Translation YIU/2100U

Yahad – In Unum Interviews with Rohatyn Holocaust Witnesses


Witness #: YIU/2100U, male, born 1930
Yahad trip #: 45UK, recorded 13Jun2016
Record time: 01:15:57
Languages: Ukrainian, French
I = Interviewer, W = witness[0:00:15] І: When were you born?

[0:00:18] W: 1930. I don’t think you need the month.
[0:00:25] І: Where were you born?
[0:00:27] W: In Koniushky. It’s a village on the way to Burshtyn.
[0:00:47] І: How far is Koniushky from Burshtyn?
[0:00:52] W: 7 km.
[0:00:58] І: What did your parents do before the war?
[0:01:01] W: They worked the land. They were kulaks.
[0:01:13] І: Because they had a lot of land?
[0:01:16] W: Yes, and there were buildings, one is still standing. Thanks to Jews, they saved us.
[0:01:33] І: OK. How much land did you have, how many hectares?
[0:01:39] W: Twenty. If you had seven, you were considered to be kulaks.
[0:02:06] І: And they were considered to be kulaks in 1939 because of the Russians?
[0:02:14] W: That was in ‘39.
[0:02:22] І: And before the war this was Poland?
[0:02:24] W: Yes. Ternopil oblast.
[0:02:44] І: When this was Poland, what did they do with the harvest that they got from the land, where did they sell it?
[0:02:53] W: They sold it [grain crops], mostly to the Czechs. And other stock, like live pigs, for example, Jews bought from them. There was one, Dudyo, he managed that.
[0:03:40] І: What about the grain crops that were sold to the Czech, how did you do that? Did you go to the Czechs or someone came here to buy it?
[0:03:49] W: No, they shipped it in freight cars. Took it to Rohatyn, loaded freight cars and sent it off to the Czech Republic. The cars were not that big, about 18 tons, they don’t have cars like that any more.
[0:04:36] І: What about the Jews that bought the meat from you, where did they live?
[0:04:42] W: In Burshtyn, they managed that business, they sent some to the Czechs, some to Poland. They were traders. They were brokering deals. These were professional people, so to speak. They took live cattle.
[0:05:26] І: Were there many Jews in Burshtyn?
[0:05:30] W: There were a few. In Koniushky there were – Motyo, Hershko, three of them were there.
[0:05:57] І: And those Jews from Koniushky, what did they do?
[0:06:03] W: They worked the land too. They had a farm, had a field [with crops], they had workers who worked the field. In Koniushky they had a korchma [local tavern], I almost forgot, but it burned during the war. In Koniushky burned 90 [?]. For example, if someone was on the road with carts, mostly to Kalush, for example, for beer, or if they went to Ivano-Frankivsk, they could stop there overnight. They had two big yards, they could fit 10 carts, there was a big korchma. And also a smithy, for example, to fix horseshoes or fix the cart, they did all that work.
[0:07:50] І: So in Burshtyn, mostly Jews were trading?
[0:07:55] W: Well, yes. They went from village to village, bought stuff, then sold it. This was called ‘hendel’ back then. They had a cart like this, with a net, and they will put pigs, for example, big and small, in there, so they don’t fall out. How many – 5 or 10, and they would go like that.
[0:08:55] І: Were there any Poles in Burshtyn?
[0:08:57] W: Yes, there were. But not many. In Rohatyn they did not have many Poles. Not too many. But they did not want to use the Ukrainian language.
[0:09:29] І: Did you go to school before the war?
[0:09:33] W: Yes, but then school was 7 years.
[0:09:40] І: Where did you go to school?
[0:09:42] W: In Koniushky, they had 7 grades, it was a big village, they had about 520 houses. At that time in Koniushky, as they say, they had an administrative center in Koniushky that covered 9 villages, and they had a police station.
[0:10:25] І: Did you have a happy childhood, when you went to school?
[0:10:30] W: Well, two years, and then the quote-unquote ‘liberators’ came. And then they came again, and it was a dark scary time. That… I don’t even want to recall. In ‘47 we no longer lived in Koniushky.
[0:11:10] І: We will get to that in a while, for now I have more questions about Koniushky.
[0:11:57] І: When the Russians first came to Koniushky, how were they greeted?
[0:12:05] W: Well, how could they be greeted, everyone knew who is coming…
[0:12:08] І: No, I mean in ‘39.
