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Arkady Shulman
THE HOMELAND OF MY DREAMS

Yekaterina Kozlova
DUBROVNO RESIDENTS

Galina Popova
LIFE AND ITS HARDSHIPS

Arkady SHULMAN

THE HOMELAND OF MY DREAMS

Nirman. Yevel Nirman.
Yevel Nirman and his wife.

I received a letter from a man in St. Petersburg, in which he wrote that he was born in Dubrovno. His father died in the local ghetto and the memory of him was troubling him for many years.

I wrote a reply the same day, saying I was prepared to meet him in Dubrovno and so we arranged the meeting. I met Yury Arkadievich Nirman in Vitebsk and we headed for Dubrovno. This is what he told me:

- Before the war our family lived in Dubrovno. It’s a small town, located on the Dnieper. We used to live in Krylov Street, closer to the left bank of the river. We had a big house and a big family: my parents and four brothers. Elder brother Grisha (born in 1921), then Misha (born in 1925), Gera (born in 1928) and I, born three years before the war began. My father, Aron Yevlevich, was a butcher. He was a physically strong person.

Our family was neither rich nor poor. Father worked a lot – he believed that a man should be the breadwinner of the family, it was his responsibility.

Before the war my brother Grisha went to work in a printing house. Mother’s name was Genia Nirman (maiden name Polina). All my grandparents lived in Dubrovno.

Aron Nirman.
Aron Nirman.
Aron and Genia Nirman.
Aron and Genia Nirman.

Our family adhered to all the Jewish traditions and celebrated all the Jewish holidays. Father attended the synagogue, even though at that time it was not especially favored by the Soviet authorities.

The war forced us to leave Dubrovno and destroyed the world we lived in. That world cannot be brought back and remains only in the memories of the old people like me.

Jewish children from Dubrovno. Grisha Nirman – at the top in the center.
Jewish children from Dubrovno.
Grisha Nirman – at the top in the center.

When we arrived in Dubrovno, we visited an old Jewish cemetery, or, to be more exact, a place where it used to be located once. The cemetery was most probably about three hundred years old. The last Dubrovno Jew, buried here, was Isaac Levertov (he was buried in 1963). After the war there were practically no Jews left in Dubrovno and the cemetery was not looked after. In the end there was a decision to demolish the cemetery and build a stadium for an agricultural lyceum. The lyceum principal offered students to collect the tombs, which were scattered around, and set them up next to a football field. Then a fence was constructed. Thus a memorial to Dubrovno Jews was opened and the lyceum students received a lesson in kindness and humanism.

Jewish cemetery on the territory of agricultural lyceum.
Jewish cemetery on the territory of agricultural lyceum.

We reached Krylov Street, where the Nirmans lived before the war. Yury Arkadievich showed me the foundation of his house. He continued his story:

“As mother told us, nobody believed that the war was going to be so ruthless and long; everyone was certain that the Red Army was the strongest and that Nazis would not harm the local population.

When the war broke out and Germans invaded, father had to join a home guard detachment. The rest of the family was evacuated on July 6th 1941. Father realized he had to do something to save his family and pushed us into one of the trains, which headed eastwards. We were sure that we were leaving only for a short period of time and would soon return to Dubrovno. Mother took only basic things. On the way the train was bombed and many people were killed. We were lucky. Then we got on another train and managed to reach a town of Muchkala in Tambov region. Some local people gave us shelter and we decided to settle there. Mother and brothers earned a living by working on the collective farm.

Yury Nirman with Mikhail Yevtushenko, the lyceum principal.
Yury Nirman with Mikhail Yevtushenko, the lyceum principal.

Brother Grisha had to continue working at the printing house – there was a decree, which prohibited people to leave work without permission. Luckily, the very last moment, just before Nazis invaded, father managed to send Grisha to the east.


Father was given shelter in our neighbor’s house. She was a kind Belarusian woman. Her name was Avginia. However some time later father, realizing that he was putting her family at risk, decided to leave. That was how he got into the local ghetto.

Yury Nirman with nephew Zhenia near memorial at the execution site in Dubrovno.
Yury Nirman with nephew Zhenia
near memorial at the execution site in Dubrovno.

In the middle of July 1941 Germans were living in Dubrovno. From the first days of occupation they tortured and humiliated Jews. All the Jews: women, old people, and children were to be killed. No one expected such an end – they hoped for the better. However, their illusions dwindled day by day.

On December 6th 1941 fascists executed 1500 ghetto residents. Marfa Vasilievna Zolotarskaya recalled: “Two machine guns were brought to the edge of a ditch. They started bringing families. Children were shot in their mothers’ arms. Then the bodies were thrown into the ditch. Some of them were alive. In the end they brought infants and one German sadist took them one by one and hit them on his knee, breaking their spines. The ground was moving several days after the execution.”

