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Translated from the original Hebrew by Devora Borik

Notes in [ ] are by the translator


Edited and transcribed by Leonard Robbins




I am Shimon Podbereski, a member of a very large family who was left as one

of the only remnants after the war. I would like to try to immortalize my

family story from the time I came to this world to the time of the family's

bitter end, for a remembrance throughout eternity for the remainder of the



Truly it is difficult to write memories that belong to a time of fifty years

ago and more. However, these memories of a childhood are unforgettable. They

are within me very very deep in my soul in my entity and in all of my being.

Wherever I go they are after me. They are chasing me. They are always in my

mind, the people, the localities, the neighborhood, the views where I grew

up, where I studied, where I developed my personality, where I became a man.

I was there until I came to the land of Israel, where I hoped during all my

days of youth in the Diaspora to end up. Memories from distant times in the

shtetl of Vishnevo, where I lived with family members who did not get to

reach the land of Israel, although they so wanted to make Aliyah. They were

all annihilated in 1942 with the other Jewish residents of the shtetl. That

is where my friends, boy friends and girl friends were left. Dear friends

with whom I grew up, with whom I was happy in the times of happiness, with

whom I was sad in the times of sorrow, while we were all trying to make our

lives a little less burdened.




I was born on January 25, 1914 in the town of Vishnevo in Poland. (In 1914,

it was part of Russia, It became part of Poland from 1921- 1939). I was born

close to the time of the beginning of World War I. When World War I came to

our area (1915), I was still a baby. We were chased away from Vishnevo that

was on the German front at that time. Father was an oven builder and I was

always very proud of him. My family included six brothers and two sisters.

The two older brothers had left, They had gone to America together with a

family member prior to World War I.  The rest stayed behind.

          For days and nights, we were wandering on the roads. We drifted in

the military zone until we came to a town by the name of Stetin , we ended up

living there the entire period of the First World War and the Russian

Revolution until 1923. We went through many hardships and sufferings until we

were accepted by the Jewish community, eventually they gave us a house at the

very edge of the town next to the bathhouse. We were supposed to take care of

it (the bathhouse) and clean it.

      Many years later my sister Shoshana and I went to the land of Israel.

I ended using the illegal immigration route. Therefore, I, Shimon, the

youngest in the family arrived in the land Israel as illegal immigrant and

survived. The rest of them who stayed in Europe, my beloved brothers and

sisters were annihilated together with their families.


Back to my childhood; Just as soon as the Germans entered the area were we

lived during World War I, good relations were established with the

population, and there were commercial relations too. The Germans imported

grain, meat, and jams. This brought better income to our home nevertheless we

were looking forward for the war to end so we would be able to return to our

hometown, Vishnevo.


When we returned to Vishnevo, I was nine years old, we found a town that had

only partially been rebuilt from its ruins that were caused by the wars and

the big fire of 1915. Our house was gone and until we would be able to

rebuild, we lived as tenants at the house of Nata Podbereski on the other

side of the road from where our house used to be. In the past, we had a house

and a piece of land of about 5 acres. We sold some of the land to a Polish

man who was a neighbor on one side. On the other side, we were neighbors to a

Russian family. At the beginning of the war, this man had been an officer of

the municipality. Later we lived in the house of the neighbors until we built

a rather large house by the concepts of those days. The family members, who

immigrated prior to the war to America, helped us with the financial aspect

of the rebuilding. While the war was still going on (the Soviets and the

Poles were fighting for control of the area), many refugees were moving from

one town to another. My brother and my father were looking to improve our

income. Fortunately, my father had a profession, he was building ovens and my

two older brothers helped him. My second brother who later died from typhoid

and I, grew up with two sisters, Shoshana, may she rest in peace, the mother

of Miriam, and Yonah. Teibe was the name of my second sister.


We lived close to a German family that had a fruit orchard, apples and pears.

We had a piece of land too, on which we grew vegetables. Behind the house,

there was a big barn, a place for cows. The houses in the town were all

wooden houses. The municipal buildings at that time were all in ruins because

of the wars. Until the rebuilding of the school, I studied at the house of

the Rabbi. Afterwards I continued my studying in the school that was recently

built. At the end of my formal education, I continued with my learning by

using private tutors. When I was a young lad in Vishnevo, the Zionist youth

movement, HaShomer Hatzair was established and I joined it.




Our town was very charming and had magnificent views. The hamlet was

surrounded by forests it was nestled at the foothills, there was the Oshanke

river that flowed into the Berezina. A boulevard of birch trees took you from

the town to the train station in Bogdanova, through the picturesque villages.

We would usually be strolling in the forest during the summer days when the

lilacs were in bloom, the intoxicating scent is following me until this day.

The birch trees were beautiful and their silvery color was shimmering in the

sun. Also there were pine trees and the firs. In the wintertime, they would

be covered with snow. Pieces of snow would be hailing from them and coming

down from their branches. I recollect the enchanting forest of Skimbowski

where we would go for the camps of Lag B'Omer.

Anti-semitism was always very strong in Poland, still when we would go out

in the forests on Lag B'Omer or other Jewish occasions we felt some kind of

respect expressed from the non-Jewish people towards us. Perhaps they saw in

us the "new Jews" who were aspiring to have their own homeland. We were not

like our humble forefathers. We were the modern confident Jews. Jews who

walked in the towns' streets proudly and erectly. At list, this is the way I

grasped it.


During the years of 1935 to 1939, I felt a change in the political

atmosphere, a chillier attitude was shown to us by the non-Jewish population.

It was a mood saturated with concealed hatred. At this time, it did not have

yet any physical display. On the contrary, the very young non-Jewish people,

our contemporaries, befriended us. Some were having romantic feelings towards

the Jewish girls. They saw themselves as intelligent and open minded and they

would meet with us often. Truly, there was a bit of a distance between us but

they liked to dance with the Jewish girls. We had dancing balls with them.

Also there were none Jews in a band of Jewish people, the band of the


A memorable winter day in the year 1931


                      I woke up on a winter morning in a warmed house. The

windows were covered with a thick layer of ice that formed many patterns of

flowers on the glass. Only in my imagination, I could truly describe its

beauty. I opened the little window. The sun was shining and its light was

shining on the soft snow that had just ceased coming down. Outside, the snow

was piled up to the height of the rooftops. Here and there, you could see

people shoveling away the snow in order to be able to come out of their

homes. Some of the sidewalks were made of wood, and the minute you finished

cleaning them, they became very slippery and you had to walk very carefully

not to fall down. I walked out with a shovel in my hand and I started to

shovel when I noticed that some people were approaching. I was wearing

high-topped shiny shoes with long woolen socks. My pants were very nicely

ironed. I had just finished ironing them before I came out. My shirt was from

HaShomer Hatzair and I wore a sweater. I was very nicely shaven and I combed

my hair shortly before. My hair was very curly and it was done in layers. I

felt that I looked handsome that day.  The approaching youths filled the air

with happy laughter that sounded familiar to me. As they came near I realized

that they were two girl friends, one was Batya and the other was Channa. I

asked, "what are you doing on my street?". They said that they were going to

the shoemaker to give him some shoes to be repaired. They asked me if I would

be able to join them. Of course, I agreed. The three of us walked in the soft

snow towards the house of the shoemaker. After a few minutes, we returned to

my house. I said goodbye to them and I went inside.


                         The house it was warm, a pleasure. It was during

the Hanukkah holiday. I took my mandolin in order to practice my Hanukkah

songs. It was about noon. At 1 we would eat lunch. My sister Yonah Teibe was

a clerk in a bank, she would come home at this time to eat, and she would

later return to work. My older sister Shoshana prepared lunch and I was

supposed to prepare some food for the cow. It was not a simple process. In

the wintertime, the cow needed hot food. You would bring into the house half

of a barrel and in the oven you would warm up rocks or iron for hot water.

Into the barrel, you would put a mixture of potatoes and water and boiling

hot rocks or iron and cover. After a few minutes, the food would be ready and

I took the food out to the cow, which is in the barn. The cow would usually

be lying down and looking very warm, but when she would smell the food she

would get up very fast and eat with a lot of appetite. While she would be

eating, my sister Shoshana would milk her, and I would keep on cleaning and

bringing hay that was in the attic on the top of the barn. This was my daily



    Time was passing and it was fast becoming dark, in the wintertime, the

nightfall would come early. Now it was time to go to meet my friends in our

Ken (Hebrew for nest).[Translator's note: the place is called a "nest" which

was the name given to the locality where the members of the youth movement

would meet.] We had very important things to do. We had commitments, which

were political, cultural and social.




The snow has melted. Drops of water are still coming down from the edges of

the rooftops that were covered with straw. Yes, that is what I would see

through the window. From the other side of the rooftops at about a distance

of 1 kilometer, by the village, I could see the top of a protruding tree and

on its top there was a stork. Whenever spring would come the stork would

bring the tidings of the spring. How jealous I was of you, my stork, who

could fly through to our ancient land, the land of Israel that was waiting

for us. You could go on and on, you fly away and you then come back to your

nest and your home. I would walk near the tree on a path so I can be close to

you. To see the whiteness of your body, and your very delicate feet, how you

stand straight up, and how you look around at all of your surroundings. You

are waiting for your spouse to come to mate with you and you will lay eggs in

your nest so you will have little chicks at the end of the season. The time

will come and you will have little chicks. You will be feeding them with a

lot of tenderness, you will take care of them, and you will not let anything

bad happen to them. Now the chicks grow up, the time passes and the chicks

start flying from under your wings, and you watch them very carefully so that

nothing bad will happen to them. Again, winds come and they tell you that the

time for wandering has come again. You have to keep your strength so that you

will be able to pass over the countries and lands and be able to fly back to

the place from whence you came.  


Your family has become big and you need more land to sustain you. In order

not fight with your neighbors, you have to share and get along nicely hence

you will be able to live together and indeed be able to be happy with what

you have. What I wonder about is that you do came to the same place from

whence you reside.



                                                    MARKET DAY


Market day was a day that brought in a bit of noise and uproar to the very

slow and quiet life of the town. Starting very early in the morning from

three streets: Vilno, Volozhin and Kreve, a stream of people, carts and

livestock would converge to the marketplace that was in the very middle of

town. Farmers came from close by and far away villages, with their carts that

carried anything you can imagine on them. All things from agricultural

products, potatoes, chickens, eggs, butter, cheeses, sour cream, bagelach,

and different kinds of grain including; wheat, barley, oats and flax. During

the summer time, there was also fruit; apples, pears, cherries and plums.


       At the set of the evening, after a noisy busy day of selling and

buying, the market place would usually turn quiet. The farmers would return

to their farms in the neighboring hamlets, most of the time they would be

drunk at that point, some would be lying down in their carts, screaming and

yelling. Sometimes they would gather at the end of the day at the pubs and

they would try just before they leave the town, to "cause some happiness" to

cause hubbub and noise and they would scream unrestrained. Many times, we had

to ask the police to come. However, until the police would arrive, the

youngsters (us) would be there with sticks in our hands. We would attempt to

disperse them although they outnumbered us.  There were days that we did not

get there in time. On those days we could not manage to overcome them and

their screaming "Jews to Palestine or we will slaughter you" would be heard

over the entire town and they would scare to death the old Jews. They would

hurry to close the doors and to shut the shutters. The Jews would stand

fearfully behind closed doors, but usually with the help of the heavens, they

would finally disperse, and the quiet of the town would return. This was an

ugly component of the way of life in the shtetl-a very sad one too. It caused

us, the young people, strong feelings of shame. We accepted that it was part

of the Jewish life in the Diaspora. We did not want to have any part of it.

Added to it was the anti-Semitism that was rising in the 1930s' in Poland and

the rest of Europe. It caused the Jewish youngsters to desperately try to

leave. We used any way and by any road to go to the land of Israel-- to the

land where we would walk erect and where we would have our own state. We will

never be ashamed of our inaction again, we will never be put down, and we

will never be scared to be Jews again.


