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The Story of Arie Szewach of Krasne
I would like to thank Arie, the first of the natives of Krasne to find the site. He sent me pictures and stories of others and showed such great care for the memorial of his native town, Krasne.
1. The Szewach family: Arie, Miryam nee Sklut, Dvora (Ein Habar), Binyamin and Mordechai Szewach.
I, Arie (Leibke) Szewach, was born in Krasne in 11-22-1925 to Miryam (Mriyasha) nee Sklut and Binyamin (Nyomzik) Szewach
My mother; Miryam was born in 1895 to Shimon and Reyze Rachel Sklut. The Sklut family had many relatives in Volozhin and Vishnevo. My grandparents; Shimon and Reyze Rachel lived in Krasne. Shimon was a blacksmith who had a great talent for making gadgets and I as all his grandchildren enjoyed the great toys he made for us. Other then my mother Miryam they had;
1. A son; Yakov Sklut who was born in 1900. Yakov was a blacksmith like his father. His wife was Sarah- Rivka. They had three children; Chaika was born in Krasne in 1924, Asher in 1925 and Motl in 1927. The family perished in Krasne
2. A son Moshe Itza. He had seven children. He died in his sleep at a young age and six months later his wife passed away. At that point of time there were no organized institutions to take care of Jewish orphans. To be an orphan most time was a verdict of desuetude. My grandfather; Shimon told his children who lived in Krasne to divide the seven children amongst the three of them and raise them as their own.Hirshel and Asher were raised at the Szewach home.
3. A daughter; Sarah who married Baruch Kaganovitz from Krasne they had a son; Motl who was born c 1930 and a daughter who was much younger. The family perished in Krasne.
4. Two daughters who came to the U.S many years before; Esther, wife of Samuel Nathan Cohen, mother of ;Ethel cohen Fishkin Shulman (1916- 2000) and Gitel (born 1900) , wife of Aaron Shapiro mother of Arthur Shapiro and Irene Block There were two other brothers; Avraham and Basha (see note) *
My mother; Miryam first married Shmuel Kelman. When my mother was still pregnant with her first child during the arduous days of World War I, rubbers came to the house at late night hour and murdered Shmuel Kelman and robbed the home. Shortly after my mother had her daughter, Dvora born in 1915.
My father, Binyamin Szewach, was born in Piesk** in 1900. His parents were Arie Leib and Alte. Later the family moved to Vilna.
Arie Leib and Alte Szewach had five children. Other than my father; Binyamin they had
Hanach (Chanoch) Szewach; he was in the business of selling alcohol, which at that time was something Jews were not allowed to do. When the authorities found out about his business and were about to arrest him, he was able to escape and immigrate to South Africa. His wife Chana Gitel with the three daughters and the son joined him in South Africa shortly after.
.Yosef Szewach lived in Vilna and was married before 1939. (He perished in Vilna with his wife)
Shalom Szewach lived in Vilna and was a pharmacist and owned with partner a large pharmaceutical enterprise in Vilna. He was single. He perished in Vilna with his mother.
Sarah nee Szewach Las was married and lived with her family in the town of Shtzotzin . She had a son; Arie Leib. They all perished in Shtzotzin.
My grandfather; Arie Leib died c 1920 and my grandmother Elte lived in Vilna with her son, Shalom.
My father Binyamin was taken to serve in the army. After a year of service his brother Chanoch who was very clever, helped him get out of the service claiming he was too young. Sometime later he was married to my mother and moved to her hometown of Krasne. I was born in 1925 and in 1930 my brother Mordechai was born.
My sister Dvora was a devout Zionist. She was a member of HaChalutz in Krasne and in the 1930s went to HaChshara Preparation for becoming a Chalutz (pioneer) in Eretz Israel.
