בושאַוויץ – בהושאויצ׳י – Bahushevichy – Багушэвічы – Bogushvichi

בילדותי אהבתי לשמוע מפי אבא כיצד גדל בכפר קטן ברוסיה הלבנה בשם בושאַוויץ (יידיש) – בהושאויצ׳י (בלארוסית) – בוגושאויצ׳י (רוסית) באימפריה הרוסית. במשך עשרים שנה בהם אבינו, אברהם זלמן כהן, התגורר שם, הכפר עמד במרכז מאבקים בינלאומיים. הביוגרפיה של אברהם זלמן כהן היא ספר היסטוריה שלם. ״רוסיה הלבנה״ באימפריה הרוסית הפכה לחזית המלחמת העולם הראשונה, נכבשה לחילופין על ידי כוחות גרמנים, קומוניסטים ״אדומים״, צבא האנטי-בולשביקים ״הלבנים״, וצבא פולין. לאחר כל זה בושאַוויץ צורפה לברית המועצות. אבינו ז״ל, אברהם זלמן כהן (1903-1987) היה היחיד במשפחתו ששרד מפני שהוא זכה לצאת מבלארוס עוד לפני השואה. אברהם זלמן כהן למד בישיבת Lapichy/Lapitchi Yeshiva.כל יהודי לפיצ׳י נרצחו על ידי הנאצים בשנים 1941-42. אברהם זלמן היה בן בכור שביעי ברצף. אב סבו בנימין כהן היה בכור. סבו אברהם זלמן כהן היה בכור. אביו אליהו צבי כהן היה בכור. אביו גם היה בן בכור. ניסיתי לקנות את הבכורה מאחותי Sara Lee כדי להיות הבכור השמיני אך היא לא הסכימה.

בוגושביץ
בוגושביץ

ציונות בבוגושביץ – Zionism in Bogushevichi

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: "Soon the Revolution broke out, the German army occupied our part of the country, then the Polish army took over, and then came the Bolsheviks. Then came the Balfour Declaration and with it the hope arose for the Jewish people to finally get a corner in the world where they shall have their own home, especially when it will be "Eretz Yisrael". In our town came a representative of the Zionists selling "Nachalos", that is settlements in Israel. Many Jews were buying, so my father bought a "nachalah". After the Russian army came in, contact was lost with the outside world and with Palestine, so I don't know whatever happened to the transaction. The records were lost, for all I know I own a piece of land in some part of Israel. Folks started a movement to go to "Eretz Yisrael". Some started to make preparations and some did go, too. From our town, including myself, five boys started to get documents ready to go to Israel. This was under the German occupation. Travel was free anywhere. The border was at that time the River Berezina and this was near to us. So we sent in our affidavits and requests for passports on a Thursday, hoping to get them by Monday. But over the weekend the Bolsheviks made an offensive and crossed the Berezina and the Germans retreated. The Communists occupied the country and every border was closed. There was no travel anywhere, and so it happened that my trip to Israel was stopped. Otherwise, I would have been in Israel all these years, almost as long as Ben Gurion."

Bogushevichi is captured by one army after another – כיבוש בושאוויץ על ידי צבאות שונים

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: ״The Revolution came for a time. The Polish army occupied our country. They were miserable. Shooting and looting and robbing, especially Jews. Every Jew was considered a Communist. Then the German army came and this is for the record: the German army behaved the most civilized. They did not mistreat people. As an occupying army, they could and did requisition houses, sometime allowing the owner to live in part of it. Sometimes the owner had to move. In our house, which was quite large, five soldiers were stationed which took up half of the house and as it turned out they were very polite. I remember one explaining to father that in Germany everybody is equal. There is no difference between Jew and non-Jew. They were so respectful that knowing that the house and the dishes were "kosher", they did not want to cook in the oven and any cooking they did, they did outside. It is hard to conceive that a people, not the same individuals, but of the same culture, would turn out to be the monstrous Nazi killers.״

אבינו, אברהם זלמן כהן, בורח מבושאויץ

אבינו,אברהם זלמן כהן, לא להסכים להתגייס לצבא ולשרת את הקומוניסטים המרושעיםהממשלה נהגה לגזול מאזרחיה ולהחרים רכוש פרטי. הלאימו בתים, עסקים ובתי כנסת – כל דבר שראו עיניהם חמדו. הממשלה לא התחשבה במצב האזרח או תנאי מחייתו. עבודתו וחסכונותיו של כל חייו חוסלו בין רגע.

Abraham Zalman wrote: You dealt with a government that existed on legalized robbery and confiscation. They confiscated homes, businesses, synagogues, anything that they laid their eyes on, giving no thought or consideration to people's condition or circumstances. The work and savings of a lifetime was gone. To teach a child Hebrew was against the law. To circumcise a child was prohibited and punished by jail terms or exile to Siberia.

סבי, אליהו צבי כהן, היה מיודד עם המפקד הצבאי, ראש העיר, מנהל הדואר, וגם עם השוטר היחיד הכפר. הידידות היתה שימושית אך כמובן שהמחיר היה גבוה "חאבאר" שוחד. אבל זה היה שווה כל רובל כאשר הגיע מועד הגיוס שלי. תמורת בקבוק וודקה לשתייה במקום ועוד בקבוק לשתות בבית, המפקד הצבאי של המחוז, " וולוסטס" העניק לאברהם זלמן כהן תעודה שהוא שנה יותר צעיר. לכן לא נקרא לצבא. אליהו צבי עשה כך גם לחבר של בנו, הלל זאכארין, וגם הוא לא גויס. אליהו צבי הציע לעשות כן לעוד ארבעה חברים אך הם סירבו. הם היו פטריוטים מדי.