Most of the time these outbursts did not become actual pogroms, but I

remember one time when the murder of two Jews had shaken the whole town and

the area around it. It happened in 1933. One day some gentile people entered

the house of Isaac Leib the butcher, two young men from one of the

neighboring villages. They invited him to come with them to buy a cow they

owned. He and his brother-in-law got on the cart with six of them together

and they drove away. On the way these two men took axes and clobbered them to

death. Pictures of the murdered Jews lying on the cart are with me to this

day.( the picture is in the Yizkor book) The whole horrible deed shook the

town and the area around it, even the non-Jewish residents. The authorities

decided to have a public trial and they decided that one of them would be

hanged. Actually, he was hanged in the marketplace in near by, Volozhin. The

second one was sentenced to life in prison.


I was then in the Hachshara [ preparation, a "practice Kibbutz" the young

people learned farming and what life on a Kibbutz would be like, in

preparation to when they got to Israel]. I learned about the terrible deed

when I came home for vacation.




                          HaShomer Hatzair [Socialist Zionist movements] in

Vishnevo was established in 1928. Afterwards a "Beitar" movement was

established. [Right wing, the Likud of nowadays]. At the same time, another

movement "The worker of Zion" was established. The movement HaChalutz, The

Pioneers, was already in existence since the beginning of the twenties and

was established then by Chaim Abramson and his friends, but we revived it

after most of them left for Eretz Israel. Together with the establishment of

the "nest" or meeting place, started out very active and loud arguments

between us (HaShomer Hatzair who was in the main stream of Zionism) and the

Beitar group. We argued about the different Zionist ideologies in the

Diaspora and in Israel, actually Palestine at the time, about the social

activities and values and about the ways to build the land.  The heads of our

nest were Isaac Kaplan and Joshua Rabinovich (later the mayor of Tel Aviv),

and for a short time Isaac Yachas. After a while the socialist league was

also established and was joined by a few older people. Elia Zusman was the

head of it. Khonon and Galeo Podbereski were very active. For a long time,

all of us--members of all the groups--would gather in the school after the

day of studies, and the happiness was great. At the end, we left this house

and we rented a room in the house of the Rabbi Mordechai Zusman.


HaShomer Hatzair indoctrinates us to have strong values (love of nature and

physical work and healthy and moral way of life). We would study history and

politics, and investigate the obstacles and issues of the land of Israel. We

ponder over international and social problems. These discussions trained us

to look deeper into issues and to have more sophisticated way of thinking.

Also we would go to camps and meet other youngsters from HaShomer Hatzair

from other places, from Lida, Grodno and even from Warsaw. We learned from

them about the lives of youngsters in the big cities. To us, the youth from a

very small shtetl, it was very very important. The movement opened for us

wider range of vision. In addition to ties with the big Jewish world, it

caused us to be interested not only in the topic of Zionism, but also in

socialists issues all over the world.


As Zionists, we collected money for the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet).

We organized bazaars. To finance the Bazaars we would go from house to house

and collect donations. For the openings of the bazaars, we would always have

a dancing ball. As part of its activities, we would perform plays that would

show the way of life in our town. A few times, we had these plays in the

house of Joseph Yevichensky, who was very generous with us. We had a drama

club and one time we presented the play " Tevye the Milkman" by Sholom

Alaichem.( fiddler on the roof) It was done by us and by the teacher who was

a very nice to us and like us was a political person. He took upon himself to

carry out this very tough job to present this play. We all know the contents

of this show. The story of the fate of the daughters. The third daughter of

Tevye falls in love with a non-Jewish man named Pietka. She does not push him

away at the end she goes with him and is not Jewish any more. The part of the

daughter of Tevye was given to Batya Rabinovich. This was a very tough and

responsible job. The part of the non-Jewish guy was given to an older guy who

was the head of our nest.




The rehearsals started. Since Batya had been chosen to be the daughter of

Tevye the Milkman who goes away and leaves her Jewish roots, we started

collecting clothes that would fit her. Everyone was in charge of his own

clothes. At this point of time, better acquaintance with my later to be girl

friend started, my beloved of the future, Batya, and I developed friendship.

This was the period of winter. Snow covered the streets and the rooftops. I

would accompany Batya to search for boots and other clothes she needed for

the play. Once as we started on our way, there was a storm and we almost

fell. I held Batya's hand so she would not fall. At that moment, I felt as if

an electrical current passing between the two of us. We were then about 15 or

16 years old.. She came close to me and we walked together hand in hand.

Clandestine flows as if explosions tingled us and given us a glimpse of life

with common hope and a joint future.

                      The time for the presentation of the play drew closer.

Our stares would constantly meet during rehearsals. Both of us were shy and

we did not have the courage to show each other what we had in our hearts. The

play was very successful. A lot of this was success was due to Batya who was

excellent in her part. At the end of the play we were given flowers and

refreshments. The people who came to see us were very enthusiastic and they

clapped their hands for a long time and called "Batya, Batya". Certainly, she

was very successful in her part.

       Batyas' clothes fit her very nicely. The gypsy scarf that she wore

and the boots etc. I can say that in me, a growing teenager a spark was

kindled. I probably was not ready yet to have a full blown feeling of love,

but inside me, the seed of love was planted for the future. When we went to

our place of meeting after the show, and to other places, the closeness

between us grew larger and little hints appeared. She spoke for the first

time about a common future.


When Batya was ten years old, her mother passed away. Her two older sisters

were married and her older brother made Aliyah (immigrated) to Eretz Israel.

In the house, there was a father--a heavy built man, a very strong character,

who did not speak a lot and who did not know how to show any feeling of

softness to his daughter. There was an older brother and a younger sister.

The whole burden of the house fell upon Batya's shoulders. The responsibility

was great. The father and his son would go every morning with a horse and

cart to the villages to buy and sell flax, onions and pigs hair in order

sustain the family. The responsibility to arrange the house and to do

everything in the house was on Batya's shoulders, also to study and to help

the younger sister. The difficulties of life were shown in her maturity.

Batya continued with her studies and meeting with her friends while her

laughter was making your heart sing. And her black eyes were penetrating the

hearts of the young men. When she opened her mouth, her white pearl like

teeth could be seen. The more she matured, the more she turned pretty. Her

body filled out a little bit, it rounded up, but not too much however. Both

of us matured through the years and the closeness between us became greater.

By nature I was a shy man and that was something that hindered my free

behavior in company. Whenever Batya looked at me, I would blush and I would

be covered with sweat, but with the way of nature, I matured and loved to

sing and to dance and I was a sportsman.


I liked to organize our social affairs and I initiated many happenings so we

would not be bored, such as riding bicycles, which in those days were a new

thing. We got a few bicycles and taught the girls how to ride them. In the

summer time, the boys and girls on bicycles passed through the streets of the

town. During the wintertime, we hired a sleigh that was harnessed to a horse,

especially on Sabbath nights and on moonlit nights we went out on the snow

covered fields to have excursions. The snow was shining like thousands of

diamonds and we could see pieces of ice dripping from the trees. Each young

man had a girl sitting on his lap. That was how we drove singing into another

world with the feeling of happiness at being young. After an hour or two, we

would retreat. Each person would go on his own way.


                   On one of those trips, while Batya was sitting on my lap,

everyone decided to go back to their homes. How could we go to sleep in a

full moon night where everything was white and shiny and keeping your eyes

wide open? We were left there only the two of us. We kept on walking in the

fields. The birch trees were towering over us, the light of the snow kept us

together physically, hand in hand, and body to body and feeling of happiness

and excitement filled our hearts. I held Batya strongly and she did not

resist me. She came closer to me and hugged me. The first time our lips came

together and we felt for the first time the sweetness of kisses. This is how

we stood there, hugging and we did not even feel the dawn was approaching.

Except Batya was responsible for the family and had to get up early in the

morning.. We continued on, walking in the direction of her home while

hugging. In those early morning hours, we made many plans for the future.  

For the immediate future, we decided to meet the next day at the Polish

school. We said goodbye kissing each other sweetly and with very happy

feeling that tomorrow, we would meet again.


                      After the success of the play in the town, we were

invited to a town about 20 kilometers away from our town to present the play

again. We experienced a period of stress, during the rehearsals and the

collection of clothes and props we needed for the play.  Summer has arrived.

We hired four mares. We put everything on the wagons and in the morning, we

started on our way. We arrived at the town Aolshony.

             In Aolshony we had a good friend, one of those who had invited

us to present the play. He met us and took us to the home where we were

supposed to perform the play. The play was very successful. The people

applauded very enthusiastically, especially for Batya. The people did not let

her get off the stage.


Later that night we started to go back home. This was in the middle of the

summer. The moon and the stars were clearly visible in the sky above us. We

left in two wagons with the clothes. In one wagon there was the teacher

Joshua Isaac Kauffman who had the part of Pietka in the play and in the other

of, course, Batya and I. the wagon had hay in it was hardly moving. It was a

cold night. We pressed close to each other to keep warm. At dawn we arrived

back home very tired but happy. Batya and I decided on our next rendezvous.

Since then, our encounters began to be more and more frequent. The official

gathering of the Youth movement in the meeting hall was now less frequent,

but our youth group still kept together. Our meetings from time to time were

about a project to build a Hachshara (preparation) Kibbutz. [At that time,

the youth groups would build a replica of a Kibbutz in the forests. The young

people would go to live there for long periods to practice agricultural and

communal living. They could go to Israel and live in a real Kibbutz only if

they were done with their Hachshara.]


In 1931, we were told that we would have a meeting of all the Kens (nests-

units of the youth movement) near Grodno. We started making preparations and

collecting money for the train trip

             KIBBUTZ  BAGO


                   This was the first meeting for the establishment of the

Kibbutz Bago. The name Bago is an abbreviation for the three bodies that

established it, Godnovich, Grodno and Warshava (Warsaw). The distance between

them was great and on the way we passed by the town Lida where we had friends

from the same group. Some of them we knew from summer camps in which we took

part. This meeting took part of the leadership of the whole movement in

Poland. This was a meeting of acquaintance and the beginning of a social

crystallization for a Kibbutz that was about to be established. We decided on

locality where we would establish a place for preparation in the hope of a

future of going to a kibbutz in Israel. We decided on places and dates for

each one of the groups. The date for our group from Vishnevo was January,

1933. Within our group it was decided that I and Isaac Zusman would have to

do the preparation.


The situation in our house was strenuous. My mother was sick with cancer and

for the last year had been bedridden. My father was also ailing for the past

few months. My elder sister Shoshana was in charge of the house as well as

taking care of my sick father. Along with taking care of the house there was

a cow that supplied us the milk to use for making dairy products for the

family consumption and to sell to others. My other sister was a clerk in a

bank and she helped the family with additional income. I found temporary work

here and there and my earnings were used as financial assistance for the

family. My sister Taiga who was very beautiful. Sadly, she fell in love with

a young man who was not suited for her. He caused her terrible trouble. In

the end, they did get married. My father, who was already very very sick,

still managed to be at the wedding. He died a few months later. At home they

expected me to stay to say Kaddish, as was usual, but it was decided at the

youth movement that I had to go to preparations. This was my wish also. I

decided to say goodbye and to respect my youth movement commitments.


                              It was the end of December, the winter was

coming, it was a particularly cold that year. Many of my friends gathered in

our Ken (nest) to say their good-byes and I was very excited. A stage of my

life was ending and a new one was beginning. I did not know what was waiting

for me. It was dark. The electricity in our nest did not work. The wind was

whining and whistling as if it was telling me to get away from here fast. My

friends gave me a little booklet with notes that they wrote regarding my

travels. Everybody wished me good luck in my endeavor as I was one of the

firsts to embark upon it amongst my contemporaries. Unnoticed by me, Batya

came near me and our looks crossed as if by chance. She softly said to me,

"What will happen with us? You are going and I am staying here! I am very sad

to stay in Vishnevo." The truth is that I did not have any answer for her. We

stood there quietly for a few minutes until the friends around us caused us

to retreat. Is it really over? I felt that something was storming within me.

The wind outside became stronger and stronger and the first snow began to

fall down and cover the black soil. The treetops were shining like crystals.

The wagon driver came to check if we would take a cart or a sleigh. With the

weather outside, we decided to take a sleigh. After a short time the wagoner

returned with a sleigh. We put a closet full of clothes and personal

belongings in it. We separated from everybody with the blessings to be strong

and courageous and everybody went to his home.


