Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lachva, Belarus And "Yisgadal Víyiskadash Sh'me Rabbo," The Ancient Prayer For The Departed

"We are now taken to Lachva, a small town approximately ten miles east of Kozhanhorodok, and slightly larger. We are witness to the memorial for the former Jewish inhabitants and to the remnants of the Lachva ghetto. We see the place where our relative Yankel Moraff had his place of business. Stories abound about the Nazi roundup and the killings. Kopel Kolponitzky, our guide and a former resident of Lachva, tells how he escaped on this terrible day. He joins the partisans, and survives in the forests and the marshes, fighting the enemy at every opportunity. He hears for the first time the story of his brotherís death. As his brother lies wounded in the street, his fiance refuses to leave his side. The doctor in Lachva approaches the weak and dying boy to render whatever assistance he can. A Nazi soldier confronts the doctor and tells him not to touch the Jew. He is reminded that he must treat only German soldiers. The doctor defiantly tells him that he will not treat any Germans, soldiers or otherwise. The soldier then methodically raises his rifle and proceeds to shoot all three, as if they were animals in a cage. The local Belarusians now learn too late that the Germans are not their liberators who will free them from their Russian captors. Far from it. As soon as they finish with the Jews the plan is to exterminate at least eighty percent of the non-Jews of Belarus. The die had been cast long ago and their fate was now sealed.

The bus stops by the ancient Lachva cemetery, where many headstones are over two hundred years old. It is neglected now and the grass has grown around the broken, barely visible stones. Some of the Hebrew writing can still be made out but most markers are deteriorated beyond recognition. It is here that my great-grandfather Aaron Morafchick lies. My uncle Ellie steps forward and in memory of all the Morafchick family, begins to recite "Yisgadal Víyiskadash Sh'me Rabbo," the ancient prayer for the departed."

(c) Larry Gaum "A Visit to Belarus -- The Circle is Complete" Belarus (sig) Newsletter: An On-line Magazine for People with Jewish Roots in Belarus Issue No. 2 - February 1999

Lachva, Belarus, today.

During the Second World War, Lachva, Belarus lost almost 100% of its Jewish residents, and 80% of its Slavic residents.

In order to facilitate the war effort and Germanization of Belarus and Ukraine, Hitler's Generals and Planners had wanted to drain the Pripyat marshlands dividing Belarus from Ukraine; but Hitler, having viewed newsreels of the dustbowls of 1930s North America, turned down Konrad Meyer's 1941 strategic plan.

Photo credit: (c) Larry Gaum and Belarus (sig) Newsletter. All rights reserved. With thanks.


Blogger BEING HAD said...

This is so sad. But worse, there are so many of these stories to be told. I think it is our duty really to have a listen to the older Russian Jews, the one's who managed to live through the war and into the times of the USSR. Theirs is such a unique history and not only from a Jewish perspective.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Thanks so much for the comment, Adam. I was hoping that you would see it.

My wife and I did find Lachva, Belarus, on the overwhelming engraved glass wall at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, this past autumn. And I believe that we passed through (or near) Pinsk when we travelled from Lviv to Minsk a year ago. Our passports are stamped Pinsk. (The border guards were very nice.)

If you ever have any unusual or special photos of Lachva or its Jewish cemetery, I hope that you'll allow me to share one of them here.

I asked my mother last week whether she had an interest in visiting Lachva, and she did not, at this time. I hope to take her to the major synagogues of Moscow and Kyiv, this coming September.

Happy Holidays.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dempsey said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dempsey said...

I am an author on The Holocaust of the Jews of Europe and am Blogging my recent visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau. It is imperative that we continue Always to Remember and Never to Forget the 6,000,000 Murdered Jewish People. Other than JewishGen and Evelyn Ripp very little is mentioned of Lavhva or the Ghetto revolt there. So thank You!

Patrick Dempsey


1:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home