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Alexander Barshai
THE USUAL HOLOCAUST

Leonid Rubinstein
TWO HOUSES – TWO DESTINIES

Leonid Rubinstein

TWO HOUSES – TWO DESTINIES

Before the war on the bank of the Berezina river in Svisloch there stood two houses, which belonged to raftsmen Gdalia and Mihoels.

On Fridays the two families got together, lit the candles and said the prayer. Mothers opened the food they'd cooked and began the Sabbath dinner. After dinner Gdalia's son David took his guitar and everyone began signing.

The Jewish and Russian songs could be heard there. More people came to join and the song became stronger. People went home after midnight.

Mihoels had a daughter, Haitsa. She was 17 and was about to graduate from school. It happened so that she was fond of David. Every time she saw the tall handsome young man her heart missed a beat. David studied in Mogilev teachers' college, specializing in German. When he came from Mogilev to visit his family, the two of them would sit together by the river and talk. Their love was just starting to grow and was about to burst. This was when the war began. David was immediately drafted to the Army. Haitsa went to see him off to Yelizovo. When saying her good bye to him, she burst into tears. David tried to calm her down:

- Haitsa, my dear Haitsa, please, calm down. I will soon be back. The war is not going to be long.

However, her heart fell different. Haitsa said good bye to him forever. She knew something tragic was about to happen.

When she came back home, her mother said that they would leave the village the following morning. They woke up early and went to the railway station. They were taken to Smolensk, then Tambov and then the town of Chikment in Kazakhstan.

There Haitsa went to work at a military factory. There were practically no men – mainly old people, children and the handicapped. Women and teenagers had to do all the hard work. Haitsa worked 12 hours per day and received 350 grams of bread.

David wrote her letters but none of them were delivered and he received no reply. Soon he found out that Bobruisk and Mogilev had been occupied by Germans and there was no use writing.

Haitsa was not aware of what was happening to David. David was not aware that Haitsa's family had been safely evacuated to Kazakhstan. David's parents remained in Svisloch and after the war he found out that they had been shot by Nazi policemen.

The houses still stood on the bank of the river. Months and years passed and only the river was whispering the story of David and Haitsa, carrying away the secret of their lives.

It was 1943. Haitsa did not know whether David was alive or not. The situation at home was getting worse – mother and sisters were down with typhus. She had to look for food to save them.

That was the time when she, while walking in the street, met a young man from Svisloch. She heard someone calling her name. She looked at the young man – he looked very familiar and in a moment she recognized Icha, who used to live in Svisloch. It turned out that Icha had been wounded and was sent to hospital in Kazakhstan. They were really happy to see each other.

Soon Icha began helping Haitsa with her family. He was fond of the girl and tried to spend as much time with her as possible. Haitsa began to get used to his care and attention. However, her heart still belonged to David.

In 1944 they found out that Bobruisk had been liberated and decided it was time to go back. Then the war was over. Haitsa still did not know anything about David. She then made a decision to start living with Icha.

In 1944 David was working as a translator in the army. At that time he was interrogating German officers who had been in Svisloch. The officers told him that all the Jews had been executed.

- Do you remember the Finkelsteins – father, mother and three girls?

The Germans replied that this family had been shot. The thing was that many of the Jews living in Svisloch had the last name of Finkelstein… David knew he did not need to return to Bobruisk – no one was alive. He went back only in 1946. This was when he met Haitsa, which happened by chance – they met in a shop.

She immediately recognize him and fell numb. David felt someone staring at him and turned.

- Haitsa! You are alive?!

Haitsa went pale and began crying…

She remained living with Icha. They did not have children.

David married Maya and moved to a village. Soon they had a daughter, who they named Haya.

Maya did not live long – she died when the girl was only three. David never married again…

Еврейское местечко под Минском




Jewish settlements in Mogilev region

MogilevAntonovkaBatsevichiBelynichiBelynkovichiBobruiskByhovChausyCherikov Dashkovka DribinEsmonyGluskGolovchinGorki GoryGrozdianka Hotimsk KirovskKlichev KonohovkaKostukovichi KrichevKruchaKrugloye Lenino LubonichiMartinovka MoliatichiMstislavlNaprasnovkaOsipovichi RodniaRudkovschina SamotevichiSapezhinkaSeletsShamovoShepelevichiShklovSlavgorodStaroselieSukhariSvislochVereschaki ZaverezhieZhilichi

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