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Section VIII
After Hell

The Jews who were left in Europe began emigrating to Israel and North and South America, as well as other destinations. Of the three and one-third million Jews that once lived in Poland, between 15,000 to 30,000 remain today.

The Aftermath

Yosef Lipshitz

In 1944 the Red Army freed David-Horodok from the murderous Nazi occupation. Unfortunately there was no longer a living Jew in the town. A few dozen leaders of the Horodtchukas fled along with the German army.

Several Jews were saved because they were in the Soviet Union during the war: Hershl Korman and his two sons Nita and Motas, now in Israel; Itzl Nahmanovitch now in the USA; Mandl Krovtchik now in Israel. After the liberation they visited David-Horodok and encountered a ravaged, scorched town without one living Jew and an immense common grave where the tortured David-Horodok Jews rested.

In every Horodtchuka house the returnees found Jewish furniture and possessions. In the marketplace the Horodtchukas sold Jewish clothing, including caftans. The Horodtchuka women wore kerchiefs made of Jewish prayer shawls. However, they all had nothing to say. They laid the entire guilt on the Germans and the escaped leaders of the Horodtchukas. They themselves “knew nothing,” “were regretful,” “were not in the town then,” “also suffered from the Germans,” in a word: entirely innocent sheep—almost martyrs.

Today there is not one Jew in David-Horodok. The saved remnant is mostly in Israel. Several remained in the Soviet Union, some in Poland, and a few emigrated to America.

Meier Hershl Korman’s Description

Bas-Sheva Lin, Meier-Eliyahu Kushner’s red-headed daughter, was the only one of all the Jewish David-Horodokers I found in David-Horodok when I returned from Russia after Rosh Hoshana 5705.

The gentile water carrier who had worked for me for four years did not recognize me. Her house was filled with Jewish goods. She sent me to a second gentile who had taken possession of Litman Nahmanovitch’s house. The gentile told me that the David-Horodoker gentiles had received awards from the German authorities for their part in killing and exterminating the Jewish population.

On the following day I requested a home from the local authorities. When they suggested that I live in a Jewish house, however, I rejected the idea and requested permission to live in my former butcher shop. My request was rejected. Not knowing this, I fixed up my butcher shop as home. Later the authorities helped me to set up a food shop.

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A butchershop in David-Horodok

Later Noah, the son of Baytzl Yudavitch, came to David-Horodok. He had been wounded and went on crutches. He received material and medical help from the Soviets, and helped me personally. Later on, Zev, son of Shalom Lochovski and Moshe, son of Israel Reznick, returned to Horodok.

After I returned the gentiles planned to murder me. One night a representative of the gentiles came to kill me. I began screaming and the police soon came and saved me. At last I could no longer stay in David-Horodok because of the hatred of the gentiles, and I ran away from there.

My Small Revenge for the Heinous Crime

(a chapter from the memoirs of Aharon Moravtchik)
May, 1946

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Aharon Moravtchik

The transport drove the re-patriots (Polish citizens who spent World War II in the Red Army), including me, to the Polish People’s Republic and stopped at Klatzk, a small town in Lower Silesia. There we all had to climb out and begin to build a new life. Should I anchor myself here, or search for a more central town? Was it more important to be here or in a large city? Naturally I was lonesome and forlorn, without a relative, a helper or friend. I decided to settle where fate had led me, and stayed in that town.

I had in my possession the list of names of the David-Horodoker murderers, which I succeeded in acquiring while riding in the transport. From time to time I took out the list and read through the names of the murderers who had killed the Jews of David-Horodok. There was the name of the father of sinners, the most to blame and chief murderer—the feldsher Ivan Maraiko, may his name be blotted out. After him came his trusted accomplices: the lawyer Ivgeny Yavplov and his wife Marusya, Liovo Kosorev and his three sons, Staraiko, Damyon Maraiko, Siamyon Kulogo and his son Grigory, Hantshl, Krim Levkovski, Polukoshka, Kazalovski, Gritzkavitch and more and more, may their names and memories be blotted out.

“They are probably even now going about, these murderers, free as can be in the Polish People’s Republic, and are comfortably enjoying themselves with the robbed possessions of the Jews.” That thought would not leave me alone. I resolved that I must find and unmask them at any cost. Jewish blood must not be spilled wantonly! I must be the blood-avenger for my David-Horodoker brothers and sisters.

A few weeks after my arrival in Poland the Kaltzer pogrom broke out. Turmoil seized the survivors and the Jews began a mass exodus from the country whose soil had absorbed the blood of millions of guiltless Jewish victims but who was still not sated. It was “natural” for me to be carried along by the great stream of survivors. My friends tried to convince me to go. However, a hidden power would not let me leave the place. I stayed to search for the murderers despite the fact that many of my friends thought that it was a “madness” in me.