יום אחד אברהם זלמן היה בבית הבד ואחותו ציפורה רצה להגיד לו שהקומיסר מחפש אותו. אברהם זלמן ידע מיד במה מדובר. כבר חיכה לזה. שבוע לפני כן, במוצאי שבת חשוך, אחד מארבעת החברים שאליהו צבי הציע להם לזייף עבורם את תעודות הזהות שלהם בא לבית וקרא לאברהם זלמן החוצה. השלושה האחרים חיכו בחוץ. הם בישרו לאברהם זלמן שהם נקראו להתגייס לצבא. הם יצטרכו לעזוב את בתיהם וללכת לשרת ואולי ללכת למלחמה. הם ידעו שאברהם זלמן לא יצטרך להתגייס כי תאריך הלידה שלי שונה בתעודת הזהות שלי. הם דרשו לשלם להם סכום מסוים שהם ישאירו למשפחות שלהם. כל אלה היו בחורים שאיתם אברהם זלמן גדל.

אז יום אחד הגיע מכתב מאמריקה מדוד יעקב בוברוב, אח של סבתי שרה לאה, עם תצהירים (affidavit) עבור אברהם זלמן ועבור אחותו ציפ'ה לבוא לאמריקה. זאת היתה מתנה מן השמיים. כך הוא היה יכול להסתלק מרוסיה הקומוניסטית הארורה ולא לשרת בצבא האדום למשך שנתיים. אחותו ציפ'ה סירבה ללכת. היא לא הסכימה לעזוב את הילדים לבד בלי אמה – שהרי סבתי שרה לאה נפתרה במגפת השפעת הספרדית ב-1918. כל בני המשפחה הסכימו שאברהם זלמן, הבן הבכור, צריך לנסוע. שמרו את העניין בסוד כי הוא היה כבר בגיל גיוס וכבר השתתף באימונים קדם-צבאיים. זה לא היה בא בחשבון לבקש דרכון. היה צריך לחצות בהתגנבות את הגבול ואת זה צריך לעשות מהר. במפעל לעיבוד עורות היה צריך להשלים את הטיפול בשלושים וחמישה עורות עגלים וכדי לגמור אותם עבדתי בלילה האחרון שלו בבית. הוא עבד במשך כל אותו הלילה. סבא אליהו צבי סידר ידיד משפחה שיחליף אותו בניהול מפעל העורות.

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: It so happened that the parents and two sisters of my friend, Reuven, were getting ready to travel to America. They had a son and a daughter who sent them affidavits to come to America. The parents and sisters could get passports and travel legally, but Reuven was also of military age and could not get a passport. I spoke to him and asked him if he would want to travel with me. We would try and cross the border together. After consulting with his parents, he agreed. He did not care to remain the only one of his family in Russia. We left home together.

Now we had no plan where to go whom to contact. But I, being in the smuggling and black market, knew that we can always get contact with people who are in the know. The general direction we knew we had to travel across to Latvia towards the Polish border. We got to a town by the name of Dagoa, about 60 vyorst from the border. We stopped in a boarding house and started to get information. Sure enough a man showed up and started to ask us questions. "How we are traveling? How many bags we have with us? What clothing we have?" Now this is where my experience paid off. When we left home, I insisted that I do not want to travel with any baggage, since I heard enough what happens to people with baggage. Most of the time they are robbed and some instances murdered while crossing. I did not take anything with me and insisted that Reuven not take anything with him. When this man started to ask about clothing and baggage, he did not believe his ears. "How do you travel without any extra clothing?" But I assured him that we travel just the way we are and that on the other side our friends will supply us with whatever we need. When we left home I made up with Reuven to let me make the deal with the agent because I knew that these types will soak from a candidate as mush as they can. I just took with $20 American money and a ten ruble gold piece Tzarist. Although Reuven had with him $100 American money, I insisted that I should deal for both of us. When I started to talk to the man, he wanted $50 from each of us for crossing the border. I told him that he was crazy. We did not have that kind of money. All we had was $ 40 for both of us. First he was jumping to the ceiling, but seeing that it did not help he quieted down,

I explained to him that this is all the money we had. My ten ruble gold piece was sewn on as a button on my sheep skin coat. I explained to the man that he was not dealing with old people or women with children, and we will not be any burden to him for either walking or running. He agreed. He gave us the plan. We will start out from this town, and where we will stop in a village to stay over night, who will pick us up from there to a farm just on the border where a man will walk us across at night. The border was a creek. On my insistence he agreed to take twenty dollars on our first stop and the rest when we crossed over. I must say he turned out to be a very honest man. The actual proceeding went as to his original plan without a hitch. The man to take us across the border turned out to be a Latvian farmer about 50 years old with a long black beard. The snow was very high with large drifts around the creek. In some places it reached up to our armpits. This poor man was sinking in the snow and Reuven and I had to dig him out time and again but soon we were over the border and in a house with a big fire burning in the oven, with a nice warm meal. It was heaven. We were in Latvia and out of Russia at last.

דודו יעקב בוברוב (Jacob Bobrov) שלח לו תעודת Sponsor שאיפשר לו להיכנס לארה״ב. אברהם זלמן ברח מרוסיה הקומוניסטית דרך גבול ליטה. בריגה שבלטביה הוא זכה לסיוע של הג׳וינט. מריגה הוא הפליג באניה מ-המבורג שבגרמניה והגר לארה״ב בשנת 1923. הוא הגיע ב-4 ביולי יום העצמאות של ארה״ב. היו פיצוצי זיקוקי די-נור מסביב לנמל בוסטון ואברהם זלמן חשב שגם בארצות הברית יש מלחמה.

 Jacob Bobrov's son, Capt. Sol A. Bobrov was killed in action in the Pacific in WWII. His photo in uniform is displayed in the Ossining Historical Society.

