Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Ich Bin Ein Kovler"


See the pic in a YIVO periodical

Read the Kovler Yizkor Book

Before I begin let me thank two very special Yidden, one who wishes to remain anonymous, and the other that hasn't asked for anonymity so I'll go ahead and thank him by name. The first would be the anonymous one who showed me the book, "Admorei Malchus Beis Chernobyl" where the story is mentioned and the photo is featured. I had seen it a few years back but never allowed myself to buy it, with the fifty dollar price tag being the culprit here. The book is a treasure trove of both history and pictures of all Rebbes of the Chernobler dynasty, and I mean ALL, and there were MANY. The work that went into assembling it must've been mind blowing as well as back breaking. Reb Nochum Moshe Twersky (The Rebbe pictured here wearing the Tallis) was the son of Reb Velvele Rachmistrivker, and hence the Brother-In-Law of Reb Chaim Meir'l of Vizhnitz, who was Reb Velvel's Eydem. Reb Velvel was a son of Reb Yochonon Rachmistrivker, son of Reb Mottele Chernobler, son of the Holy Reb Nochum Chernobler, Talmid of the Baal Shem Tov and Mezrticher Maggid and author of Me'or Eynayim. Many thanks to Reb Yitzchok Twersky of Queens the co-author of this great piece of history, for sending me the picture of Reb Nochum Moshe'le HY"D.

The accounts and descriptions of the death of Reb Nochum Moshe'le vary, and are very much in doubt as of now, at least for me. Alfasi in HaChassidus MiDor LeDor has him listed as dying at the hands of the Nazis Yms"h. He does not elaborate, but that's to be expected, since there are Hundreds if not Thousands of such deaths during WWII. In the Kovler Yizkor Book, linked above, there's a mention of his death at the hands of the Nazis and their Ukranian helpers Yms"h. The Jews of Kovel were herded into 2 ghettos after the Nazis invaded and held there for a year's time. On the 17th of Sivan 5702/1942, a beautiful summer's day, the Yidden of Ghetto One were told to assemble in Brisk Square in the city's center under false pretenses, after being promised by the Roshei HaKohol that no harm would befall them. The Roshei HaKohol were lied to by the Germans, of course, and had no idea of the massacre that was about to take place. RNM was aware of their fate, however. He was killed AK"H with the Yidden of Ghetto One, not before speaking to the assembled. His words differed from those of Reb Elchonon Wasserman HY"D somewhat, in that he made no mention of the fact that they were Korbonos and should have only holy thoughts so as not to make their Korbon Pigul as REW did, although he did call for Achdus and for them to be Sameach that they soon will be Tachas Kanfei HaShchinah. RNMT was bemoaning their fate, and the fact that there never was a generation like theirs, a generation that would have nobody to say Kaddish for them. He made mention of the fact that the children, Tinokos Shel Bais Rabbon etc. Shelo To'amu Ta'am Cheyt, what was their sin? why were they going to be massacred too? He made mention of the beautiful summer's day, and how ironic it was that this was their day of being massacred like that. Quite contrasting speeches.

A totally different account is made in the above-mentioned book Admorei etc. They bring the picture but add a very terrifying note to the occasion. In an account related to the co-author by Rebbetzin Eichenstein of S. Louis, a niece of RNMT, she tells of a regiment of Russian Soldiers that entered Kovel and pitched camp there, and the general invited RNMT to come and bless the soldiers - I guess it was a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles. He told him to also don a Tallis for the special occasion, which RNMT did. At that event there was LeHavdil a Catholic Priest as well, since Kovel was seemingly a Catholic town that was inhabited by ethnic Poles, and one can clearly see that the Rov's table was pushed back so as not to be parallel with the Priest's "Chas Vesholom." RNMT begins to bless the soldiers when suddenly the General shouts "Ready!" "Aim!" "Fire!" and RNMT is shot on the spot and killed by a hail of bullets! One can clearly see how the two soldiers on the extreme bottom left of the picture have two fingers raised as if to count down to a "number three." The other soldier has his bayonet raised as if to pounce on an enemy combatant; he seems to be the only one like that. There are many reasons why I don't see this story as actually happening. Yes, he blessed the soldiers, but he wasn't killed at that time. Yet, for some reason this is the story that Rebbetzin Eichenstein tells, which I find very odd.