[0:12:10] W: Well, in ‘39. There were some people who came to greet them with flowers in the center of Koniushky. But when they saw them, they dropped the flowers and ran away. They were unkempt, did not even have saddles on their horses, nothing. If a horse was injured, they would leave it, take away your horse, and go. A lot happened.
[0:13:27] І: When the Russians came in ‘39, was there any fighting? Or they came without a fight in ‘39?
[0:13:35] W: No. Germans from Khodoriv, some from Rohatyn, others from Burshtyn, they were surrounded, fought, about 300 Russian fighters were killed, and horses.
[0:14:22] І: What happened to your parents in ‘39, why did you say Jews saved them?
[0:14:29] W: In ‘39 did not trouble people that much, because it seems they did not have the time. When they came back in ‘44, then it was bad. Then in ‘46 we had a garrison stationed here, at Shevchiks’, they had a two story house, he was also a kulak. And they stationed a garrison there. And the lieutenant colonel was a Jew. But they went to everyone in the village and requisitioned food. They came to us too, this lieutenant colonel came, he wanted to see our yard, and my father was there. So he asked: “Who is the owner?”. My father said: “It’s mine”. And he said: “You know what, you should just leave all this and go away. Otherwise you are asking to go to Siberia.” And that’s exactly what happened.
[0:17:11] І: Do you remember that lieutenant colonel’s name?
[0:17:16] W: No, I think somewhere in ‘47 our lads killed him. In Rizdviani. I heard something like that. Don’t know if it’s true or not. How would they know who that is, they saw a colonel, and they [killed him].
[0:17:59] І: And your family was sent to Siberia?
[0:18:01] W: We ran away from the village in ‘47. But earlier, we were not registered anywhere, because you needed a passport. They did not issue passports in the village. But my father knew people, they fabricated a passport and my father got out. He went to Rudkivsky district, to the village Vynkova Vyshnya. There he got a job at a canning factory.
[0:19:14] І: Did they send many families from your village to Siberia?
[0:19:19] W: Oh, something like 50. All the wealthy ones that were in UPA, they sent them all off.
[0:19:51] І: Do you know how they did it, how they sent people off? Did they come to get them at night?
[0:19:58] W: Yes, and right away they they had to leave with whatever they could grab, and off you go.
[0:20:25] І: Did anyone of those who were sent away come back?
[0:20:29] W: About half of them; many died of hunger. They went to Karaganda, Khabarovsk, Yakutiya. Well, many children perished.
[0:21:19] І: Can we go back one more time, what did you do during the occupation? Did you go to school?
[0:21:28] W: During German occupation? At that time I went to 4th grade. And later…
[0:21:48] І: Was school the same during the German occupation, the same teachers as before?
[0:21:53] W: Yes, mostly the same. There were 7 grades in Koniushky, there were many children.
[0:22:04] І: Did they teach the German language?
[0:22:07] W: No, well, the upperclassmen had a German class. I think the 6-7 grade. Both Polish and German, no other [foreign] language.
[0:22:48] І: Who was the top official in Koniushky during the occupation? Was there a chief?
[0:22:59] W: During German or Russian occupation?
[0:23:03] І: German.
[0:23:04] W: When the Germans were here, my uncle, my father’s brother, was the chief. Back then they called the top official “viyt” [vogt, territorial mayor]. Nine villages belonged: Babukhiv, Vovchentsi, Yunashkiv, Luchyntsi, Kunychi, Nastashyne, … [??] [0:23:48] І: What about when it was administrative center, when it was called “volost”?
[0:23:58] W: Listen. No, no, that’s what it was called when the Germans were here, and when it was Poland. In Poland, it was called “mina, but that means “volost”.
[0:24:15] І: What was the difference between “sel’sovet” and “volost”?
[0:24:19] W: No difference.
[0:24:21] І: So it’s the same thing?
[0:24:23] W: Yes, the same thing. Same chief, no difference. Only now they say – “the head”, but back then they said “viyt”.
[0:24:40] І: And your uncle, was he elected or Germans appointed him?
[0:24:47] W: No, he was in that position even when we were a part of Poland. He graduated from the Rohatyn gymnasium.
[0:24:54] І: Was his appointed or elected?
[0:25:55] W: People elected him. He ran away to the US when Germans were still here. He knew he would not survive otherwise.