Young Jewish men and women would live together in communities in Eastern Europe and earn money by doing difficult manual labor in preparation for doing agricultural work in a Kibbutz in Israel. Dvora spent about eighteen months in the Hachshara and when she ended her training she went back to Krasne to await her certificate from the British to be able to immigrate to Israel, that was at the time under their control. The British gave very limited amounts of certificates, and after a long wait in which she did not receive a certificate, Dvora plotted a different course of action. A young Jewish man who was born in Petach Tikva arrived in Poland with the soccer team of Maccabe. He was a citizen of Palestine (Eretz Israel). Immediately there was a wedding so he could take her as his wife back home. But when the British consul in Warsaw received the application he said to the man, You were born in Palestine. You arrived here a week ago and in such a short time you passed to the other side of Poland, fell in love and married. Now you return to me, but I cannot believe this story. So the consul continued, saying, Young man, go to Palestine, and from there use the usual procedures to bring your wife to you if she is really your wife. And that was it. The young man went back with the sterlings that he was paid already before coming to Poland and forgot all about the deal with Dvora. Years later, when Dvora arrived in Eretz Israel, she had to argue with him to annul the marriage.
So Dvora waited for another chance, and she then joined Bitar. Bitar was the most popular Zionist movement in Krasne in the 1930s. Unlike HaChalutz and Hashomer Hatzair, which had a Socialist Zionist core, Bitar had no Socialist ideology and had a more militaristic dogma.
A revisionist businessman by the name of Stavasky succeeded in organizing illegal immigration into Eretz Israel, and Dvora took such a ship in 1937. Near the shore of Greece, the ship was sunk, but she was able to get on another ship and after many weeks of travel she arrived in Eretz Israel as an illegal immigrant.
2. Picture of Dvora nee Szewach Ein Habar and her mother; Miryam nee Sklut Szewach
My cousin, Motl Sklut son of Moshe Itza., returned to the town as a certified teacher who had gotten his papers from the teachers seminary in Vilna. Motl was unemployed, so I, as well as the children of Abba Kaplan, Dvora and Shlomo, who were all still very young at that point, not yet school aged, became his students. Our fathers made an agreement with him to pay. The result was that the all of us (three children) skipped two grades when the appropriate time came for us to enter the Tarbut school
In the Tarbut school in Krasne all the subjects were taught purely in Hebrew except for the Polish language classes which were a compulsory subject, though even that was taught at a high level. When Abba Kaplan was no longer able to afford lessons for his children at the Tarbut school, they were sent to the Polish public school where their education was free. For me, skipping two years created many social problems since I was two years younger than all my friends, but the reward came when the war started and I was already two years ahead of my peers. That affected my advancement later on.
My cousin Hirshl, son of Moshe Itza, who lived with us went to study in the prestigious yeshiva in Volozhin. However, when he came of age, he was called to the local headquarters of the Polish army to be drafted. Since he wanted to avoid the draft he used a well-known scheme: he hardly ate and barely survived on tea for a month and would take very long walks all the way to Molodetszno, so when he came on the appointed day of the draft, he was found unfit for service. Because the Polish authorities were familiar with such tricks, they didnt give him a permanent waiver, so he had to go through the routine twice until he finally received his discharge.
I spent my childhood years in the Krasne Tarbut School. Most of the Tarbut schools flourished in shtetls in the Vileyka area in the late 1920 as Zionism and the Zionist Youth movements spread their roots. They replaced the old fashion Cheders that in their core were religious studies.
Every vacation I would visit my family in Vilna. I would go there accompanied by a family member about three times a year.
To go from Krasne to Vilna in the 1930s you would take a train. There was a train station in Krasne that was about 150 kilometers from Vilna. The trip took six hours. When I was about eleven years old my parents let me take the trip all by myself. When I arrived in the train station in Vilna I hired a horse and carriage to take me to my grandmothers house.
When I graduated from the Tarbut School the family decided to send me to a Gimnasia in Vilna. In order to attend the Gimnasia I needed to attend seven school grades. Since the Tarbut school only contained six grades the choice in Krasne was the Polish public school which I attended for one year.
