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Today I called Yosef Shamir in Bnai Brak, Israel. Tel; 03-635 6469
Yosef Shamir is the head of the Krivichi society in Israel. He was born in Krivichi. His family originally came from the Ukraine, but escaped to Krivichi during the difficult times that the Jews were experiencing. Josef’s family was relatively well off, his mother was a pharmacist. When the Russians came to the area in 1939, they nationalized the pharmacy that belongs to the mother. In 1940 Yosef, his sister Malka and his mother Sonia were sent to Siberia as family of an enemy of Russia, a Polish officer. The entire shtetl of Krivichi came to the train station to see them off. Yosef remembers that someone said to them “Don’t cry, maybe soon a day will come that we would all wish to be with you”. How true it turned to be. Yosef, his mother Sonia, and Yosef’s sister, Malka were amongst the few from Krivichi who survived the war. His brother Lazer Shimnitzki was killed while fighting for the Polish army. Afterwards, they came back to Poland in search of their family, only to learn that the other daughter Raya Torek had perished with her daughter, Ada. However, her husband who was a physician had survived the war. The family had originally left for Poland on their way to Israel, where Yosef was determined to live. Instead, when meeting Yosef’s brother in-law, a marriage was proposed. The brother in-law married Malka (his deceased wife’s sister) and they left for Australia with the mother; Sonia, where the groom’s brother lived. Meanwhile, Yosef came to live in Israel, where he still resides.
Yosef Shamir is now responsible for the annual meetings (every April) held to remember the people who perished in Krivichi. During the first meetings about 80 people came to remember their family and neighbors in Krivichi. The number is amazing, considering that in any given time only about 400 Jews lived in Krivichi. However, now, almost 60 years later, most of the people have died. Hence, in the last meeting only 13 people came. Amongst them, the four sisters of the Shod family, the two sisters of the Viesenholtz family (Chana and Yehudit), the two sisters of the Katzovitz family (Dvora and Masha who came from Russia to Israel within the last 10 years), The four sisters of the Shod family (Luba, Sara and ?) and Shifra Nee Bunimovitch and her husband Chayim Tauger (who died a few months ago).
I talked with Chana Nee Veissenholtz-Rubin, the sister in-law of Leon Rubin of Dolhinov. She is the wife of Leon’s older brother, Arye. Chana told me that her mother, Sima was from the Presman family of Dolhinov and her father, Avraham was from the Visenholtz family of Krivichi. Her father had sisters in Kurenets. One of his sisters was named Doba Alperovitz. The family was also related to Jerry Kaydno, the fathers were first cousins. She told me how she greatly admires Jerry Kaydno for his great deeds and his kind heart.
Jerry and his brother Howard were orphaned during the Holocaust. They were very young boys and survived with the help of their aunt Teibe. They were hiding in the woods of Naroots for a few years.
Chana told me that during the war she worked with her mother and her sister for the Germans. She told me that one-day during work they had heard that the Germans were surrounding Krivichi and were killing everyone in sight. Chana, her mother, and her sister immediately escaped and after some days arrived in the forests of Naruts, where the partisans had a camp. The three women were alone with no men to protect them, no money or clothing, and no place to stay. They had a very hard time but eventually, the Svirsky family of Koblonic took them to their hideout, which was a cave built deep in the ground in the forest. The sisters and their mother were allowed to sit in the tiny place during the entire night. They were forced to sleep sitting up in these unaccommodating conditions but they survived the war. They came to Israel after the war’s closure.