[0:25:46] І: And in ’39 to ’40 was he also the viyt?
[0:25:52] W: No, no, someone else was. At that time people were sent to the mountains to cut down the forest, and he ran.
[0:26:22] І: Was he Ukrainian?
[0:26:26] W: Ukrainian. We are Ukrainian.
[0:26:34] І: And when Germans came, did he become German?
[0:26:37] W: He became again. Like he was for the Polish, same for the German.
[0:26:40] І: And did the Germans appoint him or did the people elect him?
[0:26:44] W: The people, as he was, they confirmed him again.
[0:27:04] І: When did he leave to go to the US?
[0:27:07] W: In ‘44. It was a Thursday, I remember it clearly. By Saturday the Bolsheviks already came. He went toward the Czech Republic, and from there to Germany.
[0:27:32] І: Did you seen him after that?
[0:27:35] W: No, he lived to be 100 in America. He was 99 when he died. He was born in 1899; two days, I think, he was short of 100.
[0:28:19] І: What did the Germans make him do in the village?
[0:28:23] W: Well, he was responsible to collect the taxes. Same as now. People had to contribute a quota [tax], in some way, on vodka or cigarettes.
[0:29:08] І: Where were people supposed to bring this quota? Or someone came to collect it?
[0:29:20] W: No, no you had bring it to Rohatyn. But then there was a Burshtyn district, so then to Burshtyn. Then we belonged to Burshtyn, now there is no Burshtyn raion.
[0:29:52] І: And in Burshtyn you had to pay the tax to the Germans right away, or go somewhere else?
[0:29:57] W: Why to Germans? There was a shopkeeper, he took what people brought. He would give you coupons and you could get with those coupons the things you wanted: vodka, cigarettes, or leather, etc.
[0:30:50] І: Do you know, when this quota was collected from you, where did it go?
[0:30:59] W: There was a warehouse. And then they loaded it all and, what do I know, [sent it] to Germany, or something. And that’s all.
[0:31:26] І: Were there polizei [German police] in Koniushky under the German occupation?
[0:31:33] W: Of course. There were 5 of them in Koniushky. When it was Poland, there was one policeman – Synkovski, on a bicycle. For all the 9 villages there was one policeman [when we were] in Poland. And he managed all of that by himself, on a bicycle. At that time, theft was not as widespread.
[0:32:20] І: And what happened in ‘39 when the Russians came, what happened to the Polish policeman?
[0:32:27] W: He ran, to Poland…
[0:32:34] І: Was he Polish?
[0:32:36] W: Yes.
[0:32:41] І: Was there Militsiya [Soviet Police] in ‘39-’40?
[0:32:46] W: Yes the Militsiya was already there. But it was for the whole raion.
[0:32:55] І: Who served in the Militsiya? In ‘39-’40, who were they?
[0:33:02] W: Who was – some Ukrainians, but mostly Russians. You know, Ukrainians were be everywhere, unlike the Jews.
[0:33:36] І: And in Koniushky, you are saying there were 5 polizei during the German occupation. Did they all volunteer?
[0:33:42] W: Well, they applied in the regional center, in the county office in Rohatyn, and they were appointed right there.
[0:33:55] І: Were they ever forced? Did they all volunteer?
[0:33:57] W: Volunteered. I remember only one of them – Hladun, he was from Cherche, and Kogut, I think, was from Klischivna. I don’t remember the other three. I do remember them, but not their names. The Russians killed Hladun in ‘45, in Babukhiv, since he was with the [Ukrainian] partisans.
[0:35:02] І: The two that you did know, were they Ukrainian? or Polish?
[0:35:07] W: No, no, they were Ukrainian.
[0:35:25] І: And the one, that was killed by the Russians, was there a trial?
[0:35:32] W: What trial, he was hiding, there were these hideouts and [people] hid there.
[0:35:40] І: He was with the partisans?
[0:35:42] W: Yes.
[0:35:54] І: Did the polizei wear a uniform during the German occupation?
[0:35:57] W: Of course.
[0:35:58] І: And carried weapons?
[0:36:00] W: Absolutely.
[0:36:02] І: What color was their uniform?
[0:36:05] W: Ukrainian.
[0:36:06] І: How is that?
[0:36:07] W: Garnet [deep red] color. With a trident [the Ukrainian national emblem].
