The End of the Jewish Community in Monastir, Macedonia

Uploaded by YadVashem on 08.03.2010

On March 11, they took us.
They rounded everyone up.
They took us on the death train to Skopje.
I found out after the war, one day later, where the Jewish community had been,
at one corner had been a liquor store run by an antisemite named Tzervenko.
He would beat children when he would see them walking around,
he would throw them against the wall, beat them.
He would curse at them.
What did he do?
The day after the Jews were taken,
he broke down the door of the Jewish community building with a few policemen.
He took the clothing of the rabbi and put it on.
He put on a Jewish star,
put out his hands like this in jest,
and they photographed it.
We were taken outside.
It was raining, a thin rain like ice.
It was very cold. In March it is very cold.
We sat outside until midnight.
From four o'clock to midnight.
Afterwards, when everyone was gathered there,
people were split up based upon the locations of their homes.
We were brought on foot to the train.
We began to enter.
I was at the end. I didn't rush to get in.
A horrible individual, who had been terrible when he was the mayor of our town,
who came from Sofia,
began to scream:
"Check everyone, even the girls over all of their bodies, for valuables."
I told myself, if only I were a bird and could fly away,
what I would do to him.
You think I didn’t find him later on?
I found him after the war, but I didn’t have a knife with me.
I was sitting with friends in a café, I was a soldier then, but I didn’t have a knife on me.
If I had, I would have stabbed him. Regardless of the consequences.
I went with everyone on foot. We got on the train.
I got on at the end.
One hundred people in each car. 3,000 Jews.
There was nothing to do. Now you’re finished.
We traveled and traveled.
Normally, it takes seven hours from our city to Skopje.
We traveled from 6 at night until 8 in the morning when we arrived.
Two hours before we reached Skopje, we came to the city Veles.
What did I do?
Our car was like this- it wasn’t connected.
So what did I do?
From there, I slowly opened it, opened the door, and went outside.
But I didn’t run.
If I would have run, they would have seen me.
My trick was not to run, but to walk.
But when I jumped, the policeman saw me.
He ran over to me. “Where are you going? What happened?”
"To buy cigarettes."
“What cigarettes?” He beat me and threw me back on the train.
I entered there. I suddenly saw an ambulance arrive.
I was standing next to it. One elderly woman was put in it on a stretcher.
A few other elderly people. One woman who I recognized who was pregnant.
The driver walked on the left side, the policeman on the right.
I opened the door and jumped right in to the ambulance.
That was the first time I escaped.
I escaped from there, I wanted to jump in the middle of the trip. I was a young man.
But I figured that wasn't a good idea because they were driving quickly.
I decided they would probably do the same thing again; then I would escape.
I escaped quickly, and then I started walking.
I was about 20, 30 meters away.
When they started removing the elderly, one of the women said in Spanish,
"Boy, come here and help."
The guard heard this, ran over. "Where are you going?"
"To purchase cigarettes." That was always my answer.
"What are you talking about? Stand here!"
I stood there. They checked everyone.
I was the last one. They watched over me very closely.
I went in last. "What's wrong with you?"
What could I say? I was very healthy. I had tonsils.
I said my throat is hurting, my tonsils hurt.
He was an antisemite, a bastard.
"Open your mouth!" I opened my mouth.
He cursed me and smacked me a few times. "This is why you're coming to the clinic?!"
When the policeman saw this, he beat me with his rifle,
grabbed me like a rag, threw me back on the truck,
locked the door, and we continued on.
Suddenly a group came, a policeman took ten to twelve children for forced labor.
I joined in the back. We started to walk.
We arrived at a block. He had to unlock the door and we would take digging tools from there.
At that moment, I took one step.
In a second I moved half a meter back, between the block and the fence.
I stood there, looked to the right, looked to the left, no one was there.
I relaxed a bit. I was waiting.
Afterwards, they took the stuff, and went on. He didn't see me at all.
I don't know if the others saw me. They left.
I slowly looked over the fence, a 2.5 meter fence.
I looked out, and saw two guards on horses coming,
one from this side and one from the other.
I ducked, this wasn't the time to jump.
They both started to walk in the same direction, that way.
I decided, there was an electric pole a few hundred meters away,
when they reached the pole, I would jump.
It was only in my imagination that the pillar would be able to hide me.
I jumped.