I attended the Gimnasia in Vilna only for a short time, in September of 1939 the Second World War started.
The Liberation by the Soviets.
According to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of September 1939, Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Krasne was a distance of 16 km from the old Soviet-Polish border, so it took only a few minutes and all the Polish cavalry that was sent to fight the Soviet tanks was destroyed. Much of the local population, including the Jews, was not happy to be liberated as the Bolsheviks had described in their accounts of the conquest of Belarus. Immediately as the Soviets arrived they started deporting people. At first they sent away the Communist party officers who were active underground for the communist party during the Polish times. Together with them they sent the Polish settlers with all the politicians and the Polish municipal authorities that they could find. The Polish settlers, or as they were known in the area, Osdoniki (Asdoniks), consisted of veterans who served in the army of Pilsudski and others, and were later brought by the Polish government so that they could populate the area with Polish people after it was conquered in the year 1921 by Poland. The prior population didnt consist of any Polish people, only Belarussians. Now almost everyone was classified as a non-trustworthy element. It seemed that at any minute, someone could classify you as an enemy of the people and someone who could not be trusted, and anyone who was a political activist, and it didnt matter what it was he did or really believed in, had the potential to be deported. First and foremost were all the Zionist activists. Pressured by the US, England, and France, the Soviets retreated from the area of Lithuania for a short time and an independent rule was established there for a short time.. But this lasted a short time and the whole area became part of the Soviet Empire.
. From Krasne, there were a few Jewish families that had been deported, among them the family of Avraham Flachtman. During the first World War, Avraham served in the Polish Army and received the highest decoration for bravery. Another family was the family of Nachum the Butcher. They were an older couple that had only one son, who was the head of Beitar in Krasne. At the time when the two families left, it seemed to us like a horrible tragedy, but all of them survived and later returned.
I was sent to a school in Molodeczno where I spent the week days on weekends I went home by train (half an hour ride).. In the Soviet secular system every seventh day was designated as weekend and it was an arbitrary day according to the day the school year started
Despite the fact that the area was supposedly liberated from the abusive Polish regime, the liberators kept the old borders between Belarus and the old Soviet Union. None of the recently liberated were able to go into the Soviet Union. This situation continued until the surprise attack by Germany on June 22, 1941
The Nazis were quickly in the outskirts of Minsk, and we fled, but the NKVD prevented us from escaping from the Nazis into the depths of the Soviet Union..
A family that succeeded crossing the border was Mariyasha,(daughter of Leib Kaplanof Olashani) and her husband; Noach Broadner with their children (related). On the first days of the war despite the fact of the closing of the border, they found a way to cross it and the entire family survived.
My family tried for three days, like other families, to cross the border. We attempted to board the train to escape the approaching Nazis, but until the moment that the Germans arrived, there were instructions from Moscow to disallow any attempt to cross the border. The family tried to cross at another area, but there we also found the NKVD. We were ordered to return, so in great despair we returned to our home.
As soon as the Germans arrived, they announced the new rules with regards to the Jews. They established a local police force that used all the collaborators and immediately started robbing, confiscating property, and killing. The Jews were forced into all kinds of labor, and were treated with extreme cruelty. It seemed that the Nazis wanted to show to the local population that the blood of the Jews was worthless, and that the more you tortured a Jew, the more you would be appreciated by the Nazis. During one night, the Nazi soldiers broke down the doors to our house, as they did with all the other Jewish homes in town, and began beating everyone. They took us out of our beds, and made us run in the streets until we arrived in the place designated as the ghetto. The former homes of the Jews and all their belongings now were officially open for looting by the local population.
