Barb & Howard
According to a paragraph and photograph in the Rohatyn Galicia Yiskor book [pages
94-95], (Rohatyn coordinates 4925-2437); one day in May 1915, the Russian military
began retreating. Those Jews who were able to had already fled to the West. The
entire remaining Jewish male population of Rohatyn consisting of 575 individuals
between 13 and 95 years of age were abruptly rounded up and herded off in a hasty
retreat of an almost 300 mile trek to Kiev. This was the first leg of a two+ year
The Rohatyn detainees continued their deportation journey >from Kiev, crowded into
rail freight wagons that hauled the captive group to temporarily detention in a
place called Chembar [now known as Belinskiy,Penza Province, Russia]. Months later,
the diminishing sized group was suddenly shipped back as far as Tarnopol, a city
that was still in Russian hands. In Tarnopol they were left to fend for themselves,
were further detained, and languished until the summer of 1917. The remnant group
was finally released and rejoined their abandoned, struggling wives and children.
They attempted to reestablish life in devastated, war torn Rohatyn.
My skinny and haggard looking grandfather, Zeev STEINMETZ, was one of these 300
detainees who did return. To give proper recognition to our brothers in this untold
episode, I am in the process of writing the story. I need help with what ever
anyone can add to the story >from their own personal knowledge or family experience.
If one were to attempt retracing the most difficult, initial first leg of the
forced march to Kiev in order to seek additional evidence of those who perished
along the route, one would need to learn several more things.
For instance, at what unrecorded location were men abandoned who could not endure,
who died, and were hastily buried without record?
What would have been the route traveled under brutal Russian guard, and the names
of the towns they passed through?
Would the route have gone through Volhynia or Podolia Province? What distance
would they have been marched each day; and how many days would it have taken to
reach Kiev? Much has already been learned >from two existing, very good books that
reveal the overall general story of the chaotic period's massive deportation of
Jewish communities all up and down the Eastern front lines. The same overall
circumstance was reported for the nearby town of Khinynice.
The books are entitled: A Whole Empire Walking, by Peter Gatrell, that
tells of the refugees in Russia during World War I and The Enemy At His
Pleasure, by S. Ansky, a journey through the Jewish Pale of Settlement
during World War I.
Any assistance or advice is appreciated.
Researching these surnames primarily in a 50 mile radius of Rohatyn area of Eastern
Galicia/Stanislaus Province: GOLDWURM; GRAD; HALPERN;KARPFEN; KLARNET;
KREISLER; MESSING; PUDHEISER; SCHWARZ; SPIEGEL; STEINMETZ, TLUMAK; WILLIG