I decided to get a job in the district ministry where they had offered me a responsible post. In a short time I had won the trust of the director himself. The ministry director was a middle-aged man with an authentic Polish mustache and whiskers. He was easy-going and direct. Every word that came from his mouth was first considered, weighed and measured. His relations with people, as well as his general appearance, were sympathetic. The man was highly honorable, a devout Communist and an outspoken idealist. His pure Aryan outward appearance, his authentic Polish family name, his wonderful literate Polish speech and his pure Polish accent all indicated that here was a Pole of many generations. It is interesting to note that later, under different circumstances, I found out that this “authentic Pole” was a good-hearted Jew.

One morning the director invited me into his office and requested that I travel with an expert to Breslau to purchase a taxi for the ministry. He added very discreetly, “I know that you are a Jew, and I am sure that you will carry out this mission successfully.” I thanked the director for his confidence in me, and willingly accepted the mission, hoping, without any foundation for it, that I might find traces of the David-Horodoker murderers in that large city.

I carried out my mission in Breslau, purchasing the taxi and its necessary accessories, but had to wait another three days so that I could take everything back to Klatzk. I decided to utilize those three days searching for traces of the murderers.

Wandering through the streets of Breslau, I chanced to run into my friend Avraham Moshe Greenberg, a Jew from Lamzshe who was now the community leader in our new town. He told me that his object was to purchase poultry in Breslau for the kaporas ceremony for the Jews of Klatzk. He suggested that I come along with him and help him buy the poultry. I took up his proposition with pleasure, thus becoming a partner in a good deed.

We went to the marketplace, which was filled with thousands of people and hundreds of kiosks with their proprietors. I recalled the time when there were millions of Jews in Poland, and imagined the same marketplace filled with Jewish merchants and peddlers, without whom it would have been impossible to conceive of such a market day. Who would have believed, I thought, that this had all disappeared so quickly?

Walking at Greenberg’s side and absorbed in my thoughts, the unbelievable suddenly occurred: a gentile, who was selling herring at his stand stared at me. Instinctively our eyes met. Abruptly he asked me in Russian, “Are you a compatriot?” A few seconds later he added, “Are you Moravtchik?”

I was startled as if by an electric shock when I unexpectedly heard my family name spoken in the Russian language in a foreign city among strangers. I thought I was dreaming or that I was hearing a voice from another world.

Fortunately I did not lose my presence of mind, and quickly reasoned that this person might have something to do with David-Horodok, and perhaps he was one of those I was seeking.

“And who are you?” I asked him in Russian.

Instead of a reply, the unknown person began to draw back and stammer, “Excuse me. Perhaps I made a mistake. I didn’t mean you.”

“Say who you are,” I began to shout nervously, “just now you called me by my name. You certainly know me from before.”

A crowd of people gathered. My agitation grew from moment to moment as I continued to demand that he tell me who he was. The unknown man remained silent. He bowed his head as if he were searching for something on the ground. He realized that he had given himself away.

“Militia! Militia!” I began shouting in a shrill voice which I myself did not recognize. In a few minutes two militiamen arrived. I explained to them that I suspected this person of collaborating with the German occupation forces during the war and participating in the extermination of the Jews of David-Horodok.

The militiamen ordered the gentile to lock his stall, and took us both to the police station. After inspecting his documents, it became apparent that he was one of the David-Horodoker citizens whose name figured in the murderous regime.

At the time of the first inquest, which was made on the spot in my presence, the murderer turned to me and said, “Moravtchik, who are you arresting? I had an unimportant position with the Germans. Why don’t you arrest Ivan Maraiko who was mayor of David-Horodok under the Germans? He was responsible for the killing of all the David-Horodoker Jews, and despite that, he is now a free man in Warsaw.”

Thus I was set on the trail of the chief murderer Maraiko, and I understood that this beginning would eventually lead to the arrest of all the remaining murderers who were on Polish soil. I do not exaggerate when I say that this day was the happiest day of my life since the beginning of the war in 1939. I had lived to see the fruition of my dedicated work. I was proud of my achievement even though I knew that vengeance would not return my dear David-Horodoker brothers and sisters to life.

At the same time I took stock of the situation and realized that the basic groundwork would have to be done first, and that it would not be easy. My resolution to carry out the holy work to the end became even firmer, and this beginning gave me the courage, strength and enduring vigor to continue my efforts to find the remaining murderers.