Living conditions in the ghetto were very difficult. A very small amount of food was given to the Jews and communication with non-Jews was disallowed. Soon they started bringing Jews from neighboring towns into the ghetto. They came from towns that were already annihilated. Every time before they annihilated a community, they chose a few Jews who could be useful and transferred them to Krasne. The place was chosen as a supply base for the Germans, where materiel was relayed to and from the front, including a large amount of weapons captured from the Soviets. Thousands of Jews worked in construction, in loading and unloading goods, and in other logistical support positions. Since the ghetto could not contain thousands of workers, the Germans established a labor camp, and they continuously brought Jews from neighboring towns after each action. As in other ghettoes and camps, there was a Jewish committee or Judenrat. At the head of the Krasne Judenrat was Shabtai Orlyuk. During the First World War he had been a POW in Germany for a few years and learned to speak German fluently. He knew of their way of life and their habits, or at least he thought he did. There were more than a few members of the Judenrat, and amongst them were some who were pure and decent, and others who were power- and money-hungry.
Shabtai Orlyuk and the brothers of the Kaplan house, Yitzhak and Moshe, should be in my opinion classified as pure and decent, but others were not so. But still, amongst the others there were other levels of evilness and corruption. However, in general they seemed eager to fulfill the instructions of the Nazis with dedication, exactness and competence in the true spirit of the Nazi philosophy.
At the end of the year 1941, a group of 30 Jewish youths was sent to cut firewood in the forest. I was sent Amongst those. We found flyers with a speech by Molotov that called on people to stand up with their weapons and to fight the Nazi evil. The forest was filled with such pamphlets, including a speech by Stalin. We did not lose our sense of humor. We started laughing, thinking that the pilot threw his entire cargo in a forest when it was probably intended for a town, and later told the Soviets that he had carried out his mission. Still, what was written there greatly affected us. When we returned to the ghetto we immediately started collecting weapons and organizing the young people to go to the forest. During the month that we worked in the forest, we realized that it was possible to survive there, far away from the control of the Nazis. We also found a great potential to acquire weapons from the huge warehouses in the base where we worked. The main problem we faced was how to transfer the weapons and hide them so we would not be caught by the Nazis.
We started organizing ourselves into a group that contained local people who were natives to Krasne, and others who came from annihilated towns. The others were mainly young people whose families had been killed, which made it much easier for them to uproot. There was no one who would prevent them from leaving, and their objective living conditions were much more horrible than the local people since they had nothing to barter with and they did not know the local gentile population.
The place that was found as the most easy target to get weapons from was the old factory that used to make dried apples, but at that point it became a workshop for fixing weapons. It was located in the town of Krasne, and outside of the army base. The specialists there were older German soldiers and the way they treated the Jews was generally more humane, particularly since it was winter and they also suffered greatly from the cold. Someone suggested that they should ask them to let the Jews collect some wood and transfer it by horse and sleigh to the ghetto. They agreed but they still supplied soldiers to watch the operation. In spite of the soldiers the operation was successful, and with the wood the Jews were able to transfer some weapons, particularly rifles. Mostly it was semi-automatic Russian weapons that held ten bullets. The Jewish girls in the group were also able to sometimes transfer guns. Amongst the best operators was Dvora Kaplan, who studied with me and her brother Shlomo. When the Judenrat found out about the weapons and the preparations for escape, they came to the parents of the youths who were involved and threatened them and started following the youths.
So one day I succeeded in transferring together with Yosef and Duba (brother and sister from Horodok) Rabinovitz, three rifles. The Judenrat, who secretly followed us, found the hiding place. They took the weapons and imprisoned the three of us. They started beating us up and threatened us as well as my parents. Many days later we found out that the Judenrat members gave our stolen weapons to their children and sent them to the forest to join the partisans. Since they were not informed about the difficulties they would encounter in the forest or how to communicate with the partisans and which areas were more dangerous, they went to a different area than the rest of the Jews that were preparing to escape, and they were robbed and killed.
Once we had weapons, without which we knew we had no way of being accepted to the partisans, we started leaving the camp sporadically and trying to connect with the partisans. I left twice but returned. My parents and especially my father, were opposed to my plans to join the partisans. Friends that left with me and didnt return joined different partisan units. There were some tragedies too; even among the Russian partisans there were some who hated the Jews.
