Yaakov B. (HVT-3829) was born in Hrubieszów, Poland in 1926, the youngest of three children. He recounts his brother’s death from pneumonia; attending a Jewish school; compulsory transfer to a public school; antisemitic harassment; working in his father’s business from age fourteen; German, then brief Soviet occupation; traveling with his father to an uncle in Volodymyret︠s︡ʹ; their return home; German occupation; ghettoization; forced labor; deportation with his family to Sobibór in spring 1942; separation from his mother and sister; slave labor with his father cutting trees and cleaning box cars; trying to protect his father when he had typhus; German officials killing his father; killings as reprisals for escape attempts and for “sport”; public hangings; slave labor constructing barracks; a planned uprising and escape headed by Alexander Pechersky, a former Soviet soldier; escaping during the uprising in October 1943; living in the forest for four months; encountering other escapees in Iwanki; assistance from local villagers; Jewish partisans refusing to accept them; working for a Polish farmer; joining a Soviet partisan unit; raiding villages and blowing up railroads; battles with Germans; encountering a partisan group that included Ukrainians who had been guards in Sobibór; and discharge from the partisans.
Mr. B. recounts returning home; attempting to recover family property; arrest and release; traveling to Lublin; enlisting in the Polish military in Trawniki; combat in Warsaw; assisting Jews who had been hiding; clearing mines in Staszów, Pińczów, and Pacanów; leaving the unit due to antisemitic harassment; arrest for desertion; imprisonment in Busko-Zdrój; Armia Krajowa freeing some prisoners, though not him; transfer to Pawiak prison; a death sentence for desertion, then its commutation; orders to rejoin his unit; disobeying; joining Betar in Lublin; being smuggled to Austria; living on a Betar kibbutz; attacking police officers in Graz who had harassed Jews; moving to Föhrenwald displaced persons camp; assistance from UNRRA; illegal emigration to Palestine by ship from Italy; British interdiction; incarceration on Cyprus; conflicts among Zionist groups; marriage; arrival in Israel in 1949; and the births of four children. Mr. B. discusses testifying in war crimes trials in Germany and the Eichmann trial; a meeting of Sobibór survivors; and sharing his experiences with his children.
Hej Tam Na Górce (Hey, There On The Hill)
1. Hej tam na górce przy bramce,
Hej tam na górce przy bramce, przy bramce
Stoi tam Jakow na rance, na rance
Stoi tam Jakow na rance.
2. A stary żołnierz pilnuje.
A stary żołnierz pilnuje, pilnuje,
A młody Jankiel całuje, całuje,
A młody Jankiel całuje.
3. Nie całuj tyle tych, a mnie.
Nie całuj tyle tych, a mnie, tych, a mnie.
Bo ta opowie swej mamie, swej mamie,
Bo ta opowie swej mamie.
1. Over there on the hill, by the gate,
Over there on the hill, by the gate, by the gate,
Yakov is standing there in the morning, oh in the morning
Yakov is standing there in the morning
2. And the old soldier is guarding.
And the old soldier is watching and guarding,
And young Yankel is kissing, oh kissing,
Young Yankel is kissing.
3. Don’t kiss so many, just me.
Don’t kiss so many, just me, not those, but me.
Because that one will tell her mother, oh her mother,
Because that one will tell her mother.