                    Batya stayed, she wanted to converse with me, and both

of us left the room of the meeting place. Outside the wind stopped blowing

however the snow kept falling and everything around us was white. We stood on

the soft snow that was rapidly coming down. Our steps left a mark in the snow

as if it was a sign saying that we are together forever. We were quiet and we

did not know how to start the conversation. Batya broke the silence by

saying," Shimon, what will be? You are going to preparations and there you

will meet new friends and start a new life. I am staying in the town, in the

gray everyday life. When will we see each other?". We continued our journey

not noticing that we left town. The lined trees were covered with snow. No

one else was around. Only the moon and the stars were witnesses. As if just

by chance, Batya caught me by my hand and kissed me on my cheek. I returned a

warm kiss. The tension dissipated a little bit and we return home. We parted

by her house. I went back to my house.


The members of our nest who stayed in Vishnevo saw no chances to emigrate to

Israel. In the years 1935 and 1936, when I would come home for vacation, I

found that the youngsters were different than they were in my time. The most

were hardly involved. The Chalutz [the youth movement of the leftist parties]

had already dispersed and only a small number of the members, boys and girls,

kept on having any type of activity. Also there was a small group of young

men who had just finished school.  At that time, the house of Joseph Menchem

Rabinowich, the father of Joshua and Chaina was used as the meeting place.

That is where we would gather and have discussions and let out our

frustrations and everything that was kept inside would come out in those

arguments. I was thinking a lot about the future of those young people, after

most of them became discouraged. It seemed that most of them had given up the

hope and the idea to emigrate and no longer saw that as a goal. I couldn't

understand it. I couldn't grasp it. What had happened here? Who is to blame?

It was clear that the gates were closed and that this is what happened and

caused the distance. Although they stayed Zionists, they looked for a basis

in a different place. There was a part of the young people who stayed

faithful to the dream, went to preparations and were about to emigrate in any

way they could. I was one of them and this was my hope. I wanted to emigrate.


Before I could fall asleep the knocking of the wagoner woke me up and he

said, "Shimon, wake up. We have to go." Outside, dawn had not yet come up. It

was dark. We could see only snow. It was sparkling. My friend Isaac Zusman

was already seated in the sleigh wrapped in a coat. I sunk into the straw,

and so we went on our journey. The distance to the city Novogudok, the place

of our preparation was about 60 kilometers. That day there was a snow storm

that covered the field with a white fur. The horse hardly made his way and he

had a hard time finding the road. From time to time we went down and helped

him. When darkness came, we saw houses on the horizon. That was a sign that

we were approaching a place of residence. Truly, in the evening we arrived at

the house where the Kibbutz was residing. The man came to the door with a

question, "Are you coming for preparation?". We answered, "Yes". We entered a

narrow dark room that was lit by a candle. We were tired and were happy that

we had arrived. We could hardly sit because of the tools that were piled

there. The young man was surprised that we knew that we needed axes and saws.

Truly, those tools were very much in demand. It was explained to us what we

were supposed to do, what were our tasks. We were hungry and tired, It was

difficult for them to find a few pieces of bread and some water for us. The

wagoner and the horse rested for a little bit and then they returned home.

The hour was late and we were absolutely tired and wretched. We began to

prepare for sleep. There were no beds yet. We took off a door, we put some

things on it we brought from home and we went into a deep sleep.


In the morning we drank a watery cup of coffee with saccharine in it. We put

the saw on our waist, the axe on our shoulder and we went out for the first

working day in our preparation. To chop and to saw wood for one of the hotels

in Novogrudok. It was a cold winter day in January, 1933. with two members I

arrived to our designated workplace. When we arrived, the owner of the house,

a lady was in shock. In front of her eyes were two young men and a young girl

who were asking to chop and saw wood. The truth was that the owner of the

house was a pretty, tall woman of about 40. She showed us the wood in the

barn and we started working. The men chopped the wood and the girl brought it

in and arranged it. I am not going to give all the details of the

difficulties of the beginning of our work in the wind and cold of the Polish

winter. Especially the difficulties that the young woman had. Who paid

attention to the difficulties when you knew that the target was important

enough in order to do everything and that made all the difficulties easier.

The time passed fast without looking at the clock.


The owner of the house, the pretty lady, showed up in the yard. In her mouth,

she had an invitation. Jewish children, in this cold you are working outside.

Please come in. The woman said please come into the house, have a cup of tea

and warm yourselves up a little bit. We thanked her for her kindness and we

told her that we had tea in our own food. We, the zealous people for work,

for any price, are not going to stop the work. We sat in the barn. We drank

from the bottle of cold tea and we shared the pieces of bread that we had. We

were in a hurry to go back to work in order to finish the amount of work that

we gave ourselves. We took off our coats and sweaters and continued as if it

were summer outside. At the end of the day we finished sawing and chopping 10

square meters of wood and to arrange them in lines in the barn with great

expertise so the piles would not fall apart. The first working day was

finished with great satisfaction. We brought the first money to by food for

our little family.


After a few days, more friends, both boys and girls arrived at our room. The

room became very narrow from keeping all of them. There were about twenty

young women and men. The local people of the nest took care of us to get an

apartment, beds and mattresses, and working places, especially sawing and

chopping wood in the houses of the parents of the nest members. I need to

mention especially Hillel Baruch who was our "father". He took care of

bringing us flour, potatoes and to get us working places. With a lot of

devotion, he took care of all our needs. Hillel had a brother, may he rest in

peace, in a Kibbutz in Israel. We were accepted in the city and many young

people came to visit us at the place of preparation. The Kibbutz had a wide

range of cultural activities. I brought a mandolin from home and my friend

learned with my help to learn to play it at the end of the day and into the

night. That is how our lives went in the preparation.


Weeks became months. Novogrudnok was one of the places. There were other

places in other towns. Because of the need to centralize all the groups in

one place, it was decided that the city of Slonim would be the central place

of all of the groups. We received the message that we were to pack up all of

our stuff and we were to go to Slonim. This was in the spring of 1934. At

that time I received a letter from my sister Shoshana, she got a certificate

to go to Israel and she ask that I should come to say goodbye. I returned to

Vishnevo after half a year of stay in the Kibbutz. Our house was now divided.

In the back, lived my brother Aryeh with his family, his wife Batya and his

three children, one daughter and two sons. In the other half, the front one,

lived my sister Taibe who married Isaac, a photographer. She worked in the

bank as a clerk. After Shoshana left for Eretz Israel, they all hoped to soon

join her.


I returned to Novogrudnok. We made preparations to move to the centralization

place in Slonim. Kibbutz Massad, that was the new name of our Kibbutz.

     In Slonim, we met some old friends and the meeting was very exciting.

This was a fresh centralization of working forces and a reinforcement of our

social and cultural force.The nest in Novogrudnok and all those who helped us

there in the life of our company. Many members found there at working places

something that helped in the finance of our Kibbutz. I worked in a factory

that made shoes with rubber soles. I would be done at late nighttime, and on

the way back I was supposed to go through neighborhoods that had hoodlums and

prostitutes and even through an old graveyard. Sometimes on the way, my heart

would start pounding east from fear and only when I reached home I would

breathe easier. I wanted to mention the members of the nest of Novogradnik

who joined as members of our Kibbutz in Slonim and also others who are not

alive (he gives list of names)


We arrived in Slonim. A city where most of the inhabitants were Jewish.

Slonim was a very clean city. Forests around it with a brook that ran through

the middle of town. One side was used for a promenade and the other one was

used for bathing. The thick forests were used as substance for the many

sawmills that were in the city. Most of them were owned by Jewish people. The

workers were non-Jewish people from the areas around it. It was difficult to

get work in those sawmillls and we had battles with the Jewish owners who did

not let us be employed in these very tough jobs. Eventually we were able to

get in. The gentile workers struggle with us, and tried to get us to fail.

However, we had a lot of ambition to do the job right and to make a living.

The merchants did not give credit to the Kibbutz. Even bread we could not buy

on credit. Therefore, we had to pay back all the debts to those merchants.

Nevertheless, after a short time we overcame all the economical difficulties

and we paid back all of our debts. The apartment where we lived was too

small. We moved to a bigger apartment by the railroad station. One room was

given to the young men and the other to the young women. We put in new bunk

beds. We slept two in one bed and sometimes three. We bought a milking cow

and we used its products for our sustenance. We formed a format for our

social and cultural activities. Every meeting of the Kibbutz would be opened

with singing before the discussion of any subject that came to the table.


Our Kibbutz Massad was formed by the unity of youngsters that came from towns

in two areas, Vilnavich and Grodno and of "graduates" from Warsaw. The name

began as Bago, but our people came from the towns active in the formation of

our Kibbutz and we did not feel any inferiority to any of the people who came

from other towns or from the capital of Warsaw. As time passed, the

differences were absolutely gone and there was no reason to complain about

it. My mate for sleeping was a boy from Grodno. We slept on the top of the

bunk bed and sometimes we were so wild that we would fall to the bottom part.

He worked in one of the most tedious jobs in the sawmill. The manager was a

tough Jew and he would employ only non-Jewish people, but we were able to get

in and to even get in a few girls. I succeeded in getting a job with a

painter who also put up wallpaper.


One bright day, I received a letter from my sister Taibe and in it was a

request for me to come home fast because she was sick. When I got home, I was

happy to meet Batya. I told her about life in the Kibbutz. The meetings

between us became more and more intimate. She decided that she was going out

with me to preparation. Both of us waited for that moment. In the weeks that

I stayed at home the connection between us became stronger. On every occasion

we had we would meet. Love was blooming. We set a date for us to go out

together to preparation. She did not say anything to her family members. Her

younger sister finished her studies. The work at home that was until then on

Batya's shoulders was supposed to go to her sister. The father was against it

with all his heart and he did not want his daughter to go out to preparation.

We could not keep it a secret that the care of the house would be shifted to

her sister.  The last week the father found out about his shrewd daughter.

Another obstacle was the brother who came back from Israel to the town

because of the bad conditions that existed in Israel at the time of the

immigration there. The brother was the hardest "anti-Israel" and he was

absolutely against his sister going to preparation and making emigration to

Israel. The day of leaving arrived. Batya prepared clothes and things that

she needed and she put all of them at a friend's house (The friendt is my

daughter's mother-in-law now.) The next day at early in the morning hour, we

left. We arrived in Slonim in the evening. After the meal, we arranged places

for sleeping. Batya went to the room for the girls and I went back to my old



The next morning we did not go to work. Ie got up early and I entered the

girl's room.  Most of them were gone to work. Batya was lying there and

crying silently. I asked her why she was crying. Batya grabbed me by both of

my hands. We hugged. She started crying even harder. The  separation from her

home was very tough on her and the fact that she had to leave everything to

her sister. I tried to calm her down. Slowly she calmed down, got dressed and

we went to eat in the mess hall. This was our first day in the Kibbutz in

Slonim. Afterward we ate, then we took a stroll around the Kibbutz in Slonim.

After our friends came back from work, they placed us on the list of workers

for the next day. Batya worked with some of the girls in the sawmill in

cleaning the remnants of the wood from the saws. The work was not easy. After

a day of hard work she would lie down to rest. After a few weeks, Batya

became used to working. She was well liked by the members of the Kibbutz. Six

months she did not receive letters from home, her father's heart finally

softened and she received the first letter from home--something that caused

another outburst of crying and guilt feelings. The relationship between Batya

and I grew stronger and when we were together without the others, we knew how

to give each other the utmost love.


After six months, the news about immigration came. The Kibbutz organization

[this is a leftist organization even to the left of the communists] announced

that the Kibbutz Massad was among the groups authorized for immigration. We

were supposed to make a list of the people who would go. After talking we

prepared a list of twenty-five members that would be going first. The leader

of the movement came and together with him we agreed on the list. I was

included in the list. Together with everybody else, I was happy that the time

had come to fulfill our wishes. All the members that made the list went home

to make the last arrangements and especially to collect money to pay for the

voyage. The Kibbutz decided on a common fund of money and I was supposed to

put in 500 Zlotys. The relationship between Batya and I was very intimate. We

kept it in a correct way and we kept abstinence, something that was very

common in the Kibbutzim in the preparation. The conditions did not let us

have full sexual relations and we had to overcome our wishes, knowing that

only in Israel would we be able to have a normal family life. There we would

have children and there we would make up for what was missing. The

conversations between us were always about the future--when we would arrive

in Israel and when we would begin to have a normal life. There were couples

that behaved in an exactly opposite way--a freer way, and were criticized by

the society around them, but we did not take an example from them.


