…and i remained alive

On June 15, 1942, a new order was issued. All survivors of Hrubieszow Jews were to be concentrated in a Ghetto, in the alleys leading to the cemetery. Thus opened a new chapter of a tortures". Until then, only the unfit had been liquidated; now came the turn of the able-bodied. The appetite of the monster had not as yet been appeased. 

We see the arch-murderer, the commander, every day. Every now and then he stops somebody and asks: "why are you here and not at work?", as there was no satisfactory reply to this question, as often as not the man questioned was taken to a nearby alley and shot down. 

This situation lasted for some time, day in day out. At night, we sat in the dark, and if anybody lightened a cigarette and guards saw him, he was dragged out and shot without further ado. 
On October 21, 1942, group of Jews were brought in from surrounding villages and town-lets, and crowded into our Ghetto. Now we realized that a new catastrophe was brewing. I went to the Judenrat to find out "the lay of the land". There I was unformed by the son of Leibush Morgenstern that it had been decided by the Germans to make hrubieszow Jedenrein. 

Panic broke out: how to flee. We consult a few of the community leaders; we pool our meager resources and try to bribe peasants in the surrounding villages to give us shelter in their cellars. Naturally, we had to oil the palm of the policeman who was stationed at the exit from the Ghetto. 

The plan was to leave the ghetto at down. Needless to say, we did not sleep a wing that night. But the last stars had not disappeared when we heard a terrible tumult. Crowds of Jews were being driven by Latvian guards to an unknown destination; the Latvians surpassed the Germans in their cruelty: whosoever as much as lagged behind a single step was cut down mercilessly. 

A case of martyrdom on that day is deeply engraved in my memory. When the cries in the street are at their height, a young man, the son of Shloimele Gewertz, stands up and proclaims that he is going out to join his brethren. The pleas and cries of his father and mother as well as of all the others, that empty martyrdom is purposeless and that every Jew must hide in the hope of saving himself, fall on deaf ears. He rushes out and is swallowed up by the mob, never to be seen again. 

The tumult in the street gradually died down, and we were left trembling in our hideout. The burning question is: how long will the policeman be able to keep us concealed? Night approaches. Suddenly the policeman bursts in on us. In a trembling voice he tells us that a notice had been posted up that whoever is found having given shelter to Jews will be burnt in incinerator, together with all his family. He begs us, with tears in his eyes, to have mercy on his family. "You are condemned in my case", he pleads; why then should I and my family be victimized?" He pushes back the money that he had received from us. 

We listen heartbroken to his plea, and recognize the force of his argument: why indeed should he and his family suffer for his kindness? 

It devolves upon me to take a decision. I gather round me my wife Zlate and my two children, and go out. The others follow. We go to the house of my brother-in-law, Judel, and there did each other goodbye. Shloimele Gewertz puts his Talith. Judel and others follow suit. They ask me what I intend doing. My answer is that I would not wait until we massacred. I am going away and whoever wishes to follow me would be welcome. 
Thus we departed; and he sight of these men enveloped in their Taleisim, standing there awaiting their end will forever remain a burning memory.