The partisan brigade was established by Red Army soldiers who had succeeded in evading capture by the Germans. They had found jobs in the neighboring villages. Hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers fell as POWs and were put in camps where they were starved and many were murdered in a systematic something? By the Germans. At one point, the German army and the police started collecting all the soldiers who had escaped to the villages, but when the soldiers found out about it they ran deep into the forest. As the Red Army retreated, many units made sure to bury their weapons in the forest, and this was the seed for our weapons supply, since many of the soldiers in the villages were from units that had buried their weapons. At first they were very small units of armed men who basically used the weapons to physically support themselves and to rob the neighboring towns. As their numbers were enlarged they started a real army with discipline and rules. From that point, to go to the forest and have a chance to join the partisans meant that you must bring a weapon so you could join such a troop. Later on, from 1943, most of these troops were essentially a regular army.
Among the young Jewish men and women who were prepared to escape from the ghetto was Itzhak Rogovin (Regev) who was originally from Horodok. He was amongst the very first of us who were able to escape and to be accepted into the partisans. Unlike others he did not forget us in the ghetto. He sent a farmer with two sleighs that arrived almost to the inside of the ghetto attempting to take out the entire group of young people ready to join the partisans. To my great sorrow, everyone started discussing what we should do and arguing and the parents didnt agree that I should leave. They were worried that the Judenrat would take revenge on us, and they had other fears. So the messenger left and came again the next day in an attempt to persuade people to go. Once again there were many discussions but people delayed leaving. The third day he came and no one again wanted to join him, but I, alone, left with him. Although my father continued his opposition to the idea, I came to say goodbye but he still was very much against it. On the other hand, my mother helped me get out the weapons and maps that I had hidden and told me, Go my son, maybe you at least will survive. When I arrived in the forest and waited for Itzhak, he didnt show up. I waited for three days and when he didnt show up I decided to just go on my own. I entered a house in the village with my weapon, and I asked a farmer to harness the horse to the sleigh, and I traveled for many, many hours until in a morning hour I met with a partisan unit. To my great luck, the commander was a major who was a Jew originally from Minsk. He had been trained as a Red Army officer prior to the war. He welcomed me and I had no difficulty in getting used to being a partisan. After a few weeks I was appointed to a sabotage unit. Our unit contained six fighters, all Jews, and the job we received was to put explosives on the train tracks and blow up trains going in the direction of the front. During most of 1943 we had to acquire the raw materials and prepare the explosives. As the year 1943 came to an end we built in the forest a place for planes to land, and a twice a week a plane would arrive, filled with explosives, weapons, and commissars and NKVD people who came from the Soviet Union.
I participated in a respectable number of successful demolition missions and also intelligence gathering operations where I was able to find contacts for purchasing first aid and medicine, as well as raw materials for explosives. As we searched for explosives we found an area in the forest surrounded Minsk in Belarus that contained huge amounts of weapons buried by the retreating Soviet Army. During our missions in the forests we would meet many Jews who had escaped from the ghetto in Minsk, but they didnt have any weapons so we knew that we couldnt take them to our area without weapons. But as soon as we found that area with the weapons, we started taking small groups of Jews there, and when they came to our camp with weapons, they were accepted into our group. But eventually the plot was discovered and I was imprisoned along with other members of our unit. We were convicted for betrayal and ill use of state property. They said that the weapons we found in the forest should have been brought to the camp immediately and not given to Jews that escaped from the ghetto. The man that we should give our thanks to for letting us survive and cancelling the whole trial was Shlomo Harhas, who arrived from the Ghetto in Mir. Shlomo Harhas was one of the organizers of the large breakout of Jews from the ghetto in Mir. He was aided in this escape by Oskar Ruffheisen, who later on became Brother Daniel. To save us, Shlomo, with the help of other friends, brought a large amount of alcohol and food to the camp, and there was a party that lasted for three days. Meanwhile we were released and all was forgotten. Nothing was written in our files about it.