The day came that I had to go home to make preparations for my immigration in

the future. Saying goodbye to Batya was very difficult, but the situation

made me say goodbye for a short time at least. In my home in Vishnevo I had

to help my sick sister. Her relationship with her husband was very tough and

I was supposed to be the go-between. In letters that arrived from the

commission of immigration it was announced that the immigration would begin

with the young men that were supposed to serve in the army and I was among

them. There are always those that were always more important and two or three

of them had already started on their way. Batya had stayed behind in the

Kibbutz preparation under the assumption that I would soon be in line also.

She got permission to go home for a visit. She was very happy but her family

was not. Again, we spent time together and met friends. Channa, a friend of

Batys's hosted us in her apartment. She had two rooms with a battery-operated

radio, which was the first radio in town. Batya did not invite me to her home

and I really missed it. I started planning how I would be able to visit her

in her home. "Shimonchik", as she called me, you should be patient and

everything would be alright."  After a while I received an invitation to come

when it was convenient for me. Her father and her brother used to go around

to the villages to buy all sorts of merchandise. She, her younger sister who

resembled her and her stepmother were left in the house. One day when I

opened the door to her house they talked to me as "here is the bridegroom".

At first I was embarrassed, but Batya knew how to make me feel that I was her

boyfriend and my right was to feel as if I was in my own home. In time, I

became like a member of the family in her apartment. From Slonim we received

letters from the committee, and I was hoping that I would soon be on the list

of immigrants.


I remember Batya's house and especially the dark and warm room. The entrance

to the room was dark. It was an opening without a door. Only a curtain

separated between that room and the rest of the rooms. The room did not have

any windows. Only four walls and two beds. I remember her eyes that were

black and sparkling like crystal. The warm cheeks, pink and hot. We were hand

and hand as we entered the darkened room. Outside it was cold. Everything was

covered with bluish white and very pleasant to the eyes. In the darkened room

you could feel her warmth. Hand was pressing hand. Electricity went through

all every part of my body. I start patting delicately the hot pink face. In

the dark room the lips come together and are stuck together and cannot let

go. The heat is going around in the room. As if by chance I am touching her

breasts and as if by a magnet my hands are drawn to the soft and pleasant

places. The shirt is opened and the feeling is as of a baby that  already has

had sharp teeth but his thoughts(?) are not clear enough The mouth is opened

and a pleasant scream comes out, "ouch, it hurts". After all, she doesn't

want to give up this pleasant pleasure. Instinctively the nipples give in and

the baby is looking for what he has lost in the hot room. We go outside and

the eyes are blurred, the mind is not working, the thoughts are going with no

purpose, the feet are caving and the heart is very wide with happiness and

the face is beaming with happiness. We open the door and go down the stairs

with wild laughter. We are holding hands. It is cold outside, but it doesn't

have any influence. Hand in hand is sticking together, we walk, we slide, we

talk. The night outside is gorgeous, the moon, the stars and the snow is

shining like crystal. We enter a boulevard of cedars and from there the road

continues to the train station that very soon will separate the two

inseparable. However, who was thinking about it at this very pleasant time.

We are talking about this and that. In our happiness and rascals, we are

sliding and falling into the soft snow. The lips come together and there is

no word uttered or heard. We hear only the whistle from above the tree that

makes us jump. We get up, we clear the snow and we return together on the

same path. The moon comes in between the clouds, the land is covered with a

white fur. The walking  becomes heavy and I am going beside her to help her

walk. She bursts out laughing, "Not have this, I have to walk" and she sticks

her hand in me and with safe steps we continue forward to the house from

whence we left, and behind the cedars the secrets are left. That is how we

departed that night as I was walking her home.


I am walking to my home It is quiet. It is silent around. There are no men.

The shutters are closed. Here and there you can see some faint light behind

the houses. I enter my home quietly. The soft bed is all white. I put on

pajamas and I fall into the cold pleasant bed, but a feeling of heat goes

through my body. An inner heat. The cat jumps and climbs up and lies down by

my feet. Slowly, slowly, I give in to the dreams. One thought is entering my

mind and is not giving me any rest,--if it is truly that our dream is to be

fulfilled, the dream we have dreamt together.


Through the window the sun starts coming up, the winter sun. It is difficult

to get out of the warm bed when you don't have a certain aim that is pushing

you to get up. A feeling of uselessness holds me--sort of an "I don't care"

thinking. What do I have to get up for. I remember the pleasant evening that

passed for us last night. Truly the road is long and hard but we need to hope

that there will be a continuation and that our beloved hope will come true

which is to emigrate to the land to give new life and the basis that we were

raised upon in the preparation. It is difficult to fight with that bitter

presence and sort of a heavy fog is covering the sky. Even worse, even the

members of the preparation know how to calculate and how to relate in a

correct way, in a equal and objective way to each one of the members without

taking into consideration subjective fights. And also the waiting for the

immigration is long and when it comes the number of people who are getting

the certificates is very limited something that makes you be careful with

every one of the certificates.


Batya's father used to greet me with a smile on his face. More that once I

was invited to lunch or dinner. Most of the time I refused. I was able to

save more than 500 Zlotys that I needed for my immigration. I took care of my

passport. I waited for the announcement of the immigration committee but no

announcement arrived. The friends who were in line behind me were already

starting to immigrate but my name was not mentioned at all.


Batya's father used to greet me with a smile on his face. More that once I

was invited to lunch or dinner. Most of the time I refused. I was able to

save more than 500 Zlotys that I needed for my immigration. I took care of my

passport. I waited for the announcement of the immigration committee but no

announcement arrived. The friends who were in line behind me were already

starting to immigrate but my name was not mentioned at all.




It was one of the regular shabbats in town. The parents are returning from

synagogue. They finished feeding the children and they lie down to rest.

Sleeping on Saturday is a pleasure. The young people are looking for a place

to have fun. My friends and I decided to visit the German cemetery from World

War I at a distance of 5 or 6 kilometers. It was a hot summer day. The very

beautifully kept area, lines and lines of gravestones from World War I, among

them also gravestones with Stars of David. Silence is all over the area and

brings you part of sadness. I remember my father's brother-in-law who died in

that war. His body disappeared. We waited a little bit and we started

returning home. When we arrived at Batya's house, she invited me to come in,

drink something and rest and then you will go on. I entered. In the dark room

her brother was asleep and snoring. Batya entered her room and took off her

clothes and she was naked as the day she was born. It was very hot. "Why

aren't you entering my room?", she asked from the other side of the wall. Her

bed was covered with a sheet and she rolled up the sheet in front of my eyes

and what did I see? She is lying there completely naked. inviting me to join

her. "Shimon", she said, "look at me. How do I look? See anything wrong with

my body? Maybe you will regret it?" I was shaking. Seeing her body from top

to bottom and mumbling, "you are pure,  you are pure for me. I do not find

any blemish in you." As a continuation of this situation there was hugging

and kissing. In this exciting moment you have to contain yourself. In the

other room her brother is lying down. Is he still sleeping? There is no limit

to love. That is how one of the sabbaths passed for us. I returned home very

satisfied with a hope to see her in the evening.




I am walking in the street. Outside it is cool. It is very pleasant to walk.

Pure snowflakes are falling down and are gathering in a thick layer. The

whiteness of the shiny snow makes your vision hard. At a distance in front of

me I see an image approaching with noble steps. The dress, the short coat

that she is wearing that I am so familiar with. Hair gathered in a pony tail,

shiny eyes and an arresting smile. Both of us hurry up to one another and the

sudden meeting is very pleasant to us. We stop, we hold hands and together we

change the direction of our walk to a long stroll, a very pleasant and long

stroll. The subject of our conversation as always is when we are going to

fulfill our aim and our common dream will be fulfilled. This was in the month

that I was waiting every day for the announcement of my immigration and Batya

came for a visit so we could be together and say goodbye until we could be

together in Israel.


Weeks passed and months passed but every week I received letters that include

names of friends that are about to emigrate. Every day I am surprised anew

that my name does not appear on the lists. I read together with Batya and I

ask myself every time anew, "why isn't my name appearing?". I was among the

first ones to arrive at the preparation. We were very innocent and could not

imagine a situation of deprivation in our very just society of the Kibbutz.

How am I going to react? This is certainly a depravation. All the bad words

that I know I decided to use against the secretary of the Kibbutz in Israel

that decided on my fate. Both of us, Batya and I returned to the preparation,

where I demanded restitution from the authority of the Kibbutz as to why my

name was not appearing on the list of the people who were about to emigrate.

I received a list of answers. Most of my friends were up in arms and they

demanded an answer. Everything was concealed and not clear. It was decided I

was to go to Warsaw to the Secretary of our Kibbutz  in order to check for

the reason for this very sad happening.


In the cold and the snow I am hitchhiking and I arrived in Warsaw. The

secretary, to my dismay, I also got from him an evasive answer and my

explanations did not change anything. I returned to the preparation in Slonim

without a satisfactory answer. After a few weeks I received a letter from my

sister together with a draft to the Polish army. The same day a very close

friend also received a call from the army. The secretary sent it right away

to Warsaw and from there without saying anything he went to Israel. I went to

the Polish army and I served faithfully my homeland Poland. This was to be

but was for me from the Kibbutz preparation. Afterwards it was clarified  to

me that a group of informers slandered me and told about me some bad things.

Maybe from being jealous and maybe for other reasons. I was left with my

passport that I prepared and with a receipt for the money that I gave without

anything being done in order to expedite my emigration.


I took into confidence a few of the members of the Kibbutz and I told them

about the theme of unrest that was done to me. I simply said that I was

cheated. There was a feeling of uprising from some of the members, but what

could they do after all? Everything was done in secrecy and without any

conference and without saying anything about what was hiding behind it. There

were rumors floating about distorted things that were told about me from

Israel without having the chance to check to see if there was any bit of

truth in them. In all that even though I was so devoted with all my heart and

with all my soul to the Kibbutz and I worked the hardest jobs that there

were. My conclusion afterwards was that in life you ought not to rely on only

a few people to make the decisions. Batya and I returned home in a very bad

mood. I waited for the date for the beginning of my service in the Polish



Here started a tragic story for me and for pretty Batya, the very capable and

devoted. The road now was closed for the fulfillment of our common dream. To

immigrate to our birthplace and to get away from the anti-Semitic Poland that

did not leave any place for the members of our movement. The meetings between

me and Batya became very complicated because of her parents being against it.

Her father told her very clearly that she could not keep on meeting with me.

Shimon will be going out to the army and you have no chances that you can

marry him. We want to arrange a marriage for you with a young man who is well

to do financially. He is a merchant. You will be able to live with him and

"have a life where you will have everything and nothing will be lacking".

There was even an arrangement to have the meeting about the marriage at the

house of Batya's older sister who was the owner of a shoe store. This

gradually was tempered by Batya's opposition. "I have a man and I will take

care of myself", said Batya. I will not come to any meeting. The immediate

reaction was a prohibition from her father to meet with me. Batya told me

with a bitter heart about the happenings in her home and about the pressure

from her family she was under. With tears in her eyes, she told me, "no

pressure will persuade me, we will continue to meet in various places and

nothing will help them".


Batya had a very big family. She had a brother that left Judaism and came

back from Israel. He pressured Batya to stop to think about emigrating to

Israel. He himself came back from there because of the bad economical

situation and the difficulties of life as a pioneer there. But it was

difficult to change Batya's conscience and character. However, also steel can

be broken. One evening in a conversation with Batya, I felt the changes in

her feelings. She told me of a new situation that evolved forces her to take

into consideration her father's condition. He is not going to make it and is

going to have a heart attack if she does not get in touch with the young man

they were talking about. The next day in a secret meeting she explained her

situation and asked of me forgiveness and said that what was between us would



Then came the moment of truth. There was a knock at the door. "Who is there?"

