Boris Gugel

HE TOUGHEST ORDEALS

I was born in 1929 in Belarus, in the town of Dubrovno, Vitebsk region, where I lived before the war. I saw the attack of German troops on my town. With much difficulties we managed to get into a wagon, it was full of people (prisoners were taken away in it), we didn’t know where we were going.

A few kilometers before the Katyn station, our train was bombed. The people were in the state of shock, they jumped out of the wagon and the German planes were bombing the live targets. It is difficult to describe this terrible situation. After the bombing, we got away again.

The road led us to a small village where we met some good people who gave us a shelter for the night. In the morning, we went to look for the railway station. A freight train approached and among the coaches there was an open platform. In a minute we climbed onto it. At the nearest station, we were taken by the military patrol, and again we had to wait for the next echelon going to the east. It did not take much time, another freight train approached and again we are moving to the East.

We travelled for more than two weeks. The train with the evacuees used to stop in open areas for a long time, where there were neither water sources nor toilets; then, taking people away from the front line to the rear of the country, the train was rushing without stoppings for many days. Finally, we were brought to the Buguruslan station - the regional center in the Urals where we waited for transportation and distribution to regional centers and collective farms. We were sent to the distant wilderness, 150 kilometers from the railway, to the village of Russkij Kandyz.

The village lived in poverty. That was the beginning of long and painful days and nights. Poverty, hunger, cold, lack of any kind of things (we had to leave everything because of the bombing) made our lives unbearable. We ate quinoa and oak bark, but when a collective farm horse died, all the starving people feasted on it as it was a real delicacy for us. Because of the hunger I started suffering from dystrophy, scurvy, night blindness, and if this life continued for some more time it would be like death for us. Such heavy ordeals lasted from the beginning 'till the end of the war. Everything we experienced in the wartime is impossible to describe briefly.

Finally, the victory came, and it was the time for us to start our journey back to our native places in Belarus. So, we arrived in Dubrovno, the town we left because of the fascists. With tears in our eyes we saw a terrible picture - the ruins of our town. The front line had been there, and there for the first time “Katyushas” were used and the town was burned in fire. Our house and the houses of our relatives were destroyed.
From the first days of the occupation the extermination of Jews began, among them there were more than 30 people (children, women, old people) of our close relatives, they were killed in the ghetto.

It was impossible to stay in the town of Dubrovno, and we settled in the town of Orsha, which was only 20 km from our native town. I graduated school there, then I entered the Minsk Law Institute where since 1949 I lived and worked before leaving for Israel. The difficult war years affected my health greatly. Now I ‘m completely disabled.

 

From Joseph Skarbovsky’s book “The Children of the War Remember the Taste of Bread”, Vol.2, Israel: Studio Fresco, 2016.