Aharon Moravtchik’s account of the Horodtchukas’ crimes in the destruction of David-Horodok is found in Section VI.

The arrested David-Horodoker citizen did not know the current Warsaw address of Ivan Maraiko. Finding him would not be an easy task. I traveled to Warsaw several times to search for him. Unfortunately my efforts were not crowned with success, and I had almost given up the idea of finding him. However as luck would have it, on one of my trips to Warsaw I met a Jewish secret agent (Yehudah Spivak-Singer, now in Israel) on the train. On learning of my mission he took upon himself the task of finding Maraiko.

After long efforts and searching he finally found him in a small town near Warsaw where Maraiko was working as a doctor using a falsified diploma. The man had grown a beard so as not to be recognized. I was overwhelmed with joy when I received the telegram from Spivak-Singer with the happy news of Maraiko’s arrest.

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Telegram from Zinger to Aharon Moravtchik announcing the arrest of the murderer Ivan Maraiko

A short time later his wife Darya came to me in Klatzk (to this day I am puzzled about how she got my address) to beg for mercy, forgiveness and pardon. My encounter with her was rich with dramatic moments:

“Get out of my house, murderess. I don’t want to see you and I don’t want to hear about your husband!” I said to her, spitting in her face.

“I will not take offense because I was expecting such a reception,” she replied, adding at the same time that it was worth it if only I would listen to what she had to say.

At that moment the idea occurred to me that maybe it really was worthwhile to restrain myself despite my aversion, for the sake of the benefit I might derive from listening to the murderess. Perhaps that way I could get her to give me the addresses of the other murderers. I told her to go down and wait for me in the street. I did not want to have that defiled person in my home.

Her entire conversation was an attempt to whitewash her husband of all sins and thereby convince me to drop my charges against him. Among other things she told me that her son Misha had returned from England after the war (he was an officer on the Polish ship Pilsudski which was sunk in battle during the Polish-German war), and he brought back a very charming Jewish woman who he had married in England and who Darya loved like her own daughter. Later I established that the information was unfortunately correct, that a Jewish woman had married the son of the murderer of the David-Horodoker Jews.

Darya contended that her husband “unfortunately” had no choice, that he was forced to take the post of David-Horodoker town mayor by the Germans. Acting as mayor, “naturally” he tried to find ways and means of revoking the decrees against the Jews. In general Ivan Maraiko was “completely innocent,” although he was forced to carry out the orders of Ivgeny Yavplov, who was appointed district commissioner by the Germans.

My patient listening encouraged her and, in the course of the conversation, she let me know that she understood that I was in difficult material circumstances, and that as old friends, they were prepared to help me. Her impertinent proposal so upset me that I began to shout, and I spat in her face again as I started to go back into my residence. She began to run after me with apologies, pleading with me to listen to her again.

In the meantime I reminded myself that I had not yet accomplished my purpose in this conversation. I had not a single address for the remaining murderers, and so I remained to listen to her again. The conversation lasted six hours. They were six painful hours for me because I did not forget for a single second that I was conversing with a beast in human form, whose hands had dipped in the blood of thousands of my dear brothers and sisters, including my beloved wife and my four dear little children.

Yet the entire effort had been worth while because I came away from the conversation knowing the place of residence of Ivgeny Yavplov and his sadistic criminal wife, Marusya.

Before the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, the murderer Ivgeny Yavplov was arrested by the Soviet authorities for his white guard past, and was put into prison in Brest-Litovsk. When the war between Germany and Russia broke out, the Russians evacuated the prisoners in special transports deep into Russia. He and Lazer Rankin escaped the transport. A few days later, after their arrival in David-Horodok, Lazer Rankin was killed by the local citizens by order of his prison mate, the same Yavplov.

In revenge for his arrest by a NKVD officer who happened to be Jewish, he determined to kill all the Jews in town. His wife, the sadistic murderess Marusya, right after her husband’s arrest threatened in my presence that “there will come a day when I’ll take revenge on the Jews because a Jew arrested my husband.” Both Yavplov and his wife Marusya fulfilled their pledges.

In a letter sent to me in Poland by Mikle Stollman-Russman and her daughter Nina from Detroit, there is a precise description of the ruthless acts of Ivan Maraiko, Ivgeny Yavplov and his wife Marusya. Marusya particularly “stood out” because of her sadism. She murdered Yakov Gartzulin by herself when she found him in hiding. She threw living Jewish children into the Horin River.

