David P. Boder Interviews Solomon Horowitz; September 12, 1946; Hénonville, France

  • David Boder: [In English] 1,2,3 . . . 1,2,3 . . . 1,2,3.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] What is your name, sir?
  • David Boder: [In English] Spool 125, taken in Hénonville, near Paris in a Kibbutz which is maintained by the Agudah. Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Word not clear.]
  • David Boder: Yes. It is a cooperative arrangement between the World ORT which handles the teaching of various trades and agriculture and the Agudah which maintains the place and seems to own this wonderful chateau . . . chateau of old, rich Frenchman, abandoned rather in a bad state of disrepair, because the ceiling are high. The . . . to paint it and to paper it would probably cost as much as the triple number of apartments in America where the same number of people could live. And so we have Mr. Solomon Horowitz who is the Rabbi in the place.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] And so, Rabbi . . . Rabbi, would you tell me again what is your name and how old are you?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I am, in the year nineteen . . .
  • David Boder: What is your name?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Solomon Horowitz.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Born in nineteen nine.
  • David Boder: Nineteen . . . when?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Nineteen nine.
  • David Boder: Nineteen nine?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Nine.
  • David Boder: So you are quite young. You are thirty-seven years old.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes, yes, thirty-seven years.
  • David Boder: [In English] All right. The Rabbi looks very well. He has a medium length beard and has a very good complexion . . . here in the country. [In Yiddish] And so go on. Would you tell me, Rabbi, what had happened to you? Where were you when the war started?
  • Solomon Horowitz: When the war started I was the Rabbi in Potok-Zloty. That is in the region of Galicia, near Tarnopol, Tarnopol Woje[wodstwo] region of Tarnopol. There I have . . . there were immediately deported from my little town . . .
  • David Boder: And so let us not go so fast. The war started. Who entered? What kind of soldiers entered?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Germans, the Germans, the Germans.
  • David Boder: The Germans entered.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Germans entered.
  • David Boder: Nu, and what did they . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Immediately deported the entire little town . . .
  • David Boder: But . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'Jews, out!'
  • David Boder: And so you would describe . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . the procedure.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: How were people deported? Did they say . . . well, how was it? What did they say to the Jews? To whom of the Jews did they speak? Did you have an administration? How did the entire thing come about?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They immediately organized a kind of a Jewish council.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: It was called . . . There they took in a few people . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And the people . . . They demanded from these people that they should put at their disposal a registration of each Jew, of all the possessions on hand.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It was done that way. They registered.
  • David Boder: How many Jews were there in your town, in your . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Fourteen . . . fourteen hundred persons.
  • David Boder: All together fourteen hundred persons?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Fourteen hundred persons. Yes.
  • David Boder: Hm. And how many Christians were there?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Christians, there were three times as many.
  • David Boder: You figure that the Jews were approximately . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: A quarter, a quarter, a quarter.
  • David Boder: A quarter. Yes, nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Then they ordered the Jewish councils, and they registered all the Jews. And it was ordered that in fourteen days there should not be found a Jew in that little town.
  • David Boder: Oh! They wanted to make this little town Jew-clean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Jew-clean.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Where do the Jews have to go? To the county seat, to a larger town which is eighteen kilometers away. The name of it is Buczacz.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Buczacz was the county seat of Potok-Zloty, of my town [?]. In Buczacz were concentrated from the entire region around sixteen thousand Jews, gathered together . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . in that town. In that town proper a ghetto was created. It was ordered that in such and such a street all the Jews have to be.
  • David Boder: Oh. A ghetto was made in that town.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In that town. In that street.
  • David Boder: How many streets? One single street?
  • Solomon Horowitz: One or two.
  • David Boder: Two. That means sixteen thousand . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Sixteen thousand. It was indeed terrible. Indeed the Polish [?] Jews were lying in the street.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: It was terrible.
  • David Boder: What time of the year was it, Rabbi?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the year '40.
  • David Boder: No, I mean which, winter, summer? When was it?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the middle of the winter, in blizzards they ordered to . . . When we went the snow was terrible. Jews froze on the carts [word not clear] from cold. In the severest frosts.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And in Buczacz again was created a Jewish council.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Again a Jewish council. And the Jewish council was ordered to gather together all the gold and silver. Whoever has even a deka of gold, even a ring, no matter what, should be brought immediately. We went around. I, too, was one who went to collect from all the Jews all the gold in possession. We thought with that gold we might save ourselves for a certain time and will be allowed to live.
  • David Boder: So did you give the gold or . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Everything. There didn't remain an iota [?]. I myself went along in order that it should be . . . should be handled honestly. I as Rabbi, because those members of the Jewish council were scum . . . Some were scoundrels [?], not such clean, decent people. Because usually he [the German], when he had to take people and go and rob . . . rob the . . . his [own] brothers, he took the scum, low elements. In spite of that I went along so that the gold should be delivered. We thought that with this gold we will save ourselves a little, for a certain time.
  • David Boder: Nu, I will tell you . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: There is another point of view. Maybe they were told, the people that went along into the Jewish council . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes?
  • David Boder: . . . that if . . . if one should give in to the Germans a little they will not be that bad.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That is what we did. That is . . . that is how we figured. That is how we figured.
  • David Boder: Were you in the Jewish council?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. I was not in the Jewish council. I was outside the Jewish council, but the Jewish council usually summoned me as . . . as an individual, as a religious dignitary.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Religious dignitary. I was of the opinion that we should give them the gold and silver. I was of such opinion because . . . so that we should save ourselves.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Words not clear.] As soon as they collected the gold and silver -- it took abut fourteen days -- there came again the Gestapo from Czortkow, from [by order of] the higher authorities . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . and demanded a contingent of people.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: It was ordered [?] that as long as there is no more gold and silver, as we have no more possessions, we should hand over for instance, five hundred people to . . . to be killed.
  • David Boder: To be killed?
  • Solomon Horowitz: To be killed. [Word not clear.] At first he said to be evacuated.
  • David Boder: Not for labor? Not to be arrested [?]?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. To be killed.
  • David Boder: It was said so?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Said openly!
  • David Boder: Said openly?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Twelve hundred sould have to be handed over to be killed. It was ordered [?] that a contingent of people . . .
  • David Boder: What did you say was the name of that little town?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Buczacz.
  • David Boder: Buczacz?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Buczacz.
  • David Boder: It wasn't said to go for labor? It wasn't . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Nothing! The first transports it was said [are] for deportation.
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: For deportation. They were taken to Belzyce. There was a 'Place of Repose' [burial ground] of millions of people. Belzyce.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There was a factory . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . where people were destroyed electrically. These were the first three transports.
  • David Boder: Wait a moment. What kind of factory?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Bel- . . . in Belzyce. You don't know? It was a milli . . . milli . . .
  • David Boder: You mean Bels . . . Bergen-Belsen.
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. Belzyce.
  • David Boder: Belzyce.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the region of Lemberg.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There was a factory into which he brought millions of people.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And it was later that he made fats out of them. It has been confirmed. It was a gigantic . . . like Treblinka. You don't know about Bel- . . . Belzyce? It is an atrocious thing. There were [people] brought from Poland and from Switzerland [?]. Millions of Jews were burned.
  • David Boder: Belzyce is not the same as Treblinka? Belzyce is . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is not. Treblinka is different, a different hell, and this is a different hell.
  • David Boder: Nu, tell me, who has seen that? Who knows it? You say it was . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is known. It is known exactly, because people jumped off the trains . . .
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . during the journey to Belzyce. They were already undressed nude a few kilometers before Belzyce. And it is known exactly what was done there with the people. One knows exactly. But from Buczacz there were only three transports to Belzyce.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . because later on he begrudged the trains. He saw that people are jumping off.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: So he didn't come any more with transports. But he arrived. And he took out a few hundred Jewish workers. They should dig graves.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: To be dug eight days before . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: A grave was dug in Buczacz . . . there is . . . which is six kilometers . . . [Footnote: He is either utterly confused about the actual measurements, or a ditch was dug for another purpose, possibly for drainage, or just punitive work accompanied by intentional terror rumors. See note on page 56 2(2012).]
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . in . . . in length.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Such a grave was dug. And later on Jews were led out. He asked to be given Jews, a . . . a contingent of five hundred or a thousand people for slaughter. Naturally the Jewish council did not want to. They said, 'Who should be handed over and who should remain?' [You decide.]
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: So the people said [to the Germans], 'Go and take yourself.' So he went around himself, from house to house.
  • David Boder: The German?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The German. The Germans went around with militia.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And they took . . . from house to house people were taken out to be killed. Then we began digging bunkers underneath the floors . . .
  • David Boder: Yes
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . in every house to hide ourselves. They entered a house. They went around like this and knocked and dug until they found. They took out from bunkers, I don't know, Jews by the fifties or hundreds. Instead of the thousand burned offerings they had originally asked for, they gathered three thousand.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They were led out, and Jews themselves had to bury them. All were shot. They left only twenty, thirty Jews, and said these twenty, thirty Jews should bury the dead.
  • David Boder: Did you see that yourself?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes! Later on these twenty, thirty were alas, shot. What does 'saw' mean? I put up a gravestone on that large and holy place, on that large mass . . . mass grave. I have just put up a gravestone. There lie all my relatives, all my brothers and sister everybody. Six . . . six . . . six thousand Jews lie there in one grave. What does 'saw' mean? It is a fact! Some question! Thus was done very time. It was done. These were called 'actions' It was called . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . an action takes place.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Every three, four weeks an 'action' was made until in Buczacz only two thousand Jews remained, the last two thousand Jews.
  • David Boder: And where were you during all this time?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In all I went through thirteen 'actions' and remained alive. Thirteen 'actions' I have gone through under the ground in my . . . my house.
  • David Boder: Oh. Under the ground in your house! You were hiding?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Not hiding! Everybody was hiding. As soon as . . .
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . the Germans raided as an 'action' every . . . everybody would hide in any kind of hiding place he had.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: But people were found. Whoever succeeded, succeeded. Those who weren't discovered weren't discovered. I had gone through thirteen 'actions' in Buczacz. And I lost the family in the eleventh 'action.'
  • David Boder: Where was . . . where had the family been?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The family was together with me.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: We were in a pit. Eighty person . . . were we . . .
  • David Boder: Such large did you make?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Eighty persons. We made a gigantic underground cellar. And I let in . . . everybody let in only twenty, thirty.
  • David Boder: Under whose house was it? Your house?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Under . . . under . . . .Yes.
  • David Boder: Your house.
  • Solomon Horowitz: No, not my own. There where I was living.
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Jewish council gave me to live in.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And there, under the ground, we dug out a cel- . . . cellar, dug out with three walls [partitions?] extremely well camouflaged. And there I took in eighty people, because I saw everybody only kept in a bunker twenty, thirty, but I saw there were people shelterless, who didn't have any bunker.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: So I told them they should come to me and hide. This perhaps brought about the . . . the tragedy.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Because of that it was discovered. There was . . . I can describe to you the night of the catastrophe. During eleven . . . eleven 'actions' my bunker was . . . was saved, was not discovered.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: During the eleventh 'action' we had already been 'bunkered.' We heard that the Gestapo had arrived, out for an 'action.' We had 'bunkered' ourselves around twelve o'clock at night. Around two o'clock at night I heard voices from the outside in these words, that is, in substance, 'We are six persons, a Hungarian family.' [He quotes in a slow, solemn voice./
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'We are standing outside.'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'The murderers are not yet on this street. Have compassion, Jews, and let us in . . . '
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: ' . . . because we are standing unprotected, in danger of being killed. The murderers are not yet in this street. Maybe we can still be saved!' I heard that lying in the bunker. I tore open the cover of the bunker. I said to myself, 'I don't want to save myself, to save myself and have on my conscience six . . . six burned offerings, Hungarian Jews.' I unscrewed [the cover of] the bunker and ran out to the gate of the house and took in that family. And then, at the moment when I took them in, a few of the Gestapo already on the street sensed that something is going on in this house.
  • David Boder: That family really was a real Jewish family?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. I took them in.
  • David Boder: It was not a made up thing?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. I took them in, that family . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . to us, and they were indeed with us.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And two hours later they overran the house . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . because they had sensed something, as if near this house there is some sort of scent.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They stopped at the house and were shooting from all sides, and eventually the bunker was discovered.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Then my whole family was also gathered together with the eighty persons. Everybody was led out and shot, and I with my only son that I possess, fifteen years old, in the last moment between the baggage -- there was a lot of baggage among eighty persons, featherbeds and sacks . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: So I lay down among these sacks and featherbeds on the ground.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Thus, because of the great noise and the tumult and the screams . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . these two people, my child and I, they left behind. I was lying among the baggage. I was trod on with the feet.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And I wasn't noticed.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I gave my whole family the advice. They scattered in small groups.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Unfortunately, they were seen. They were all picked up and led away.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I had eleven persons in my family.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And I with my only boy remained in the cellar.
  • David Boder: How old was your boy?
  • Solomon Horowitz: He is here. He is here. Fifteen years.