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: We were visiting the HIAS office daily and met with various people. This one has a brother in Argentina. The other one says he has a friend in Mexico. One more knows somebody in Cuba. In all these countries there is no quota. One can pick himself up tomorrow and go there. Some were talking about going but the truth is there were not many takers, but after some weeks going around doing nothing, we got restless and we started to toy with the idea. What if we try to go to Cuba? If we like it, we will stay, and if not, within two years we could go to America, and it did not look so bad to us anymore. So we decided to ask permission to go to Cuba. I was made spokesman, for one thing everyone else from our group was afraid to approach him. Another thing, I knew a little German, perhaps this will help. So one morning, we five ask permission to talk to the director and that was like meeting the Czar, he sitting there in his office holding our future in his hands. He listened to my proposition which I presented as best I could, then he let us have it, in a loud authoritative voice he started on us. "You just left a country of war. You went through the Revolution, and now you want to go to Cuba or Mexico where there are revolutions every year, when by waiting a couple of more months you can go to America. No, I will not allow it. You stay here and wait." He went on more and more to preach to us telling us that we will someday be thankful to him for his advice. I suppose we owe that man many thanks. Naturally, we gave up the Cuban idea and stayed.

Note that the signature on the Declaration of Alien About to Depart for the US reads: Abram Z. Kagan.

קוריוז חסידי אודות השם ״אבארהם זלמן

קוריוז חסידי אודות השם אברהם זלמן
קוריוז חסידי אודות השם אברהם זלמן

Bogushevichi Landsmanshcaft in New York – לנדסמנשפט בניו יורק

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: In my first years in New York, I tried to set up a landsmanschaft organization from our people who came from Bushavitz. I tried to contact some of my countrymen and found one, Reb Chayim. He was a brother-in-law of Yaakov, the butcher, whom I knew very well. But this Chayim, who was married to Tzipa, Yaakov's sister, him I did not know but I met him in New York. He was an interesting person. He was many years in America but did not know how to read or write. However, he managed to speak a little English. He knew where each of our country people lived and there were quite many. He knew which train to take and where to get off and how many blocks to walk to the right or left and how many floors to walk up. It was unbelievable how he managed to store up all this knowledge in his mind. So he took me around to get acquainted with the people. Some knew me as a child and some did not know me but everyone knew my father, and when I explained to them my purpose most of them agreed. But the trouble was transportation. Some lived in Brooklyn, some in the Bronx, and some in Paterson, NJ. None yet had cars at that time, so some kind of central point had to be set up so it would suit to most people so I hired a meeting room in the "Forverts" Newspaper Building and sent out handwritten invitation cards to all the addresses which this Chayim provided for me and to the first meeting we had thirteen people attending, which was not bad. They all thought well of the idea.

We all decided to call the organization The Bushavitzer Benevolent Association. I borrowed a constitution booklet from some other organization and we set up a committee to study and outline a constitution for our organization. My chief assistant and moral support was one Mordechai Kurnick who came to New York not long before me. He was a married man. He had one son in America for a long time and he came to America with one son a few years younger than me and one grown daughter. She was and intelligent young lady from home. She played the piano and all around cultural for Bushavitz.

He, this Mordechai, was a very good friend of my father and it was his hope that we set up a landsmanschaft organization and start a synagogue of our own and bring over my father as a Rabbi. Many of the immigrants in New York were doing this. It was self-preservation with an organization and some kind of a prayer house. They managed to keep together and also be of assistance to one another in time of need. Encouraged from the first meeting, we called another one in a month, but the attendance started to dwindle. We had several meetings. I was the unofficial secretary and manager, but at that time it was that I settled in Peekskill, and this is an hour travel to Grand Central and then first to downtown. It was really a problem, but I held on for a few months in the hope that we will succeed to set up an organization and I will be able to bring my father over as a Rabbi outside of the quota. Since the organization did not seem to progress and it was so hard to get people interested enough to do some work, I dropped the idea and did not follow it up anymore.

 

מפת הבריחה מבוגושביץ לריגה – Map of the escape route from Bogushavichi to Riga, Latvia

Abraham Zalman after arriving in USA
Abraham Zalman after arriving in USA

 

אברהם זלמן כהן עבר בסתר את הגבול בחורף 1922-3 לליטא והלאה לריגה, לטביה – ומשם לנמל המבורג בגרמניה להפליג ביוני 1924 לארה״ב האניה "Mt. Clinton". הוא היחיד במשפחה לעזב – איש במשפחתו לא שרד את את הכיבוש הנאצי. הבטחתי לעצמי לנסוע לכל הישובים בהם התגוררו בני משפחתי ולהגיד קדיש לזכרם.

מפת איזור בושאַוויץ  – Map of the area of Bahushevichy

Bogushevich is  a village in Belarus (White Russia) a few km south of the Minsk-Mogilev Highway and on the river Usa, a tributary of the Berezina, between Cherven and Berezino. The population for the year 2010 – 386 people. It is only 30 km to the closest railway station Osipovichi – Grodzyanka. There are a marina and a water mill in Bogushevich. Two regular fairs are held. The Church of Corpus Christi, of the XIX Century in a local architectural monument.

מפת איזור בושאַוויץ  – Map of the area of Bahushevichy

בושאוויץ  – Bahushevichy – Багушэвічы

בושאוויץ – בהושאויצ׳י היא כפר קטן במחוז מינסק (Мінская вобласць), ראיון (חלוקה מנהלית) ברזינו-Беразіно, של בלארוס (רוסיה הלבנה). העיירה ממוקמת על גדות נהר Вусе-Usa, שמונים וחמישה ק״מ דרומית-מזרחית ממינסק, 25 ק״מ מזרחית מצ'רוון-Чэрвень-Červień, ו-21 ק״מ דרומית-מערבית מ-Byerazino- Беразіно́. [אין לבלבל את שם העיירה עם הזמרת Polina Sergeyevna Bogusevich שזכתה  ב-Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017].

Богушевичи_1613
Богушевичи_1613 – Map of Bogushevichi 1613

     תחנת הרכבת הקרובה אוספוביצ׳י- Closest Railroad: Osipovichi

Closest Railroad: Osipovichi
Closest Railroad to Bogushvichi: Osipovichi

jewishgen.org

 

(Bahushevichy in Geographical dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries (in Polish  – באנציקלופדיה פולנית

כפר בושאַוויץ תועד באנציקלופדיה פולנית שפורסמה.

Geographical dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries
Geographical dictionary of the Kingdom of  Poland and other Slavic countries 1880–1902

 

Bogushevichi 1927
Map of the village of Bogushevichi 1927 – בושאַוויץ 1927

Map of the Village of Bahushevichy – מפת הכפר בושאַוויץ

The Church of Corpus Christi – כנסיית קורפוס כריסטי בכפר בושאַוויץ – Kostelnaya Gora

כנסיית קורפוס קריסטי הקתולית שוכנת במרכז העיירה. במקור היא היתה בית הלוויות הפרטי של משפחת Svjentarzhetski. בית העשיר נשרף על ידי השלטון הצאר של רוסיה האימפריאלית כעונש להשתתפות המשפחה במרד של 1863. הכנסייה ובית הקברות היהודי הישן עומדים על ״תל״ פרה-היסטורי המכונה ״Church Mountain Kastselishcha״. הממצאים הארכיאולוגים של התל מתיחסים לתרבות Milograd and Zarubinetsky cultures.

The church was built as a family tomb of Tadeusz  Sventorzhecki, Minsk district marshal. It was part of the estate and park ensemble, which belonged to them until 1863 and was burned by order of Governor Muravyov as the property of the leader of the uprising of 1863–64. In 1869, the Catholic chapel was rebuilt. The church is in the village center, on the left bank of the river Usa (next to the old Jewish cemetery), in the area of the ancient archaeological hill with Milograd and Zarubinetsky cultures. In Soviet times the temple in Bogushevich was closed, and in 2000 was returned to the Catholics, and is now a branch of the parish Berezino.

Ornamental window lintels (lishtvy – ліштвы)

As with embroidered patterns and symbols on traditional national costumes, the motifs and styles of ornamental window lintels (lishtvy) differ from region to region.  In Bahushevichy, in addition to stylized snakes and dragons similar to what one finds in other areas, there are many examples of more abstract representations of animals (fish?) and geometric patterns.

Lishtva-Bahushevichy
Lishtva-Bahushevichy

Bogushevichi Archaeology ארכיולוגיה בבושאוויץ

On the left side of the Usa River there is a hillfort with ancient archaeological cultures. On this hillfort are the Church of Corpus Christi and the old Jewish cemetery of Bogushevichi. The Milograd culture is an archaeological culture, lasting from about the 7th century BC to the 1st century AD. Geographically, it corresponds to present day southern Belarus and northern Ukraine, in the area of the confluence of the Dnieper and the Pripyat, north of Kiev. Their ethnic origin is uncertain. In the 60s there were digs. Archaeologist uncovered here: flint, iron, bronze temporal ring, ceramics , and crucibles.

Milagrad culture map Photo: Demitrius
Milagrad culture map
Photo: Demitrius

The Zarubinetsky culture is an archaeological culture, lasting from about the second century BC to the second century AD. The tribes of the Zarubintsi culture chose steep banks of rivers for settlements, walled them with a fence (fence, palisade) and built rectangular houses-mud huts. In the settlements, a large number of stucco ceramics, harpoons, hand grindstones, grain-crops, pestles, and fibulas (clasps). Characteristic for Zarubinetskoy culture are the so-called fields of funerary urns [How ironic]. This rite became widely used at the turn of our era.The Zarubynets tribes have mastered the production of iron in perfection. Archaeological finds from the village of Bogushevichi suggest that the region was controlled by the kingdom of the Kievan Rus in the early middle ages.

 

Collectivization in Bogushevich – הקולחוז של בוגושביצ׳י

In Bogushevich near the local club you can find monument for  Komsomolets – Nicholas Rybachonku. He very zealously advocated the collectivization in Bogushevich and surroundings, for which he was killed in December 1924. Only in 1930 the village council of Bagushevichskaga 17 families were expelled and their property confiscated in favour of the collective farm.

 - Nicholas Rybachonku Monument Photo:azarkinm.livejournal.com

– Nicholas Rybachonku Monument
Photo:azarkinm.livejournal.com

דמוגרפיה של בושאַוויץ – Bahushevichy Demographics of

  • ב-1880: – 209  נפש מהם 65 יהודים
  • ב-1897: – 524 נפש מהם 61 יהודים (11.6%)
  • ב-1927: – 783 נפש (27 משפחות) מהם 72% בלארוסים ו-24% יהודים
  • ב- 1995: – 500 נפש
  • ב- 1999: – 454 נפש
  • ב-2003: – 558 נפש
  • ב-2008: – 419 נפש
  • ב-2010 386 נפש

מה שם הכפר?

במשפחה שלי, כלומר מפי אבא, קוראים לכפר בושאַוויץ ביידיש או בוגושביצ׳י ברוסית. (בשפה הבלארוסים אין ״ג״ ולכן בוגושביצ׳י נהיה בהושויצ׳י.)

שם העיר בשפות שכנות: Bahushevichy-Багушэвічы [בלארוסית], Bogushevichi-Богушевичи [רוסית], Bushavitz-בושאַוויץ [יידיש], Bohuszewicze [פולנית], Boguschewitschi [גרמנית]. וגם Bahuševičy, Bušavičy Bohoshevitch, Boshevitch

צילומים וציורים נדירים של בושאַוויץ – Rare photos and drawings of Bahushevichy 

סבי אליהו צבי כהן גורש לסיביר  My Grandfather Eliyahu Zvi Cohen was exiled to Siberia

תחת המשטר הסובייטי טקס ״ברית המילה״ נאסרה והוענש בכלא או הגלייה לסיביר. סבי, אליהו צבי כהן, גורש לסיביר באשמת פעילות יהודית כי הוא היה מוהל ושוחט – ואפשר להגיד שהוא היה מומחה.

