So, you came here, with Gurnicht... With Luka village I link the happiest time of my life. I guess while we walking to Nobody-Knows-Where, I can tell you about the Luka.
To describe the place I could not do it better than one of the my landsman, Mykhaylo Skoryk. He was very known in the village as well as to my family.
Renamed Ozerne after World War II, 4.5
miles from Sambir and three miles south of Drohobych, it lays south of impenetrable
mudlands nearby on insignificant elevations between 274 and 289 m above sea level.
They said that once there was a castle belonging to Lutsks family and that in the village was buried a certain alderman.
In 1880, ..., there was a district court, a post office, an orphanage and a single class school.
The village had then (in 1880) a population of 695 in rustic part and 349 in noble part and there were also 66 residents of the manor. The rustic Luka means peasantry, from Latin word "rusticus". Pesants were commonly called "khlops", and nobility called "szlachta zagrodowa" (land nobility) were small landowners, presumptuous and arrogant: - "A nobleman on his land is equal to a governor".
The nearest railway station was at Krenzenberg in Dublany, but people preferred to ride on carts to the district town Sambir.
In rustic village there were surnames such as Walaga, Prots, Bryda, Salyo, Pukaulyk, Veselovskyi, Terletskyi, and also of Tatar descent such as Kurman, Sarakhman, Kotsa. In noble Luka were Lutskis and also Bilynskis, Hordynskis, Novosilskis. Lutskis and also all single family nobility had their own settlements - Vandych, Vand'uk, Odynak, Hur etc.
South of the village was a sub village Foroshcha and then impassable mudlands. The district court serviced Luka and surrounding villages - Bilyna Velyka, Bilynka Mala, Bykiv, Dodozhiv, Dubl'any- Krezenberg, Hlynyany, Horodynya, Kornylovychi, Mayenych, Voloshcha, Ortynychi, Ozymyna, Prusy, Sokyrychi, Tatary - in all about 18352 inhabitants.
During Polish rule, before the First Partition in1772, Luka belonged to the crown forests of Peremyshl' county, but during Austrian rule it was sold to private proprietors.
As far as I can remember the original
owners were two, newly rich, Jews - Diamandshein, known in the village as Yos'ko and Kiva.
The villagers used to make fun about those "newly baked" Jews: "Tell me,
Marysya, why are you unhappy and sad, why do you want to go away? Are you being wronged by
the highly endowed master or masters son or his daughter, tell me". "No, my
highly endowed lady, People laugh at me because I serve darned Jews". They were
enterprising people, did not do people any harm but to people they were just "Yos'ko
and Kiva", not the landlords. Kiva was giving away land to local villagers, not to
Polish- Mazur colonists, because as he used to tell my father, the land should belong to
local people. But there will be more about Diamandshein later.
Some time ago in the village was a big pond, therefore the hay field on its location was called "stavys'ko" (big pond)[later belonged to my family. G.]. Beside the road to the village Voloshscha was a field called "mohyla" (mound) or "na mohyli" (on the mound), but I cannot explain the origin of this name. Nowadays past the village, on the left side of the road to Dorozhiv, on the public grazing field, one can see the traces of the trenches and in the middle stands a 5 meter high earth pile. I could not find out who was using these trenches. Further beyond the gazing field was a "bottomless", never drying, small water hole, where beside a birch tree bloomed white and yellow lilies. It was overgrown by cane but did not contain any fish.
During Austrian rule, the school in Luka lived through up and down times. While Luka was part of crown forests, the government took care of it, but when it found itself in hands of private owners , the school completely deteriorated. So that, in 1836, while the neighboring schools in Dorozhiv and Tatary were three year schools, with relatively well paid teacher, the school in Luka was in reality only a parochial school, but with a teacher earning yearly salary of 250 Austrian zol, while other parochial schools yearly salary was 8, 25, 50, 100, or 150 Austrian zol. Parochial schools were maintained only by contributions from the village inhabitants and the manor. Church teachers survived only on gifts from villagers and manor.
After 1862, when the state sold Luka to private owners, parochial school disintegrated. New landlords did not care about the school and the villagers could not do it by themselves.