  • David Boder: Hm. And the . . . the others from your family were your wife . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: A wife with five sisters . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . with a child, . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . with a father, may his memory be blessed . . .
  • David Boder: Oh! You had only one child?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I had this child and the other child, two children.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: This child remained [with] me, the older one . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . and a boy of nine years . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who sho- . . . sho- . . . showed abilities of becoming one of the world's great . . . he was . . .
  • David Boder: A what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: He showed me abilities of becoming one of the world's great . . . he was . . .
  • David Boder: A what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: He showed abilities of becoming one of the world's great . . .
  • David Boder: In what . . . eh . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: In what field? In the field of memory [word not clear]. He had a terrific memory, and simply in . . . in intelligence. By himself he had already memorized a terrific amount of biblical knowledge.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: He remembered half of the Book of Psalms by heart.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: When he went to the . . . the slaughter, to be slaughtered, he was saying the Psalms from memory. And he said two thousand Jews were being led. He said, 'I am still going to pray to God. Maybe in the last moment we will be saved.' An unusual, and extraordinarily gifted child of nine years. They have murd- . . . [interrupted]
  • David Boder: How did you find out about that? Who told you that?
  • Solomon Horowitz: One was saved. From that transport one had escaped during . . . because when the transports were being taken some would run away. They would shoot after [them].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: One out of thousands might be saved, because there were so many militia men. They guarded strongly.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But one was saved, and he told me how . . . he pictured to me enough how they were killed. My . . . my entire family I lost then. After that, when I saw that there remained in Buczacz the last two thousand Jews -- I already had lost my family -- I talked it over. I said, 'It is getting to be Jew-clean. Let us escape to the forests. In town there is no more place for us. Let us run to the forests!'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I gathered three hundred and fifty Jews and brought them out into the forests. There . . .
  • David Boder: Tell me, how . . . what does it mean, you 'gathered them'? You told them they should come, or what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I told them that they should come in groups to such and such woods.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In such and such direction.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And there I will be found, and another group of Jews. And there we will plan how we will support ourselves and which peasant we could trust to bring food.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There we will plan how to hide under ground.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we shall talk it over. Maybe, maybe there in the woods, we will live through Hitlerism. [Pause.]
  • David Boder: And so afterwards?
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Pause.] Afterwards [pauses again] we were . . . A month later while in the woods, we were reported to the Gestapo, that there are Jews in the woods.
  • David Boder: Hm. Can you describe what people did all day in the forest? Where did one sleep? Where did one . . . Describe the life in the forest . . . in the forest.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The life in the forest was a constant terror. One was afraid during every second that there may come a group of Gentiles and kill us all. People looked only for thicker trees to hide. All day long people thought only about one thing, to save one's life. Days passed when people forgot even about the need to eat. There passed entire days in which one neither ate nor slept. And when one became tired, one lay down on the grass. Once it rained constantly for three days. And it became so muddy that afterwards, when we got up, people got lost. We couldn't find one another. Thus we were submerged, covered with mud. That is how we slept in a forest. And at the beginning the food consisted of mushrooms from the trees, around the trees, on the ground. There are such dark mushrooms.
  • David Boder: What is that? [Did not understand the Polish word grzyby.]
  • Solomon Horowitz: Dark mushroom. It is such a . . . [with distaste] it is a disgusting food.
  • David Boder: The bark, the . . . the bark? Kora? What . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. Like bark. Black bark.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: This we ate. One peeled it and boiled it in water.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And one ate it, and the water in which it was boiled we drank.
  • David Boder: [Clarifying the word] Cooked?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Cooked. Cooked. One took water, [word not clear] water. One boiled it thoroughly, and this one ate.
  • David Boder: Nu, were there only men, or were there . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Oh, women also. Women and children. Among the three hundred and fifty there were engineers and doctors and rabbis, all sorts of people. An assemblage of various sorts of people. And the engineers began planning how to make underground bunkers.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we made in the area of five kilometers . . . there were made forty bunkers. An area of forty bunkers. In each bunker there were a few people, in fives, in sixes, in tens.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And it was thus. In the daytime we lay the whole under . . . underground. And we were afr- . . . afraid that should a peasant get lost there, a Gentile with a cow, it will soon be known that there are Jews in the forest. So we lay all day long underground. In the evening, at night, we permitted ourselves to go out . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: outside to take a bit of fresh air, because at night we weren't afraid of a raid. It was a forest dense with trees. So at night we used to come together from all the bunkers to one place, to one assembly point . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . around me. And we used to make campfire, a fire around us. We baked potatoes and sat and talked about what will become of us. While we were in the forest, Russian partisans arrived. That was very interesting. Parachutes descended. Thirty partisans . . .
  • David Boder: Parachutes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Parachutes.
  • David Boder: Into the forest? Or was it . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. They descended in an open place. They ran. They were . . . they knew that the Germans are there. They were Russians.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: So they ran into the forest hide.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They had descended on an open place, on . . . on a landing place.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There is where they had descended. And they came to us, into the forest, thirty persons, Russians. And they were hiding with us for six weeks.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And so we had partisans. They were armed. Our spirit rose. Now we already have a little . . . a bit of arms. If an attack comes we had something with which to defend ourselves. These partisans . . . during their stay we lived well because they would raid. At night they would go into the villages and attack the peasants and burn the crops. They would spread damage. They would, in the meantime, bring provisions from the peasants.
  • David Boder: What would they burn? What did they use to burn?
  • Solomon Horowitz: To burn grains.
  • David Boder: What is it? [The word was not understood.]
  • Solomon Horowitz: They used to burn grain, rye, wheat.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Wheat, the field.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They wanted to do damage.
  • David Boder: Oh! That was sabotage.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. Sabotage. They descended in the . . . the time of the harvest.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They descended when the crops were harvested.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: To spread sabotage, to cause great damages [?].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: At that time they burned, and in the meantime from . . . from the peasants they took food and brought it to the woods.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Then on one occasion they brought a radio to the forest. They had taken away from a Ukrainian a rad- . . .
  • David Boder: A radio?
  • Solomon Horowitz: A radio.
  • David Boder: For receiving or sending?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. They brought a radio to us to the forest.
  • David Boder: An ordinary radio.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. An ordinary radio, and we . . . that radio . . . an engineer took that radio and 'bunkered' it. It was tied with wires to a tree.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And it was powered with fifteen batteries. We had it every night. Fifteen batteries were bought. People were sent. They risked their lives. They were disguised as Gentiles into the towns to buy batteries, so that we should every night, every evening get some news of what is going on in the world.