[0:36:11] І: What weapons did they carry?
[0:36:14] W: Weapons – some had pistols, others had machine guns.
[0:37:04] І: What were the polizei supposed to do in the village? In your village?
[0:37:11] W: Well, they enforced law and order, like everywhere else.
[0:37:26] І: When the Germans were here, did you have any cruelty or violence? Was anyone beaten up?
[0:37:35] W: No, nothing like that happened. Nothing like that here, but it did happen in Rohatyn. What do they call them – the nationalists. 21 boys were shot in Rohatyn, by the church, maybe you already heard about this.
[0:38:13] І: What happened to the Jews from your village? The Jews that lived with you in the village, what happened to them?
[0:38:20] W: They ran away.
[0:38:26] І: Even before the Germans came?
[0:38:28] W: No, no, when the Germans were here, they [ran to] Poland. Somehow they had connections. Well, not all of them, of course.
[0:38:42] І: What about in Koniushky?
[0:38:47] W: Well, three, and in the korchma, I don’t know who ran the korchma, which Jew, I mean there was a fourth [Jew]…
[0:38:55] І: Did they all run away to Poland?
[0:38:58] W: Most likely they all ran to Poland. Some were hiding.
[0:39:25] І: When the Jews ran away, what happened to their homes and possessions?
[0:39:34] W: Well, the korchma was burnt, and [after the war] their possessions went to the Ukrainians re-settled from Poland, they got the homes. I don’t know if they still live there, since I haven’t lived in Koniushky since ‘47.
[0:40:30] І: Did you see any episodes or scenes from the lives of the Jews in Burshtyn?
[0:40:44] W: Well, in Burshtyn I did not, but in Rohatyn there was a ghetto. We went most of the time to Rohatyn, even though we were registered in Burshtyn. It was easier to get there.
[0:41:34] І: When you were in Rohatyn, did you ever see that people were marched through the town, or that people were shot or beaten?
[0:41:41] W: Back then I saw once how they shot people, because I went to the woods with my father. I always wanted to join my dad, and at that time my father was going to the woods. On the way back we saw how they shot people. Back then those trees were not here ….
[0:42:05] І: Where was it?
[0:42:07] W: During the day, of course
[0:42:09] І: No, no, I wanted to ask “where” it happened, where?
[0:42:13] W: In Rohatyn, when you pass Rohatyn, it is on the right side of the road. Maybe someone already showed you the two burial sites. They dug the ditches themselves.
[0:43:00] І: Is this where the vodokanal [water system] is in Rohatyn, do you know where the vodokanal is in Rohatyn?
[0:43:11] W: No, it’s on the road to Cherche.
[0:43:18] І: Where the brickworks was?
[0:43:19] W: Oh, where the brickworks was. Where the brickworks was. But the brickworks was a little to the side.
[0:43:34] І: Why did you go to Rohatyn on that day?
[0:43:38] W: We went to the woods, the woods between Koniushky and Zalaniv stretches for about 18 km.
[0:43:46] І: Was that your forest? Were you in in your own forest?
[0:43:48] W: Yes, yes, our own forest. Not everyone owned some, only the wealthier owned land with forest.
[0:44:12] І: And what did you do in the woods, cut down the trees?
[0:14:16] W: Well my father did, but I was just watching him, playing.
[0:44:29] І: Did you go with a wagon?
[0:44:31] W: Yes.
[0:44:38] І: What did you see that day?
[0:44:42] W: Well, what did we see – shooting.
[0:44:46] І: And you were in the forest?
[0:44:48] W: No, we were on the way home already.
[0:44:50] І: So you were going home?
[0:44:52] W: Yes, we were going home.
[0:44:54] І: Were you stopped?
[0:44:56] W: No, no, they did not stop us, because it was a little further, I guess about 150 meters from the road.
[0:45:05] І: And what did you see?
[0:45:07] W: What could I see – people were falling there.
[0:45:09] І: And did you see a column of people, how they were driven there?
[0:45:11] W: About 5 people at once, even some alive or wounded – fell in.
[0:45:18] І: Did they just make people stand over the ditch?
[0:45:21] W: They had this little bridge. And they were shot…
[0:45:25] І: Aha, 5 at a time on that bridge?
[0:45:27] W: Yes.
[0:45:29] І: Where were the rest waiting?