In 1867 there still was a parochial single class school in Luka with 10 pupils (out of 1000 inhabitants) and church teacher Mykhaylo Pavlyk was without a determined pay. It appears that the parish priest did not care about the school. He belonged to the types such as infamous parish priest Korostenskyi, aristocrat, evident moscowfile who, when asked by school authorities, why in his village the school does not function, gave a written reply that "there is no need for a school because in his parish children pasture animals in summer and in winter seat barefoot on top of stove" - in other words why confuse peasants by education?! Korostenskis were boasting of their R'urykovych (ancient royal dynasty) ancestry. When, in 1883, father appeared in Luka, the village murmured that it does not need a "professor" and that he will be chased away into "vohnys'ko" (flame land) - mud lands with wandering flames. The school building was half demolished, school did not function for several years. The parish priest was Andrey Detsko - a moscowphil. The villagers were justifying their apprehension about school by the fear of who will pasture their animals, and that when children will learn to read and write they will be drafted into the army. And parish priest warned "If you teach a "khlop" (peasant) to read and write the first thing he will do is to write a letter of complaint".
It was apparent that it was necessary to send a very energetic teacher, when father "due to service reasons" was transferred from Bylychi to Luka - a school, where no teacher wanted to work, although in the village already was a district court and post office. Parish priest Detsko did not give father any support. Accustomed to have church teachers as his subordinates, he wanted to treat father in the same way. He was considering an educated teacher as threat of diminishing his authority in the village, therefore as an undesirable. Father and mother, with difficulty, found accommodation in a half demolished barn, started repairs and in the autumn the building became habitable.
The villagers started to get used to father and mother. Professor, royal officer with high school education; nobility began to regard mother as a noblewoman with a family crest. The local intelligentsia, widowed priest, chief judge, judges, post master were wary of the newcomers. There was a teacher with an interesting past, who spoke several languages, who was not ashamed to cut wood for repairs, build school desks and seats. His wife a Polish noblewoman, who spoke Ukrainian and also Polish and German, who was not ashamed to dig ground with a spade - it was annoying them but also intrigued them.
The village started to get used to them. Local Jews were overcome with wonder: he is not an ordinary "belfer"(?) - he even speaks Jewish and quotes, in Hebrew, passages from Talmud. Jews became his good friends and spread good fame throughout the district. He was invited to use their exclusive steam house and invited him to the local synagogue whenever they had an exceptionally famous cantor. During "haman" holiday they gave him gifts of salted herrings, sweet "makagigy" (nuts baked in honey), triangular pies filled with plum jam etc. "Maybe you need to borrow some money? Just by the word, without witnesses". Father never borrowed money. " Very well, when you need, all you have to do is just to say so."
The school was not far away from the church, beside the road to Bilyny, down near the creek. The church was up on the hill beside the road to Maydanych and Voloshchi. Between the church and the school was a valley. Opposite the school, also on the hill was the post office. Beside the school, along the road was a long garden, separated from the road by a "fosa" - that is a ditch. The school yard and the garden were below the roadway, measuring about 150 m by 50m wide. On the other side of the garden ran a creek and behind the creek was the hay field "stavys'ko" ("big pond"). The creek flooded every spring depositing fertile soil upon the garden. Father joked that "this is our river Nile". The school yard never flooded.
The school front had an entrance facing north. Inside the building was one big hall, - the class room, with three large windows facing north. The entry was through a porch, overgrown with wild grape vine, and a vestibule. On the left was the residence. There were two rooms, the kitchen, kitchen entrance through an attached vestibule, and from there exit to the yard facing south. In front of the building was a flower garden and beyond the yard a second flower garden. From the front vestibule was also the entrance to a pantry with a ladder to the attic. The building was covered with a straw roof...
As you can see it was very beautiful place to live.
In 1907 I married 17 years old girl Sally-Sabina Ebert. Her parents belonged to Sambor nobility and were not very happy that their daughter married the villager. But Saltzia loved me and I loved her. Beside of that my business was very good and there were big reasons protesting our marriage. Very soon--next year, she gave birth to our first son, Maurice-Berthold (Moshe-Berl). For short we called him Misio.
We had a spacious house. The big hall (living room) with the fire place was decorated with a huge portrait of our Emperor Franz-Josef von Hapsburg. In the next village, Byline I had a friend. He was a priest in the local Greek-Catholic (Ukrainian) Church.
His daughter, Hanya, fell in love with rich polish noble man and got pregnant. It was a big shame to my friend's family and to the whole village he lived in. The priest asked me to take Hanya to my house. So we took her to our home. She brought her baby just a week after my Misio was born. Unfortunately the baby died the week after he was born. Hanya stayed with us as a nanny for my son, fed him with her milk. Later she became a house keeper and "right hand" to my wife. All of us, especially children, loved her and listened to her as to their own mother. Even when Hanya was unfair to the children we never argued with her because we knew that she loves all of us from all her heart.