  • David Boder: Hm. Was it possible to buy the small . . . what were the . . . what kind of batteries were they?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Batteries. Such simple . . . simple batteries. Simple, and with that the engineer powered the radio.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: With the batteries every night we listened to the news.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We got together. It was near me. Gathered together all the three hundred and fifty Jews, sitting up at night. We turned on the radio. The radio began to inform us when the first advance against Kharkov, when they made the Germans pull back from Kharkov.
  • David Boder: Oh. When they chased away the Germans?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Chased away, yes.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: We heard over the radio about how Kharkov was taken . . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . all the points along the Dnieper.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We heard over the radio about all the occupations [of cities]. They were advancing with the swiftness, right up to the suburb of Kiev. The radio had led us . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We heard that the Soviets were already patrolling the suburbs of Kiev.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And then, at that time, it already brought us a bit . . . a bit of hope that they will approach closer. I used to sit all day long, writing with pencil on . . . on the plan, with a map . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . to try and figure out how many kilometers they cover in a day, how long it has to take till they come to us.
  • David Boder: And how far were you from Kiev?
  • Solomon Horowitz: From Kiev? We were still far from Kiev, over a thousand kilometers.
  • David Boder: Oh! Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Chuckles.] We were still far enough, far enough. But still we already had a bit of hope. Maybe we will still survive. Maybe we will. And then, as soon as . . . Then came the catastrophe, the forest was attacked.
  • David Boder: Who attacked?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Germans, the Germans. It has been reported thus. This tale was carried to the Gestapo, that thousands of Jews are located in the woods, with ammunition . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . with a secret radio, and with partisans.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Imagine what was sent out against us. Whole divisions were sent to surround the woods, and there began a gigantic raid on the forest.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They began to search. A raid.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The moment the partisans sensed that the woods are being raided, they were recalled. They left us. The radio remained, and they created only a little Jewish partisan group. They organized fifteen young men, Jews. They gave them arms with which to defend themselves. And so we already had a little Jewish partisan group. They left, and the Jewish partisan group got ready to protect us at least against . . . against common bandits who went around robbing. When they had left and we remained in the woods, they were raiding the woods constantly. They had found already the radio.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They found the radio. And Jews were being killed. And some bunkers remained. The result was that out of the three hundred and fifty Jews, no more than fifteen remained.
  • David Boder: Fifteen?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Fifteen. Then it happened. During the whole summer . . . summer time we were able to hide in the forest, because the leaves were strewn over the bunkers.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The moment the snow fell, since we had to go out on the snow occasionally, we left a trail.
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: Footprints.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: When they attacked the forest in snow time, they saw by the . . . by the footprints. They tracked them down to each . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . bunker. And then began the tragedy in the forest. The few Jews came to be annihilated, the few remaining in the forest.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And out of the three hundred and fifty there remained no more than fifteen remained.
  • David Boder: Fifteen?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Fifteen.
  • David Boder: Hm. Might not some have run away to other places?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. We were constantly on the run. It was like this. When, for instance, this part of the forest was raided . . . we were in seventeen bunkers . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Each time we had to run away to another forest. As soon . . . as soon as we were discovered in this little piece of forest . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . we had to leave it and escape to another forest.
  • David Boder: And each time you had to build new bunkers.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Build new bunkers. And how these bunkers were built! This is extraordinarily interesting to describe [?].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: How was one able to build a bunker in the forest? One had to cut down trees.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The dug up earth had to be carried away.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And it [the structure] had to be propped up underground.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And this was made, for instance, in that . . . in that part where we were. If we wanted to build the bunker, trees had to be cut in an entirely other part, because if somebody should come, he shouldn't be able to notice that trees had been cut here. You understand?
  • David Boder: Oh! Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: You understand?
  • David Boder: You needed tree . . . trees for the bunkers.
  • Solomon Horowitz: For the bunkers.
  • David Boder: What for did you need trees for bunkers?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Materials, to prop up. If one digs a hole [a cave] it will cave in. It has to be propped up.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It has to be propped up.
  • David Boder: Hm! Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: With material.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Nu, and if we should up . . . up . . . uproot the trees here, cut here in the part where we are, if one should come to the forest it will be seen that there are trees missing here.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: So it will be understood that someone is hidden here.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: [so] we had to go two, three kilometers, some place else.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: To another part of the forest, cut the trees there, carry them on the shoulders to this . . . to this part.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And later on when the ground was dug up, the earth, too, had to be carried away a few kilometers. It should not be noticed . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . that the earth had been dug up here. That is how bunker was made! And the engineers made a bunker of . . . of . . . of five stories. It is interesting.
  • David Boder: Deep?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Deep, underground. And twigs were . . . were kind of braided. And so we slept, one on top of the other, like on plank beds, as it was called.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And when the Germans found that bunker!
  • David Boder: You mean five levels of beds were made?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Beds, underground.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And when that bunker was discovered, they brought down a photographer to photograph it.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And they said, 'Look what the Jews can do! A subterranean little Paris.' I heard the voices . . .
  • David Boder: Subterranean what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Subterranean little Paris.
  • David Boder: The Germans said that?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Germans said [that]. When . . . when they discovered the bunker with Jews in it, they took . . . they brought a photographer to photograph it.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And they were astonished. They said, 'Look what the Jews can do! A subterranean little Paris!'
  • David Boder: Yes. What did they mean by a 'little Paris'?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Because it was so artistically . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . artistically constructed. It was such a masterpiece [Footnote: It is possible that the Germans referred to the famous subterranean structures in Old Paris.].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: With so . . . with so much . . . with so much effort, with so much . . . .And all that didn't help. The end. The winter brought the catastrophe, and very few were left. We remained fifteen persons only, not in the forest either. If we would have been in the forest these few wouldn't have remained either. We [then] escaped into the villages and persuaded a Gentile [that] he should make a bunker, a hole in a stable.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We laid there, four persons, for four months in a stable underneath the cattle.
  • David Boder: Who was with you? Your boy?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The boy and two other persons who . . . they had more money to give to that Gentile for my share.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Gentile took exorbitant sums for every day, and I didn't have it. So I led two more people to that Gentile, and they paid for me.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We were four persons in a stable where the animals stood on top.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And underneath, under the manure, I was lying in a hole for four months.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: There we lay for four months until the Soviets entered. Before Pesach in the year '44 the Soviets arrived in our parts.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: So when we heard that the Soviets are here we left the bunkers.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we drove into the town.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'drove into the town'?
  • Solomon Horowitz: We went [walked] into the town.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And then eight days later the Soviets executed a retreat again.
  • David Boder: A retreat?
  • Solomon Horowitz: A retreat.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They executed a retreat, and we remained. When . . . when we left for the woods, I took a count of those who came back . . .