[0:45:31] W: They were waiting right next to it. That was so horrible, you can’t even imagine. Just to think…
[0:45:36] І: And how many people were standing there?
[0:45:39] W: Well, I don’t know if they just did it in one day. They could not shoot that many in one day. There are two ditches there. Some say three thousand [people]. One and a half thousand they could not shoot…
[0:46:47] І: Where did you see this column of people? Did they come from Rohatyn?
[0:46:57] W: Ah, that was between Burshtyn and Nastashyne, right? It was at night, and we were returning from a festival in Demianiv. Germans stopped and surrounded us right on the road, don’t know [why]? We were traveling in a cart and crossing, you understand? But my father spoke some German, so that is that.
[0:47:30] І: That was another time, but what about that time when you were returning from the woods and saw…
[0:47:37] W: Well, when we were coming home from the woods, we saw them shooting.
[0:47:41] І: And what about a column of people, did they force them into a column?
[0:47:43] W: There was no column, the column was where they were shooting.
[0:47:47] І: So they had all the people there already?
[0:47:49] W: Of course. What, were they supposed to wait for every 5 people to be brought? They just chased them all down there, put them under a watch and that’s it.
[0:48:18] І: And were you on the road that leads to Rohatyn?
[0:48:26] W: On the road? Where I went?
[0:48:28] І: No, when you were coming home from the forest with your father.
[0:48:30] W: Well, we were going here to Verbylivtsi.
[0:48:34] І: To Verbylivtsi?
[0:48:35] W: Yes, were were coming from the woods.
[0:48:41] І: So, when you saw this [shooting], were you on the road?
[0:48:44] W: Yes, we were riding in our cart, you could not stop there, no way.
[0:49:11] І: And what about the ditch, was it in the middle of a field? Was it just a field back then?
[0:49:18] W: Back then people went to get clay from there, a long time ago they made brick there. And they turned it into a grave.
[0:49:27] І: So this was not just a field, they had some ditches there already?
[0:49:30] W: No, there was no ditch, people simply went there to get clay.
[0:49:34] І: I see.
[0:49:36] W: Bricks were made out of clay right there, on the spot. Not like they do today.
[0:49:58] І: When you passed that place, was there only one grave or two.
[0:50:02] W: We did not walk up to it, we passed by in a cart.
[0:50:07] І: So you passed it by, and when you did, could you see those ditches or not?
[0:50:13] W: No I could not see the ditch, I could see people standing there and they were shooting. That’s all. If someone went closer, they would shoot them too.
[0:50:34] І: And you said there was a plank thrown across that ditch.
[0:50:40] W: Across the middle of the ditch. I did not see it, but people said so, those who saw it.
[0:50:50] І: And can you tell me if you saw how they were shooting, and how the dead people fell, or someone told you about it?
[0:51:00] W: As we passed it, I heard a shot. Looked there – a person had fallen. Where he fell, I don’t know, but into the ditch.
[0:51:08] І: But you saw him falling, right?.
[0:51:11] W: Yes, but nothing else. How could I know what else was there, if there was a ditch.
[0:51:16] І: I see.
[0:51:31] W: To tell you the truth, I don’t even want to remember that.
[0:51:41] І: Did you see how they were shooting?
[0:51:47] W: Well, what could I see from that cart…
[0:51:55] І: Could you see who was shooting?
[0:51:56] W: Well, who else could it be – Germans were shooting.
[0:52:05] І: Could you see if it was just one or many of them?
[0:52:09] W: It could not be just one, there were maybe 500 or a thousand men surrounding the area. Everything was surrounded, to not let them escape.
[0:52:18] І: What about those who were shooting – not all 500 were shooting, were they?
[0:51:22] W: Well, they were there, those who were shooting. And also they had security all around.
[0:52:27] І: I see, but those who were shooting, how many of them were there?
[0:52:29] W: I don’t know how many were shooting. I don’t want to mislead you.
[0:52:56] І: So, when you were passing in the cart, did the soldiers say anything to you, to move on, or something else?
[0:53:05] W: No, no, they did not say anything. They were on the other side.
[0:53:18] І: Did the soldiers have dogs?
[0:53:20] W: Of course.
[0:53:27] І: Do you remember what kind of uniforms they wore, what was the color of their uniforms?
[0:53:31] W: It was green. I don’t know if they were SS or what they were called.