My wounds and the discovery of penicillin
Some months earlier, in May of 1943, we encountered a German blockade and during the battle that ensued, Baruch Milikovsky from Volozhin was killed, and I was wounded. We were at a distance of about more than three days walk from the nearest partisan base, and my friends needed to assist me to get there by walking through the night and even through the day sometimes, depending on the area. During that period I didnt receive any medical aid. When I finally arrived to the first partisan camp, I received some aid from a major who was a doctor. His leg had been amputated and he was a POW at one point, and since he spoke German fluently he was able to get a job as an interpreter for the Germans in the town of Horodok. The partisans disliked him and they were able to capture him. Since he was earlier on trained by the Soviets for spy missions, he learned to speak German fluently. He was very clever and he succeeded in convincing the partisans headquarters that he was innocent and they forgave him, and he became the doctor for the brigade. So this so-called doctor, when I arrived at his place I was at a very critical situation. All he did was sew my wounds and leave me to die. My friends, who were sure that I was mortally wounded, put me again on a sleigh and took me to a distance of about 25 km to the camp where our brigade was located.
Amongst the people who escaped from Minsk and who our unit helped get weapons for acceptance into the partisans was the Taitz family. The head of the family was an orthopedic doctor, as was his wife. Dr. Taitz was once the assistant of the famous Professor Shapira. With them they also had their son who was 16 years old. Dr. Taitz started checking me and was shocked to see the poor care I had been given, so in a very primitive condition, with the little light provided by lutzunky (little pieces of wood?) he cleaned the infection and cut the wounds then sewed them. I was in a horrible condition. I had a very severe infection. Mrs. (also Dr.) Taitz was together with her son and she rode a horse to a camp that was about 80 km from there, where she thought she might be able to receive some mdeicine for the infection. She was able to receive medicine from a unit that had come from the Soviet Union. This unit contained mainly political people who would come to the forest by plane, so they had a large supply of medicine. So shortly after, I recovered and returned to take part in missions. As I later found out, the doctor who originally took care of me, the one without a leg, was executed during July of that year. The partisans found out that he was communicating with the Germans, and aided by his lover who he brought to the camp, and she was the relay between him and the Germans.
Despite my general recovery, my right shoulder continued to leak pus. All the attempts that were made to heal it did not work, and I lived with constantly changing wraps that I received from the local farmers which were made from the local cotton (?). At night we would take part in missions, but during the days we would always look for a hiding place, usually far away from main roads or villages. These were isolated places where we could safely retreat in case someone discovered us. One of the places we used to hide in was Blutkovishzina. As the name attests, it had something to do with marshes. At one time, when I asked a farm woman for some materials to cover my pus, she looked at my wound and the way I was taking care of it. She immediately announced to me that she knew how to take care of it, and how to do so fast. The woman who I have no doubt was illiterate, had a magical cure that I found out years later, after the war, was penicillin. The medicine that she used contained stale bread mixed with cobwebs. On top of that, clearly she put some holy water that the priests had blessed. Its hard to believe, but it took less than a month and the wound completely cured.
When I returned to the camp, I showed Dr. Taitz my wound and told him what had happened. He said I was very lucky that I didnt expose myself to a new, bigger infection. Sometime after the war, a doctor who invented a medicine based on these old folk remedies received a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Taitz did not forget me, and in spite of the fact that I returned to missions in a somewhat handicapped condition, he still made sure to include me, in June of 1944, in a mission to bring wounded people across the border and into the Soviet Union. We were taken in a Dakota plane. Those same planes would bring weapons to the area and return to the Soviet Union with the wounded.
From what brigade did you come? What brigade did you belong to?