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . and I had forty-nine people.
  • David Boder: From your two hundred and fifty.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes, from my three hundred and fifty only fifteen were left, but in other forests, where I didn't know, there were also hidden a few groups.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And these came together in my own town. Forty-nine people.
  • David Boder: People. Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I took count. I know I had forty-nine people. These were out of a region of hundreds of thousands of people. These few people remained. And when I saw that a retreat is in process, I knew that we are again in mortal danger.
  • David Boder: Was this already in the Russian region that you . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. We were already . . . .The Russians had already control, had occupied that region, our region.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes, so I . . . They came out from the woods.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I saw that we are forty-nine persons in our little town.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I gathered the forty-nine people and thought of starting anew a bit of life.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: To begin to rebuild [?].
  • David Boder: Yes. Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the meantime, in eight days, I perceived a . . . a tumult.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: A retreat.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I got in touch with a Jewish captain of the Russian army . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who had . . . I asked what is going on. He said, 'There have broken through . . . we had besieged, surrounded a city with sixteen divisions of German forces . . . '
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: ' . . . and our main army went on.'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And so as the main army went on, they have broken out and will gain control again of the entire region of Galicia.'
  • David Boder: Oh.
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'You are again in danger. We are retreating.'
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: So I begged him, 'Take back these forty-nine.' I explained to him that, since out of the many thousands of Jews only forty-nine have remained, I plead with him to take us along with the army.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We should be with the army. He granted me this favor and took us along with the army. We ran with the army to the Dniester, twenty-two kilometers, at night. It was something terrible. We couldn't escape [by] ourselves, so we ran with the army.
  • David Boder: Didn't they have any carts, automobiles? Any [word not clear]?
  • Solomon Horowitz: There . . . there were, but there was chaos in the retreat. It was said . . . At the beginning he had promised us that he will put the women and children on the vehicles, but when the moment of the retreat came there was such a tumult that we couldn't do it. Each . . . each soldier [?] packed his own . . . his own and ran. And we civilians had to walk. And we ran until the Dniester, and then we crossed over to Horodenka, and we went as far as Czernowitz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: As far as Czernowitz. In Czernowitz we saw already . . . At first we thought that we are surrounded, we are caught in Czernowitz. We . . .
  • David Boder: By the Germans?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. We thought that we are again surrounded by the Germans. Arriving in Czernowitz, we saw that we are saved, we are in Soviet hands.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Germans are already . . . they won't come here any more. In Czernowitz I . . . I distributed the forty-nine people . . . distributed them there among the Jews. In Czernowitz we found twenty-three thousand Jews . . .
  • David Boder: Oh!
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who received us very nicely, very well.
  • David Boder: The Germans . . . had the Germans ever been in Czernowitz?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They had been.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And there they did not do what they have done in Galicia
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There in Czernowitz had been eighty thousand Jews. They deported sixty, lead them away, but the twenty [thousand] that had remained, remained.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Nothing happened to them. I found about twenty-three thousand Jews in Czernowitz, and we got settled, these forty-nine people. And I gained Czernowitz Rabbinat.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And I was a year in Czernowitz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Now.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In '45 when there started the repa- . . . repatriation to Poland . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I as a Polish citizen. I had documents made out in Czernowitz and went to Poland.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I was in Warsaw for six months as Rabbi of Warsaw.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Rabbi of Warsaw.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In Warsaw I began organizing a Jewish life. It cost me a lot of effort.
  • David Boder: It cost you what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Effort.
  • David Boder: Effort.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Much effort. I saw that I am again in great danger, that danger lurks at every pace and step.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'danger'?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Danger means . . . in Warsaw a Jew couldn't show up on the street. Should he be recognized that he is a Jew . . .
  • David Boder: After the Poles had retaken Warsaw?
  • Solomon Horowitz: After Poland . . .
  • David Boder: After the liberation of Poland?
  • Solomon Horowitz: After the liberation of Poland.
  • David Boder: What are they . . . why are they . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: There are pogroms. Don't you know that today there are in Poland . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, I know [words not clear].
  • Solomon Horowitz: I will tell you why. It is . . . it is really this way. There has remained the . . . the poison of Hitlerism. There it did more damage than any place else. There Hitlerism took such deep roots that Hitlerism exists there today like an epidemic. It is not possible to notice that anything has changed there, whether Hitlerism has fallen. It is not possible to observe in the Polish regions that anything had happened. It looks like Hitlerism. The . . . the extermination of Jews is still advocated, and they are doing . . . .It is true, the government is still very well disposed. The government wants to control the situation. The government in Poland is very good, but they are unable to control this situation. I saw how in Warsaw with every step I take outside I am in danger. I caught slaps. I was beaten. And I had to walk. Every step I had to walk. I couldn't ride on a streetcar. I had to shave. I shaved off the beard, concealed it with the kerchief. Thus I saw that it is impossible for me to carry out my Jewish life. I began to try, look for ways. I got out of Poland and came to France.
  • David Boder: You got out with . . . from Poland with whom?
  • Solomon Horowitz: With a transport with other Jews. Two hundred of the Agudah Israel.
  • David Boder: Tell me something about the Agudah Israel. What kind of an organization is that?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Agudah Israel is an organization which endeavors to mold life according to the letter of Torah.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That means it endeavors that the whole everyday life, that all that a man has to deal with in life, should proceed in the spirit of the Torah.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It endeavors to bring in the Torah spirit into every problem of life.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Now Agudah Israel is endeavoring to build the Land of Israel.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Because they see that there is no more a place for us in Europe. For those remaining people there is no place.
  • David Boder: Were they al- . . . were they always Zionists, the Agudah Israel?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They were once . . . they were for Zion, but not as actively as today. Once they believed that the important thing is to stand guard over the Torah. And it can even be in the Diaspora, but the important thing is to see that the Jewish . . . that the Jewish life be according to the Torah. But today, since they see that in Europe there is no place for a Jew, they endeavor to rebuild the Land of Israel in the spirit of Torah. This is Agudah Israel. Agudah Israel endeavors to create and build a Jewish Home in the Land of Israel, but only in the spirit of the Jewish Torah.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: This is the Agudah Israel.
  • David Boder: And so? How did the Agudah Israel gather the two hundred people, and how did you get in touch with them?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Agudah Israel is like this. When there . . . when it came to be after the catastrophe, after the liberation of Poland, there got together five, six people, no more, who had remained Jewish religious comrades. They went out in the street and they searched, simply searched for children. In Christian homes many [Jewish]children were hidden.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And they took each child and clothed it and fed it. And they said, 'You should know you don't have your parents. You have no family. But you are a child of Jews, and you have to be a Jewish child. And you should believe in God.' They began raising these children. Six, seven people had gathered gradually and assembled hundreds of children. They bought them back from Gentiles. A lot of money was paid.