The soldiers are not post WWI Russian; I say that because Russian soldiers didn't wear such helmets and uniforms. If the soldiers that killed him were Russian they then needed to be Czarist soldiersAfter the Revolution the Russians didn't invite Rabbis to bless their troops, and the uniforms don't look post WWI Soviet. Besides, after WWI Kovel was part of Poland, which would mean that the troops would need to be Polish. Judging from the Rov's age I would say that the photo was taken later in life, around WWII. I doubt that the Polish Government invited Russian troops to visit their towns Stam. This was Poland between the two World Wars, there were no Russian troops there. I have yet to figure out who got Kovel in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, was Kovel in Russian Poland or German Poland? Either way Shtimt nisht di Mayseh. For the first two days after hearing the story about his execution I could not get it out of my mind. The fact that I could not verify the story elsewhere did put a damper on it, but still I feel a newfound connection to Kovel and Reb Nochum Moshe'le, as well as to Reb Velevele Trisker of Kovel, HY"D. I feel like I too am a Kovler....


(The massacre of Kovler Jewry - page 1)



(The massacre of Kovler Jewry - page 2)

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Hirshel, thanks for your erudition, historical expertise and heart.

An example of great blogging-even Shafran would agree.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Thank you whoever you are, for reading and bothering to comment. Without you there would be none of this.

I need to find out what erudition and erudite mean; I've seen it too many times now.

;-)

yehupitz said...

This is not your usual kind of post. But I am grateful for your having posted it.

Tonight is my grandmother's yortzeit. She was in Kovno on June 22, '41, when the Lithuanians decided to take advantage of the German invasion and preempted the invaders by killing whatever Jews they could get their hands on. They killed her first husband and his whole family on that day.

bpunbound said...

Hirshel,

I make the soldiers Polish, DEFINITELY not German, the helmets are wrong.

The unit is at "order arms", aknowledging the Rabbi's blessing. The two soldiers at the left have their arms raised, two fingers together, which I believe is also a form of affirmation of the proceedings. The officer beside the Rabbi and in the back row have their hand to cap bill, also in aknowledgment.

This ain't no massacre about to happen!

lakewoodshmuck said...

where did this rebetzin get her version of the evnts from?

Anonymous said...

Many of the soldiers look Jewish, IMHO.

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Officer is too close to Rabbi to be shot. A slightly stray bullet would have killed him!!

Incedently, my fathers father comes from a small town outside of Kovel

Hirshel Tzig said...

Lakewood:

she was the nephew of Reb Nochum Moshe, her father's sister was RNM's Rebbetzin, though she lived in Lublin, where her father Reb Moshe Mordche was Trisker Rebbe. But there are just too many holes in the story.

Anonymous: what did Jewish soldiers look like then? did they wear their Tzitzis out?

U' N' said...

The Rabbi in the picture is probably (but not necessarily) not a Czernoobyler scion - tales isn't in his gartel. Soldiers look almost definitely Polish - their "worotnikes " (the neck thingies) betray them.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Natchalnik

Please don't show us your ignorance. We KNOW it's him, and a Kashe on a Chernobler Minhog - which many may not have followed - does not shlog op a fact.

tzibaleh said...

keep it up Hirshel, this is way more interesting than the usual narishkeitin.

Hirshel Tzig said...

BPUnbound

I didn't know we had such Beki'im in Military Protocol here! Thanks for clarifying it for us.

Bpunbound said...

NU NU.

But more conclusive proof...look in the backround....there are about a half a dozen folks just standing there...civilians...I don't think they would have been there had these guys been setting up the Rabbi for a Schechita.

U' N' said...

Tzig,

You are retarded. How am I showing ignorance ? Do you even know what ignorance means - even as you live it day to day ?

Again, there is no hechrech at all that the Rabbi in the picture is indeed R' Nuchem Moishe HY"D (he very well _could_ be, but the background is too conflicting to call it a _ fact_); you got conflicting and unclear stories, and you are a total ignoramus about what the politics of Wolyn were like in the 30s and during the war (not surprising, as your people probably sat it out in the Catskills when mine were chasing down remainders of Bandera's butchers).