[0:53:52] І: How many people were still waiting? Dozens or a hundred or multiple hundreds?
[0:54:03] W: Don’t know, maybe a thousand.
[0:54:05] І: More like a thousand, yes?
[0:54:07] W: Well, if they killed three thousand there, can you imagine. I know when they took people from the ghetto, they took 20 or 30 or 40 or 100 at a time. That’s it, [now] there’s nobody there, oy.
[0:54:24] І: And there were men and women and children?
[0:54:29] W: Yes, children too, all.
[0:54:56] І: And when you were passing it by and saw these people, were they just standing around? Were these Jews just waiting there or were they…?
[0:55:06] W: You see, how do I explain it better, first of all, I could not really see it, and second of all, some were sitting, some were standing. And children too, the same.
[0:55:23] І: All of them together, nobody was separated?
[0:55:26] W: That was out of question, you understand? Nobody would let you get close to there.
[0:56:25] І: And those people who were standing near by and were stepping onto that plank, were they clothed or naked?
[0:56:35] W: I don’t know if they were clothed or naked, it makes no difference, right?
[0:56:53] І: Did you see the Rohatyn ghetto?
[0:56:56] W: I saw it. It was fenced in. My father even went there and bought a suit for me from a Jew.
[0:57:07] І: What was the fencing like?
[0:57:14] W: Sorry? Barbed wire. Because a regular fence can be easily scaled and people would escape.
[0:57:40] І: So to buy that suit for you, did your father go to the ghetto?
[0:57:48] W: Yes, my father was there. Father could speak German, and they let him go in and he bought it. The ghetto was there for a long time.
[0:58:17] І: Where was the ghetto in Rohatyn?
[0:58:21] W: Where the power plant is, there.
[0:58:28] І: Which streets, do you know which streets?
[0:58:30] W: No, I don’t know.
[0:58:33] І: Was it in the center of Rohatyn?
[0:58:36] W: No, no, outside of the center. You know where the “raikom” [regional administration] is, maybe 300m past that, I don’t even know, where the power plant was – it was all fenced off and all.
[0:59:02] І: Were there many houses in the ghetto?
[0:59:06] W: No, not many. Some were in the barracks, and some just like that.
[0:59:34] І: So the ghetto was in the same place where they all lived mostly before the war, wasn’t it?
[0:59:41] W: No, no.
[0:59:43] І: So they were all relocated?
[0:59:45] W: Yes.
[1:00:03] І: Was the ghetto guarded? Were there patrols on duty?
[1:00:07] W: Well, Germans were there. And with dogs. To escape from there…
[1:00:23] І: And when you were passing by the ghetto, did you ever see anything unusual? Did you see any unusual scene that you may remember, when you passed by the ghetto?
[1:00:39] W: No, I was looking at the suit my father bought for me.
[1:00:58] І: Did you go there with your father when he bought the suit for you?
[1:01:02] W: Yes.
[1:01:04] І: And you didn’t enter the ghetto?
[1:01:06] W: No, I was with my father.
[1:01:07] І: So you went inside?
[1:01:09] W: Of course.
[1:01:16] І: From whom did your father get permission to enter the ghetto?
[1:01:19] W: From the guy in charge.
[1:01:25] І: This person in charge, was he German?
[1:01:29] W: Yes. All of them were German.
[1:01:40] І: How did you enter the ghetto? Was there an entrance, a gate?
[1:01:45] W: There was a gate. They had to have one to get in. They needed one, even if only for Germans.
[1:02:04] І: And that person who made the suit, or from whom your father bought the suit, what was his name?
[1:02:10] W: How do I know. Who knew, who asked his name.
[1:02:24] І: Was he someone your father knew, his friend?
[1:02:28] W: What do you mean someone he knew. My father came, said in German, this and that, my son needs a suit. That’s that.
[1:03:01] І: So this person from whom you bought the suit, was he a tailor or just a person selling a suit?
[1:03:10] W: He had a son – a child like me.
[1:03:15] І: Ok, I understand.
[1:03:17] W: What could he make there, like sewing was in their head in the ghetto.
[1:03:58] І: So to get this suit, did you have to go somewhere? Inside the ghetto, did you have to go into a room somewhere?
[1:04:07] W: No room, right there on the “platz”, as they say. He brought it out, I tried it on – it fit.
[1:04:28] І: And your father paid him for the suit, right?
