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A Letter from the Ukraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volume 15g

Koineh Schacter-Rogel

A Letter from the Ukraine

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright Koineh Schacter-Rogel, 2001


 

Key Words

Ukraine; Rumania; Tshudin; Chernovitz; Strashinetz (or Stashinetz, Stasinitz, Straznitz, Strahsinetz); Budenitz; rape; deportation; forced march; Vashkoitz; Bessarabia; Yedinetz.


Abstract


Begins in Tshudin, Ukraine in June 1941 during the first days after Germany declared war on Russia. Hours after war was declared, German airplanes bombarded the town. Rogel, her sister Fraydeh and father had been living in a house the Soviets had given them. Rogel had friends who were Polish refugees who had recently moved to Tshudin, Modja and Kopl. Kopl was mobilized in the Red Army, so Modja stayed with Rogel and her family. Rogel and her sister wanted to leave Tshudin, having heard that the Russians were withdrawing. They loaded up a wagon with their belongings and forced their parents to come with them.

They arrived in Strashinetz after an order had been given to evacuate Chernovitz Street, where they had planned to join Rogel's aunt. Rogel's father wanted her and Fraydeh to return to Tshudin to make sure their house and belongings were safe. Although she was opposed to this plan, she felt she could not contradict her parents. Fraydeh and Modja left for Tshudin ahead of Rogel and had only made it to Budenitz when they were forced to turn back.

Rogel and Fraydeh stayed with an elderly couple, the Shmeltzers, in Strashinetz. When bombardments started, Rogel, her sister, father, her aunt, the Shmeltzers and another couple moved into the cellar. The following day, the Rumanian army entered the town and soldiers and local non-Jewish residents began looting Jewish homes. The couple who were hiding with them went outside and were immediately captured and shot.

After several days of hiding in the cellar, they had no food left and decided to try to run away in the early morning. They ran into a garden of a Christian woman. Rogel lost the others and hid in a tree. Fraydeh returned to the tree several times, but there was no way to get down without being noticed by soldiers. Rogel stayed in this tree for several days, without food or water. Modja was hiding in a field within sight of the tree. Rogel witnessed a soldier rape Modja. Afterwards, Modja came to the tree where Rogel was hiding. Together, they tried to find another place to hide, but were unsuccessful. The following day, Modja was taken away by two soldiers. Rogel never saw her again. Rogel decided to give herself up. She learned that all Jewish people were being held in a local school. She was escorted there by a Rumanian officer.

The school was packed with women and children. Conditions deteriorated rapidly: there was no food or water; the sewers had backed up and people were getting sick. Soldiers were entering rooms and raping women. Women were selling their jewelry to the soldiers for food. A woman told her that her sister and father were still alive and hiding. They later gave themselves up and her sister and aunt joined her in the school. Her father was staying in a synagogue reserved for Jewish men. They were then deported on wagons. Was able to rejoin her father when the transport stopped because of bad weather. Rogel's father happened to be at the same place. They were then taken on a forced march to Vashkoitz, then to Besarabia and Yedinetz.

Note: author did not have the energy to continue to write about her experiences.

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