  • David Boder: Why did they have to be bought back?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Bought back? Because the Gentile woman didn't want to surrender them. The Gentile woman knew that it was a deal. If she has saved a Jewish child she demands money. People got in touch with the Joint, with the Americans and it was paid, up to thirty thousand for a child, and even up to fifty thousand.
  • David Boder: Thirty thousand Zlotys?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Zlotys. And up to fifty thousand Zlotys.
  • David Boder: How much was a Zloty worth against the dollar?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Hm. Against the dollar perhaps . . . about thirty thousand Zlotys was about . . . I don't know exactly, but anyway it is quite a sum, hundreds of dollars. One used to give for a child three, four hundred dollars.
  • David Boder: And?
  • Solomon Horowitz: That much was given for a child. And these children were bought back, and people began bringing them up in a Jewish was of life. And then a 'Benoss' was created, separately for woman.
  • David Boder: What is a 'Benoss'?
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'Benoss' means separate quarters for woman.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Since they are to lead a life [in the spirit] of the Torah, there should be . . . there cannot be a mixing of men and women.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In one Kibbutz there was created a Kibbutz for men separate and a Kibbutz separately for women.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And then the older women instructed the younger women. And lectures were always given about the spirit of the Torah.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And nowadays there exist in Poland forty-odd Kibbutzim . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Created by Agudah and . . .
  • David Boder: There are other Kibbutzim, too, which were not created by the Agudah?
  • Solomon Horowitz: There are all kinds, Mizrachi Kibbutzim.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But I am talking about the Agudah.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The program of the Agudah . . . there is of the Mizrachi . . . Mizrachi has other Kibbutzim yet.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And then there are just ordinary Zionists, and there are leftist parties. There are all kind of parties.
  • David Boder: Yes. All of them have Kibbutzim?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes, all have Kibbutzim. All have Kibbutzim. and all . . .
  • David Boder: You have to excuse me, but in America . . . I am in another . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes, yes, yes.
  • David Boder: . . . field.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: And I want to know. You understand?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Of course, of course.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I will tell you all I know.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: All have Kibbutzim, but this I have to bring to your attention. Everybody endeavors to get out of Poland.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The leftists even more than the Agudah. All endeavor to get out of Poland, because in this all parties are agreed, that there is no more room for a Jew in Poland. Such doesn't exist! All agree on that.
  • David Boder: And?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we were brought over. I . . . I came with a transport of the Agudah to Prague, to Czechoslovakia. And from Prague . . .
  • David Boder: How did you cross the border?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The border we crossed somewhat legally. It was said the border guards had been bribed a little. A whole that . . . It was quite an undertaking.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It was successful. That transport left almost legally.
  • David Boder: That transport went how? On foot, or in a . . . a . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: No, no, no.
  • David Boder: In busses?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. We rode . . . we embarked in Warsaw, and we rode as far as Prague. We rode . . .
  • David Boder: In what? In [word not clear]?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In . . . in a train.
  • David Boder: In a train.
  • Solomon Horowitz: By railroad, by railroad.
  • David Boder: Did you buy your tickets or were they free? Or . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: The tickets were bought till . . . till the . . . till the border, and then we bought tickets again. Our transport was as if a bit legal.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Because it was somehow worked through with . . . with an understanding with the authorities . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who gave a permit. And there were some kind of passports. It was illegal and legal, but in any case somewhat legally. And we arrived in good order. However the transports that are leaving now walk already about twenty-odd kilometers.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Troubles are already happening at the borders.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They are arriving naked and barefoot. And still thousands of Jews are leaving Poland. People are breaking out by any means in their power, because there had been already burned offerings, because there are pogroms in Poland.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Arriving in France, as you know, we arrived in Hénonville, and here . . .
  • David Boder: How did you cross? For Prague you went where to?
  • Solomon Horowitz: To Paris, to Paris.
  • David Boder: How did you travel, by train or how?
  • Solomon Horowitz: By train, by train, by train from Prague to Paris.
  • David Boder: And who provided the food? Who provided the . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: And who provided all the things? There is an Agudah in Prague.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And there is an Agudah in France.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And there is the Vaad Hatzala [words not clear -- interrupted].
  • David Boder: The what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Vaad Hatzala from America.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: In America there exists such a rescue movement . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . rescue movement, Vaad Hatzala.
  • David Boder: Vaad Hatzala?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Vaad Hatzala.
  • David Boder: Vaad Hatzala.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Vaad Hatzala. That means Committee for Rescue.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Rescue committee. The Vaad Hatzala is now spread over the whole . . . the whole of Europe. And they rescue the Shaarith Haplatim. Their mission is to rescue the Shaarith Haplatim.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, Shaarith Haplatim? The survivors?
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Words not clear] don't help the killed, the survivors.
  • David Boder: But what do the two words mean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Shaaro [?] is survived. Haplatim, who had escaped.
  • David Boder: Escaped . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Escaped.
  • David Boder: The survivors of those who had escaped.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Of . . . yes. The survivors of those who escaped . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who had succeeded in saving their lives . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . in the forests. Shaarith Haplatim means that.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And the Vaad Hatzala, it has the mission to rescue the Shaarith Haplatim, and to take them out from the dangerous countries . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . and bring them, for the time being, into such a country where a Jew can more or less move freely. He is still na vanat [roaming and wandering], but he is able to move freely.
  • David Boder: He is still what?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Na vanat [roaming and wandering]. He is not in his own home.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: He has no place. He has no place to sleep. He is still in . . . in bad circumstances as to food and . . . and so forth. For instance, we here are . . . We live under hard conditions. Here, indeed, in Hénonville
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But still we are in a country where we can move about freely. The Jew is a man equal to all men in France. I can go out in France as a Jew with a beard. As a religious Jew. And I can ride on all those . . . on . . . on the Metros, on the Busses, the same as all . . . as all . . . as all people. This we have. In this [respect] we are saved. And furthermore, you should know that all the Jews have an aim, to go to Israel. All of them from Agudah Israel and from other parties have the aim, simply to have as their own a little piece of home, a little piece of country [?]. Some people who have relatives in America are struggling to get to America, because, for the time being, the road to the Land of Israel is complicated. But the majority consists of [us] idealists who, in spite of the situation there being difficult, we want solely to come to Eretz Israel. And this, the hope of the . . . this is . . . of the . . . of the . . . this is the . . . the expectation of all the Kibbutzim, that people are waiting, that any moment they will be able to tear themselves through into Eretz Israel, whether legally or illegally. To us Eretz Israel is always legal. Our journey to Eretz Israel is legal because it is our country, and we are going there as to our own. This is our hope.
