Last Notes on the Walls of the Great Synagogue

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The Nazis arrived in Kovel on June 28, 1941. In July, 1942, the city ghetto was liquidated and soon began a process of extermination that lasted until October. Near the end, many Jews were rounded up and held in the Great Synagogue to await their deaths. They wrote almost 100 notes of farewell and pleas for revenge. The full text of all the inscriptions were saved in the Memorial Book for the Jews of Kovel published in Tel Aviv in 1957. At some point after the war, the walls were painted over and the Great Synagogue existed only as a building, eventually to become a textile factory. I have gathered some of those notes from a variety of sources, ranging from those who visited the synagogue after the Holocaust to notes transcribed in Polish and Hebrew in the 1957 Kovel Yizkor book. You can view those chapters here: Notes in Hebrew by Our Loved Ones, Notes in Polish by Our Loved Ones, Notes in Yiddish by Our Loved Ones

    Hush, The murderers are coming. Silence reigns in the hall. Hearing their voices sets our hearts pounding. Hearing their voices stops our hearts beating. Lord, take us to Your eternity! But the murderers will surely still pay with their blood! How will I be able to rejoice if I am already in the grave? But I wished that their every last child would be cut up into pieces while still alive…. One more hour and one more moment….. Farewell my beautiful world, the world I did not have time to get to know. -Tanya Arbeiter and all her family 23.8.1942

    You who come after us - Remember! The innocent blood of our young people will be spilled here in an hour's time, blood clean as the waters of the Kinneret. We demand vengeance! Cruel vengeance! - Yehuda Schechter

    Earth, cover not our blood Heaven, avenge our death We are going to a cruel death at the hands of the brutal murderers together with the whole community of Kowel. Thursday, 14 Elul Bluma, Yaacov, David and Yehuda

    So much pain - no one is protesting! Only tears… Not one hand is raised Not one fist is clenched We just call out to God! - Laibel Sasna 22.8.1942

    Rosa, daughter of Hainoch died a tragic death. I fought, I wanted to live - but in vain. My heart, my heart goes out to my Niusienki - I wanted to live for her sake. If I could have just seen her… it grieves me terribly.

    Dear Andziulo! In a few moments, we, my brother and I set sail towards eternal death. If anyone from our family should survive - may he avenge our spilt blood.

    A chill passes through us ... here come our murderers, dressed up ... their filthy hands adorned in white gloves, they herd us two-by-two ... tender-hearted brothers and sisters ... O how hard it is to part from this beautiful world forever ... let no one who remains alive ever forget ... Jewish boys and girls from our Jewish street, innocent of any wrong-doing. Wreak vengeance on our murderers. David Elster.

    Forgive me! Mother, I want you to know that they caught me when I went to bring water. If you come here, remember your daughter, Yente Sofer, who was murdered on 14.9.1942

    Ruchla Erlich's tragic end, 6th of October, 1942. I suffered for 20 days because I still wanted to see my brother Szulim. But now, I must leave this world as such is our destiny.

    I, Yeruham ben Shlomo Ludmirer, was here on the fifth day of Tishrei, 1942. If any of my relatives survives, I request that they say kaddish for me."

    Leyb Sosna! Know that they killed all of us. Now I'm going with my wife and children out to die. Be well. Your brother Avrum, August 20.

    August 20, 1942, Zelik, Tama, Jela Kozen perished. Avenge us!

    Reuven Atlas, know that your wife Gina and your son Imush perished here. Our child wept bitterly. He did not want to die. Go to war and avenge the blood of your wife and your only son. We are dying although we did no wrong. Gina Atlas.

    Nevinna krev zhidovska nekhai splyne na vshistskikh nemtsov. Pomsty! Pomsty! Nekhai ikh porun zabie. Kurva ikh mat. [Let innocent Jewish blood pour down on all Germans. Avenge us! Avenge us! May lightening strike them. Their mothers are whores. Srul Vaynshteyn, August 23, 1942]."

    For our innocent blood, for the tears of mothers and children. A tragedy such as the world has never seen, and dear G-d we will not be silent! We ask for revenge.

    I write the last time before my death. If anyone should survive, may he remember the fate of our brethren. I am strangely calm, although it is hard to die at 20...

    My beloved mama! There was no escape. They brought us here from outside the ghetto, and now we must die a terrible death. We are so sorry you are not with us. I cannot forgive myself this. We thank you, mama, for all of your devotion. We kiss you over and over.

    Murderers, our miserable blood will not keep silent. You will lose the war. There are enough Jews to revenge our blood. Woe to Jews who have forgotten how to take revenge. For the blood of their brothers and their faith. Revenge! Joseph Avrekh, a teacher from the Hebrew Gymnasium).

    Lowa Rozencwajg's life ended 30th of August, 1942. Revenge our blood.

    Be well my beautiful world, this is the last hour of my life. Your friend Chana Awrochowna.

    Perla Kleiner and her brother Josef Kleiner are saying good bye to all. 12 September, 1942.

    "September 21 Bar Khana, Bar Zeidik, Avrum Segal, Petl Segal, Falik Bar-they died eight weeks ago along with their brother -in-law. David Segal.

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Copyright © 2009 Bruce Drake

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