Rebbetzen Eichenstein's story "somewhat" adds up if you consider that Kowel was a hotbed of UNA/UNSO, UPA, Armia Krajowa, ROA and other antisoviet bandit groups, none of whom showed much love to the "Bolshevik" Jew. It still does not add up to the picture, since soldiers in the picture - and indeed the only plausibly idendifiable as "Jewish" soldiers - were standard Polish regiments (which would mean that the picture predates 1939), or maybe - by a big stretch - Armia Krajowa (which had a whole Referat Z'ydowski). Neither were likely to commit such a cynical atrocity - even given AK's anti-Semitism. This is not a pre-execution picture.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Natchalnik

1) It shows ignorance because you're basing your decision to make him somebody else on the fact that he didn't stick his Tallis into his Gartel KeMinhag Chernobyl. Did you ever stop and think that maybe he wasn't wearing a Gartel?!

2) The only ancestors that made it to the Catskills were my parents, and that started in the late 60's (if you must know) My ancestors before that were sweating it out in Oberland trying to raise frum children while yours were frolicking with the local Shkotzim and Shikses in Volhyn.

How do you like them apples?

Ezriel said...

Thank you so much for such an amazing piece.

May I just ask, as someome did above, how Rebbetzin Eichenstein knew the story of the Rebbe getting gunned down - surely not just because she was a relative, rather she must have heard specific info either from a 1st, 2nd, 3rd hand witness etc?

Would the Rebbe be wearing a tallis just to stam give a brocho to some grobbe goyshe chayolim?

Note either the look of utter disgust or deep seriousness on the faceof the galach

U' N' said...

Tzig, that's really a new definition of ignorance; I guess you must resort to it to get yourself out of that klal. You should invest in Websters, Spinke English won't cut it.

When di vest peigeren, maybe you'll get a two day vacation from the warmer places and you'll ask my ancestors what they did with shkotzim and shikses in Volhyn. And based on your patterns of speech, maybe you'll also ask your ancestors whether you're "mutar lovo bekohol", as it's getting more and more doubtful. They obviously failed in their oberlandishe task ...

Hirshel Tzig said...

Turnabout is fair play, my friend. Don't accuse my ancestors of hanging in the Catskills and then get all hot to trot when I make similar accusations.

As far as the "warmer places" after my Peigeren; Don't be so sure.


















About them not being there, I mean.

U' N' said...

Why, you see something wrong with hanging out in Catskills, or in Miami, or wherever it is ? That's where an ingerisher puselkind belongs after all ...

And you can take my word that they won't be in your warmer places, as long as gemora is true. If you ever opened it, you'd know.

berl, crown heights said...

"you'll ask my ancestors what they did with shkotzim and shikses in Volhyn."

shkotzim un shikses in Volhyn heim hein the ancestors in this case...

U' N' said...

berele, did they boot you from FM and TA that you have to peddle your filth here ? A puslkind bleybt a puslkind. Warn your shadchen, maybe they'll find you a shifcha knaanis.

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

we were simple folk, we never knew that we could zindig in Miami and the Catskills and then come back to New York and make as if nothing happened there. The Shtramel was back on and the world was never the wiser. Your zealous friends however, they knew the "ins and outs," and they knew what G-d really wanted; just look good, and I'll be proud of you.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Ezriel

the story says that the "Russian General" told him to put on a Tallis.

U' N' said...

s'dachtzekh mir that berele is that anonymous who got benched here on Rosh HaShono deChassidus. And if he's not, shluchoi shel odom kemoisoi.

מײנע הײליגע זײדעס זינד נמצא אין יעדען חסידישן ספרים שאנק, אפילו אין דײנס; פון מײנע הייליגע זײדענס הקפדה האבן גדולים ושלמים געציטערט. דער זכות פון כ"ק אא"ז נ"ע זאל בײשטעהען אז דיע שונאים װער האט זײ געטשעפעט װעלן זיך שעמען בזה ובבא, ואין תרופה למכותך ,ובלבד שעני חשוב כמת.

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

אפשר ווילסטו מהנה זיין דעם עולם און זאגען ווער זענען די זיידעס דיינע? אז נישט איז שווער צו גלייבן...... נישט מיט אזא גערעדעכטס

U' N' said...

איך האָב געניג פֿאַרשעהמט זײ אין לעהבין, נאך דאס פעלט מיר. אַללעס אין זײַן צײַט.

דיר איז שװער צו גלײבן - און אין בערקע גורארי איז גרינג געװען צו גלײבן ?

Hirshel Tzig said...

וואו קומט אריין בערקע גורארי אין די שמועס?

berl, crown heights said...

ומקללך אאור

U' N' said...

עהר האָט אױכעט זײדעס געהאַט. אָבער נײן ?

