Dra. Olia Goldfayn
SURVIVED TO BE A WITNESS
In a series of previous writings, we mention Dr. Mrs. Goldfayn . She escaped from Lineve rail station , while was sent first transport of people evacuated from Pruzhany toward Auschwitz (January 28 1943) During 18 months she hid in a Catholic Church, and remained there as nun. She was witness of Jews extermination in many cities and small villages. When the area was liberated of Nazi occupants, Dr. Goldfayn by intervention of writer YLYA ERENBURG traveled to Moscow. She told him details about nazis cruelty, then went back to Pruzhany passing through different D. P. (Displaced People) Camps in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, France and finally arrived to Israel. Next we reproduce some fragments of her letters sent to relatives and to Landsmen. These fragments will complete many details. This chapter deals about the destruction of our native towns and how they look now.
I) OF A LETTER TO HER AUNT, PAULINA NAIDUS, BRONX, US
Moscow, November 15, 1944
... I will try to transmit a short summary. At the beginning they had us in Pruzhany Ghetto 19 consecutive months. There we saw daily as they tortured people, until many perished for wounds and hunger. From January 28 to 30 1943, was very cold. We were transported to Linowo train station. Took three days to Nazis to introduce us by force in boxcars, in order to transport us toward an "unknown place."
It is impossible to describe tragedies happened when they introduced by force inside boxcars, to women, men and children, as if we were animals. There are not words neither language that can express the martyrdom and cruelty that was done to us. Maybe you already received an idea about Nazi's bestiality, through press .
Some minutes before Nazis closed boxcars, I observed surroundings, and when not seeing any guard, I jumped of the train and ran until finding a Polish monastery. During 18 consecutive months, I was next to a Polish nun, wondered from one place to another, we stopped for " davenen " (Jewish prayer) when finding a church, and the enemy did not doubt about my authenticity as a nun.
Yes, I acted my role successfully, never pronounced a word that could invite to suspect my characteristic role, but deep wounds in my heart not even began to be treated, and every moment my anguish grew. It is impossible for me to transmit how much our Jews supported. I saw it with my own eyes. I was able to survive, but my heart doesn't silence neither one minute. If at some time you read "The Hell" by Dante, even so you don't imagine what happened to us.
I was with them from the day that we ere locked in the Ghetto until the moment of jumping form the train. I am sure their end was Treblinka or Maidanek, and you will not need any more explanation....
June 28 1944 I was liberated of my suffering.
September 6, I returned to Pruzhany. Everything was burnt. Everything left with Nazi's smoke. Nobody is alive. I was not able neither for one minute to liberate myself the sight of my siblings and sisters , relatives and well-known, and also neighbors that demand me vengeance.
My dear friends! It is your duty to retaliate those that murdered our Jews. You should be witness, the Nazi should pay for the cruel and terrible murders. I am the only witness, and I saw all that Jews suffered in our native town. My heart is wounded like the heart of a mother that suffers for her sick and aching son.
I was a normal person, until experiencing all calamities in own flesh and blood, that aged me and made me feel little bit a hero. Many men of our town could not support this situation and they committed suicide.
My dear people: don't cry, tears are vain. We in the Ghetto didn't cry, even our small children didn't cry. I lost my husband, a brother, nephews and nieces, many childhood well-known friends of my native town where I worked as MD. Only me and some few others returned alive, those that were partisans.
I had the opportunity to see a hunt, but such a bestial persecution to people is terrible to imagine. Hitler hung posters with the inscription that we Jews are not are human beings, and therefore he should exterminate us. The famous war correspondent YLYA ERENBURG called me to go to Moscow. I transmitted him some episodes of what I saw and experienced. To transmit all that were tortured our dear people, we would need to write a book....
II) OF A LETTER SENT TO HER SISTER, BROTHER-IN-LAW, JEWS OF PRUZHANY IN ISRAEL, ESPECIALLY TO ABRAHAM BRESKY
Kofenberg, Austria, October 23, 1945
... I wrote to US and I tried to create a fund among Pruzhany, Malech and Shereshev Landsmen to remember for ever the memory of victims of our area that were exterminated in crematories, and to create a settlement in Eretz Israel that gathers the 140 survivors that will arrive there (if it's new owners, the Englishmen, allow them and they don't annihilate them).
It could be an appropriate Memorial of innocent victims. Will be convenient that would lead this event YTZHOK YANOVITSH's brother, who was an outstanding representative of Jewish Council in the Ghetto, and lives in US. I registered the name of this person in all documents included in Moscow's black book. When I said goodbye to him January 28 1943, the first day of the expulsion of Pruzhany, in presence of VELVEL SHRAIBMAN he told me: "Olya escape, survive, and where you will stay will be a witness of our extermination".
I leave Poland, my desire is to meet our Landsmen in Feldofing, near Munich. There is SOLIE NITZBERG, ZALMAN URIEVITSH, MOISHE CHAIKIN, SENDER ZAKHEIM, and other 25 men. How much I miss them! They called me, and although I am weak and sick I travel there to be with them.
Dear friends of Pruzhany! Don't forget our siblings and children that remain in the camps of Germany and Austria, physically destroyed and psychically wounded. These heroes crossed the dark road of their life, but with honesty and dignity. You should make possible to take them out as soon as possible of camps, don't forget them because it is enormous our grief.
The only thing that interests me in life is to be able to do something for my siblings of Pruzhany. They see me like a mother and they want me to live. If I don't end up being alive, occupy my place. Remember!
III) OF A LETTER SENT TO ABRAHAM BRESKY IN ISRAEL
Dear friend Bresky!
I received your letter. I would like so much to meet you, to embrace your neck, and to cry during much, much time. Our pain can be understood it by those who lived it. Until today I don't know what happens. when I listen passing though some people saying they don't understand how we gave those victims to the beasts. I answer them that this happened because the intimate collaboration of G-d and our neighbors (T.N: an irony) . In France there was not guards, and 45% was exterminated. French helped to save Jewish lives. We were all sunk in such a pig-pen, and all, all helped Hitler to exterminate us. Now illustrious come and say we were sheep
You are interested in Pruzhany. I will tell you some things: I was liberated near Lublin July 26 1944. Brest was not yet liberated, but as we could not arrive to Pruzhany because all bridges were destroyed, then I thought that we could pursue "him", the Devil, to Berlin. I sat down on a tank, and ran with Red Army toward the Vístula.
You may imagine my pain and cholera. They were so big, that I didn't feel fatigue neither hunger. I participated in terrible fights. The sky was broken, and worse, I didn't feel fear. I drove cars and squashed German bodies, which under the wheels were broken as ointment. This cured a little my heart . From Dembling, I was with the first Ukrainian front that moved toward Baltic Sea. It is very difficult to tell all that I lived, but with dear Russian I felt as fish in the water. Then in Kovel I offered to mobilize myself in Red Army. I didn't want to leave the battlefront. I wished to enter Berlin with Red Army ...But when they saw my aspect, they told me to return home in Pruzhany.
... .I was dressed this way; I had a knotted handkerchief on the head, a rural skirt, barefoot, got this way on each tribune to preach, I spoke and spoke without stopping. I had thousand listeners', of Red Army, Generals and Officials, they took me on their arms because of my words. I received a certificate as Jewish survivor, and Red Army took me all parts. In synthesis I made a good course. I ran from one front to another Imagine, I that feared thunders and lightning, here in the battlefront the seven skies were broken, and was for me as listening a symphony of Beethoven.
When met third Ukrainian front with first Byelorussian front, headed by Marshal Zhukov that went from Minsk, it cannot be imagined a more beautiful painting. Ah!! Russian are the heroes.
...I didn't stop laughing at the grotesque aspect of Germans. Without pants, bearded, mangy... Not only their bodies trembled, but also the rags with which used to cover themselves. Then I entered with Red Army to Pruzhany, There were already about forty partisans ...
The city was burned in 60%... .The fourth transport had left Pruzhany going to Aushwitz. They transported 70 families to the mount between Pruzhany and Linovo. Behind the barracks the gentiles liberated the horses from the sticks that united them to the carts, and with the wooden sticks murdered all Jews. The gentiles together with Germans stole all that was there. Poles. German and some Byelorussian entered the Ghetto, dug everything, broke each wall, looked for gold and elements of value among excrements of the closet
Two names: LIMA and MISHEN, two youths from Poland that worked with TITKE, German Major's representative. They hung themselves. LIZE PINSKY was found in a near village, they brought her to the city, she requested that they leave her with the face against the floor for not seeing as they shot her, but they did not grant her this pleasure. Other hundreds calamities could I tell.
... .Reb ZELIK GOLDFAYN's grandson, LASIE GITKIN: a Christian of Novidvor tied him together with the son-in-law of YOSEF SELETZKY called SAVITZKY. Also tied the son of BUCH'HALTER called LASIE. He gave gold and value articles, told he was my nephew, I made so much for him, but nothing helped. They shot them. NEACHKE and AVREMEL GAIDAMAK were murdered by Christians in the forest. This happened 6 weeks before liberation of the area.
...When I arrived in Poland some people of our District stopped me, and others escaped with Germans. Without ant doubt they had fear. KASHMAN (the Major who participated in Ghetto Jews killing ) was murdered in Velovezsh, while he escaped with best Jewish Pesach china....