  • David Boder: Rabbi Horowitz, would you please tell me something, a little about Hénonville. How many people are here? What does one do here, and how did they come, and . . . and so forth?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Here . . . here in Hénonville we are a kind of Hachshara.
  • David Boder: Hm, here is a Hachshara?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Hachshara. What does Hachshara mean? It means that it is a preparation for Eretz Israel. We want to come to Eretz Israel as active people.
  • David Boder: What does the word Hachshara mean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Hachshara means . . . means . . . means preparation.
  • David Boder: Preparation.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Preparation.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We want to prepare ourselves, build our bodily conditions, so that we should be able to act- . . . actively to build the land, not come there as people who have to be assured an existence, but capable of building and creating. Here in Hénonville exists a Kibbutz. People work at gardening. People work on the field. People work at carpentry. People work at tailoring.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: People work as painters, at shoe making. And all these . . . everyone learns according to his trade, for which he is capable, [so] he should come to Eretz Israel as a tradesman, so he should be able with his trade to help in building the land. We should be able by ourselves to conduct all the branches of life.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We shouldn't need any protectorate over us.
  • David Boder: And how is this . . . how . . . how many people are there here in Hénonville?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Now there are arriving more. Here there were already over two hundred. Now there could be assembled about three hundred.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: There will be installed a seminary, too.
  • David Boder: A . . . a Yeshiva?
  • Solomon Horowitz: A Yeshiva, yes. I as a spiritual leader . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I, Horowitz, as the spiritual leader see to it that all these labors should be carried out in the spirit of the Torah.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That means, for instance, in the morning when we get up . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Everything is punctual. At six o'clock there is a bell. It rings. Everybody has to stand on the square. Up and about.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The people are taught punctuality. He should know punctually. He should do everything punctually. Until eight o'clock there is a prayer and breakfast. Prayer first. After breakfast I give a lecture studying the Torah. I give a lecture to the men. They are taught for an hour or two. Then people go to work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: People go to work until dinner.
  • David Boder: And at what time do people go to work?
  • Solomon Horowitz: People go to work at nine. At nine everybody has to be at work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: People work eight hours a day.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Eight . . . eight hours one works. At nine people go to work . . . twelve . . . until twelve or half past. The bell rings. People know it is dinner. Everybody leaves the work and goes to eat dinner.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: After dinner, at two . . . two o'clock the bell rings again. People know and go to work again, and until six people work.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: At six people come home.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes Spool number 120. [End of Spool 120.]
  • David Boder: [In English] This is Spool 121. I continue with the Rabbi Solomon Horowitz.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] And so, Rabbi, would you tell me . . . you have described to me a little of Hénonville. Now I should like to ask you a question.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. I . . . I want to add [word not clear] . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, go ahead. Say anything you want. The microphone is yours.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes. I want to add something about the life, how here, really, people strive that there be a brotherly life. One for another would walk into fire. The love of one for another becomes here forged together. All of us are constantly together. One treasury, one food, one treatment. When one gets married here, it is a joyful event for everyone. Everyone joins in the happiness. A joy the same as if his own brother would . . . would get married. And his life creates in the people a great love of one for another. This is almost the . . . the most important asset of the life in a kibbutz.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That it creates a bond of one another. Everyone is taken by love of one for another, with loyalty because one . . . one loses the individual [personal] problems, the individual endeavors, and everything ties into one collective endeavor. We all have one aim and one endeavor.
  • David Boder: Eh . . . I would like to ask you . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . a question.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: The old Jewish life . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . was that planned as a collective life and not as a family life and an individual life?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: I would like to know how . . . how do you understand the . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the Torah?
  • David Boder: In the Torah, yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: [In] our Torah, as you know, there is a main tenet: 'L'haftu le rayachu komochu.'
  • David Boder: What does it mean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: That means to love your . . . your comrade the same as yourself.
  • David Boder: Where is that in the Torah? Where is it written?
  • Solomon Horowitz: The Torah is to us . . . us . . .
  • David Boder: No, I mean what you just said, that . . . that . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'L'haftu le rayachu komochu.'
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That was said by God, and Moses wrote it down.
  • David Boder: Can you give me the verse? Where is it?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes!
  • David Boder: Where is it?
  • Solomon Horowitz: 'L'haftu l'rayachu w'komoch. Annee Adoshem' [Love thy neighbor as thyself. I am God].
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: That must be in Ki Tetzay [see Note 3 at end of chapter].
  • David Boder: I would like to know it, you understand. The . . . the Christians are always claiming that this is their . . . [i.e., was first proclaimed by the New Testament -- see same Note 3] . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: They took it from us.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: They took it from Torah. This is written clearly in the Torah. When I look it up I shall tell you the exact place.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But this . . . I shall look it up and . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Words not clear.]
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I will tell you the exact place.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: The verse and everything. [See same Note 3 at end of chapter.]
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But that it is in the Torah, that is for sure. Sure.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: I can soon tell you . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . the location of the place.
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Words not clear.] If not more . . . [chuckle] the important thing is to carry it out exactly.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: All right. This is the main concept. The main concept of our Torah is that one man should love another and in dealing with another not to deceive another, live a decent life, and in every . . . everyone . . .
  • David Boder: One moment. [Testing the microphone.] Live a decent life, you said. Nu, go on.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And . . . [pause] . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: And . . . and endeavor to do such things that should bring usefulness to the whole community, not only to oneself.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, I want to ask you another question.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: I understand that there are here . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . Russian women . . . eh . . . who became Jews.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Who became converted?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Where? Here in the Kibbutz?
  • David Boder: No, no, no. I was told that there are here, here in Hénonville. Women who were Christians before [Footnote: For some information on this topic see interview with Mrs. Clara Neuman, Spool 121B.].
  • Solomon Horowitz: Hm. Geirim, geirim, geirim [strangers].
  • David Boder: Would you tell me something about them?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I don't know the story. Why they became converted I don't know. I know only that they are extremely religious Jews. That only, I know.
  • David Boder: Yes. You don't know their story, how they have come? What . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: No. I met them in the group . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . leaving Poland for here.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: I met them in the group, and seeing that the Torah says thirty-six times, 'L'haftu mes'hagayra' [Love the stranger within the gates] . . .