“Father was also killed on that day – December 6th, 1941 – told me Yury Arkadievich Nirman. – We learned about it in 1947, when we returned from the evacuation. We did not return to Dubrovno, because our house was no longer there. We moved to Orsha, because mother’s brother lived there and could help us build our own house. We were told that when father was being taken to the execution, he grabbed hold of one of the fascists and dragged him into the ditch. Moreover, they say he managed to bite through his neck. It’s very difficult to imagine.”

After the first execution fascists left a group of craftsmen – around 300 people, who had to work for them. These people lived until February 1942.

Such postcards were sent by Grigory from the battlefront.
Such postcards were sent by Grigory from the battlefront.
Grigory Nirman.
Grigory Nirman.

All in all 1985 Jews were murdered in Dubrovno.

All the fascists’ actions had been previously planned. The mass executions usually took place on Jewish or Soviet holidays. In this way Nazis wanted the locals to feel that they are doomed and that resistance was useless.

At the beginning of the 50s a memorial was set up at the location of the execution.

Mikhail Nirman.
Mikhail Nirman.
Gera Nirman.
Gera Nirman.

We spent the night in Orsha, in the family of Yury Nirman’s nephew, Mikhail’s son – Arkady. On the walls of his flat we saw numerous family photographs. Naturally, I began asking Yury Arkadievich about his brothers.

“Brothers were drafted to the army. Grisha was the first. His eyesight was very bad, so he was sent to a railway detachment.

We still have postcards that Grisha sent us from the army, where he wrote: “Dear mother and brothers! I will do everything to revenge the Nazis for our peaceful life that they have destroyed. Grisha was killed in 1943 near Voronezh.

Brother Misha was drafted in March 1943. He was wounded and sent to hospital. After the war he spent two years in hospitals in Ulianovsk and Kazan. Later he moved to Orsha and began working.

Another brother Gera was a watchmaker. He was handicapped, but always remained optimistic.”

Yury Nirman has lived a long life and visited many cities and countries. Here, in Orsha, he wants to be buried at the Jewish cemetery, next to the graves of his relatives.

LIST of victims murdered by Nazis in Dubrovno.

