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Editors’ Introduction


I. Before 1940

II. 1940-1941

III. Under Nazi-German Occupation

IV. Liberated

V. Red Army Soldier



















Volume 5

Marcus Lecker

I Remember: Odyssey of a Jewish Teenager in Eastern Europe

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Marcus Lecker, 1999

Key Words

Romania, Bucovina, Bessarabia, Seletin (town in Romania), Radauti (city in Romania), Soviet annexation of Bucovina in June 1940, Yiddish school in Czernovitz, Comsomol (Communist Youth Organization), Zalescziky (town), Tluste (town), Czortkow (city), Kopuczinze (town), Galizia, Judenrat in Czortkow and Zalescziky, Dumbravleni (village), Transnistria, Moghilev-Podolsk (city), Montreal, Canada, Mielnica (town), Borschow (city), Partisan activities, Suceava (city), Focsani (city), Cluj (city), Turda (city).


Manuscript was written during 1992-93. The author was born on February 9, 1923 in the small town of Seletin in the northern Romanian province of Bucovina. Population of the town was 2000, mostly Ukrainians with some 200 Jewish families. German culture predominated and most Jews spoke German. Author describes family life and his elementary and secondary education. Refers to the German occupation of surrounding countries and the utter lack of preparation by the Jews of Romania. In June 1940, Bucovina was annexed by Soviet Union. Author witnesses the arrest and deportation of friends by the Soviet NKVD. Describes the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Observes the Ukrainians’ welcoming reception of the Germans in Galizia. Attempts to travel east, but was trapped in the German encirclement of Galizia. Receives brutal treatment at the hands of the local Ukrainian police. Arrested in town of Czortkow and assigned to labour gang. Recounts events of July 14, 1941 when Nazis first begin killing Jews. Describes scene where Jewish informer betrays prisoners to the Nazis who proceed to execute them. Relates two contrasting incidents with Ukrainian peasants: one robs them, the other is compassionate and offers aid. Travels to Zalescziky where Hungarian Jews from Budapest had been transported. Describes the destruction of Jewish quarters in Zalescziky in 1942. Moves to Mielnica and works in an agricultural settlement. Goes to Borschkow and finds work as odd-job labourer with the German gendarmerie. Befriended by an officer, he gets reports of planned German actions which allows him to warn the ghetto inhabitants of impending danger. Runs away to join partisans in the forest. Describes the forest bunker which housed 16 people and relates the partisans’ relations with the Polish colony which provided them with food. In April 1944, liberated by Russian soldiers. Reunited with father who had spent the war years in Transnistria; later reunited with mother. Works at a Red Army recruiting centre, then sent to Intelligence unit at the front. Notes the beginning of the Russian offensive near Jassy-Kishineff. Is with unit of Red Army moving westward as Germans retreat. Describes the battles over Budapest. Ordered by commanding officer, General Karlov, to take 7 suitcases of war booty to his family in Moscow. Later, is in Austria when war ends. Ordered back to the Soviet Union and after some difficulties succeeds in getting demobilized and returns to Radauti March 26, 1946. Concludes with epilogue wherein he addresses questions relating to the effect his Holocaust and war experiences have had on his character and subsequent life.

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