The door was opened and the mailman gave me sort of a little letter. "What

could it be?" I was eager to get letters. I opened the envelope and a note

fell from it on the floor. On the note there were only a few words. A few

words that cut my destiny. "You are supposed to show up at a certain date at

a certain place at a certain time". My dream has broken. I took the note that

cut my throat and I turned toward the house of my friend. Every knock on the

door was a knock on my heart. I heard Batya's soft voice. The door was

opened. In lengthy steps I walked in. My face showed probably what happened.

Not as usual I kissed her. She probably felt it. She noticed it. "What

happened Shimoncik?" she said. I handed her the note. Without saying a word,

we knew that this note was the one that would dictate the rest of our lives

and our common goals. With a hot kiss she returned me. "Shimon it will be

good. Nobody is going to separate us". I got the courage and I answered,

"Yes, but it is talking about two years. Won't changes take place in such a

long time? Who knows?".


The days that were left for the two of us were dearer that gold. We learned

how to maximize the time and to have fun with each other. We could not

satisfy ourselves. The day of drafting came. The night before the drafting

was for us like a nightmare. Both of us lie down without moving. Only the big

burning eyes said everything. "What will be, Shimon?", she asks. I could not

answer her. How could I know in such a situation how things would turn. We

departed without knowing what was awaiting us. At home everything was already

ready, the box, it was as a suitcase strapped with the necessary things. I

said goodbye to my small family that was left after the death of the parents.

I left the house. Outside, snow started coming down and everything was

covered in white. Food could not cure me and the cover of darkness wrapped me

on my way. When I arrived at the train I met some new friends that in the

next two years would be my friends in the army.

                                            SUMMER NIGHTS


Early in the morning, when the shepherd blows the horn that he himself made

from the bark of trees. Without notes, he blows the horn in order to wake up

the people that went out to milk the cows before they go out to pasture, and

I am still in an old dream. Actors spending the night until late hours to get

up in order to make my living. I jump out of the warm bed, a bit lost. I run

fast to meet with my partners that are leaving on the road. The distance

about 5 to 6 kilometers. At night it had rained and it was still cloudy

outside. From the trees drops of water are coming down. In the sun the drops

of water are shining like drops of silver. We are hurrying up in order to get

to work. We are passing in villages. The farmers haven't awakened yet. It is

quiet around and only dogs are barking. In one house the shutters are kept

shut with locks. This village is called "the village with the locks" We enter

the town Valdo. The village was established by a German. His name was

Salinsky. Lines of caravans in white, light inside dark outside the railroad.

We are marching on a dirt road and every time we hit stones that make our

walk difficult. From the side we hear the voice of running water from a brook

nearby. We enter the forest and with difficulty we find the camp. It is quiet

around only birds are jumping and chirping and they are telling the rest of

the inhabitants of the forest that it is time to get up. Suddenly a squirrel

is coming through and thinking, "what are these people doing here so early?

Can they still see?". We are approaching our war place. The railroad is

taking us to a big hangar. There are standing huge machines that cut pieces

of wood that arrive from the forest. The machines are sawing boards. Every

amount has a different size, The trains are passing the boards around the

country and that is how workers and clerks are being kept at work.


This base is called Little America. This was in the twenties and thirties.

The German who started this sawmill gave work to hundreds of clerks that

lived in small houses. By chance in our house lived two clerks. Their job was

to pay the workers. The money would arrive in full sacks. In the house there

was a special arrangement. There was a special window and through it the

workers would receive their salary. The workers had to wait outside and if

there was a strong wind, the money would fly away and afterwards we would

find money in the rain or in the wintertime in the snow. The sawmill gave

income to hundreds of families, the town was flourishing. After a period the

forest was tens of kilometers away from the town and the German and the

clerks left. Instead of him arrived a few Jews who bought the rest of the

trees. In the meantime, I went out and I found a partner and I would go out

with him every day and make my living. I wanted to mention this special place

that is not mentioned in the book of our town. I wanted to immortalize this

place that was my place of work, and gave income to all the people of the

town. We were told that a part of a letter that was sent from Israel had to

do with my immigrating in  the year 1936. On the back was another subject. It

seems that in the story of Shimon and the keeping of his immigration from the

suspicion and so forth, in the last meeting he was not taken in account in

line and his letter is kept until now unsolved. He returned a long time ago

from the army and until now we have not received from him any news and here

this minute in an unusual way, he turned to us as a member of the Kibbutz

with a request to be in touch with him in the letters of the Kibbutz and

immigration. Here we are in a bind and we do not know how to solve it. If we

are going to keep away from our mind all of the former story that is still

unclear, there is coming to him by judgement first place in immigration. But

on the other side until now it has not been proven yet the truthfulness or

the untruthfulness of the suspicion that someone in Israel brought up.


It is not clear and what therefore are we supposed to do? Give us a solution.

Give us advice. You brought us up to here. If tomorrow there is a suspicion

to bring a man the trust in him is already not full. On the other hand it is

possible that we have sinned a sin that we cannot atone for. That we have

made his life miserable when he has not done any bad thing. Now we are going

to add another sin to what we have sinned already by giving in. We decided

therefore to get in touch with you to piece together and according to this we

will decide. Answer us please right away. Also because in this matter we

cannot in the meantime we cannot answer Shimon, not bad, not good, and it

hurts us and it will hurt him as a man. Now let us finish in the meantime and

we will ask you to answer us immediately to write about everything and to

answer about the immediate real questions that we have turned to you.


This letter was found by me in 1983 and it verified the story that was put on

me and slandered me and because of it my fate was cut.





In the protocol of a discussion of the Kibbutz from the date 28 November 1936

under lot number 4:


Questions of which is written. David is reading the letter from the

immigration committee. He was bringing up for discussion about the

immigration of members. We have to take into consideration that we will

accept two or three places. He suggests that we have a queue without taking

into consideration questions about family and so forth.


We need to set the first ones and the question about the army is not present.

He suggests to have a list of four and not to enter into this a list of

Urodich [he does not say who this is]. The list is


1.Morkal, 2.Zeev  3.Hershel.


Shimon is to be taken out of the list because  he wrote the secretary in the

place of working in Israel because he doesn't think to enter the Kibbutz.


Shimon is to be taken out of the list because  he wrote the secretary in the

place of working in Israel because he doesn't think to enter the Kibbutz.


It was decided to leave the list as it was. Outside that Shimon was to be

taken from the list and there is an underlining to show that Morkal is to be

first in line. We explain then to Shimon P. (Podbereski) that their word was

then the center of the Kibbutz and the words were from the regular connection

with the committee of immigration in Poland.


When we had chosen every candidate to immigration, we scrutinize every one

very well. Because of the very few places that we have, while talking to the

mandate government [the British Mandate ruled the country and every

certificate was considered a very important certificate given by the British

Mandate in order to bring people from the Diaspora into Palestine].


Shimon P. asked in those days after his service part of the protocol to add a

note to the protocol and that is what we did. The note said: "I had a chance

to see in the archives things from 50 years ago and the words were terribly

distorted. I was a candidate for immigration with about 25 members of the

first group at Massad and my immigration was rejected because someone hinted

that I was not thinking of immigrating to Israel and to live on a Kibbutz.

The fact that I remained in the Kibbutz until this day proves that this was a

slander and a dirty story that someone wrote. I am surprised how a Kibbutz

authority in the preparation believed it, because they knew what the fate of

a member was whose immigration was bestowed in those days."


[Now the man from the archives adds to the protocol]: It seems to us that

this subject was closed and we are surprised that it has risen now anew. We

are repeating again David's word that were said in 1936 and they were said

with innocence and without any dirty meaning according to the instructions of

the immigration committee in Poland as it was done in those days. The letter

of the immigration committee did not arrive at the archives. In any way it

seems to us that we should go back to words of 50 years ago that were said

under different conditions and different reasons. In the name of the

archives, Shimon Mensky.





The Central Committee from Poland [a committee that collected money for

settlement in Israel]

Warsaw, 11 Shevat 5739

31 January 1939


Sir, a member, Shimon Podbereski, Visnevo


Dear friend,


We heard from member J. Olansky about your nice action and your great help to

the institute [the money collected for the committee] in your town. We are

thanking you from the bottom of our hearts dear member and we are sending you

our thanks and our deepest appreciation of your deed. At this opportunity we

are allowing ourselves to ask you to try to get the rest of the announcements

that were not gotten for different reasons at the time of the fund-raiser. We

are sure that you will make an effort to bring the fundraiser to a very

successful end and we are looking forward to your announcements. We are the

signing here with a lot of honor and the blessing of Zion.



[The next letter is from Shimon's nephew, the son of his brother Isaac, Meer

who was in first grade]:


To Shimon, my dear Vishnever

31 May 1939


I am healthy and I am riding the bicycles of our Isaac, but he is hollering

because he is afraid I will break them. I think that when I grow up I will

buy myself a bicycle. Goodbye to everybody to the uncle Isaac and the aunt

[illegible]. Meir Podbereski.



When I was in the army the letters from Batya almost stopped according to her

request. At home, there are people watching me so that will be no connection

between us, she announced to me. In conversations with friends in the army, I

learned that some of them were going to the United States. I wrote a letter

to my uncle in the United States and asked him to send me a ticket to the

United States because I had lost all chance to immigrate to Israel.


The first year was difficult. It was difficult to change and to exchange the

years of my preparation in the Kibbutz into the society of a different

regime. I remember that I passed it relatively well. Firstly, I was the only

Jew and the treatment to me from my commanders was good. I served in cannons,

105 mm and my understanding of it was good. It has given to me honorable

treatment both from the commanders and from the soldiers. The first year I

was in the city of Liba and after my training, they put me in the place where

the central command of the unit was. I was there as a banker. The month

before Rosh Hashona, we were on maneuvers along the Lithuanian border. The

distance was about 100 kilometers from our regular place.


We stayed in the forest for about a month and our cannons were moved by

horses. It happened that one horse was sick and we had to take him to the

veterinary hospital in order to treat him. The road took us through my town

by my house in Vishnevo. They did not give me a time of return. I was

supposed to take the horse to make him well and to come back. This was a very

tough job, but a Jew finds a way and knows how to get along in life. They

gave me the right papers. I left on foot without food.


As I was passing through towns, and while I was passing by a synagogue, Jews

came by and saw that this is a Jewish soldier riding a horse carrying a rifle

and they said "where is the soldier going?" Secrets of the army you do not

give away and I asked the directions to my town and I got an explanation The

town was about 10-11 kilometers and I am continuing past forests and paths

and villages. The darkness came down and I needed to eat and to feed the

horse and to let him rest. It was late at night. The horse took me and I did

not see houses or lights and I got the suspicion that I wandered on the road,

but after a few steps I saw a dark house, probably asleep and I stopped the

horse. I got off the horse and I knocked on the door. A voice was heard,

"who's there" and the door was opened. As the view of the soldier with rifle

and a horse appeared he got scared and he let me in. I asked for food for me

and for the horse.


I rested a little bit and I continued on the paths in the adjacent forest in

the direction of my house. I passed the bridge over the river Berezina that

is mentioned in World War I. I looked tired and weathered and when I arrived

at my house, I was accepted with happiness and gayness and the next morning

all the inhabitants of the town came to see me and the horse. For a week I

rested in the house and afterwards I continued to my barracks. I showed up

before my commander and that is how my job ended.


The train moved. I was tired but I couldn't fall asleep because of so many

thoughts. I woke up only when we arrived at the station of our destination.

The passengers huddled together in order to disembark from the train. I

followed them slowly from behind.


The day of discharge had arrived. I wore my civilian clothes. This was for me

a happy day and also a sad day. I did not have any end in front of me and I

did not know how to calculate my steps. What to do? I did not have a job. The

connection of the letters from my friend was cut. I was then 24 years old and

I did not know what would be my way in the future.


After the break in the relations between Batya and I, I sat down peacefully

with my friend who was also her friend Channa. This was only for passing the

time and I did not know what was foreseen for me in the future. Channa's

parents had a store. They had a son and a daughter. The son was married and

Channa was left the only one at home. Channa was short, sympathetic, smart

and sharp and she knew how to take advantage of life according to the

possibilities like all of us only maybe a little bit more. After the break up

that I went through in my relationship with Batya, I took advantage of the

time and Channa was for me like the instead for having fun with the

differences in our outlooks for life. During one of the evenings, I sat and I

spoke to Channa. She stood and looked at me and she said, "Shimon, what a

smooth face you have".


