This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen FB page #yizkorbooks #belarus #JewishGenUpdates
“Immediately after they took my father, which happened in the first weeks of the German occupation, hunger knocked at our door. My mother who worked and sewed her whole life was broken after losing father. She could not advise us on how to get food…Our house was without a breadwinner.”
“Hunger,” a chapter in the Yizkor book of the vanished town of Zhetl, Belarus (known today as Dzyatlava) is about what the title says. There were many ways Jews suffered under the German occupation — brutality, extermination, rampant anti-Semitism — but this account focuses on how central the struggle for food was in the lives of Pesie Mayevsky’s family.
In their continuing, desperate search for food, the family scoured the forest for mushrooms and tried to find enough money to buy what they could. Her mother sells what she could of the children’s’ clothes and she and the children knock on farmers’ doors to take in work in exchange for something to eat. One farmer gives them a pile of frozen small potatoes in exchange for work, giving them half of what they earned, but Mayevsky writes: “A pile of frozen potatoes, a treasure in our starving home! It took a lot of suffering and self sacrifice to obtain them.”
In the ghetto, Mayevsky’s mother, brother and sister were killed. She and others ultimately escaped. But hunger pursues them.
Silver Spring, MD
Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel