Einhorn's publication in 1949 of his Wolkowysker Yizkor
Book not only provided a comprehensive picture of the
history of the Jewish community of that town and the fate of
its Jews; it also included several chapters on events during
the German occupation of the neighboring towns. Further
information about the book is available
"The Incidents in Porozvo," tells in seven pages of the fate of the
approximately 600 Jews living in the town in 1941. That chapter, in the original Yiddish, is reproduced here. The translation
of it that appears
below is the work of
Jacob Solomon Berger, who undertook the monumental task of
translating and republishing not only the Einhorn book, but
two other works on Volkovysk: Hurban Volkovysk (1942)
and Volkovysk (1988). He graciously gave permission to reprint his translation of the Porozow chapter
here. Anyone interested in purchasing this work, or his
other translations of Yizkor books from Zelwa, Dereczin or
Zamosc is welcome to contact him via
The entire table
of contents of the Einhorn book, and the translations of a
few of its chapters can be seen elsewhere on the web by
and to search for a list of locations where you can
find the entire
The Incidents in
Porozow - English Translation
Based on the Information of Dr. Marek
Dr. Marek Kaplan, the son of Shmuel Kaplan, came to
Porozovo under the Russians, in the year 1939, and became
the chief physician of the hospital in Bogudenka, about a
half mile from Porozovo. The hospital was put in place in an
old palace of the nobility. There were seventy beds
installed there. – Dr. M. Einhorn.
Porozovo had within it a small Jewish community of
people. There were four
large streets there, and a couple of smaller streets. Most
of the Jews were workers, and small businessmen, and there
was also a small number of farmers.
The Incidents in Porozow - Original
Clicking on the image will yield an enlarged view of the
The condition of the Jews was not particularly good under
the Russian regime. All the workers joined collectives, and
this is how they made a living. The small business people
were, however, severely impacted by these events. Their
stores were shut down, and they didn’t know what form of
livelihood to pursue. By contrast, the circumstances of the
few farmers was not altered at all. They continued to work
as they had in the past.
These circumstances persisted in Porozovo from the
1939 to approximately June 22, 1941, until the outbreak
of the war between Germany and Russia.
The Jews of Porozovo found out about the German attack
against the Russians at 12 o’clock, noon on June 22, 1941.
That day though, passed by peacefully.
On Monday, June 23, one could then already sense a
heavy movement of Russian military around Porozovo. The
people were very upset by that day. One did not know where
one stood in the world.
On the morrow, Tuesday June 24 the first German
transports appeared in the area. From the outskirts of the
town one could hear the exchange of fire between the German
and Russian armies.
On Wednesday morning, heavy fire started outside and around
the town, as well as inside the town itself. A large fire
broke out, and a large part of the town, from the
Volkovysk Gasse to the river, was burned down, including
the Schulhof, the
old and new Bet HaMedrash,
the Community House, and many other houses.
Approximately one-fifth of the town burned down on that day,
even though on average, there were not many Jewish dwellings
in that area. Out of fear, the Jewish population hid
themselves, and the fire was not even fought. This was the
first taste of German brutality tasted by the Jews of
The German soldiers ran amok all over the town. In their
desire to take revenge for the strong resistance put up by
the Russians, they fell upon the Jewish neighborhood and
made a wreckage of it. Many Jews were shot on that day
without any reason given. Among them were the
family, including their grandson (two years old), Isaac
Novick, Kulakowski and others.
It continued this way for the entire day of Wednesday,
during which time the Germans wrecked the Jewish
neighborhood of Porozovo. During the night from Wednesday to
Thursday, however, the Russians again regained the upper
hand, and after a longer battle, they re-entered the town
from the Novy-Dvor side.
On the evening of the following day, Thursday, a new German
command arrived with a military detachment, and once again
drove the Russians out of Porozovo.
The Life of the Porozovo Jews Under the Nazis
The town now really passed into German hands. A young German
lieutenant, the senior officer of the local German army
detachment, set up his residence in the home of the priest,
and issued his demands from there. The Jews of the town were
immediately ordered to wear white armbands and a yellow Star
He set up a local Christian administration, with
Radivinsky in charge.
Myedver was installed as
The Jews were ordered to set up a Judenrat.
Unfortunately, no one wanted to participate in it, because
everyone knew the dismal consequences tied up in this
involvement. Finally, Lev the Baker was designated as
the head, and [A]vigdor Trop – his deputy. One week
later, the German commander left Porozovo, and the real
authority for a period of several months was the Polish
Burgomaster Radivinsky. The relationship of the
Polish administrative leadership to the Judenrat was
more or less satisfactory. During the course of the three
months from September to November 1941, the Jews of Porozovo,
on average, lived peacefully, despite the fact that their
economic circumstances were straitened, and the news that
they received from the outside was disquieting. During the
first week of their occupation of Novy Dvor, near Porozovo,
where approximately fifty Jews lived, the Germans drove out
all the Jews to Pruzhany.
A German police station was created in Porozovo in
1941, in which there were from 4 to 6 policemen. They
occupied themselves principally with sending packages back
to their families in Germany.
The Judenrat, in the meantime, was able to buy its
way out of many decrees by bribing the town administration.