NameDate of birth
1.Mania Alberunknown
2.Simon Anshinunknown
3.Apishevskyunknown
4.Yankel Girshovich Argilunknown
5.Dasha M. Balvinerunknown
6.Fania Haimovna Barnstein1914
7.Leiba Abramovich Basinunknown
8.Ester Moiseyevich Berkenblitunknown
9.Bingorunknown
10.Shneur Nohimovich Bingorunknown
11.Grisha Bmiarkerunknown
12.Moisey Bmiarkerunknown
13.Yevsey Mendelevich Bogoradunknown
14.Sara Mendelevna Bogoradunknown
15.Haya Leizerovna Bulahunknown
16.Rosa Borisovna Valskayaunknown
17.Hana Vinterunknown
18.Aizik Vinzunknown
19.Alia Vinzunknown
20.Leya Vinzunknown
21.Ilza Voronovaunknown
22.Mania Haimovna Voronovaunknown
23.Boris Mendelevich Gabal1912
24.Mendel Borisovich Gabal1938
25.Moisey Borisovich Gabal1940
26.Ganovnerunknown
27.Genia Blumaunknown
28.Anna Gildenbladunknown
29.Meyer Gildenbladunknown
30.Sara Gildenbladunknown
31.Beniamin I. Ginovlerunknown
32.Grigory L. Glezerunknown
33.M.L. Glezerunknown
34.R.L. Glezerunknown
35.M.M. Gozunknown
36.M.T. Gozunknown
37.H.L. Gozunknown
38.Abram Gofmanunknown
39.Maria Semenovna Gofman1928
40.Semen I. Gofman1880
41.Esfir Semenovna Gofman1922
42.Grin Faivishunknown
43.Ilya Gublerunknown
44.N. Gublerunknown
45.Abram Lvovich Gubmanunknown
46.Genia Shlemovna Gubmanunknown
47.Hema E. Gubnerunknown
48.Ziama Gugel1920
49.Shura Gugel1925
50.Abram Mikhailovich Gurevichunknown
51.Vladimir Mikhailovich Gurevichunknown
52.Lubov Mikhailovna Gurevichunknown
53.Maya Mikhailovna Gurevichunknown
54.Mendel Danovich1880
55.Fania M. Danovich1885
56.Rosa Gdalevna Darevskayaunknown
57.Gesia Solomonovna Dvorkinaunknown
58.Fania Shlemovna Dvorkinaunknown
59.Era Solomonovna Dribinskaya1930
60.Moisey S. Dribinsky1905
61.Aron Dubsonunknown
62.Feiga V. Dubsonunknown
63.Riva Vulfovna Dupsonunknown
64.Sara-Riva Dupsonunknown
65.Basia Samsonovna Dymshitzunknown
66.Sara Israilevna Dymshitzunknown
67.Zya Yeruhimovichunknown
68.Luba Levintovna Yeryuhimovichunknown
69.Yenta Iosifovna Zhitkinaunknown
70.Anna Mikhailovna Zak1939
71.Marina Borisovna Zak1918
72.Mendel Zalmanovich Zakunknown
73.Peisah Zakunknown
74.Ruvin Mikhailovich Zak1938
75.Sara Zalesskayaunknown
76.Sara-Riva Zalesskovskayaunknown
77.Riva Zalikovskayaunknown
78.Sara Leibovna Zalihinaunknown
79.Irma Zilmanunknown
80.Haya Aronovna Ioffeunknown
81.Eska Aronovna Ioffeunknown
82.Aron Kabalkinunknown
83.Pesia Kabalkinaunknown
84.Zalman Nohimovich Kalmanovichunknown
85.Nihema Shlemovna Kanovichunknown
86.Boris Borisovich Katzunknown
87.Kegelesunknown
88.Leva Kegelsunknown
89.M.Y. Kegelsunknown
90.N.V. Kegelsunknown
91.Masha Zalmanovna Kirzon1882
92.Boris Solomonovich Kirzonunknown
93.Mendel Kirzonunknown
94.Yankel Zalmanovich Kirzonunknown
95.Ados Moiseyevich Kleimanunknown
96.Pavel Mikhailovich Korenkovunknown
97.Aron Krupkinunknown
98.Fania Krupkinunknown
99.Mira Krupkinaunknown
100.Sonia Krupkinaunknown
101.Doba Movshevna Krupskayaunknown
102.Alexander P. Kudriashov1900
103.Meila Alik Kudriashovaunknown
104.Ida Borisovna Kuznetsovaunknown
105.G.S. Kurzinerunknown
106.D.M. Kurzinerunknown
107.L.G. Kurzinerunknown
108.Solomon K. Kurzinerunknown
109.Shlema Nohimovich Kurzinerunknown
110.Abel Israilevich Lapidusunknown
111.Yevel Israilevich Lapidusunknown
112.Sara Peisahovna Lapidusunknown
113.Genah Zalmanovich Lapskyunknown
114.Vladimir Iosifovich Levertovunknown
115.Grunia Mikhailovna Levertovaunknown
116.Raya Iosifovna Levertovaunknown
117.Fira Iosifovna Levertovaunknown
118.B. Y. Levinunknown
119.Semen Levinunknown
120.M. Levitinaunknown
121.Isaak Leizerovich Leibmanunknown
122.Mira Leibovna Leibmanunknown
123.Aizik Berkovich Libinzonunknown
124.Breina Libinzonunknown
125.Bela Isaakovna Livshitzunknown
126.Israel Iosifovich Lipkinunknown
127.Basia Iosifovna Lipkinaunknown
128.Raya Iosifovna Lipkinaunknown
129.Riva Leibovna Lipkinaunknown
130.Tsilya Iosifovna Lipkinaunknown
131.Genah Zalmanovich Lipskyunknown
132.Grisha Yankelevich Lopatuhinunknown
133.Samuil Yankelevich Lopatuhinunknown
134.Basia Abramovna Lopatuhinaunknown
135.Dynia Lopatuhinaunknown
136.Luba Lopatuhinaunknown
137.Raisa Lopatuhinaunknown
138.E.G. Lotosunknown