Hirshel Tzig said...

יע, צוויי, כ"ק אדמו"ר מהריי"צ נ"ע, און הרה"ח ר' מנחם מענדל גורארי' ז"ל

די שאלה איז : צי האט ער געוואוסט פון זיי? ס'איז אים אנגעגאנגען וואס סיי ערווארטען פון אים? אבער דאס האט נישט צו דעם שמועס

by the way: I'm not sure why you used the term Peygeren when referring to my death. Yet, when someone makes an assumption about Ukranian dress codes amongst Rabbonim you get all upset. Why do you allow yourself to curse and shout while not allowing others the same courtesy?

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

Also, remember that I learned in the illustrious Spinka Yeshiva, so I must've opened a Gemorroh in my life, right?

berl, crown heights said...

איך האב דעם מנובל'ן גערופן "ערב רב" און פון די רייד זיינע דערהערט האב איך אז דער רוס האט אין זיך עפעס א ניט אידישע בלוט אריינגעמישט. דאס איז אבער אלץ גיווען נאר פון א שמעק. איצטער אבער, בראיתי איך נפגע נרעש הוא מדברי, אלמא אמת, נכון הדבר - אין התועבה הזו מישראל !

Guravitzer said...

"פון מײנע הייליגע זײדענס הקפדה האבן גדולים ושלמים געציטערט"

אהא, נאטשאלניק איז הולך בדרך אבותיו...

Mottel said...

Kovel . . .
A segment of my extended family came from there.

U' N' said...

Tzig,

לשון פגירה הנאמר בך comes from that lekhoira you're not getting up, and that's not an easy thing to say. You not just partake in the nivul, you're the ba'al hakretshme. When was the last time you stood up for anything other then your petty getchke ? Di sheppst naches fun es - shom tihye pegiraschem.

The rest of these I won't touch, other thenאין עונשין אלא אם כן מזהירין .

Berele - "ומקללך אאור" iz nisht gezugt far mamzeirim. ארור אתה בצאתך

berl, crown heights said...

"ומקללך אאור" iz nisht gezugt far mamzeirim"

Really? Where does it says so?

I have to say, it's a lot of fun seeing you, dirty slavic wash-basin, come apart at the seems and 'loose it'. :) Thank you for the freak show!

mendel the militant sheichet said...

Hirshel, I just wanetd to note that I don't think the soldier with a blade is holding a bayonet. It looks alot more like a sword being hald at face height pointed inward in parade fashion. In addition the "2" can very well be some sort of parade related motion.

But most importantly - those are not Russian soldiers. Although they are sporting SKS rifles, those were also made and used by others including the Chinese and the Polish...but this does tell us something, as will be seen.

The closer though is the uniforms which are clearly not Red Army uniforms (the helmet being the biggest giveaway)but look alot more like Polish uniforms and helmets. Also the officer has what appears to be a polish officer's hat (as opposed to the flat-topped russian cap with nisignia on front which holds true for both imperial army and red army)and I'm pretty sure he has the collar "squiggles" of the Polish officer.

Note, the guns tell us that it was not the imperial russian era because those guns weren't around yet.

U' N' said...

berele, I'm always glad to lighten you up. After all, you're a מורח ודאין ממש ממש, and ממשותא דרײַטצעך און פֿרײטצעך to have such a pillar. Looks like you sniffed at the wrong place, alas. Anyway, you can get back with the Tzig's Yat Kislev gevinchte crowd.

Tzig, the cockles of your heart must be warm as well. װען דו װײסט אױף װעמען זײ האָבן דעם פּיסק געעפֿפֿענט, דו שױן װאָלט צום יענעם קבר נישט געלאָפֿפֿען נאָר געפֿלױגן. מילא בערעל, עהר גלײבט דאָך אין גורנישט, נעבעך אַן אַטעיִסט אַ ממזר. מילא דער אַנדערער װער האָט דעם ייטב לב מיט חתם סופר דאָ געשאָלטען - עהר'ז נעבעך אַ ציוניסט. אָבער דו, װאָס איז דײַן הנאַה ? צו דו גלײבסט אױך אין גאָרנישט ?

