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Friday, February 24, 2006

Chaya Gertzman – Personal Interview

I was born and grew up at Ydniz village – 30 kilometer from Novoselitsa. My core family included parents Rivka and Eliezer (Layzer). I was born in 1932, and my younger brother was born in 1934.
We left the village when I was 8 years old, and I never came back.
Most of the people in Novoselitsa were poor but their education was basic. It was a Jewish village and the mayor was a gentile. There was one gentile street. We were the only traditional Jew family in the whole village: we ate kosher food, at the holidays we went to the synagogue; I remember clearly the synagogue at the opening prayer of Eve of Atonement. I studied one year- first class at Rumania and first class again in Russia because there, the children started learning at the age of 7. In September 1941 the Germans came. There were a lot of Rumanian collaborators. Before the holidays they banished us from the houses, and we walked all way to Transnistria:
('Trans' = over, 'Stria' = river). A lot of people died on the way, and they plunder our property. We hid in the bushes for a couple of hours, and when we came back to our house, we didn't find anything beside some torn pictures. We were all together including grandpa, grandma and aunt.
They scattered us in Ukrainian Jewish villages. The village was a kind of a "Kolhoz".
The conditions were very bad: no food no heating and water was from the snow. In the end of the winter there were only 20 people alive, among them my mother and I.
My father who was a healthy man died first, my grandmother died of sorrow the following day, and my younger brother died lost.
Someone brought us every now and then "Makuh" (sunflowers seeds), which kept us alive. In the spring I was close to death but apathic. People started working in the village, digging holes from which they got food. My mother worked out side as well and she got a loaf of bread and five hard boiled eggs. When the Russians invaded Besserabia we decided to look for our cousins and on the way I saw a little girl non Jewish, playing outside wearing my favorite dress. In 1943 we took a train to Novoselitsa to my grandparents house and we were the first ones to arrive back home. Half the city was burned, in houses lived Gentiles. My grandparents' house remains as it was because it was used as a Gestapo office (I was 11 years old).
Several days later more relatives arrived and we lived together in minimal condition. In this period we started thinking about immigrating to Israel.
We moved to Chernivtsi where we were helped by people from Israel.
We moved to Yugoslavia and then shipped to Cyprus instead of Israel.
In November 1947 I arrived to Israel.