Translated from the original letter by Beit Lohamie Haghetaot Museum - Ghetto Fighters House Museum
Translated from the original letter by Beit Lohamie Haghetaot Museum – Ghetto Fighters House Museum

 

Eliyahu Hirsh Zvi Cohen
Eliyahu Hirsh Zvi Cohen

The name "Girsh Kagan, homeowner" appears on the 1906 Minsk Uyesd Duma List. My grandfather Eliyahu Hirsh Zvi (Ilya Girsh) Cohen-Kagan was arrested several times on gross charges, such as slaughtering a calf or teaching a youngster to read Hebrew. Then he was arrested with many more Jews and actually held for ransom. The Communist government had the record of people who had relatives in America and who could be induced to send dollars for their relative's release from prison.

They arrested hundreds of such Jews on trumped up charges and forced them to write their relatives in America for money for their release. They had to lay their hands on foreign currency. The "Dollar Inquisition" it was called then. Abraham Zalman received an urgent letter from his father, who was in jail, to wire immediately $150 for his release. He did so and they let his father out.

Eliyahu Zvi  – Ilya Girsh Kagan Cohen was sent to a lumber camp in Siberia to cut trees. He was not a strong man and he would no eat non-kosher food.

Eliyahu Zvi lived long enough to receive a "talis" from his son in America. He asked his son to send him a "talis" because his "talis" was torn to shreds. Knowing that only old clothing could be sent to Russia at that time, Abraham Zalman got for him a woolen "talis" and put some spots on it, crumpled it and soiled some parts of it, and together with some old clothing sent it out. It took months and the package was returned. It seems that by then the law changed and only new clothes would be allowed to enter Russia at 100% tax. When Abraham Zalman received the "talis" back, the spots which I deliberately made on the "talis" with condensed milk were already holes. So I had a "holy talis". Abraham Zalman bought another and sent it to his father which he received. He was the richest Jew in Russia to own a new "talis".

The same was with Jewish calendars. They did not allow printing of Jewish calendars in Russia. The Rabbis over there had to figure out when to keep the "Rosh Chodesh", that is the new moon, and the holidays. Eliyahu Zvi asked his son to send him some calendars. He sent him about half a dozen each year. Eliyahu Zvi used to copy them and distribute them to the neighboring communities. Once he found a mistake in one calendar and he wrote me that I should go to the institution which printed it and ask them to correct the mistake. He was right, they did make a mistake.

Eliyahu Zvi lasted only about 5-6 months in the camp. Abraham Zalman sent kosher canned food to his sisters at home (at that time in Borisov) and they sent it to him. Another prisoner, knowing the importance of the date of death to the family, sent back a message on a little piece of crumpled packing paper that this man died and the date he died. This man sure earned a big "mitzvah". So this is how the family heard of his death and learned the "yahrzeit" date.

תיאור כפר בושאַוויץ – בהושאויצ׳י מפי אברהם זלמן כהן – Abe Cohen Describes Bahushevichy

למזלי אבינו השאיר תיאור מושלם של כפר הולדתו. לאחר שסגר את האטליז שלו בעיר Ossining, NY הוא הקליט את תולדות חייו הצבעוניות על טייפים. אחי, Prof. Benjaming Jerry Cohen, דאג לתמלול ההקלטות. ואני הקטן העברתי את התימלול ל-Word ואחר מכן תרגמתי את ה-Word לעברית.

Bogushevici, in Russian, or Bushavitz, in Yiddish, was a small “mestichko” or “shtetl” in the “gebenya” of Minsk, White Russia. The distance from the village to the Berezina River was about 8 viorst (Ed. Note–a viorst is approximately .662 mile). It was about 20 viorst from the village of Bogushevici to the town of Berezin, which was on the Berezina River . Bogushevici was encircled by forests. About 3 viorst from the town, deep in the woods, there was a plant to extract tar and scipidar (turpentine) from the tree roots, which the farmers from the surrounding villages used to dig out in the fall. The roots were afterwards used as coals by the blacksmiths, of which there were three in the village. There were about 40 Jewish families in the village and also about 75 Christians:- Russians and Poles. There was a Russian Orthodox Church and a Polish Catholic “costiol”. There was a market place in the center of the village, surrounded by a half a dozen stores owned by Jews. There were about 5 shoemakers, 2 tailors, 2 butchers, and one glazier. From 1878 the Rabbi was Shlomo Welitowsky. the Shochet was Eliyahu Hirsh Kagan (father of Abraham Cohen). The community had a “shul”, a bathhouse, a “cheder”, a mill, a very old cemetery about 300 years old, and also a new cemetery. During World War I, the town was occupied by the Germans, Polish and Russian armies. Under the Communist regime the Jewish way of life changed greatly. In May 1925 a Jewish kolkhoz was established near Bogushevici. During the Nazi invasion, the Jewish Community was wiped out.

Scan 37

הדודים שלי מבושאוויץ: כולם קרבנות השואה – My Uncles and Aunts Were all Murdered by the Germans

איש מן הדודים ודודות שלי בבלארוס לא שרד את השואה. כל הדודים שלי והדודות שלי נרצחו על ידי הנאצים. ילדיו של אליהו צבי כהן (שגורש לסיביר על ידי סטלין ונפטר של לפני הכיבוש הנאצי) ציפורה, ישעיהו יצחק, חיה ביילה, ירמיהו, בנימין, משה (עד כאן ילדיה של שרה לאה בוברוב-כהן שנפטר במגפת השפעת הספרדית), חיים ולאה ביילה (ילדיה של ביילה רייכלין-כהן) כולם נרצחו באכזריות או מתו בקרב. אין לי אפילו צילום של כולם. אחי בנימין ירמיהו כהן שנקרא על בשמותיהם של שני דודים שלנו: בנימין וירמיהו.