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

איך האב קיינעם נישט געשאלטען, איך בין דיר נאר חושד, לויט דיין שפראך, אז דו האקסט סתם א טשייניק און ביסט סתם עפעס א יאלד. אז דו זאגסט אז דו האסט "גרויסע זיידעס" דארפסטו פריער זאגען ווער זיי זענען, און אז נישט שטעל איך דיר אף די חזקה אז דו ביסט סתם א בלאפער

און אוודאי דו דארפסט קיינעם נישט איבערבעטן פאר דיינע רייד, אה
????

U' N' said...

Tzig,

Shtell vus di villst vi di villst, אַפֿילו עצָמות אין גוף אַרײַן . I'm not try to borrow money from you; I'm warning you and your filthy crowd that they should concentrate on bashing those who are present here, and not the ancestors, because not just that it can, but it WILL come back and bite them in the rear end. Some with money, some with health and some with worse. You don't have to "believe" me; I'd never suspect you of believing in anything. If I wanted to bluff, I'd pick a random name that would sure have you running for cover, but as I said long time ago, I'll do my best to avoid bringing new names here. But there is no ignorance excuse henceforth (not that it will make any difference for you).

You have a problem with my "reyd" ? I'm sorry for offending your non-sensibilities. You and your commenters have besmirched pretty much everyone from "Mendy the Plumber" through "Moishy Teitelbaum the busdriver", "Presburger separatisten", "Sighete faking non-chassidim" and anyone in between, before or after. And any commenter that didn't lick your party line got a fistful as well, - like Tzog's 19 Kislev blessings or berele dem mamzer's jumping out of nowhere with the yichus brif, none of that caught your attention but my reyd. You're sad, blind creatures who subscribe to "leis din veleis dayan", overtly wrapped in the נחת רוח פֿאַר אַ טױטען excuse. If you really that anonymous spitting on Yeitev Lev will score you points with your ראש ורישון - well, I guess that was your take home from the "chassidus" shiur. In his life, he suffered from misnagdim like no other, and was the humblest of people, so hidden that his children left him and went to a different hoif. And yet, one page of Y"L has more Chassidus then volumes upon volumes churned out by the voluminous darshonim of our days.

פֿאַרײַן יעדע בריה האָט אַ תכלית, און דײַן תכלית איז צו װײַזען גאַנצען װעלט װאָס טאַקע שטײט אין ענקערע פּסוק און װאָס ענקערע כאַסידעס קען מאַכען פֿון אַ מענטש.

Anonymous said...

>Anonymous: what did Jewish soldiers look like then? did they wear their Tzitzis out?>

Jews and Slavs, as a rule, have very different facial features, among other differences.

mendel the sheichet said...

meh...there are plenty of Jews who can fit in seamlessly with the slavs as far as facial features and vice verca. Unless they're parading with their pants down (sadly nowadays even that wouldn't tell you) there would be no sure way to tell.

btw, I'm pretty sure that pic is just before WWII because the uniform and weaponry seem to fit the WWII era but the polish army was likely free of Jews after WWII (because they had just helped the Nazis kill them all) so good chance we're looking at just prior to WWII.

berl, crown heights said...

slavic wash-basin,
you really must go back on your pills! what a bunch on incoherent drivel you are spewing:
"I'm not try borrow money"... "a random name that would sure have you running for cover"... "Tzog's 19 Kislev blessings".... "ראש ורישון"... "ענקערע כאַסידעס"??????

Anonymous said...

Gimme a break!!!!

It is obvious to anyone with two eyes that, as a rule, Poles and Jews have totally different facial features.

The exceptions(s) don't prove the rule!!

mendel the sheichet said...

Different facial features my nose...I spent a good 2 years in the Ukraine and although there is takeh a "Slav" look and a "Jewish" look, it is far from a rule to the point where you could look at someone and say "er iz a yid, er iz nisht" with any degree of certainty...sometimes, yes - but not all of the time or even most of the time. Many of the Yiddishe kids in Ukraine are completely indistinguishable from their slavic neighbors as far as facial features go...but that's just to us mediocre people - you and my grandmother can tell with one eye shut.

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

let me put this simply: If we don't know who you're talking about then we can't have said anything negative about him, right? Simple as that. But I appreciate the fact that you've now become a fortune-teller too.

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous! Few Jewslook like Ukranians/Poles and few Ukranians/Poles look like Jews. And the same goes for most of the nations of Europe.

And eventhough there is hardly a Jewish magazine or store that doesn't always show blonde-hair blue-eyed kids in every photo, most Jews are darker and have slightly different facial features and there is certainly nothing inferior about it. Get over it!