Suddenly the door opened and who entered but Batya with the pretext that she

wanted to buy something. She joined us. We spent a short time together until

the time came for each of us to go to his home. I very innocently being

mild-mannered left to go with Batya. As we passed by her house, suddenly she

turned to me. "Shimon, let's walk around a little bit." Outside it was winter

moonless night everything was covered with soft white snow. The street was

dark with no light. To my eyes it was lit as if daylight. This time I was not

leading, she was. We turned right on a small street that led to the river.

Above the river was a wooden bridge for the passage of people. The bridge was

covered with snow and the water in the river was frozen. This time of year

the cart with horses passed over the water that was very shallow and in the

winter time they passed above the snow. We crossed the bridge carefully. Not

too far from the river there was the farm of one of the Polish men. I

remembered that here I brought the cow for copulation. Now the cow was laid

everyone was asleep and from afar we heard only dogs barking. We are walking

with no aim while the moon is looking at us from above.


We are walking not close like once but with a distance one to another. We

were thinking about the forced break on us after we were so close. So what

was the aim of the continuation? I in my special condition and with no hope

that the conditions will change and with no solution. We went away for a few

kilometers and we approached the flour mill. We are already too far away and

the time is late for Batya when she looked at her watch that I gave her once

as a present. "You are still keeping my watch and you did not get another

watch from your bridegroom?" I asked. I saw that my words insulted her. While

tears were streaming down her eyes. "This is my dearest present and I will

always keep it close in my heart" and she started running away from me, while

jumping over heaps of snow. I couldn't reach her. I heard her steps in the

snow and in my heart was a sense of disappointment. Shameful, I returned home

and my eyes did not close that night.


When I got up the next morning, after a sleepless night, I still did not get

what had happened to me the night before. The sun was shining and a faint

light penetrated the house. It was already 10 o'clock in the morning. The

noises of farmers that were arriving at work came from afar and I do not have

anything to do. I am working in the house doing easy jobs and waiting and

waiting for the mail. Maybe I will get an announcement from afar, perhaps

from Israel and perhaps from America where my relatives lived.


I went outside and from afar I saw the postman approach me. He came to me

about a piece of mail that was for me. He gave me a big envelope and he asked

me to sign that there was a large amount of money inside the envelope. In the

envelope was money and instructions what I had to do to get a visa for a trip

to the United States. There was also a letter from my brother in America,

which said that my uncle would like to adopt me as his son and he would take

care of me for everything. My uncle was rich and he was the one that bought

for me the ticket and made the connections with the shipping company. This

gave me a new spirit and a lot of hope for the future. I started making

arrangements and taking care of getting my visa. My mood became much better.

The rumors about my going to the United States got to Batya and her family.

Batya had a brother in America and that changed the reaction of the family to



Something happened that changed the order of events. I received a post card

from the immigration committee of the Kibbutz that I was included in the

queue and that I would be able to immigrate in the illegal immigration by an

uncertain date. This announcement confused me totally. On the one hand, I had

the opportunity to go to the United States and all of a sudden this

opportunity falls on me in order to fulfill my dream the dream that we dreamt

Batya and I to build our lives in Israel. Now it was possible to fulfill this

dream. On the other hand how can I lie to my uncle in the United States who

gave me the opportunity to immigrate?


After consultation with my family we decided to announce to my uncle in the

United States that now I had the opportunity to emigrate to the Holy Land

according to his way of thinking and I am thanking him for his contribution.

After a short time I received the agreement of the uncle that I could use the

money that he sent me to cover my traveling costs and that I should return

the ticket to him. I went to Warsaw in order to take care of the formal

business. I had to take out a certificate that I was not supposed to join the

army because in that year in February 1939, part of my unit in which I served

was already called up and sent to Stettin.


The departure from Batya was difficult. "You are my friend and it is coming

to me that you will give me a few minutes before departure", and with tears

coming down her eyes, she asked only one thing--to keep a connection of

letters from the road and from Israel. We departed with hugging and kissing

while tears were choking both of us. After I returned from Warsaw, my

conscience bothered me. After all, what would be Batya's future? Together we

dreamt for years to fulfill our common aim.


One day before my immigration, my friends gave me a farewell party for me and

for my friend Zimmel. The next morning at 8 o'clock, I got on a bus on the

way to Vilna after I said goodbye to my neighbors and my acquaintances while

my family was accompanying me to the train station. Batya also arrived, and

while she was pleading with me to write to her immediately on my arrival in

Israel. The whistle of the engine was heard and the train moved.


Here everything is already behind me only the waving of the hands from afar

to say goodbye. Who could fathom that this would be a departure, a farewell




This day has arrived. I remember how I said goodbye, I and Zimmel, on Sunday

the first of April, 1939, in the morning from our families, from our dear

male and female friends with whom we were bonded for years in our youth

dreams. While we were sitting on a bench in the train station in Bogdonava,

my sister said to me, "Shimonke, I hope that when you emigrate to Israel you

will pave the way for us. Who could fathom or think, who could bring to his

mind such a tragic end? Who could have foreseen the holocaust that came upon

us after two or three years? Even as Hitler's shadow has already been cast on

our skies. With a trembling heart, I am writing here a memorial to the

members of my dear family. My dear brother Leibe, his wife--his pretty and

smart wife Batya, their elder daughter Itale, and their sons, the children,

Isaac Meer, and Nathan. Dear children, how I loved them. My sister Teibe

always happy and talented with a pretty voice, her husband Isaac and last but

not least Fruma Batya, my friend the dream of our lives for many years was to

build our lives in Israel. From her, I was only left with yellow letters.

Life is running and the years are passing. I have made a family for myself in

the Kibbutz. Now, I am already a grandfather. Just as the wagon used to go to

the brook on Vilna Gas [Vilna Street] and the voice of the wooden wheels that

would make its noise around and as it departed and went away, the voice would

dissipate and be gone as if nothing had been there. That is how the memories

of the past.


I was fortunate to be among the builders and the erectors in the Kibbutz

Eilon in the Western Galilee.



Vishnevo, my shtetl, my beloved. That is where I grew up and that is where I

was beloved. I loved you, your views, your rivers, and your forests. Your

green fields in the summer and the whiteness of the snow in the winter. Not

all that belonged to us, the Jews, but the best years of my young lives I

spent in you. We created something from nothing, without electricity, without

running water or pipes. After all we were brought up to be cultural people

with a broad view of the world and the ability to be acquainted with and get

used to the world around us. Until my last day whether I am awake or asleep,

you are standing in front of my eyes. I loved in the town family members that

I will never see again. They are lying scattered, who knows where--who knows

where their bones are? The elders and the young children that I loved so. My

friends and my beloved with whom we dreamed to build our lives in the land of

Israel--all of that never came true. Taibe, my dear sister, and Ariya, Leibe,

my brothers and their dear families, I left you with never a thought that I

would never see you again. When I see now the pictures, I remember again my

origins. I thank you for the privilege to see a little of the world that was

left. Thank you very much, Shimon.


A poem written by Shimon Podbereski:


My home where I grew up

I will remember the house with a song and a cheer

I will remember the house with sorrow and with song

I will remember the house where I spent my years and the dreams that we dreamt

I will remember how we spent together with my sisters, my brother, and the


I will remember how I said goodbye to each and everyone--this one to the east

and that one to the west to the other sides of the ends of the world.

Everyone looked for his way and his hope to better himself

I will remember how in the house boyfriends and girlfriends would gather and

argue about different ideas, from HaShomer Hatzair, Hachalutz, and others

and the parents were sitting and listening with a smile of love they

received with pleasure.

I will remember how we accompanied the parents on their last way and how we

were left the few and lonely

I will remember the house I left and I said goodbye to and I never knew I

would never see again because the hand of Satan annihilated them.


Shimon Podbereski.




About 800 people left Warsaw on a train to Romania. We embarked a boat with

the aim to emigrate to Israel illegally. I was one of 400 people who sailed

on the ship Atlanta, a merchant ship for carrying been. On another ship the

Colorado, 800 other illegal immigrants sailed [those who went, usually on

rickety boats to Palestine during the British administration of Palestine].

Together with me on the ship were members of other Kibbutz.


At the beginning of our sailing, the sea was quiet and pleasant. After a few

days the sea became stormy. When the water reached the deck I felt badly.

There was little food. We were already 5 or 6 days on the sea without seeing

any land. On the sixth day they announced to us that we were about to get to

our destination. The happy time has arrived. They divided us into groups and

at night we were supposed to disembark to the beach. Every group received a

task to do during the disembarkment. Suddenly we see a strong light and the

captain started running. We heard a few shots that were aimed at us. A

British ship came closer to our ship and its sailors jumped and got on our

deck. They jumped on us and started beating us. A few of them took the wheel

and we didn't know where they were going to take us. We returned to our

places. Early in the morning we saw from afar Mount Carmel and we arrived at

the port of Haifa. We were tired and exhausted after such a long voyage.


The whole day we waited and in the evening they took us off the ship. We were

taken to a detention camp where the British soldiers were guarding us.

Afterwards we were let go from the camp after a week. There was in our honor

a reception. Zimmel and I travelled to a friend in a nearby town. They

received us with great happiness and the excitement was great. We planned to

visit our relatives in Israel, I had a sister and a brother and I was

supposed to get a permit from the British authorities in order to move from

one city to the other. This is how it was done at the time of the British

Mandate. My sister was very excited and after spending a few days with her, I

wrote letters to my family and to my friend according to her request when we



I received Batya's answer with a lot of excitement. In her letter changed

drastically our relations for the better. According to her letter she stood

adamantly against her parents demand that she would marry according to their

wish. We started to search for a way to expedite her immigration to Israel. I

failed in this matter, but notwithstanding it I was hoping that things would

get arranged and Batya would succeed in immigrating. Since my immigrating in

the month of March in 1939, until September the same year things had changed.

World War II started and the connection between us was cut off.



After my immigration to Israel, even before I received from her a letter,

Batya announced to her father that she had decided to emigrate and nothing

would help her family because that was her aim. Batya was waiting for an

answer from me. At that time she started meeting with my sister to

reconciliate and naturally my sister would receive her in a nice way. After a

few months the war broke out, the Russians invaded our town and everything

changed. The whole dream went up in smoke. At the same time a friend of ours

arrived from Vilna. He was the secretary of the seminar for teachers and he

told a few of our friends that in Vilna our friends were concentrating on the

chance of immigration to Israel. Batya and a few other of her friends started

on the road to Vilna, about 100 kilometers, Here a happened a misfortune.

Batya became sick, she had high fever and she returned home. Her letter I

received after a month in which she wrote that she was very weak and with

this the connection was cut off.


At the time the Russians invaded they  arranged for her to work at a distance

of 6 kilometers from the town in a lumber yard just as she worked when she

was at the preparation camp. Everyday she used to return home. When the

Germans invaded, the Russians pulled back and some of the Jews went away with

the Russians and another part ran away to the forest. Most of them stayed in

town. Batya continued to work in the same place.


The Germans concentrated the Jews on our street and the overcrowding in our

house was unbearable. On the 22nd day of October of 1942, the Germans decided

to annihilate all the Jews. Naturally the non-Jews waited for this day and

concentrated all of them on the empty lot. Batya went to work as usual. At

work she heard from the non-Jews that this was the day they were going to

annihilate all the Jews. When she heard that she started running home and the

farmers told her not to go because that day they were carrying out the

annihilation. But Batya could not not return to her family that was there and

went there to be with all her family.


A German officer approached her and said to her, "Come with me. I will save

you." and wanted to take her with him but she would not let him and slapped

him in the face and she was shot on the spot. This is the story that was told

to me by survivors that arrived after the war and that is how the tragedy

with Batya my girlfriend ended. With me stayed only pictures and yellowing




At home stayed the brother Ariyeh, the daughter Itale, the son Isaac Meer and

 Nathan, the sister Taibe Yonah and her husband Isaac. They did not have any

children. When I immigrated to Israel, after a while, fruit trees were

planted and bee hives were arranged and after a year we already started to

get honey. In letters I received they expressed their hope to emigrate to the

land of Israel.