When Abraham Zalman left home, the siblings that remained home were Tzipa, his sister two years younger than hime. Then there were Yishayhu Yitzhak, Yirmeyahu, Benyamin, Moishe and another sister, Chaya Beyle. Eliyahu Zvi remarried after Abraham Zalman left. Two more children were born: another little boy and girl, Chayim and Leah Berta. It seems that no one survived. Although, it is hard to believe that there is no one left since our uncles were all of military age and must have been in the army. It is inconceivable that all of them were killed on the various fronts, but nothing was ever heard from them after the war.

Tzipe-Zippora Levine

הבעל של ציפ'ה היה קומוניסט נלהב וכאשר בנם נולד הוא לא הרשה לאבא למהול אותו. פעם כשלא היה בבית והיה בנסיעת עסקים סבא אליהו צבי כהן מהל אותו בסתר. כאשר בעלה, אהרון לוין – קומיסר בכיר בעל משרה גבוהה – שמע הוא כל כך כעס שרצה להלשין עליו למשטרה. ציפ'ה בכתה והתחננה שישנה את דעתומשרתו היתה ניהול חברת העץ הבלרוסית "לסבל" והוא הרויח היטבהאירוניה היא שגם הוא וגם אבא נעצרו על ידי המשטר הקומוניסטי של סטלין באותו הלילהאחרי המעצר של בעלה של ציפ'ה החרימו את כל רכושו ואת בית והיא נאלצה לעבוד בשטיפת כלים כדי לפרנס את עצמה ואת בנה.

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: "My sister Tzipa married after I left for America. She married a big commissar, Aharon Levine, a party man. He held a big executive job in "Less-Bel", that is the lumber industry. He was getting a very good salary. They lived very well with a housemaid, mind you, in Communist Russia. Later, when they had a little boy and from photographs they sent me, they and the child were dressed as well as we were in America. Now when this little boy was born, my father offered to perform the circumcision, but my brother-in-law would not allow him to do it. When he went away some place in line with his job, my father circumcised the boy. When he came home, he was very angry. He wanted to report my father to the authorities. Only my sister's crying and begging finally made him change his mind. Only he forbade my father to come into his house when he was home." The bitter irony is that he and father were arrested the same night. He was never heard from after the war.

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: "My sister Tzipa, as I mentioned before was married after I left. My father wrote me about it. Her husband, Aharon, was an ardent Communist. He held a big post in the lumber industry as I already mentioned. For the wedding he came to town one Saturday afternoon with a horse and sleigh with bells. They picked up Tzipa and rode away to register. This was all the wedding. They lived very well up to the time in the thirties, when Stalin had his famous "tchistke", that is purge. Good party men were picked up suddenly and either shot or sent away to Siberia for hard labor. Aharon was taken away one day and never heard from again. My sister, Tzipa, was left with her little boy, Lyiov, without any support. She, because of her husband's supposed guilt, could not even get a decent job. She was washing dishes in a restaurant anything to make a living for her and be able to support her little boy. She survived until the Hitler army made an end to her and all the rest of my family."

Yishayhu (Shaye) Yitzhak went to a military school after Abraham Zalman left for America. He became an officer and made a career of the army.

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote: "One time I did a foolish thing. I sent $25 to my brother. This must have stirred up a hornets' nest. Imagine a future Communist officer receiving money from the accursed capitalist America. He wrote me a long letter with a big argument and that I should never do this again. I did not. I did not write to him any more. I did not want to embarrass him. My father while he was alive used to give me information about him. It seems that after he graduated he got a big, responsible post somewhere in Siberia. He married a daughter of a Tzarist general. After that I heard nothing more."

Chaya Beyle, was also married and had two children. They were all killed by the Nazis.

Yirmeyahu and Benyamin studied in Russian colleges. But, since Eliyahu Zvi was a religious Jew and a past-businessman, he was considered a "Lishenetz", that is he had all his civil rights taken away. His children could not get any higher education. In order to be accepted in college for higher education, the had to leave home and to change their names. Yirmeyahu studied to be an an agronomist. Benyamin was also a student in college.

What little Moshe did we do not know.

Chayim and Leah-Berta were only young children when the Nazis murdered the Jews of Borisov.

ישעיהו יצחק במדים - Yeshayahu Yitzhak in uniform
ישעיהו יצחק במדים – Yeshayahu Yitzhak in uniform

 

אליהו צבי (אליה גירש) כגן-כהן ושני ילדיו הקטנים: חיים ולאה ביילה. אליהו צבי גורש לסיביר ונפטר שם. הילדים נרצחו על ידי הנאצים בבוריסוב.
אליהו צבי (אליה גירש) כגן-כהן ושני ילדיו הקטנים: חיים ולאה ביילה. אליהו צבי גורש על יד סטלין לסיביר ונפטר שם לפני השואה. הילדים נרצחו על ידי הנאצים בבוריסוב.                                                                           Eliyahu Zvi Cohen was arrested by Stalin for being a shochet and mohel. He died in a camp in Siberia before WWII. The two small children Hayim and Leah Beila – Berta were killed by the Nazis

סבתי שרה לאה בוברוב-כהן – My Grandmother Sara Leah Bobrov-Cohen

אביה של שרה לאה בוברוב-כהן, סבתי, ישעיהו יצחק בוברוב, היה ראש ישיבה קטנה בעיר בוריסוב. לבן השני שלה סבתי קראה על שם אביה – ישעיהו יצחק. כל יתר האחים של סבתי שרה לאה, חוץ מ-געשע, אחות מאשתו הראשונה של אביה, הגרו ל-New York ו-Kansas City בארצות הברית לפני מלחמת העולם הראשונה.  סבתי נפטרה במגפת השפעת הספרדים שהתפשטה בעולם בסוף מלחמת העולם הראשונה. לא נותרה תמונה שלה.  אחד מהאחים של סבתי, יעקב בוברוב, דאג ל-affidavit (מסמכי ההגירה) בשביל אבינו, אחיינו, אברהם זלמן, לארה״ב. אחותי, Sara Lee, נקראה על שמה.