From left: Fillip, Bobo, Misio
In two years my Saltsya brought me the second son Filip-August (Faivel-Ari) and later, 1912 one more son was born Wilhelm-Zygmund (Bobo). They were sweet boys and loved each other. The called themselves "Misio-Fila-haysi-Bobo". Words of parents were the law. Because they were born one after other Hanya's milk were enough for all of three. Influence of Hanya to my boys was incredible. I saw once Saltsya told Hanya to call the children to dinner. Children were playing soccer on the field about 300 yards away from the house. Hanya standing looked through the opened windows and stared to boys.
Suddenly all three of them stopped and looked back to the house. The noticed Hanya, who just gave them sign to get back home. Once I told Saltzya that children loved Hanya too much. But she laughed and said that it is impossible loving too much. She trusted Hanya so did I.
Hanya took care of the house. Hanya cooked like only Hanya could. Hanya took care of the kids, read them books. Hanya, Hanya, Hanya.... She was a part of my family.
Saltzya with kids and Hanya.
My happiness was not too long. In Sarayevo Serbian nationalist killed Archduke Ferdinand. It was a beginning of the war. I left my wife and children and went to the war. My wife often sent me letters about children and estate. Franz-Josef sent to the Austrian farmers the prisoners to help women with no husbands in their farms. Saltzia wrote me that they have now a Turkish soldier who is helping them to take care of horses. Saltzia wrote me to the war that Franz-Josef died and everything is falling appart. Mean time I have been caught by Russians and was sent to Tambov.
In 1917 Russians killed their Tzar Nicolas II and bolsheviks took the power. As a prisoner I worked in ammunition factory. Communists and bolsheviks' activists were surrounding me. I could read Russian newspapers because of similarity to Ukrainian but very little understood them. Everybody started talking about Budyonny Army. Later, when I came back to my Luka Saltzia told me that they were really gangsters. They robbed Ukrainian and Jewish farmers and raped women. Saltzia with children has had left Luka to Sambor to her cousins.
When the War was over the the European "brotherhood" betrayed Galicia one more time. For the piece with Russian Bolsheviks the sold Galicia to Poland. The economy situation was very poor and we decided to move to the city. The best place to move at that time was Boryslav with its Oil industry. Also I had a relatives there and a man who helped me in the prison in Russia. His name was Mikhol Singer-Wagman. I rented my Estate and farm in Luka to rich peasant Yarema and moved to Boryslav. I bought the house and started working as accountant in one of the petroleum company.
Yarema was very good farmer and very decent man but in early 30-th the depression in economy and machinery development ended the horse business. I sold estate to Yarema for peanuts. Yarema was happy, but unfortunately not for long time. By this time my all my children exept our youngest "mizinkes" Leopold-Leib have grown. Misio, Filip and Bobo will speak for themselves.
Stalin and Hitler divided Poland and September 17, 1939 we became a Soviet citizen. My friend Yarema was expropriated and sent to Siberia. Everything was new and different. Many thing that we knew that the are good now turn do be bad. Nobody owned anything and everybody owned everything.
When the Germans attacked the Soviet Union in June, 1941, the Russians decided to exterminate the Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia and Volhynia totally. Soviet troops and NKVD detachments massacred Ukrainians by the thousands, and the prisons of Lviv, Tarnopil, Drohobych, Striy, Boryslav and others were littered with dead and dying bodies.
That was from his Ukrainian point of view and has to be respected. However what should we do being Jews? We were scared to the death. Misio-Filip-haisi-Bobo were mobilized to front. We have got a couples of letters from them. They are separated and don't know about each other. When Nazi occupied Boryslav Ukrainian bandits from surrounded villages felt being untouchable by Germans and started pogroms. Germans organized getto at Mraznytska Street. Many Jews were relocated there. At the same time many of us left city to Karpathian forests. We built underground caves ("kucimuni's") and tried to survive. Being afraid to be caught by local peasants, who suddenly started to hate their Jewish landspeople, we moved from place to place every 2 - 3 weeks.
It was a very famous doctor Teicher in Boryslav. Even Germans respected his professionalism. They promised him to leave him and his family in his house at Karpatska Brama Street if he will work for their hospital. Doctor Itchier refused and joined the getto.
The winter of 1943 was extremely cold. Germans paid in bread, one loaf for one Jewish life to anyone who tell where the damn Jews are hidden. Many Ukrainians and Polish people helped Jews. Many of them behave in the opposite manner. Life in the getto was terrible but at least Jews had food. In that winter many people died from the thyfus. My savings in dollars and gold were gone. We did not have money anymore to buy food. It was only way to get back to the getto. Anyway Germans promised life if you are registrated in getto.
No it is not true that the are liquidating the getto. I think that they took us to remove to another getto.
Hope I will see you soon...
Go... Go to Boryslav now!!!
To be Continue.