To my sorrow the Germans succeeded in annihilating them first. At home we had

a dog by the name of Hitler. When the Germans got in, the non-Jews told on us

and they told them about the dog. The Germans took out Isaac, the husband of

my sister, and with horrible torture they killed him. For the rest of the

family the end was just like all of the other Jews. They were shot. At the

end of the street some of them are buried and on their graves they put a



                                     LETTERS FROM BATYA


26 June 1939


Shimon, Shalom love to you Shimon,[This is a common greeting in Hebrew]


I received your letter for which I have waited so long. However, thank you

even if being late. You cannot even imagine with what kind of impatience I

read your letter. About everything and about your actual traveling, it was

truly very very difficult journey. Nevertheless, mainly  everything has

passed alright. This time I will not write all my thoughts in my letter.

First, I am writing Air-Mail so I will not have enough room to write a lot.

Secondly, you don't want me to nag you or say things you are not interested

in. Dear Shimon I feel what you meant when you wrote, but you can understand

that it didn't make such a good impression on me. If my asking about you is

for you a headache, therefore do as you feel, do it, but if not, then I would

like to tell you about myself a little bit. At the same time that you left

Vishnevo. I will not tell you everything now because I feel a little bit of

coolness in your love, although you did show interest in me. The most

important thing Shimon is that I feel now that I miss you very very much. I

decided with all the pain to cut off. In addition, fate wanted that it would

be the fastest. Right after you left, two days later, when I washed my

undergarments, a visitor, an unwanted visitor came. A young man who was part

of a marriage arrangement. You cannot even imagine what a scandal I made at

home. the evening that he was there at home, with eyes full of tears, I sat

at a table. Naturally father made a scandal the next day when I told him that

even if he will not say that nothing will happen - I will tell him nothing

will happen between the two of us. This happened two days after you left and

I said that I wanted to emigrate to Palestine. I tell you Shimon, that since

that time I am suffering a lot at home.  You cannot even imagine, but you

must see there is no other choice. I have decided to emigrate. a much based

decision. Now Shimon the most important thing is that I would love to

immigrate and even in the fastest way because it difficult for me just

sitting here at present, without any rectitude for it. Even though from all

sides, the road looks difficult and very liable. Shimon, you are giving me

advice to write to the people at the Kibbutz. Firstly, I do not know the

address, secondly, I feel that you should speak to the people of the Kibbutz

privately and ask them if they will enter me into the Kibbutz. Shimon, I

don't feel right trying the Kibbutz at the same time as I was quiet all the

time. However, if I do have to write them, after all, please write me right

away and I will write. Maybe to write to the organization of the Kibbutzim.

Maybe you should take Zimmel's advice. The main thing is that you should

answer me right away that I will know clearly what I should do. Also, write

me the details of the road. Tell me, how was your trip? Did it affect you

badly? After all, to travel under such conditions. The most important thing

Shimon, it is pity now really that I am nagging you, but I think that no

matter what, you are my good friend and it seems to me that I am your good

friend. The important thing is that you write to me about yourself, and what

you think to do. Did you go to your brother? How is he doing, and in general

about everything, and how is everybody? Now Shimon write me how to arrange

things, shall I come on a little boat....  



19 July 1939

Shimonchik, Shalom love to you.


I received your letter, although I was not very punctual, for your letter I

waited even longer. I think it is not our fault but it is the airmail's

fault, because we do not know which day to mail it to receive the letter

faster. Now that I already know, right away after receiving your letter I

answer you. Your letter was on the way about 8 to 9 days,  I am hoping that

the second letter I will receive faster. Shimon, Mama will not talk about

young men that you have emphasized in your letter to me. Now I am not

thinking about any other person and I am asking you that you will finish all

that altogether. If the conversation is what we want, we will be able to talk

about it after all. Moreover, maybe we will erase all of it. Because for me

it is too painful. For you now I am not sure. What it is about me? I have not

done anything about my emigration. I thought you might know something

already. I will not blame you, if not, because you are busy after all....


Yesterday I wrote a letter but I could not send it because I did not have any

free time. Today I was in Volozhin and I bought myself summer shoes. It was

wonderful. I rode on the bicycle. I feel now a little bit tired. Therefore, I

need to go to sleep. Stay in peace. Your friend who is waiting for an

immediate answer and actual and fast. Understand, I am closing the letter

now. It is late at night. Regards to everybody, especially to Zimmel. How is

he doing? Regards from Channa, Write to me which day you receive my letter.

It is interesting to know; how long does a letter take?

        From Batya to Shimon EILON, MY HOME


By chance we named you Eilon. At the beginning you were named [arabic name

now used in Hebrew also meaning "winds of the house or village or place"] and

that is how this name was written on letters I received in the diaspora for a

long period of time. When I was in the diaspora I knew only that name for the

place. When I arrived at the place it truly looked like a ruins but there was

a lot of vegetation and almost nothing could go through it. When we went up

to the area and we just started to tickle you, with a hoe and a shovel, we

discovered that the roots were very deep and there was an abundance of rocks

and as we uncovered even more we discovered that there was a brown soft soil.

It was very pleasant to hold in your hands. That gave us the strength and the

satisfaction to work you and the will to dig and to connect more and more

with you for a good and a fundamental future.


This land was a gift. The field with the ruins stayed as it was. The name

changed to Eilon because many trees which are oaks were found in the area in

their natural habitat. [the name Eilon means Oak]. Therefore we started

slowly to get use to it and to feel the smell of the soil and to be absorbed

in the new surroundings, even though we were used to a different view full of

water and endless forest. And so day after day we went out with bread, half

an egg and a tomato with a hoe and a shovel on the shoulder and the hot days

and the hard work. We did not feel tired and we were stuck to this holy work

to clean and to work meter after meter of soil. After nine hours of work in

the terrible heat we retruned running for the afternoon meal, to drink a cup

of tea, to eat a piece of bread, a little bit of jam mixed with water. In the

morning, when we heard the bell, we got up fast and we went down again to the

holy work--to caress you and to rid you of those deep roots in order to

prepare you for planting. And so, day after day, we saw how the good land

that was good for planting was revealing itself in front of our eyes and that

gave us a lot of satisfaction to continue with our aim to base our lives



Years passed and we were privileged to see you, Eilon, in your flourishing

and in your beauty and this is enough for us. Friends are asking me through

all these years."You haven't written, right?" My years were dedicated to work

and creation. I don't think for a minute that I have wasted my time. I

dedicated my life to creating new life in my homeland. I took a big part in

the life of the Kibbutz--in the common life of creation and building. Only

now do I see and feel the Kibbutz's beauty, Kibbutz  Eilon. As we walk, Bela

and I, we pass sidewalks, on each side of the boulevards, green and well

taken care of. There is the first scent that comes from the log that has just

been cut. Here is my part in creating those pieces of soil that years ago was

soil that I built terraces in.


Perhaps there are some people that still remember that that was where I

worked and how I held rocks in my hands, but for me it was creation. Because

you had to fit every rock in its correct place. That gave me satisfaction

that I could see the end of each line, straight or half-round according to

the geographical area. For many months, and maybe even years I sanctified to

this work and now I and my wife, when we go for a walk, and I see everything

built, everything taken care of, it gives me the will to live and to enjoy.

When we sit across from the pool and remember the day when we poured the

concrete and we worked until 1 o'clock in the morning in smoothing it until

we finished and after a few days we filled it with water. Here in the pool I

am ready to learn how to swim. In the place where I grew up there were many

rivers and a lot of water and I did not know how to swim and here in Eilon I

will learn how to swim and that is how it was. After a few weeks, I started

to work on swimming. I remember how a friend, may he rest in peace, would

teach me and he succeeded. I swam and I dove in the sea for long distances

without being afraid and with a lot of courage. Bela would wait for me to



In the first mess hall I was in charge of digging. It was not simple to dig.

We did not have a compressor. We were forced to dig and chisel with our hands

and chisels and this was not simple. I brought a group of Jewish diggers,

Kurds, we called them. The leader was one strong healthy Jew and he took care

of the work. They slept in tents. It took two months before we finished part

of the job. In the meantime, we started building and developing and this is

continuing to this day.


In my life I was involved in creating different jobs. It gave me a lot of

satisfaction to see Eilon growing. I remember that when I was in charge of

the yard of the Kibbutz and the storage area. In those days the only storage

place was made of tin and stood in front of the blacksmith's workshop. This

is where we used to get our supplies for the cows, for the kitchen crew and

for the horses barn. These were sacks of sorghum with a red stripe on them.  

Every sack of sorghum weighed between 100 and 120 kilograms. We were supposed

to take them off of the truck and into the shed and to arrange them in lines

on top of steps that went up. We could take it.We had strength because we

knew that they are not hiring anybody for work. Nobody would do anything for

us.  That is how we did created. That is how we built Eilon, that today is

our pearl. Here in the soil are lying friends that gave their lives to the

creation of Eilon, to the creation of new life for the children for the

grandchildren and for future generations. Take care of Eilon--of the house

that it willl not go over to foreign hands. We worked hard, we put everything

from our sweat into it. Maybe I will write in the future, if I will be lucky

enough, about the development of Eilon.


There was a period of time that we did not have any roads and we would bring

the supplies from the main road up to the house in carts that would be

harnessed to horses that could hardly carry it all the way to the shed.


For now this will be enough. I will just mention the known poem.


I will tell you, the girl

and I will also tell you, the boy

how Eilon was redeemed, acre after acre.


In the North are lying our holy ones

without skullcaps on the head

Those that took part in the building of our homeland

In building our home.

Remember them forever.



To my dear wife Bela:


To my dear and devoted wife, that a common fate has taught us to live

together, and to create  together a wide and nice family which is the

happiness and the riches and the satisfaction that we have enjoyed together.

I mentioned many years ago in the preparation in the Kibbutz in Slonim when

we were young, you were a young girl, delicate, red head. We didn't know then

that our fate would tie us together. You had a nice boy friend dedicated and

serious. By chance, he was also my partner, a partner that slept together

with me in bed. He was always late to get to bed. I also had a girl friend of

my own. Time passed. Our paths parted and you made immigration to Israel.

Your boy friend stayed behind in the Kibbutz in Slonim and I was drafted into

the Polish army.


You went to Israel and I and your boy friend stayed in Poland. Before World

War II broke out, I succeeded to make immigration to Israel before the war

broke out. To be absorbed and to become friends with those that already had a

chance to go before me. It worked nicely and I joined the fruitful life of

the Kibbutz. I left and said goodbye to my girl friend, my beloved and her

request was that I would make an effort and bring her to Israel and that we

would be able to fulfill our common goal, to create a family and to live

together. But reality did not allow it. The war broke out. We stayed apart. I

did not know what the day would bring. Within a short time everything turned

upside down and all our hopes were shattered. All my thoughts were only what

happened abroad with my family and with my girl friend Batya. Will our common

dream come true? The echoes that came from Poland were tragic and difficult

to believe, but in time all the rumors became true without being able to

accept or understand the vastness of the horror.


Work here on the Kibbutz continued and developed in every piece of land which

we cultivated and on which we planted trees and in every building that we

built started to get a shape of a permanent settlement and that gave me a lot

of satisfaction and made it easier on my thoughts about what happened abroad.

Only during the night terrible thoughts would come into my mind. I couldn't

share them with anyone. I struggled with the questions who would be my

devoted partner with whom I could share my thoughts and share the struggle

and the suffering in which I found myself. It wasn't easy to find a suitable

girl friend. You had a big and respectable family that would visit you from

time to time. To tell the truth, I was envious of you. I liked them. You do a

lot to consult your family. You were meeting there with friend or friends and

I was not sure if I could be the one that would disturb your parents. After

all, my attempt was successful. We build a life and grand family. I was

accepted in your family and we are living in happiness and in peace until

this day.   


From me, Shimon.