Search in Jewishgen
Search in Jewishgen

Abraham Zalman Cohen wrote:  It was during the Polish occupation in 1918 that the Spanish influenza swept the country. There was no family or house that was spared. They took over our house and made us move across the street in one room by a neighbor. That was when my mother took sick and in only eight days she died. We were then left a houseful of children without a mother. Although the army moved out soon after and we got our house back, our mother was gone and my sister, Tzipa, she was only two years younger than me, became the housekeeper. She was at that time 14 years old. It came so sudden and so cruel a blow. Our youngest brother Moishe was just one year old. I shall never forget the last night. I was by mother's bed watching her. By then what a change in her. Her skin turned yellow and she was feverish. All that could be medically done for her, under the circumstances, was done. Father brought a big doctor from Ihuman and he did not give much hope. I evidently dozed off for a while. I heard her calling me, "Avrom Zalman, Avrom Zalman." I tried to give her a drink and change the compress on her head. Soon her eyes closed and for a while she gave out strange noises and she passed out. It was in the month of March. The funeral was the next day. It was snowing.

My grandmother Sara Leah's siblings all emigrated to New York and Kansas City before World War I –  Eliezer Haim Bobrov, Jacob Bobrov, Shprintze Minnie Bobrov-Baru, Sam Bobrov, and Abraham Avremel Bobrov. One married step sister, Geshe, from a previous marriage remained in Borisov. Jacob Bobrov sent Abraham Zalman the affidavit to immigrate to the USA.

Jacob Bobrov arrives in USA
Jacob Bobrov arrives in USA

תולדות הכפר – The History of Bogushevichi

The first written mention of Bogushevich dates from June 1, 1501. In 1644 Gregory Yuri Drutsk-Gorsky, doing the will of his late mother, founded a church here.

משנת 1793 בושאוויץ – בהושאויצ׳י היתה חלק של האמפריה הרוסית. בשנת 1818 באוכלוסית הכפר היתה 20 משפחות יהודיות. בית ספר נפתח בעיירה בשנת 1862. במאה ה-19 נוסד תחנת כיבוי אש. ב-1900 נפתח בית ספר קתולי. בסוף המאה ה-19 היו בכפר כנסייה קתולית, כנסייה אורתודוקסית, בית כנסת, ובית דואר.גבולות המועצות המקומיות שונו פעמים רבות.

As a result of the second partition of Poland (1793) Bogushevich became part of the Russian Empire. In the XIX century, in the village there a 2 churches, 4 synagogues, a post office, a fire brigade.

Residents of the town took an active part in the 1863 uprising. April 17, 1863 in the estate of Bogushevichi gathered about 30 people armed with guns, pistols and sabers, ready to take part in the  uprising led by Boleslav Sventorzhetsky – See Church of Corpus Christi above. Boleslav was appointed commissar of the voivodship and had to lead the uprising from Minsk, but because he was declassified by the police he was forced to remain in the detachment. In the volost administration building, Sventorzhetsky tore the portrait of the emperor off the wall and read a manifesto, which he announced to the peasants, so that “they would not pay any taxes, they would not give a recruit, and that he would give the land to them as a gift”, assuring that all books and papers in Bogushevich office destroyed. During the latter half of the 19th century, the town profited from its geographical position and in 1897 was noted to have 4871 residents, of which 3377 were Jews.

In 1900 a parochial school was opened. In April 14, 1910 the newspaper " Nasha Niva " wrote about rumors that the railway will pass through Bogushevich. In 1915, near the town, a treasure of ancient coins was discovered. In 1919 Bogushevich entered the Byelorussian SSR . By the start of World War I, it became a large river port which loaded goods (mostly salt and timber) and shipped them down the river to the Baltic Ports. Also the liquor and alcohol industry began to be developed, including the Potocki’s Vodka Distillery est. 1893.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the town changed hands several times, including German and Polish armies during the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Bolshevik War. Finally on June 7, 1920 Berazino became part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. From June 17, 1924 as a separate raion centre in the Barysaw District and in June 1927 – Minsk District.

As of 1927 there were 107 households. In 1938 the settlement was demoted to the status of the village.

Eventually the town grew, and on 15 February 1938 became part of the Mogilev Province. During that time, mass industrialisation took place, and the position of the river port allowed a development of shipbuilding, wheel, textile and liquor factories, as well as smaller workshops for automobiles and wood fabrics.

During World War II, the city was occupied by Nazi Germany, which completely changed the town’s make-up by killing all Jews Bogushevich was liberated by the 2nd Byelorussian Front on 3 July 1944 during operation “Bagration”. In September of that year the town became part of the Berazino District of Minsk Region, and on July 7, 1968 became a city.

In 1998  the town occupied an area of 1.9 square kilometres and had a population of 13.3 thousand people.

