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Remembering the Forgotten

By Martin Weiss

For the longest time I have remembered incidents that occurred during the Holocaust, about which very few have heard. This is a story I heard about after I returned from the concentration camp in 1945. Benzion and his family were from Plosk, a small village near Polana. Until 1939, it was known as Karpatska Russ in Czechoslovakia. From 1939 to 1945 it was under Hungarian occupation. Now it’s Ukraine. There were only a few Jewish families living in Plosk. Benzion’s family consisted of his wife, Chava, his son, David, and his daughters, Helen and Olga. As I remember, they were an extremely good-looking family. Benzion was a tall, well-built, and very confident man. He wore a long, brown leather coat and rode a big “Java” motorcycle. He was the only Jew in the area to do that. The memories I have of him were that he was a fearless individual.

I remember there were rumors that he would occasionally slip over the border to Russian-occupied Poland. If true, he was never caught. In April 1944, around Passover, we heard that the Hungarians were going to round up the Jews. All the communities found themselves helpless. We couldn’t trust our neighbors though we lived side by side and got along pretty well. What was ironic is that our neighbors were Russian and hated the Hungarians as much as the Jews did. Hearing of the inevitable roundup of the Jews, my father debated if we should go into hiding in the mountains. For a moment he thought that he, my older brother, Moshe, and I should go. The drawback was that it was still very cold in the mountains and we were afraid we wouldn’t survive. We felt that the peasants would inform on us to the police; we could not trust them. It also meant we would be leaving my mother, two older sisters, and two younger sisters on their own. We soon decided that we would have to stick together no matter what. After a couple of days we were arrested and taken to the “ghetto.”

However, Benzion did take his wife and children and some of his extended family into hiding, and they survived in the forest for a while. The Russians were advancing at a good pace and they expected the Russians to reach them soon. One day, one of them sneaked out to locate some food and a peasant saw him and reported his finding to the Hungarian gendarmes. They arrested all of them, took away their clothes, and put dog collars on them. They marched them naked, in cold weather, for about 10 or 15 kilometers. They tied them up in a stable like animals and shot all of them.

The brutality of man has no equal. You can see many atrocities, but you only have to see one victim and he becomes your brother.

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