Pages From The Zabludow Yiskor Book:

Zabludow; Dapim Mi-tokh Yisker-Bukh , editor: Nehama Shavli-Shimush, Published by Former Residents of Zabludow in Israel, 1987 (Hebrew) Translation from Hebrew by Ziva Rosenhand
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The Old Synagogue of Zabludow: 1635-1939, a Model by Moshe Verbin, Kibbutz Yakum

Holocaust Chapter

The Destruction of Our Dear Home
By Ephraim Rubbins

 The event occurred on the night between the 21st and the 22nd of June 1941. We were three people from Zabludow in a Russian work camp, Bilsk. Me, my younger brother Yankel, and Yosef Dirdok. We worked on the night shift, Saturday night all the soldiers in all the camps were given free time. We stayed to work in the construction of an airfield.

Around one o’clock we hear an explosion; we looked around but we didn’t see a thing and we continued working. Half an hour later we suddenly heard the sound of airplanes; we saw immediately above our heads a huge cloud of planes. We ran to all directions, we had not advanced even 100 meters when a reign of bombs burst on us nonstop. The attack continued for one hour, but in our eyes it felt like an eternity. At the end of the attack it was morning, and then it was revealed to us a terrible sight, dozens killed and hundreds wounded… but who ever remained alive continued to live and to work… we immediately started to search for our relatives and acquaintances, I found Yosef Dirbach [Dirdok] immediately. I could not find my brother, but I have been told that he had been seen after the bombardment, we decided to go to Bilsk, that is two kilometers from this place. We went to Yosef’s uncle, we rested at night and from there we started on our way home to Zabludow.

Zabludow was very quiet, though the atmosphere of war was felt. The Russian army retreated while keeping as much order as possible. We stayed at home, the next day we even thought of following the retreating army though the army didn’t know where to retreat we decided to stay.

On Monday morning a German air squadron arrived and bombed the town, several houses were set aflame and the first victims fell, and again it was quiet. On Wednesday night, the 25th of June, within one hour the town was filled with Germans and they immediately took hostages. They held them in one house, they put guards and warned that if anything happened to the Germans the hostages would be taken out and would be shot. After a few hours the German guards left and the hostages returned to their homes, a quiet night passed.

On the 26th of June 1941 on Thursday, 7 o’clock in the morning three or four Germans entered the town and started to set it afire. The first conflagration broke out on Bilske Street. All the townspeople, Jews and Christians scattered to the fields. The Germans shot from the four corners of the town. The fires and the shootings continued until 4 o’clock. Those that escaped decided then to return to the town, to our great sorrow there was nowhere to return. The town was consumed by fire; only a few remaining houses stood in the town surroundings, where Christians lived. To my luck my house in the shoemakers house was not affected, that’s where many people came to stay and everyone got along as much as they could. We sat there hungry until Monday, the 30th of June; on this day the Christian citizens got drunk together with the Germans, and together with them they expelled the Jews. Everyone fled, some to the small towns and some to Bialystok, the Germans had not yet attacked the towns.

I escaped with my family to Bialystok, the journey was not easy, and it was impossible to go on the road, because the Polish would attack the refugees and hit them. I was forced to go through forest roads with my wife and three children in our arms. Others were in a similar situation. We dragged along to Bialystok for three days. We did not stay there a long time, we felt hunger, in spite of the great dangers we continued on our way to find food, and in this we returned many time to Zabludow. In the end, after many wanderings we settled at the ‘Beit Midrash’ at Bilsk -- this is the only building that was not taken by the Christians. Within three weeks about six hundred gathered there, and lived there in crowded and dirty conditions. One day the city governor ordered to build a ghetto, since most of the houses were destroyed, the foundation of the ghetto was established in the leather factories that were concentrated in one place.

Now we were facing new problems, they took the men to work. While working the men were beaten brutally. Once, the Jews were sent away to the big market. There stood a statue of Lenin that the Soviets constructed. The Germans ordered to destroy the statue, to make a Jewish burial, and to bring the pieces to the cemetery. At the same time they beat the Jews cruelly with clubs, pitchforks, and axes; they shattered heads and broke legs; in those riots the Polish city men also took part. From the cemetery they made us run back to the big market and ordered us to pray for our G-d to save us, and that also was an opportunity for beatings.

No pen is able to describe what we went through during fifteen or sixteen months, until Zabludow was ‘pure’ from Jews. In spite of that, if they let us stay there many of us could have survived. We suffered a great deal of torture in the leather factories, until the first of November 1942. On the night between the 1st and 2nd of November farmer wagons from the nearby villages were brought and in the morning came the SS people, armed from head to toe and with the help of the Polish police forced the Jews to climb onto the wagons. They were taken under heavy guard to the tenth cavalry camp behind Bialystok. They threw us into horse stables, and there we found some other Zabludow people who were brought from the surrounding towns that were ‘purified’ from Jews.

It is impossible the horrible sufferings that we suffered for three weeks, until we were expelled to Treblinka. I can’t remember the exact date, I am all confused about the time; I think it was on the 20th, or 21st of November. On that day, the bitter and horrible day, the Jews were brought to the gas chambers and were burned by the murderer Germans, may their names and memories be erased!

That is how our dear town and dear Jews of Zabludow were erased from earth.

May their memory be blessed!

 

 

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