prisoners to the forest and there make believe they were shot. In fact, they took them deeper into the forest and connect them to the Partisans. The name of the Malcher Group with the "Nazi Officer" was known very well around the area.
"Once," tells Aaron Goldstein, "a man from Kotletz, who was sent with a group to accompany a Nazi from Lithuania to Lublin, came back and told the following."
"We were traveling to Lublin, led by a Nazi from Lithuania, by car, to bring food for a camp, and we arrived at an ammo dump, when it was already getting dark. After unloading the food and clothing for the camp, we drove back. On the way back, the Lithuanian Nazi ordered us to stop at a coffee house where the Nazi officers gathered. The Lithuanian Nazi allowed the Jew from Kotletz to come in and have a cup of coffee. In the coffee house, there was a high-ranking Nazi officer. When the officer saw the Lithuanian Nazi in the room, he asked him for his documents. This person gave him the documents. But the Nazi officer started screaming that the documents were false; the officer gave the Lithuanian Nazi a couple of slaps, so that he fell to the floor. When the other one got up, the Nazi officer warned him that the next time he should have the proper documents, if not he would shoot him. "And who is there at the door?" asks the officer. "A Jew from the camp." came the answer. "Oh, so a Jew" he yelled with Nazi chutzpah (nerve). "Bring him here." The Jew, frightened and pale, came forward, and the Nazi officer grabbed him by the lapel and shook him, so he almost lost his speech. He saw death before his eyes. "From what camp are you from?" thundered the Nazi officer. In the meantime, the Jew heard in his ear the word "arncha" (your people in Hebrew), the word known among Jews. "Don't be afraid!" And then he tells him between Nazi shouts, "I am Feivel Goldstein. In your camp is my brother, Archie. He should come down here in 8 days and I am going to take him to the forest." Again, this particular officer started shouting and swearing and told them to leave at that moment or he would shoot them. This particular man from Kotletz told the story to Aaron Goldstein. On the given day, Aaron Goldstein felt that he should be sent to Lublin; arrived at the coffee house where he was going to find his brother, but he could not find him.
"After the liberation", tells Aaron Goldstein, " he came back to Lublin, and he started asking about his brother, the high-ranking "Nazi Officer". He found out about his brother, Feivel Goldstein, who used to act as a "Nazi Officer" with his "Storm Troopers", and freed Jews from prison, in truth; they told him many stories, how his brother in an unbelievable way saved many Jews by pretending to shoot them. He found out that, on a given day, before the arrival of the Red Army in the area of Lublin, Feivel Goldstein with his "Storm Troopers" came to pick up Jews from prison to shoot them. The Nazis found out how he was deceiving them, and as he was approaching the gates of the prison, the Nazi soldiers were waiting for him and, with a barrage of gunfire met the high-ranking "Nazi Officer" with his "Storm Troopers". Then, under the barrage perished, not only Feivel Goldstein, but also his "Storm Troopers" and the young men from Malch.
VERY FEW JEWS WHO REMAINED FROM MALCH
(written from Malch by S.M. Rubinstein to Koppel Nissenbaum
in Buenos Aires, July 15,1945)
Malch was evacuated during Heshvan (November 1941) to Kartusch-Bereza. Then they shot Israel Sheinberg, Meir Rabinovitz, Babel Chemiak, Matus, Mariaschke Miskin, Teibel Kaplan, Sime Pomerantz (Samuel Leibke's wife), Abram Buchalter, Jacob Ben Tzion Winograd. After spending a couple of weeks in Bereza, we endured an "ill wind", and 65% of us were smuggled out to Prozany. There was there, in East Prussia, better organization. We had good instincts. Bereza was emptied in two evacuations. In the month of July 1942, they took half the group, those that did not have skills, to Brona-Gure and there, in one common grave, shot them. The second half of the town had the same fate, two months later, also in Brona-Gure.
In the Prozany Ghetto, there were 12,000 Jews, people from Byalistok, Shereshev, Malch, Comenetz, Gayvonik. All these people were sent out on the 29th and 30th of January, 1943, to Auschwitz. They divided the men from the women and children and made a selection; small children, weak and older women and men went directly to the gas chambers. The young and healthy ones were taken to the concentration camp to do heavy work. Every morning, they made selections, and those who were weaker and sick were dragged to the crematorium.
So who remained Alive? What can I write to you? Everyone knows that, in Poland, over 3 million Jews were exterminated, therefore I am going to write about those who remain alive. David Zook, Jacob Youngman, (there is hope about Beryl Weinstein), Joseph Muliar, Samuel Rosenbloom, Jacob Applebaum's grandson, Sirncha Applebaum, Chaim Friedman (Joseph Shayner Brina's grandson), Benjamin Weinstein, Chaya, Rebecca, and Fraydel Galperin, Shayna and Rayzel (Esther Malka's), Ephraim Friedman (Alter's), Moshe ltte Beilis. With these, we became separated on the 18th of January, 1945, and they went on to a better camp. Our camp was the worst one in all of Germany.
OUR LITTLE TOWN OF MALCH NO LONGER EXISTS
(A Bundle of Remembrances)
by Moshe Friedman (Zarate)
It is not without an authoritative pen that I will tell about our hometown, Malch, which was to us so dear, but only with simple words, to refresh our memory of the town that no longer exists. We don't want to show off or exaggerate, because our hometown didn't even figure on the map. We can't even show off that we had rich Jews and large factories. But we were very proud of our almost 300 Jews, and almost 100% of the craftsmen and small, poor Jewish businessmen, honest, dear Jews. There was no jealousy or dislike, because there was nothing to be jealous about. Everyone worked very hard to make a living for his wife and children, because when the Sabbath came and the holidays, we didn't have poor people; everyone was equal. And our mothers were shining; what showed on them was the inspiration, as the bright eyes of our mothers sparkled with happiness when they listened with such pride and honor to the Sabbath and holiday Kiddush, which our fathers chanted with a lilting melody, making the Kiddush over the wine.
The faces of our fathers did not show any sign of the constant worry, seen during the rest of the week, because of the need to earn a living. Together with our fathers and mothers, we sang heartily the hymns, so that for us children we wished that it would always be the Sabbath. As we already felt in a holiday mood, I feel like telling an episode about a rich Jew (we had in total only two), whose name was Aaron Isaac. "Once upon a time'", he was a poor man just like us. This Jew went to the USA, made a few dollars, and came back to Malch. And he started thinking business, and thought about building a flourmill. And Malch started "rolling on wheels", but it was no small matter; Jews were going to make a good living. And Aaron Isaac went out to the farms to advertise his mill, that the Gentiles should bring him wheat to make flour. A tragedy almost occurred, which would kill the mill. There was a rumor circulating among the Christians, that the mill was haunted and the devil was sitting on a millstone. How was it possible that they thought the mill could grind without wind. It couldn't be anything else that made the mill go; it makes sounds, it turns and pours out flour. So the Gentiles gathered together and decided that the elders should do something....
After much consultation in the "high" offices, they decided to tell the secret to the Polish farmers. And Aaron Isaac felt great and milled flour. It felt good to the heart to make flour and money. And when Sirnchas Torah came (the Rejoicing of the Torah during Sukkot), he put on a flour sack and went to different houses begging, and this way expressed his thanks to God for making him a rich man.
And now I feel like telling another episode about the year, 1914, from the First World War. Of course, there were no newspapers in those days, and, if one wanted to know what was happening for sure in France, there was a Yeshiva student, and his name was Zeidel. He said: "Forget the newspaper." You want to find out what's happening in the war, come with me." A group of Jews went with him to the outskirts of town and lay down on the ground. They put their ears to the ground. "Do you hear?" Zeidel called out. "How it's thundering on the ground? The stronger you hear the sound, that much closer is the danger."
There were among us Jews who could bring light in our everyday life. Such was my uncle Jacob, who brought, for the first time, a ray of light, a good, warm Jew who didn't just have his own worries, but also had every body's. So, for the first time, that's how in the big synagogue there was electricity. About the Yeshiva, which had a reputation in the furthest city and town, they used to tell a lot of stories. One of them tells about a peasant who went by the synagogue and heard how the Yeshiva students were studying, and he mimicked them as soon as he got home, so his mouth turned around. From then on, the Christians went by the synagogue with a lot of respect.
We want to remind you of the great personality of the Rabbi Tevele Dinofski, an extraordinary man with a wide face, who was a real scholar. And everybody had a strong feeling of honor towards him. And his son-in-law, Rabbi Shiome, a little more modem, the head of the Yeshiva, put in his father-in-law as an experiment. I mean Rabbi Tevele. That was about the time of the War of 1914, when the Germans were closest to our town. It was just Friday, and people had to run away. So they went to the Rabbi (Tevele) and, because it was already the Sabbath, the Rabbi told them they should not budge, because they would desecrate the Sabbath. The modem rabbi Shiome went a bought a horse and wagon and hitched the horse to the wagon and cried out: "Go. when the danger is great, the Sabbath is over." And the Jews went on their way to Kartusz-Bereza. Let it be said here about the Sabbath given by the Jews of Bereza. They behaved towards us like mothers to children. That's how the few Jews saved themselves. I also want to remind you of Rabbi Mordechai , the scholar. This is the father of Samuel Applebaum, a Jew, an expert on the Torah, with a good heart and a good soul, and many of us here in Argentina have to thank Rabbi Mordechai for all our knowledge. And the monumental Yizkor Remembrance Book will remain forever in our memory of the holy people who were annihilated by the Nazi murderers. I would like to remember forever some of their names.
Chaim Leib Glotzer, Abram from Loki, Israel Chamski, Leibel Choski, Mordechai Boroditski, Abram Lev Friedman, Chanina Zook, Israel Zook, Yankel Applebaum, Lazar Friedman, Reb Azreel the scholar, Aaron Baide, Leibke Pomerantz, Berel Nissnbaum, Aaron Schmuel Friedman, Yankel Goldberg,. And many more dear, good Jewish friends, educated people who worked day and night on Torah and worship. Because of being away 23 years from the old country, I did not figure out all the names of many good Jews who lived in our village. Let the names of our departed be forever inscribed in our memory. With a constant curse on the lips of the mass murderers, may they be forever cursed. May our children read the Yizkor books and remember.