  • David Boder: What does it mean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: In the Torah it says thirty-six times to love a stranger, to give assistance to a stranger . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who comes over to our religion. He has to be treated even better because he feels so . . . so lonesome, so . . . so not . . . not . . . not wanted.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is self-understood that we are very friendly towards these strangers [Geirim].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we . . . we give them very much attention. And they are feeling very well, and they are highly religious.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They take part in all the Jewish things. They study.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And they are highly religious. And I only know that . . . that they are very satisfied. But their history, how they came to it, that I don't know.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is unknown to me.
  • David Boder: Hm. Nu, when do you think this Kibbutz will leave for Eretz Israel?
  • Solomon Horowitz: There has left already a transport from . . . from . . . from Hénonville for Eretz Israel about two months ago. A hundred and forty people . . .
  • David Boder: Illegally?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Illegally . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . who are writing very good letters . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . and are happily in Eretz Israel . . .
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . in spite of the situation still being so . . . so . . . We are hoping any day . . . But Hénonville a transit [place] for thousands of more Jews.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: France is an important point now.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Thousands of Jews are still endeavoring to come here. And Hénonville is a point that when these two hundred Jews leave, a place is made for a new two hundred Jews. As long as the repatriation will last in . . . in Europe, so long, I think, Hénonville will exist, until there will be created a real Jewish Home and life will become normal. Hénonville is a point that is not for a day or two.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is transit point. And every Saturday strangers come to us. Even those who are not from Hénonville, who are living in Paris. They come here for every Saturday, thirty, forty guests, to take part in our Sabbath . . . [See interview with Mr. Pinkhus Rosenfeld in forthcoming volumes, Spools 130B and 131.]
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . which is most interesting. We spend a Sabbath from beginning to end full of Godliness, with diffidence, with lectures, with study. The whole Sabbath is to us a spiritual day, free of labor.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Here there are such religious people. Saturday no work is done, but the whole day, Saturday, is spent in songs with . . . with dances. People are dancing together. [he refers to ritual dances of the Khassidic sect].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We sing together, and we eat together, and lectures about the Torah are given. And every week according to the Sedra[ a weekly portion of the Pentateuch] . . . the spirit of the Sedra is explained, the devine meanings. And all these thing and the good customs are taught. I teach Perak every Saturday. I teach Perak. Perak, that means about the customs.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: How a man should be. He should . . . should . . . should find for himself the customs. And that is how Sabbath is spent. For every Sabbath there are thirty, forty guests here who come simply to see how Jews are living together spiritually.
  • David Boder: What kind of guests are they, also from Kibbutzim or . . . ?
  • Solomon Horowitz: No, no, no, not from Kibbutzim. Just from Paris. People who . . . who are going . . . are waiting for visas to go to America, to Chicago, to Canada. But they have heard about Heno so they come out here for the Sabbath. And we, from our food, we share with [them] no matter who, as many guests as there come. We eat collectively together. And Sunday they take leave and depart.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: They simply come to partake [?] and see how a day is spent here.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: We have organized all the things pertaining to Jewishness. For instance, now I am planning to make a Mikvah [ritual bath].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: That is needed for a family cleanliness, family life. It plays a great role in the Torah. It is one of the most important commands of the Torah: To lead a clean family . . . family life.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Solomon Horowitz: And we are hoping to build now a Mikvah. The Sabbath is very much observed here with all the finest details. And here is being led, as one says, a socially constructive life, and a religious, Godly life. That is how it is led here in the Kibbutz.
  • David Boder: Tell me, will you allow me to use the machine on Saturday?
  • Solomon Horowitz: Saturday? Here? [In an apologetic whisper apparently to avoid the recording of his words] No. Not here.
  • David Boder: I am not writing . . .
  • Solomon Horowitz: [Whisper] But it is an apparatus . . .
  • David Boder: [Chuckle. Words not clear.]
  • Solomon Horowitz: . . . an apparatus. It is not [word not clear].
  • David Boder: Nu?
  • Solomon Horowitz: What for? You want to come out for Saturday? You are very welcome.
  • David Boder: I want to stay here for . . . I am leaving already for America on Tuesday.
  • David Boder: But I still want to talk with many people here.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Will you stay over Saturday?
  • David Boder: Well, I can't remain over . . . I want to stay here Friday and maybe Saturday till . . . but only if I could use the machine.
  • Solomon Horowitz: No, no.
  • David Boder: No.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Saturday it is not allowed. But you could on Saturday night. You could . . . we sit at . . . we have organized now. Saturday night is the termination of Sabbath.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is also spent in a Sabbath manner.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: Sabbath night is spent by Khassidim . . . 'Melava malka' [the exit of the queen] it is called by us. Saturday night you could record as it . . . Saturday, more or less.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But on Saturday proper, it is Sabbath with us.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Solomon Horowitz: It is not permitted [words not clear].
  • David Boder: And so, as you say.
  • Solomon Horowitz: But on Saturday proper . . .
  • David Boder: Nu? Is there anything more that you might want to say to the American Jews?
  • Solomon Horowitz: To the American Jews. In the first place I am sending over my great gratitude for their initiative, for their help to all our brothers of the Shaarith Haplatim. To tell the truth, if not helped by America the Shaarith Haplatim would not be able to exist, and the surviving Jews would have simply fallen apart. Thanks to their initiative, their help in every sphere, that really strengthened the broken up, surviving Jews of the Shaarith Haplatim, and this gives them the possibility of existing anew and to begin living anew. But I want to tell our American brothers, they should know that the aid that they are giving is really very big. The aid is very important. But an adjustment we have not achieved yet. We wander from one country to another, whether we . . . we are sitting here in Kibbutz, or others in other places. But we lead a na vanat [roaming and wandering] life.
  • David Boder: What does it mean?
  • Solomon Horowitz: A hard life, and we don't see the morning before us yet. We don't see the salvation before us yet. The aim of all of us is Eretz Israel. And at present Eretz Israel is still so complicated. The entry to Eretz Israel is still to complicated with various frustration, with various obstacles. They should know, the American Jews, that indeed they are the only brothers who can save us, who can help us. And they should remember always to be in contact with all the Jews that find themselves in Europe, and to send messengers to every point to become acquainted with the conditions and with what they have to be helped. And to help with something really important, that means, to lead [us] out from Galuth [Diaspora] and to bring [us] into a little safe harbor.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the interview from Spool number 119, transferred . . . continued on Spool number 120 [Footnote: The spool numbers are given incorrectly. The interviewer was apparently distracted or overcome by the content of the interview. The correct numbers are 120, and 121, or to be exact 120 and 121A since the second part of Spool 121 contains a different interview.] with Rabbi Solomon Horowitz, the spiritual leader of a Jewish group of displaced people at Hénonville next . . . near to Paris. Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording. September 12, 1946. France.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • English Translation : David P. Boder