139.Semen S. Maximenko1885
140.Mota Menakerunknown
141.G. Minkinunknown
142.Tsiva Minkovaunknown
143.Idka Yakovlevna Moiseyevaunknown
144.Rahil Yakovlevna Moiseyevnaunknown
145.Sonia Yakovlevna Moiseyevaunknown
146.Asna Yakovlevna Nirmanunknown
147.Kalman Grigorievich Nirmanunknown
148.Leiba Aronovich Nirmanunknown
149.Mariasya Yevlevna Nirmanunknown
150.Rahil Yevlevna Nirmanunknown
151.Haya Samuilovna Novikovaunknown
152.Boris Samsonovich Partin1926
153.Haim-Tsadek B. Partinunknown
154.Frida H. Partina1897
155.Boris Lvovich Pevznerunknown
156.Zalman Aronovich Pevznerunknown
157.Leivik Osherovich Pevznerunknown
158.Morduh Abramovich Pevznerunknown
159.Musia Abramovna Pevznerunknown
160.Sara Boruhovna Pevznerunknown
161.Feiga Pevznerunknown
162.Haya Itskovna Perkinaunknown
163.Mendel Shlemovich Pikunknown
164.Tseita Pilisunknown
165.Yevsey Vulfovich Pimkinunknown
166.Grigory Pishiker E.unknown
167.Moisey Pishikerunknown
168.Rosa Pishikerunknown
169.Sara Moiseyevna Pishikerunknown
170.Mira Leizerovna Podrinaunknown
171.Aizik Posutmanunknown
172.Raya Posutmanunknown
173.Abram Grigorievich Rabinovichunknown
174.Tamara Abramovna Rabinovichunknown
175.Masha Leibovna Raikhmanunknown
176.Yankel Girshovich Rahilunknown
177.Aizik Movshevich Reingoldunknown
178.G.M. Reingoldunknown
179.Mota M. Reingoldunknown
180.Epa Y. Rivkina1887
181.Selektorunknown
182.Grigory Moiseyevich Selektorunknown
183.Moisey F. Selektorunknown
184.Olia Moiseyevna Selektorunknown
185.Besia moiseyevna Slepakunknown
186.Moisey Shayevich Temkinunknown
187.Lisa Isaakovna Temkinaunknown
188.M.S. Temkinaunknown
189.S.M. Temkinaunknown
190.Sofia Markovna Tishkinaunknown
191.Vulf Zalmanovich Trapirovunknown
192.Haim Vulfovich Trapirovunknown
193.Mira Vulfovna Trapirovaunknown
194.Ion Aizikovich Tubinunknown
195.Pinhas Haimovich Faikinunknown
196.Dusia Grigorievna Farberunknown
197.Lisa Abramovna Farberunknown
198.Petr Borisovich Feigensonunknown
199.Yakov Borisovich Feigensonunknown
200.Sima Yudovich Freidlinunknown
201.Dora Freidlinaunknown
202.Dvosia Lvovna Hasina1898
203.Lisa Aizikovna Hasina1923
204.Rosa Aizikovna Hasina1932
205.Sonia Aizikovna Hasina1921
206.Leva Grigorievich Heifetz1936
207.Mania Grigorievna Heifetz1930
208.Rosa Solomonovna Heifetzunknown
209.Bella Isakovna Hitrik1921
210.Ida Isakovna Hitrik1915
211.Isak Ruvimovich Hitrikunknown
212.Palina E. Holosneyevaunknown
213.Itzik Borisovich Tsadkin1940
214.Basia Borisovna Tsadkina1929
215.Nelia Borisovna Tsadkina1934
216.Ida Israilevna Tserlinsonunknown
217.Sima Borisovna Tsehnovichunknown
218.Tsiva Ioselevna Tsirpinsonunknown
219.Samuil Shmel Chernomordikunknown
220.Bentia Chernuhinunknown
221.Nohim Yakovlevich Chernuhinunknown
222.Yakov Pinhusovich Chernuhinunknown
223.Shifra Zevelevna Chernuhinaunknown
224.Naum Solomonovich Shapirounknown
225.Yevgeny I. Sharfunknown
226.M.M. Shvomunknown
227.Ruvim Yeruhimovich Shevelevunknown
228.Basia Zalmanovna Shevelevaunknown
229.Ida Shevelevaunknown
230.Ida Shehmanunknown
231.Hana Ruvimovna Shuliagerunknown
232.Yankel Aronovich Shuliagerunknown
233.Yankel Aronovich Shulianerunknown
234.Maria Borisovna Shurunknown
235.Israel I. Eidelnanabunknown
236.Israel Ilyich Eidelnantunknown
237.Vulf Shmulovich Eidelsteinunknown
238.Vulia Haimovich Eidelsteinunknown
239.Grigory Davidovich Eidinovunknown
240.Aron Isaakovich Elkinunknown
241.Baya Simonovna Epsteinunknown
242.Iosif Borisovich Epsteinunknown
243.N.I. Yudinaunknown
244.Yuhvidenunknown
Еврейское местечко под Минском


Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

Vitebsk Albrehtovo Babinovichi Baran Bayevo Begoml Beshenkovichi Bocheikovo Bogushevsk Borkovichi Braslav Bychiha Chashniki Disna Dobromysli Dokshitsy Druya Dubrovno Glubokoye Gorodok Kamen Kohanovo Kolyshki Kopys Krasnopolie Kublichi Lepel Liady Liozno Lukoml Luzhki Lyntupy Miory Obol Oboltsy Orsha Osintorf Ostrovno Parafianovo Plissa Polotsk Prozorki Senno Sharkovshina Shumilino Sirotino Slaveni Smolyany Surazh Tolochin Ulla Verhnedvinsk Vidzy Volyntsy Yanovichi Yezerishe Zhary Ziabki

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