In November 1941 the first government commissar
arrived in Porozovo, who distinguished himself even more
than the others in his ability to accept bribery at every
turn and opportunity.
This was the way it stayed for about six months. Decrees
were issued against the Jews, but the Judenrat would
buy off the command, and one would resume daily life. The
news coming from other towns in the area, such as Slonim,
and the towns further to the east, like Zelevianka, that
were on the border of the Third Reich, were however, very
disquieting. During this time, more and more refugees came
from the vicinity. It fell to the Judenrat to buy off the
command, and obtain permission for them to remain in
Circumstances, however, changed at the end of the
of 1942, when the first commissar left Porozovo, and a
second commissar took his place, who also took bribes, but
despite this caused the Jews a great deal of trouble.
Two weeks after his arrival, he forcibly drove all the Jews
out of their houses one night to the marketplace, and during
that time, conducted a search of the Jewish houses with the
objectives of trying to find partisans. By this means, he
emptied the houses of all their valuables.
Two Jews were also shot that night – the Dyer and a
second person, from Slonim. After this search, which
was conducted by the Germans with the cooperation of the
Polish police, the Jews were permitted to return to their
A week later, all the young people in the town were
arrested. The young people were kept in jail for a week, and
a number of them were severely beaten. Thanks to the
intervention of the Judenrat with bribes, they were
At that time there was no ghetto in Porozovo, but all the
Jewish craftsmen were compelled to perform forced labor for
the Germans, ten hours a day. They worked on the new road
that the Germans were building between Porozovo and
Volkovysk. The Judenrat was compelled to provide 25
young workers to work on the road between Volkovysk and
Already at that time, the end of the summer of 1942,
rumors were heard about a Jewish ghetto for the Jewish
population of Porozovo, and despite the fact that this
decree was dependent on the commissar, this time it could
not be averted. The ghetto was created along the full length
of two small streets, between the Kosciolna
Zapolye, and then by the Novy Dvor Gasse. All the Jews of
Porozovo were then ordered to concentrate themselves there.
Despite the fact that the population was not very large, the
area was entirely too small for everyone. The overcrowding
in the ghetto was entirely too great. There was not enough
for everyone to eat, and the sanitary conditions were very
It only took a month, and symptoms of disease due to hunger
and bad hygienic conditions began to manifest themselves.
Almost all the capable workers were working on the roads,
and it was nearly impossible to bring in any additional food
into the ghetto.
The Expulsion of the Porozovo Jews
On October 30, a notice spread throughout the town
that the Germans had hired five hundred wagons from the
Christians for the coming Sunday night. The wagons were
readied in the nearby villages of Podoroisk and Lisokovo.
This notice did not in fact upset the Jewish populace of
Porozovo, because they could not imagine that in driving
them out of the town, that the Germans would resort to using
At three o’clock in the morning the head of the
was summoned to the commander of the local police, along
with the Rabbi and
Dr. Marek Kaplan. An order
was read to them according to which all the Jews in the
Volkovysk area were to be brought to one camp for work
purposes. Everyone is permitted to take along food for two
days, work clothes, two sets of underwear, two covers and
all valuables, such as gold and jewelry. The order was for
the Jews of Porozovo to gather in the space of a couple of
hours, that is to say, by six o’clock in the morning, on the
And that, indeed, is how it happened. At the appointed hour,
the entire Jewish population of Porozovo was gathered with
their packs on the marketplace. After the people had stood
for three hours in great cold, they were taken in rows of
five, at ten o’clock in the morning, and driven in the
direction of Volkovysk. The old and the sick, who could not
go, remained behind in the town. Mothers and small children
were permitted to ride in the wagons.
Approximately 50 people remained behind in the Porozovo
ghetto (the old and the sick). Of these, approximately 30
were brought to Volkovysk a couple of days later, and the
rest were taken by the Germans to the Novy Dvor Forest and
The March to Volkovysk
The march to Volkovysk
- almost half of the way,
no one was permitted to stop and sit for even a minute. The
men were driven brutally with staves, and under a hail of
gunfire. The train extended for a length of between two and
When the womenfolk could no longer continue under their
own power, the Germans beat the mercilessly. However, when a
majority of the people began to stop, the commander ordered
that the weaker be permitted to ride on the wagons, because
he could see that he could not get them to move any faster
by beating them, and his order was to get the Jews to
Volkovysk by a designated hour.
In the end, the marching Jews arrived in Volkovysk at
ten o'clock in the evening.
There, they were driven into the barracks. To overseer of
the barracks was the "Baker with the Adam's Apple."
Dr. [M]arek Kaplan remained with the Porozovo Jews
for a period of two weeks. He then fell ill, and he was
taken to the hospital in the Volkovysk bunkers. This was
A short few days later, at the end of November, the Jews
of Porozovo were sent out from the Volkovysk bunkers on the
second transport, and all were exterminated. It was in this
way that nearly the entire Jewish population of Porozovo was
wiped out, except for those few who managed to save
themselves by joining the partisans.
It was possible for Zaydl Trop and
Khananovich to remain behind with the seventeen hundred
others in the Volkovysk bunkers. They were later sent from
there with the final transport to Auschwitz.
and Zaydl Trop remained in the Auschwitz labor camp
together with 280 people from Volkovysk, but both perished
in the camp.
© 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Scott D. Seligman