The arrest of the Yavplovs was accomplished with great difficulty. Sensing that the ground was burning under their feet, they fled the town of Zialano-Gora where they had lived, and for weeks hid as fishermen in a small, secluded village. Secret agents watched their house in Zialano-Gora, and at long last they were arrested. At the time of the inquiry, a hoard of gold, silver and valuables was found from the David-Horodoker Jews. Among other things in their possession was a photograph of my two children Sara’le and Itzhak’l with a Polish inscription. This was written by my little girl in her childish handwriting to their daughter Zosye who had been her girlfriend before the war. In the seven-year period before the outbreak of World War II, Yavplov and I had worked together in a bureau for pleas, translations and other office work.

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Aharon Moravtchik's children: Sara'le and Itzhak'l Moravtchik

The murderess Marusya wanted to use this photograph to show me what dear friends we had been, indicated by her having kept the picture the entire time without destroying it, and she tried to work on me to cancel their arrest. She also told me that she had known that the Christian Alexandra Agradzinska had hidden a Jewish girl, and she had not informed on her to the authorities. However when I took out the material in my possession which detailed her and her husband’s “fine activities,” the murderess said not a word. And I? I began looking at the photograph, and could not take my eyes away from my dear children. I recalled that I had lost my entire family: my wife, my four children, my parents, brothers and sisters, the entire Jewish community of my hometown, all those who had been and had died so tragically. I looked and cried, cried and looked, a torrent of tears flowing unceasingly from my eyes.

After a while I found out that the murderess Marusya was trying to fool the investigating judge by pretending that she was gravely ill, hoping to get a medical release. I immediately traveled to Zialano-Gora and showed the prosecutor the letter from Mrs. Mikle Stollman-Russman and her daughter Nina, which detailed the sadistic activities of the murderess Marusya Yavplov. The prosecutor was so overcome and moved that in my presence he ordered the arrest of the “invalid,” declaring that there was no place on the free soil of the Polish People’s Republic for such contemptible people.

In the course of the investigation, the Yavplovs revealed the residence of the murderer Levkovski from the village of Semigostichi. When I arrived at Zgazshaletz and turned to the secret police to secure Levkovski’s arrest, the commandant, who happened to be a Jew, was on furlough. When he was informed by telephone of my mission, he canceled his furlough and returned to assist me personally in my task and expedite it.

In such a manner one murderer implicated the next, and in a short time they arrested Krim, Damyon Maraiko, Babka and others. Understandably each arrest was a story in itself, filled with dramatic moments, enormous efforts, with searching and travel and even personal danger. It is interesting to note that the Polish security police warned me to be careful because my life was in danger. They told me not to go out alone at night, not to open my door until I was certain who was on the other side, not to go among strangers, etc. I paid no attention to their warnings as I energetically carried out my holy work.

The Polish security police appropriately valued my achievements, and in gratitude they sent me a letter of appreciation which gave me a certain moral satisfaction for my untiring holy work. Understandably my greatest satisfaction came from the arrest of the murderers.

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Letter from the head of the "U.B." in Warsaw thanking Aharon Moravtchik for his deeds.

From unofficial sources I learned that Maraiko’s daughter Ella was later arrested. She had worked with the Germans as an interpreter. Also arrested were his two sons-in-law Vaitavitch and Vialavaiski, who were officers in the pre-war Polish army, and his son Misha with his Jewish wife from England. Misha had taken a high position in the Polish security ministry.

Emigration to Israel

My turn came to emigrate to Israel. Unfortunately I could no longer delay my departure. With pain in my heart I was forced to tear myself away from my personal involvement and leave the finishing work to the Polish security organization. Before I left Poland, I visited the secret police in Warsaw where I knew that all the arrested murderers were detained and were awaiting extradition to David-Horodok (which was now in the Soviet Union) where they were to be prosecuted at the site of their crimes.

The investigating magistrate Meier Piantkovski offered to take me into the prison or bring the murderer Ivan Maraiko into his chamber so that I could confront him. I did not avail myself of the opportunity, not wanting to look at his murderous face. In truth there are times when I regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to see that murderer at the time he was suffering punishment for his sins.

During the same trip to Warsaw I paid a visit to the Soviet embassy and they promised me their full support in handling the case. I would like to take the opportunity to stress the unusual interest taken in the case by the Central Committee of Polish Jews in Warsaw, who provided legal (they supplied two lawyers to assist) and financial support.

I would also like to bring into the open a fact that shines a ray of light into the vast darkness that encompassed David-Horodok. A Christian with a noble spirit, Alexandra Agradzinska, was the only one in town to hide, at risk to her own life, a Jewish girl named Golde Kuzniatz (now in Haifa) through the entire time of the German occupation. This fact is particularly noteworthy because all the other Christians of David-Horodok, without exception, were crueler than the Germans toward the Jews. Alexandra Agradzinska was the only bright spot in the vast black blot that was the tragic David-Horodoker reality of those times.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation and thanks. Mrs. Agradzinska still lives in Poland. In gratitude I have sent her the gift of a crate of oranges from Israel.