[The next chapter was written by Bela Podbereski and she is writing the

story of her life. Another chapter afterwards was written by another person

in the Kibbutz and then we go back to Shimon's writing]

[Now the second chapter that was not written by Shimon. It was written by a

woman by the name of  Mira Bar-on from Rosh Hanikra, another Kibbutz not far

from Eilon. This is the next chapter]




I was 12 when I first visited Kibbutz Eilon and it seems like only yesterday.

Everything seems like a dream that came true. The rocks and stones that were

put away from their place and were put in sheets like shiny waves. The houses

that are being built. Uncle on a galloping mare who is coming from the wadi.

The aunt who is wearing white and is hugging a baby of a few weeks in her

bosom. Young people, handsome and full of enthusiasm. The kibbutz seemed to

me them as the most real thing in Israel that was being built and I was full

of pride that my aunt and uncle belonged to that enterprise that I adored.


The uncle I met when he used to come to us to Jerusalem, young and fresh and

straight from Poland. The young brother of Birdie (?). On the day that the

young and handsome uncle was arriving, we would right away take out a chair

to our balcony. We knew that he liked to sit on the balcony and to look into

the yard. We did not have wonderful views like in his Kibbutz, but he

probably had the interest to look from our balcony to the yard and to see how

life was being conducted in a typical Jerusalemite yard.


There was an oven [an arabic oven that is made of clay that is built outside

in an open area. You make the Pita bread and put it flat on top of it.] There

were also shiny utensils that were brought out to dry and the children are

playing. We could look up to the second floor across from us and see the

colorful rugs that were taken out to air. The day that our uncle would come

to Jerusalem was a holiday. The balcony would be cleaned. The rabbit and the

turtles that lived there would be put in a cage and the chair was prepared

and I would look at his pretty face. Always when he would come he would tell

stories and we knew of his plans to live in a Kibbutz. We also knew that he

left Poland before the gates were closed completely. But we were not aware of

what happened truly in the war and what would happen later when the Germans

would take over half the world and would make plans for genocide.


Everything that happened afterwards in Israel, the war against the British,

the war of independence, going out to preparation did not prevent me from

visiting from time to time the Kibbutz in the Gallilee. It was at this time

that I fell in love with the view of the Gallilee and of the sea to which

beach I drove on my  way to Kibbutz Eilon. Every visit to the Kibbutz was a

holiday. Always, my aunt and uncle looked young, full of energy and full of

life as I remember them from my first visit. I remember that I was afraid to

leave at night to go to the little houses that were used in the Kibbutz as

bathrooms and uncle would accompany me. I would check every corner of every

building and the Kibbutz in my eyes was part of me. When the children came my

experiences were riches. Both the houses and the children were presented to

me with a lot of pride. On my visit to their children's houses I loved to

sing to them. We were all a family of people that loved singing.


The uncle on the horse, the uncle the yard man, the uncle the builder, and

what else--always the uncle with a bright smile and a shining face receiving

us, and if there were problems, of course there were problems, but we did not

know about them. A perfect host and the guests don't have to know about the

problems. With every visit we saw how the Kibbutz was developing and growing

and how the family was growing. Every visit in Eilon until this day is a

pleasant experience. A visit to a beloved family. An we hope that this

exciting experience will be our share in life for many many years to come.


Mira Bar-on from Rosh Hanikra


[The next chapter is written again by Shimon]




I would like to commemorate the memory of my dear brother and to commemerate

my wife's family that lived in a town in Poland with longings and aspirations

for a homeland of its own. The home was always Zionist. There were arguments

and discussions about Zionism that took place among the older brothers and

sisters and their friends. The house was always full of people, mostly in the

evenings, on Saturdays and on holidays. And I, the youngest of them all,

would listen to the conversations that were conducted with a lot of energy

and sometime with very high tones. This was a house that many of its members

came to Israel but many were not fortunate enough to arrive and found their

deaths by Hitler's Nazis.


When my brother Chaim made the trip to Israel I was a boy of 11 or 12 years

old and I was still going to school. I remember that Chaim was the son that

helped father with the income for the family. Most of the work was done in

the summer. In the winter months, Chaim would lie down at night to read and

to write. And when he went to Israel he left behind notebooks with a lot of

written material about World War I from that area and a lot of material

written to teach us about those times. Chaim came to Israel in the years

1925-1926 years when there was a lack of work in Israel. Although he had a

profession, a builder, he tried to get into a Kibbutz but he did not succeed.

He went from one place to another and finally he settled in Jerusalem and for

many years he worked in building the buildings of Jerusalem stone. He was an

excellent worker and there was not always work available there and he would

roam around looking for work. According to the times that were in those days.


After a few years he built a family with his wife Rachel in Jerusalem. There

their children were born. Their home was open to many of their acquaintances

that would come to Jerusalem. Rachel was a good-hearted woman and she invited

all of them to eat and to sleep in their home. After the war of independence,

the family moved to Tel Aviv in order to be closer to their relatives in the

area of Tel Aviv. Thre they found their place.  But their difficulties in

finding an income for the fmaily and the problems with work forced them to

once again move The situation improved afterwards and Chaim was happy that he

found his place.


One bright day they followed him together with all the other workers, by

then he was already over seventy years old, he was forced to come home and he

was left with no work. This thing drove its tines in him. He started to feel

bad and every year the situation deteriorated. He was complaining about

headaches and he became uninterested--as if nothing ever interested him any

more. That is how it continued for a few years until they arrived at the

Kibbutz  Rosh Hanikra to live next to their daughter. Here in the Kibbutz in

his conversations with them he seemed to be very happy. But he did not enjoy

it very long time. Rachel became sick and she passed away. A year after her

death, Chaim's condition deteriorated from day to day. His illlness started

to bother him and he was complaining about pain. In the hospital they

couldn't help him a lot. When I saw him in the hospital on Thursday, I

understood that the end was approaching and we couldn't help. We stood

helpless. You suffered, my brother, you were dedicated to your wife and you

did not depart for a long time. I will remember you my dear brother from all

my brothers. May your memory be blessed.



Because of my illness I could not go to the cemetery with the whole family.

To the graveside of my dear sister-in-law Rachel and my dear brother Chaim.

It is difficult for me to express my feelings after what we have gone through

in the last few weeks. We have had many happy occasions both in my side of

the family and also on Miriam's side of the family and Bela's side of the

family. And within those happy occasions we have sadness about the fact that

you are not with us any more. I am sure that you would have been happy

together with us.


Dear Chaim, time is passing and going by and you are not with us.  Very often

I remember you with all my heart. You were so devoted to us even though our

paths went different ways, both from the point of view of distance and from

the point of view of a different life style. But your home was always open,

always warm and dedicated for everyone who would come by. Sometimes I

calculate who is left from the vast family, from the brothers and the sisters

and everyone who was connected to the family. Departing is probably natural,

not everyone lives, but the two of you went so fast. That is why a heavy

feeling has remained.


I remember in your last days when I visited you, Chaim, and before I entered

the room I recognized your voice asking for water, water. I entered and I saw

you lying down half-asleep. Your eyes were closed, and I told you, "this is

Shimon, your brother" and I gave you water. You fell asleep and I did not

know if you recognized me. I tried to help you with something. I saw in front

of me this Chiam, always organized, always clean, lying on his deathbed and I

couldn't help you a lot. After a few minutes the sister arrived. We still had

a chance to take care of your feet. I stayed there a little while longer and

afterwards I went.


Even though I saw you in your severe condition, I did not imagine that this

would be my last visit with you. It is fortunate that you had the privilege

to be buried in the Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra near the family and after all, from

time to time, we can come and remember, because many of the members of our

family did not even get to this. May their memory be blessed.


[The next chapter was also not written by Shimon. It was again written by

his niece Mira Bar-on from Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra, the daughter of his brother

Chaim and his sister-in-law Rachel Podberesky.]




August, 1995


Father had a wide wise-man forehead. A forehead that was once pure as crystal

and was tanned in the scorching sun of the land of Israel in the hard and

difficult building work. Father was supposed to be a student of Jewish

studies. When he was young, he liked to write and to put on paper his

thoughts. From Vishnevo in Lithuania he came to the land of Israel. Long

before the great fire of World War II annihilated the Polish Jewry. His

creative strength was eroded by the difficult jobs he was compelled to do in

Israel to which he arrived, but he did it with love in order to have a roof

and a piece of bread for the family he built. A lot beyond that did not exist

in those days.


Father never complained. He accepted life as it was. He accepted that which

life gave him. Truthfulness and honesty were like a candle that was lit at

his feet all his life. Father and Mother both worked very hard. They took

care of the children. Not I and not my brother Ephraim, may he rest in peace,

ever heard a word about difficulty or regret. I always remember the bright

smile that awaited us when we returned freezing from school. We would warm up

by a kerosene heater that was lit for us and the hands of the father were

stretched out to warm our hands. The winter days in Jerusalem were especially

cold. Periodically it also snowed. The games in the snow that we played froze

the children and it was good to return to the small warm home even though it

was very poor.


Poverty then was not a shame. Most of the families had difficulty making ends

meet and they were forced to bring the piece of bread with very hard work. We

were satisfied with the little we had and were not even aware of the poverty.

We were proud to belong to a youth movement and our hearts were full of love

that our parents bestowed on us. The dedication and the love that I received

in our home is accompanying me to this day and it is a source of strength for

me in many difficult moments.


Thank you to my parents for what they were.


Mira Bar-on from Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra



[Next is the last chapter and once again Shimon is writing.]




Lucky and happy I am that I have arrived to this point. That I could have

brought up even a tiny bit of my memories from my past and from all my wide

family and to create a new generation that will be a continuation for the

coming generations.So many memories come up in my head, full of satisfaction

but also memories that it is difficult to fathom.


When I was 13, I had my bar mitzvah. We had a party for me and for my brother

Ariyeh who was about to get married to a girl from the town of Oshmiend. It

was on a Saturday as it was done in the towns in those days. I was in the

shul and I went up to the podium to read my Haftorah. After the prayers, the

guests came and they blessed us. They blessed me and my brother.


The parents were very happy and at home the happiness was full. I finished my

studies at school and they sent me to study in Vilna a big city where the

possibility of further study were greater. There were relatives there and I

lived with them. They were observant and they kept the Jewish laws. The

teacher from school was observant. That probably is where my anti-religion

feelings were created. I did not like it and I ran home.


I opened the door of my house and I found everybody asleep. Can you imagine

how my parents received me? Afterwards, I stayed home. Mom became sick with

cancer and she suffered very much. The house changed. Everything stopped. I

went out to work with father. When I used to return the house was already

different. My friends did not let me be swept away to a bad mood. A friend of

my sister's helped us a lot. This kept the house and kept a good feeling and

mood as if everything were all right.


But inside the mood was very difficult. Mother was lying in bed and was

suffering terrible pain. In order to ease her pain they used to inject her

with morphine injections and at night when pain would attack her, I would run

to call the doctor. He lived outside the town. In any weather I called him.

In the winter, in the freeze, in the snow. By the time I would arrive there,

I was breathless. The doctor was ready for every call. I knocked on the door

and we would go on the road. I helped him to carry his bag with his

paraphenalia. After the shot Mom would fall asleep and that made it easier on

her. The night somehow passed. Mom suffered over two years until her time

arrived and she got rid of the suffering. My sister Shoshana took care of her

all the time. and all of the burden was on her shoulders. I helped her as

much as I could. I matured before my time. I also had to help father in his

work. After a few years, I went out to preparation.


My sister Shoshana went to Israel in the year of 1934 and the family fell

apart. Shoshana had a family and she lived in Rehovot. Her economical

situation was not good.. Her husband was sick very often. They had a fish

store from which they made a living. From time to time I would help them to

sell fish in the store. One had to clean and to cut each fish into portions

and sometimes to make deliveries to the homes of the ladies. That is how the

years passed.


I was involved in the lives of my family. From time to time I would take

some time off from the Kibbutz in order to help. My sister Shoshana had a

hard life. She worked very hard to get a piece of bread and to educate her

daughter Miriam and her sick husband. The years passed, Shoshana and her

husband got sick and passed away. They died in a matter of a few weeks

between the two of them. Both of them died of severe diseases. Here I am

bringing up their eternal memory.


End of Shimon Podbereski's book.


[He does not sign his last name the same way all the time. I would like to

wish Shimon and Bela many years of health for them and for their family.]