בשינוי האחרון  ב-21.12.2007 אוחדו כל הכפרים וגבולות המועצות המקומיות שונו ל-Багушэ́віцкі сельсавет :

Osmolovka , Bull , Mound , Perevoz , Prytserpa , Regispolle , Chizhiha , Yakshitsy, Krupka, Yakshytskag

בית העלמין היהודי בושאוויץ – The Jewish Cemetery in Bogushevichi

בית העלמין היהודי בבושאויץ Source: www.jewishbelarus.org Alexey Eremenko
בית העלמין היהודי בבושאוויץ                                     The Jewish cemetery in Bobushevichi
Source: www.jewishbelarus.org Alexey Eremenko

שואת בושאוויץ – בהושאויצ׳י – The Holocaust in Bogushevichi

About 400 Jews lived in the village of  Bogushevichi before the war. Bogushevichi was occupied by the Germans in July 1941. A ghetto in the village of Bogushevichi was set up in late summer 1941 (02.08.1941) – December 1941 (30.11.1941) in a former local school which was guarded by local police. On every floor, a large number of families were forced to live in the small classroom. Jews were resettled from the surrounding villages (Seliba, Pisyut and others). They survived on the small supply of food that they managed to bring with them and had no washing facilities. Local policemen raped some of the Jewish girls. When the weather turned cold, an epidemic of scarlet fever broke out and many of the children died. Already in September 1941, executions began. They were shot in groups: first the oldest, weakest, then the men. They were taken to the forest and there they performed this bloody action. After it was the turn of all the rest. Very few managed to escape. Later in the forest, Khaya Shusterovich, who escaped, said that she had four children with her. She survived and got out from under the corpses, and the children died. In the ghetto in the village of Bogushevichi 400 Jews from Bogushevich , along with some from Seliba, were killed in the fall of 1941. Those who remained were taken to Berezino and executed. In December 1941, Germans and Belarusian policemen tortured and executed 380 (400) Bogushevich Jews – most of them were old people, women and children. The bodies of the dead were buried in a hole measuring 8x7x2 meters in a kilometer north of the village in the “Fridova Polyana” tract. There the execution took place in several stages. December 25 – 28, 1941, 940 prisoners died, January 31 – February 1, 1942 – 962 prisoners, in July 1942, about 1,000 people. During the “actions”, few Jews managed to hide in attics, basements, and “raspberries” (pre-built caches). Most of them joined the partisans after the escape The Red Army liberated the town in July 1944.

This tragedy caused the hardest damage not only to the Jewish people – it traumatized the human civilization, shook the foundations of the human mind. The Holocaust turned the understanding of human nature, the nature of society and the modern state. There was an acute question about the responsibility of each person, about the duty of everyone to oppose arbitrariness and violence.

Today it’s not enough to talk about Germany’s responsibility for what happened. Today we need to talk about the responsibility of all nations and every citizen of the world for the future”                 V. Grossman, author of the famous novel Life and Fate

A war memorial near the church in Bogushevichi for Christian soldiers in WWII
A war memorial near the church in Bogushevichi for Christian soldiers in WWII

אנדרטת השואה של בושאוויץ – Holocaust Memorial in the Bogushevichi Cemetery

In Bogushevichi, a memorial for Jewish victims of the Holocaust stands in the center of the village next to the local store.

בבושאוויץ נרצחו  380 יהודים בשנת 1941.

The Inscription: "To the everlasting memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Here in 1941, 380 Jews from this area were brutally murdered."

Photo:azarkinm.livejournal.com
Photo:azarkinm.livejournal.com

In 2003, Diana and Michael Lazarus (United Kingdom) founded the Simon Mark Lazarus Foundation in order to perpetuate the memory of Belarussian Holocaust victims by erecting memorials at Holocaust massacre sites throughout Belarus. Miles and Marilyn Kletter (USA) and Warren and Beverly Geisler (USA) joined the initiative. These three foundations, together with Jewish communities and organizations across Belarus, established the Committee for the Preservation of Holocaust Victims’ Memory in the Republic of Belarus. As of August 2018, 114 Holocaust memorials designed by Belarussian architect Leonid Levin have been erected at Holocaust massacre sites throughout the country.

We tried, with no success to find the two Jewish cemeteries in Bogushevichi. Our grandmother, Sara Leah Bobrov-Cohen was buried there after she died of Spanish influenza during the first World War, before the Communist Revolution. There are now no Jews in the village to care for the cemeteries and the government does not budget any upkeep for the cemeteries. Local workers made an effort to find the head stones in the forests of the village. Finally they pointed out to us the Jewish Memorial in the center of the village.

תפחלה לנרצחי השואה – Prayers for the Holocaust Victims

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בושאוויץ היום – Bogushevichi Today

Old Wooden Homes in Bogushevichi – בתי עתיקים בכפר בוגושביץ

האם אתה רואה את הדמיון?Do you see the similarity

 

This is the home we adopted to be our father's home in Bogushevichi. Three window means a Jewish home
This is the home we adopted to be our father's home in Bogushevichi. Three window means a Jewish home

ביבליוגרפיה

יומנו השלם של אברהם זלמן כהן: Hebrew autobiography of Abraham Zalman Cohen describing Jewish life in Czarist White Russian village of Bogushevichi, Communist Revolution, escape and immigration to the United State, work in New York City and Peekskill, NY and building a family in the Jewish Community of Ossining, NY/

Forty Five Years on the Block – The Autobiography Of Abraham Zalman Cohen: אנגלית

מכתבים ששלח אליהו – צבי – הירש כהן – כגן מבלרוס אל בנו ואל קרובי משפחתו בארה"ב : Letters sent by Eliahu – Zvi – Hirsh Cohen – Kagan to his son, Avraham – Zalman Cohen, in 1927 through 1937 

The Holocaust in Byelorussia

״דז׳ינקי״ – חגיגה חקלאית בבושאוויץ –  Dazhynky Harvest Festival in Bogushevichi

Dazhynky, a harvest festival held in a different region of Belarus every September                           Дажынкі-2018. Аграгарадок Багушэвічы. 15.09.2018

 

מפת דרכים מוגילב-בושאוויץ                    Road map Mogilev-Bahushevichy

All the links to our pilgrimage to Belarus

מינסק – Minsk

יאמא – Yama

מאלי טרוסטינץ – Maly Trostinets

חאטין –  Khatyn

בורוסוב – Borisov

שקלוב – Shklov

םוגילב – Mogilev

בושאַוויץ – Bogushevichi

סמילביצ׳י – Смілавічы

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