After my arrival in Israel, I proceeded with the case. I got in touch with the Polish embassy in Tel-Aviv, and I received verbal and written clarifications from them.

At my request the Warsaw prosecutor sent a number of affidavit forms to a court in Tel-Aviv in order to get the testimony of witnesses that were now living in Israel. In 1953 the testimony was taken in Tel-Aviv and then the documents were returned to Warsaw.

In August 1954, I revisited the Polish embassy. I feel it necessary to relate to my countrymen their answers to my questions. I was told, “All of the arrested criminals are confined. How many murderers were arrested, where they are confined and whether they have stood trial yet—we cannot give you answers to these questions as of now.”

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Letter from the Polish consulate in Tel-Aviv announcing the arrest of the accused in Poland

As compensation for these evasive answers, I received the following promise, “Patience dear sir—a day will come when you will know everything.”

Unfortunately at the time of this writing that promise has not yet been fulfilled.[1]

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Eleventh Remembrance Meeting of David-Horodokers in Beith-Israel Hall, Tel Aviv on July 28, 1953

While no one has brought forward specific information about the fate of the David-Horodok collaborators, their early demise seems likely. A wholesale purge of collaborators, Belarusian nationalists, and even neutrals suspected of divided loyalties was ordered by Stalin after the war. Thousands, some say millions, were jailed or deported to Siberia. Even men who had done a carpenter’s job for the Germans received a three-year sentence. The aim was two-fold, to remove subversive elements and replenish much-needed manpower in the slave labor camps.[2] Under this reign of terror it seems unlikely that those as guilty as the David-Horodok Horodtchukas would have escaped.

The Silence

Itzhak Nahmanovitch

I came to David-Horodok in August 1944. I found mounds overgrown with grass in place of the houses.[3] Instead of joyous laughter and childish playful screaming, places that once beckoned with the glow of their homely warmth now presented a fierce and frightening picture.

Every remaining house, every tree that stands like a solitary wounded limb, cries, screams, laments and anxiously asks, “Where are the gray respectable old folks who would rest in our shade? Where has the happy laughter fled, the tender feelings, the curlyheaded children? Why is all that was beautiful and loving gone? And many, many more whys.

No answer comes. I cannot find it. From Dentist Edel’s house to the church hill—not one remaining house, only wild grass ... mounds and grass.

Someone appears ... moving about like a wild apparition ... he doesn’t look me in the eyes ... with dirty bare feet in a good black pullover with silk lapels ... he doesn’t speak ... no one here talks now ... they know nothing ... they did hear about something but they don’t remember exactly ...

What’s the use of talking? It is better to be quiet in a cemetery ...

I come to the holiest place for me in the entire world—to the mass grave. A smooth sandy field ... four years later, four long years after fire and blood. Years of homesickness close by ... I finally come to the home which was so near ... but where are the loving mother’s arms? Where are the coveted friendly faces gleaming with pleasure at each encounter? ... No one kisses ... no one shakes my hand ... I stand shattered, dismayed and waiting ... but in vain. In this small arid field a town is hidden ... no markers, no monument tablets, no inscriptions, no flowers—just a strange heartrending silence.


[1] Translator’s Note:
I am making an effort to trace the results of the trials. Thus far I have been unsuccessful, but my efforts are continuing. If any reader of this translation has any knowledge as to the outcome of these trials, I would greatly appreciate their contacting the David-Horodoker Organization of Detroit.
Norman Helman

[2] Vakar, Nathan P., Belorussia, p. 212-13

[3] This was typical. War devastation in Belarus was appalling. According to Vakar, Nathan P., Belorussia, p. 209-210, an American observer at the time wrote, “the ruins extend over the length and breadth of thousands of square miles ... Minsk itself is 80 percent destroyed ... and all the lesser cities were at least as badly wrecked ... Vitebsk is 95 percent destroyed ...” Acres of buildings were flattened out in the cities and towns, where four families out of every five lived in shacks built out of debris or had fled to the woods.   “The Nazis devastated 9,200 villages ... All together 1,215,000 houses and farm buildings were destroyed and more than 3,000,000 people rendered homeless ... In the Lelcicy district, for instance, only 32 houses still stood by some miracle out of 7,500 that existed before the war ... 70 per cent of all horses, 77 percent of the cattle, 92 percent of the pigs, 83 percent of the sheep were lost.”

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