I was taken to a hospital in the town of Nova Vilitza near the town of Gomel, which was completely destroyed at that point. I was sent for questions to the Belarussian Partisan headquarters. I was taken to an interview by a young officer whose job was, as was usual procedure in the Soviet Union, to write up a questionnaire for me that contained hundreds of questions. We encountered a problem right away, as I was asked to name the battalion from which I had arrived. When I announced that I had belonged to the Andreyev (Andreyevich?) Battalion, my interviewer, as well as others who stood nearby, looked as if they were in shock. I was sent, after a short time, to a place where I was supposed to spend the night, and asked to return the next day. When I arrived on the morning of the next day, I was immediately told by the officer that I must have been very gravely wounded and that I had some kind of mental shock, and that I was suffering from amnesia. But he made some inquiries and everything was ok. He found out that the battalion that I had served in was called For the Soviet Homeland. As a citizen of the Soviet Union, I understood that I must agree with all that was told to me and not to question anything. Later on I found out the whole issue in the Soviet Union, towns as well as enterprises and army units were usually named after Soviet heroes that rulers wanted to honor. Comrade Andreyev was elected for membership in the Politburo of the Communist Party, the prime office the ruling party, but this had been years before, and the head of the brigade, by the name of Sokholov, when he had decided to name the battalion, didnt know that some years before, Comrade Stalin executed Comrade Andreyev as a traitor. During the war years they were disconnected, having no contact since the 22nd of June, 1941. Anyway, now I received papers that I served in this battalion whose existence I first heard of that day.
My cousin Motl Sklut, who had been my teacher when I was younger, also escaped the ghetto and joined the partisans, where I got back in touch with him. While guarding the camp on what turned out to be the last day of the war, the Germans attacked the camp and he was killed
Fifty years after the victory over Germany, when the Soviet Empire collapsed and turned into different republics, the Belarussian government decided to celebrate the occasion of the victory. Since Belarus was liberated in the year 1944, they decided in 1994 to make a huge celebration. Amongst all the people who were invited were all the heads of the partisans who had fought in the different fronts in Belarus. Amongst them I was invited, the partisan from ghetto Krasne along with a few other partisans of different nationalities. During this occasion, I met a few people, and one of them wanted to prove to me his position and his connections and he offered to show me my personal files from the Belarus partisans archives. To tell you the truth, this was as interesting to me at that point as the snow that fell in Siberia before the war, but to be polite I said fine. I was asked to write my address in Israel, which I did reluctantly. Many weeks passed and I received in the mail a print of my personal files, and from it I learned that when I first came to the battalion all my personal information was written down, amongst them my social class, meaning what was the job of both of my parents, and other similar information that for some reason seemed very important to them for our fight with the Nazis. But most surprising to me, was that the name of my battalion was clearly written as Andreyev. This, for some reason, was not changed or erased as the Soviets usually did with the encyclopedia, where they would cut a page and instead put a new page.
*The Sklut daughters that came to the States were Esther (Cohen) Esther had a daughter Ethel and they lived in Detroit. Esther's husband was blind and he went back to the East Coast, leaving them alone in Detroit , Michigan. My husband's family went to Europe in 1928 --found out about Esther and made arrangements for her to come with her daughter, Ethel, to Chicago where they would get her an apartment and a job. Before it could be accomplished, Esther had an appendix attack and died, so my in-laws took Ethel (then aged 13) to Chicago and raised her as one of the family. I always knew her as a sister to my husband. Ethel died a couple of years ago in California--but she has four children there and we are very close. Actually--her granddaughter is expecting a baby next month. We are waiting to hear. Ethel's daughter is ESTHER--perhaps if her granddaughter has a girl--it will be named after Ethel.
I do have lots of information. Lots of it in folders in my file drawers at home. I am working on the Skluts, Kaplans, Fishkins and MY OWN families: Rosenthal, Horowits, Goldman and Schuchalter. I keep a big drawer for each family. I also have family in Hadera, Roichgman (my mothers) and Lavi (my fathers). Jewel.