Berman’s Branches
Barbara Hacker Berman
Contents
Towns - Volozhin

The Bermans, Rogovins, Farberman were from this city.

The city was built on both sides of a straight on the main road leading from Vilnius to Minsk, dividing it into two sections the "lower neighborhood" along the river and the "upper neighborhood" toward the hills.
The remains of 12'th century buildings are found around half of the town square, which include a bell tower, the palace, and the monastery. Most of the other remaining impressive buildings in the town are from the 19'th century.[2]
Valozyn was established as a "privately owned city" by count Tyszkiewicz, in the 14'th century, and remained so until the 20'th century. The town was known for its fertile land, mainly growing flax, as well as livestock farming of horses and cattle.

In 1681 The Bernadine Monastery was established, which included a Christian college.

In 1839 Jozef Tyszkiewicz planted a large park and established a public zoo along the Vałožynka river.
Three major fires, in 1815, 1880 and 1886, burned the city down, and it was rebuilt.

During World War I, Valozyn became a strategic location, and was occupied by the Russian army. Most of the residents were allowed to stay in parts of their occupied homes. The town was attacked and bombed and most of the residents left it.
In 1919 The Polish National Army took the town. After attacks on Jewish nationalities, a self defense organization was established.
The population has been declining in the past decade (till 2009).

Yeshiva
In the 19'th century the town population consisted of an even mixture of Christians and Jews,[4] after the Yeshiva "Etz Haim", known as the "Volozhin Yeshiva", was established in 1807, by Rabbi Haim Volozyn, the owner of a large textile factory, and with the assistance of the leading Graf Tyszkiewicz. This Jewish religious seminary was the first of its kind, and served as a model for later similar establishments. It was closed by the authorities in 1892, but, by that time, had spawned a large number of similar institutions in Belarus, Russia and Lithuania.

Holocaust
In 1939 the communists occupied Valozyn, and unauthorized all religious studies. With the German attack on Russia, on July 25, 1941[5] Valozyn was bombed, captured and mostly burned.[6] Several Jews were murdered by German soldiers who entered the town. On the next day, a 12 member Judenrat was appointed by the Gestapo and shortly after Stanislaw Torsky, a member of the Polish National Democrats "Endek" party with strongly antisemitic views, was appointed mayor. On his second day as mayor, he ordered the arrest of the town doctor along with his daughter, and 10 other Jewish people, who were savagely beaten and shot. A month later, in August 1941, the Jewish residents of the town, approximately 3500 people, were moved to a Ghetto in the "Aropzu" neighborhood.[7] The Jewish residents of the neighboring towns Vishneva, Olshan and Ashmyany.

The Jews as well as Russian prisoners in the area were subjected to forced labor, tortured, underfed, and many of them publicly murdered. Local Christians who were caught having mercy or assisting the Jews in giving food received a similar fate.

On October 28, 1941, The head of the Gestapo, named Moka, ordered all the Jews in the Ghetto to stand at a lecture of his, on work ethics. He freed most of them, and kept around 200 people in the town's cinema. From there he took groups of 10 to a pit in the nearby forest and had them shot. Among the murdered was Jakob (Jani) Garber, the head of the Judenrat. Belarus police then stripped the dead of their belongings and covered the pit. Three people escaped and told the townspeople what had occurred.

Public killings continued, including an incident where several Jews were forced to lie down on a spread Torah Scroll and were subsequently shot.
On May 10, 1942, the Jews of Valozyn were blamed for the killing of three Germans by Russian Partisans several days earlier.[10][11] At 5am the Ghetto was cordoned, by Belarus and Polish police along with the SS. They entered the Ghetto, killed the two Jewish policemen at the gate, and then began shooting and gathering the Jews into a large blacksmith shop, where they set a table with drinks surrounded by machine guns. While drinking and singing they shot into the building "to silence the crying". Inside the building an argument ensued where some called to die while resisting, but the leading rabbi called on the people to keep up hopes till the last minute.

The head of the police then called over a member of the Judenrat to polish his boots. When the man bent down, the policeman shot him in the head. This caused the Jews in the building who were able to watch this, to escape while scrambling to the roof and jumping off. Most were shot, but about 12 people escaped. The rest were held in the building till 5pm, and were then marched off to the forest in groups of children, women, elderly men and the rest, many in their prayer shawls and phylacteries from the morning prayers. They were marched through the Christian quarter, where they were met by dancing young men and women, singing, playing music and mocking the marched.[12]
The people were taken to a house ("the Bulowa house") near the cemetery, and shot. The house was then set on fire.

A short while afterward the remaining Jews of Valozyn were taken to the graveyard, forced to dig a large pit and were then buried alive by tractors and tanks who drove over them.

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