The Cymer family of Szarkowszczyzna
The story of Slava nee Cymer Fintel who was born in 1932 in Szarkowszczyzna. To hear Slava tell it go to:
Jewish Survivor Slava Fintel Testimony
Slava's mother was Liba Cymer nee Tzipelovitz. She was born in Postawy in 1895 to Meir and Lea. She had 3 brothers who lived in Postavy. She moved to Szarkowszczyzna after her marriage. They had a very large home and it was used as a gathering place for Zionist activities and after they got electricity in
Szarkowszczyzna people from the area would come there to watch movies once a week. Liba was very charitable and took care of the sick (bikur cholim) . She also open her home for poor brides and had weddings at the home on a regular basis. Every Friday they had guests coming for meals. Slava was very attached to her and never left her site. The mother's favorite hobby was to ride her bike to the beautiful nature.
Slava's father was Shmuel Cymer. He was born in Szarkowszczyzna around 1889 to Meir and Brakha. He was a well to do merchant who loved to read books.
Slava was the youngest of seven. Dina was the oldest born in 1914 and then came Miriam in 1916. The father built homes for them at the back of the house and after they were married they moved there. Each sister had one child born before the war started. Slava had two brother who were born c 1920. Zvi Hirsh and Zalman. They both worked with their father. Tzila (later Celia Kassow)
Oct. 23, 1923
Feb. 9, 1994 New Haven
Chaia Cymer was born in Szarkowszczyzna , Poland in 1926.
Tzila (later Celia Kassow) who was 19 years old in 1942, had been publicly flogged by the local police chief(non-German) after she resisted his advances. In June 1942 she was among the survivors of an Einsatzgruppe massacre of the Jews in Szarkowszczyzna, then in Poland and now in Belarus. As she ran holding hands with Slava , a killer stepped in front of her and fired his rifle but the gun jammed.
Tzila and Slava ran in the forest to a home of farmers whom they knew. As they came near their sister Chaia ran out of the house and motioned to them to hide. They watched the Nazis kill their sister Chaia and their aunt.
Tzila decided to go to her friend from school, a Polish boy, Piot Bilewicz. Tzila was a beautiful blond and was introduced to the neighborhood as a cousin of Piot Bilewicz. Slava was hidden in a barn in very hard condition.
Piot Bilewicz found out that the father burned the home and perished in the home as the Nazis arrived.
The brothers ran to the forest and now they are hiding there. Later they were able to obtain arms and join the Soviet partisans. After the war they immigrated to Israel.
The mother and the two oldest sisters with their husbands and children were able to escape to the Glubokie ghetto and were hiding there.
The sisters decided to join the family in the ghetto, in Glebokie. Piot Bilewicz, risked his life to get them in. As soon as the mother met them she insisted that they should go back to hiding. Slava refused. Tzila did not want to leave her mother, but her mother literally pushed her away to save her life. That was the last time she ever saw her. Life was very difficult for them in the Glubokie ghetto. The brothers were able to get in touch with them and arranged for them to be secretly to be transferred to the Postavy ghetto. Here the mother had her 3 brothers. When the Germans began a new massacre in November 1942, Slava, now in the Postawy ghetto, was 11 years old. The Germans shot the two older sisters along with their small children and the mother who was running with Slava. Slava stayed near her dying mother and refused to hear her pleas to run. The Germans shot her, but she was only grazed and played dead. The Nazis put them all in a huge pit. Slava and one other survivor crawled out of the pit as soon as the Nazis left. Slava was badly wounded, she crawled fifteen miles to the Bilewicz farm, where she was miraculously nursed back to health. (her nephew, Samuel D. Kassow wrote; "In 1996 my sisters and I joined Slava’s family as we retraced that route in a car. We couldn’t believe how a wounded child could do it! Later After some months on the Bilewicz farm, they were denounced and my mother fled into the forests where she joined the partisans and had many more adventures. By the way, in 1998 Yad Vashem bestowed on Bilewicz the well-deserved title of “Righteous Gentile.”)
From the internet;
Slava Fintel lived in Boca Raton, Florida before her death.
Among those traveling to Sharkovshchina, in what was part of the former Soviet Union, are Samuel Kassow of West Hartford, a professor of history at Trinity College and a scholar of modern Jewish history, and his two sisters, Cheryl Kassow of Bloomfield and Linda Astmann of North Haven.
Their mother, Celia Kassow, and an aunt, Slava Fintel, survived the Holocaust because a classmate of Kassow's hid them for months in a cave below the barn on his family's farm.
The trip also marks the reunion of Slava Fintel with the man who saved her, Piotr Bilevich. Celia Kassow died of cancer last year without ever having been reunited with Bilevich.
Fintel, now 64 and living in Boca Raton, Fla., said she was leaving for Belarus with mixed feelings and a weight of memories.
``We are going back, I would say, going back to hell,'' Fintel said. ``All these years trying to suppress it. . . . Of course we are happy to be free, especially to see the man who saved our lives.''
For years, his mother never spoke a word about her experiences, Samuel Kassow said. He was able to piece together the story only after one of his uncles in Israel related it.
Once he learned the story, he wanted to find Bilevich. He tracked him down during a trip to the former Soviet Union in 1992.
Fintel was only 10 when the Nazis took control of Sharkovshchina where she was living in a Jewish ghetto with her parents, two brothers and four sisters. It was June 1941.
Before the end of the war, she would lose both parents and three sisters. Her two brothers survived by hiding in the forests and fighting the Germans in an underground resistance movement.
There were very few railroads in this wooded, swampy part of the world and so Jews were rarely sent to concentration camps, Samuel Kassow said. Instead, the Nazis shot the Jews.
Obituary | Condolences
Slava Fintel; beloved wife of Mark; loving mother of Dan (Robin), Steve (Amy) Fintel and Deena (Steve) Leonard; cherished grandmother of Bara, Josh, Zack, Alison and Jeremy Fintel, Sarah and Jacob Leonard. Also survived by her nieces and nephews. Service Sunday, August 29, 2010 10 a.m. at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe. Interment Westlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials in her name may be made to the Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, IL 60077 or to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, 305 7th Ave., 19th Floor, New York, NY 10001.
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