[1:04:31] W: Yes, he paid him money.
[1:04:46] І: So when you went in there, could you see that people lived in very tight quarters?
[1:04:51] W: Yes, very poor, very crowded, like in a prison. It’s hard to even imagine.
[1:05:16] І: Do you remember which streets were inside the ghetto?
[1:05:23] W: Why would I know, I was not interested in that.
[1:05:36] І: What is there now where the ghetto used to be?
[1:05:41] W: People built houses.
[1:05:54 ] І: And Mr _______, you also said that once during the holidays you were coming home late at night, when you saw something else, some shooting?
[1:06:05] W: No, no, no.
[1:06:07] І: You said that the Germans let your father…
[1:06:12] W: Well, they let us cross a little river, so we could get from Demianiv to Koniushky. It was between Burshtyn and Nastashyne. There were no houses out there so we stopped to rest until the morning, something like that.
[1:06:26] І: But there was no shooting there, was there?
[1:06:27] W: No, no. [Not] like on the road.
[1:07:09] І: Did you see any other scenes? Such that defined peoples’ fates – be they Jewish or Ukrainian, say shootings in Rohatyn or somewhere else?
[1:07:24] W: No, no. I did not see any.
[1:07:34] І: And when the occupation was over, when the Germans left, were you at your place in Koniushky?
[1:07:42] W: No, we were in Yavche, we ran away because here the front line ran straight through our garden and all the way to Burshtyn. And in the valley. They even had a machine gun in our front yard – one German put it there. No, that German told us: “Run”. So we ran, it was a Friday as I remember. And we did not come back until Sunday. So for two days – Friday and Saturday – the front line was moving, shootings, battles.
[1:08:55] І: Thank you very much for talking to us. One last question, please: may we share what you told us with others who are interested in history?
[1:09:09] W: Well, about history, I will tell you one more story – I started to tell you why I am grateful to Jews. How we escaped, my father and I were at Rudky, in the village Vynkova Vyshnya, there was a canning factory, a big one, and there was – I don’t know if it was Jewish or Polish, I wouldn’t be able to tell – there stood a two story building, and the boss at this canning factory was a Jew from Chernivtsi, he had a limp. And when… And from that village, from Vynkova Vyshnya, two lads went to Lviv, for a market day, and ran into this woman from Koniushky. They started talking and took to liking each other so much that they decided to go back to Koniushky together. They went, not the same day, but maybe the next day or the day after. And when they went, they even drank from our water well. And they looked around, there were not many buildings there [in Koniushky], so when they looked at that building that we had, they got scared. So they came back to the village and told us everything, how they drank from our water well and how they saw windows were installed in the stable and the barn – we never had that – the only thing I remember we had was a clubhouse. And that news got to the cannery boss, to that Jew. His assistant manager was a discharged lieutenant, and he was away, for some reason he went to Kiev for two weeks. But people were talking and the news got to that Jew. He called my father in and said: “Matsuk, run already. Resign, take your son [and go], because when he comes back, you will not be able to escape.” And that’s what happened. He dismissed us and we got away. He told us then and there that his father had been arrested and shot by the Russians in 1938.
[1:13:46] І: Where did you go?
[1:13:50] W: We went to Lviv. We had friends there in Lviv. And Father’s brother worked at the theater as a security guard. And such. A Jew was the theater director – Rakovski, and Hirschman was the head administrator of the theater. All of them Jews. Including the bookkeeper. So we stayed with those Jews.
[1:14:56] І: What about later, did you ever go to Rohatyn, to that place where the [mass] graves were?
[1:15:06] W: No, no.
[1:15:12] І: Thank you very much. So tell us, can we tell this to everyone?
[1:15:15] W: You will tell what I told you.
[1:15:20] І: And we will share this with students, we are filming this for them.
[1:15:22] W: That you can tell, but don’t share my family name, to the world.
[1:15:27] І: That we will only keep in France.
[1:15:29] W: To think, in France, what they had, did you see – terror attacks.

Ukrainian-language transcription: Marta Panas-Bespalova
English-language translation: Albina Gofman

Text © 2016 Yahad – In Unum.
Rohatyn Jewish Heritage is grateful for the ongoing research and documentation work of Yahad – In Unum, and for their generosity in sharing these testimonies from their collection to support our work in Rohatyn. To learn more about Yahad and to support their work, please visit: