Tovah Olshak (1941 – 1945)
“..Suddenly ..back door opened. A Pole with a large mustache ..and dressed in an Army uniform ..came in with an automatic rifle in his hand. ” Michael Maik.
Because of 1 Girl, 1 Jewish Girl, 1 Jewish 4 year old Girl, because of 1 Jewish 4 year old Girl Murdered in The Holocaust, and when most Jewish Survivors might have assumed the worst has ended, I met Tovah Olshak. From here, Tokele introduced me to 6,000,000 others, Jews also Murdered simply because they were Jews. For Tokele, her pet name, she was born at sometime in 1941 and I first became aware of her when I was sent her photgraph. All I knew was the fact that she had been Murdered by antisemitic Poles, even as the World was coming to realise what The Holocaust means.
“..Zeev Gritshak saw ..Pole first ..and cried out ..Robbers have come. He ran to ..other room and locked ..door. ..Pole opened a round of fire.” Michael Maik.
From me, I could write of my own loss and grief for 2 all too Young Sister’s and hoefully allow for my feelings to add to the memory of Tovah, so religiously being sought out for forgetfulness. 2,000 Jews resided within Sokoly, 850 of her Jews were removed, presumably to Bialystok on Monday 2nd. November 1942, to await final deportation to the Death Camps, either at Auschwitz/Birkenau, Majdanek or Treblinka. 500 more of Sokoly’s Jews were expelled on Sunday 11th. April 1943 and eventually all of the Jews of Bialystok were transported to one of these 3 killing centres at Birkenau, Majdanek or Treblinka.
“..With ..first shots he killed engineer David Zholty and ..bride from Swieciany.” Michael Maik.
Many of these Jews were murdered on the spot, unsure as to why they were expected to accept transportation to a destination as yet unknown. It is possible here that the Sokoly Judenrat Chairman, Alter Ginzburg, his Wife Ida, Sokoly’s Local Dentist and their son Monik boarded the 1st. Transport to Treblinka. Jews, brough together from all outlying regions were being settled within the Bialystok Ghetto prior to relocation to the Death Camps. Here, on February 9th. 1943, and up until 10,000 Jewish souls had been finally removed in a 4 day period, the persistence of the Nazi machine was so relentless that by February 13th. 1943, 10,000 Jews were no more.
“..Batya Weinstein ..who had been frying latkes ..fell dead with a knife in her hand.” Michael Maik.
Monik Ginzburg managed to jump from the Transport and went into hiding where he became reunited with Michael Maik and Moshe Maik and the Goldberg Brothers. We will meet with Michael’s Maik’s tale of Deliverance later, when Michael shares with us his insight into that time of Tokele’s murder in 1945 as Dr. Szymon Datner becomes a conduit for the truth. Simon, a Resistance Leader and head of the Bialystok Jewish Regional committee, was asked to investigate the emerging truth of what had occured in Sokoly.
“..A third victim was ..pretty ..4 year old orphan Tulkale.” Michael Maik. #As an historian of Bialystok, and after all that had brought about the end of the Second World War, Simon was ideally placed when asked to make a report on the atrocity that had been reported at Sokoly. I have used this travesty to write all 4 of my own Books, both dedicated to the History of The Holocaust, as it needs to telling, and for a World who shamefully stood aside and allowed for Tokele to be taken from us is recognised. In that assertion, there are 6,000,000 other Jews who were so brutally mistreated, exiled from their homes not knowing where they were going.
“..After that ..murderer entered ..room full of guests and started shooting again. Panic arose.” Michael Maik.
Then, detained in Concentration and Labour Camps, crammed into Ghettos and then coralled until the time came when they could be further removed to be extinguished in the 6 Death Camps in Poland. So let me take you back to when the murder of Tokele and her Family and fellow Survivor’s actually took place, on February 17th. 1945. This then is where we first come across the name of Tovah Olshak, Tokele, a 4 year old Jewish girl, and the Daughter of Shaine Olshak’s Sister.
“..For a moment ..his rifle jammed. A number of celebrants succeeded in breaking ..window and escaping through ..front door ..and they thereby were rescued from death.” Michael Maik.
Shaine Olshak too was amongst those murdered in Sokoly, Poland on this particualr day and when a period of hatred, a collusion of which exemplified with the tenet’s of Hitler’s Final Solution continues. The photograph of Tokele, which I was sent would seem to have expected from me a comment that would suggest the evil deed I was looking upon required some commentary. The photograph is of Tovah Olshak, Tokele only being a pet name for her that those in her Family sought for her, and becomes a measure of the total lack of comprehension that is the Slaughter of innocents in the name of hatred.
“..But a few ran in panic and hid under ..beds.” Michael Maik.
Though this particular photo of Tokele has become separated from the collective photograph of The Last Victims of Sokoly, I am assured that this is of the very same Tokele, history must now reflect upon. For all of those who were to be murdered were staying in the home of the Gritzik family, and at the time this might add to the confusion over where they were indeed murdered. From amongst some 20 of Sokoly’s Survivors, who had gathered at the home of the Gritzik Family, there is this conflicting evidence to suggest that the account shows the murder scene to have been in the house of Mordechai Surasky.
“..A kerosene lamp that stood on ..table fell down on ..wood floor. ..kerosene spread and a fire broke out. Additional robbers entered ..room and shot Shammai Litvak and David Koschevsky.” Michael Maik.
Mordechai Surasky, who resided in his home near to the Mazowieckie Road, is near to where those murdered were shot. These Survivors of The Holocaust lost their chance to remain as Survivor’s due to the intervention of the hatred of antisemitic Poles in Sokoly. For me, this is the most awful of events, and in an atrocity which has more than 6,000,000 such horrors, the Jewish Children, this Jewish Child have a certain resonance which I struggle with. From what I have gathered up to this point, here are these Murdered Jews by antisemitic Poles
“..Shammai Litvak’s body covered Avraham Kalifovitz. ..shots did make holes in his clothing ..but he was saved by a miracle.” Michael Maik.
(1) Tokele, aka Tolkele aka Tulkale, aka Tulka, and though the Last Survivors Photo p.136 does not list her, we know that she was 4 years of age. I am now reliably informed by a Survivor, Yaffa Litwak, who knew of Tokele, that she is (Tovah Olshak) That said, Tovah Olshak is listed as the Sister of Shaina Olshak and in Last Survivors p.136 Photo this lists her as Tovah Olshak. Both of Tokele’s Parents were previously shot in the nearby Lupochowo Forest and Tokele had been cared for and Loved by a Christian woman. Sadly, and though with difficulty, Tokele was given back to her Cousin by marriage, Shaine and this became the route toward Tokele’s fate.
(2) Shaine(Shaina) (Sheine) Olshak was a Cousin by marriage of Tokele, she was 22 years of age, the Wife of Zeev Velvel Olshak of Zeremow. Shaine Olszak nee Nilovitzki was born in Kobylin, Poland in 1923 to Shmuel and Ester and the Last Survivors p.136 Photo lists her. Shaine was shot while attempting to flee the scene of the Sokoly carnage.
(3) David Zholti (Zholty) was born in 1939 and was 35 years of age and the Last Survivors Photo p.136 lists him.
(4) Yankele Litwak was shot by a Polish soldier while in Bialystok, a few weeks after the War and was 15 years of age. Yankele was the Brother of Shaikele, Shammai and Yaffa Litwak, formerly Shainie.
(5) Shaikele (Sheike)(Yehoshua)(Shaikeleh) Litwak appears in the Last Survivors Photo p.136 which lists him and he was 13 years of age. Shaikele was the Brother of Yankele, Shammai and was the Son of Chaim.
(6) Chaim (Tuvia) Litwak, who was the blacksmith from Siemietitz was the Father of Yankele, Shaikele, Shammai and Yaffa Litwak.
(7) Shammai Litwak is in the Last Survivors Photo p.136 which lists him was 19 years of age. Shammai was the Elder Brother of Yankele, Shaikele and Yaffa Litwak.
(8) Batya Weinstein was 20 years old, and while she had managed to survive Auschwitz she did not Survive the intention of these atisemitic Poles.
(9) David Kostshevski (Koschevsky)(Koschavsky) who had Survived both Auschwitz and Majdanek was 28 years of age. David is named in the Last Survivors Photo p.136 which lists him. David died from his wounds in Bialystok.
“..Issur Wondolowicz ..who was standing behind ..closet ..was also saved.” Michael Maik.
Those who managed to survive the attempt by this anti-Semitic Pole were:- Avraham Kalifovitz, Issur Wondolowicz and Zeev Gritshak. Both Benyamin Ratzlev (Rachlev), who had been engaged to Batya Weinstein, and Benyamin Gorkovitz, who had accompanied Avrahamel Goldberg to Lendowa-Budy to take back his Sister’s Daughter, Feigele Tabak, from a Woman Farmer. Yaffa Cohen who was elsewhere when the Poles broke in and started shooting was a Survivor still, and upon their return to the house, they found the caranage that had been waged.
“..Shaina Olshak ..22 years old ..who had been recently Married ..fled outside and was shot on ..spot by ..robbers’ guard.” Michael Maik. #Even in the Holocaust arena itself there are confusions as to territory, and believe me there is a turf war over who owns what information and the very evidence of those we now seek to discover. I wrote my first Book as a response to the murder of this 4 year old Jewish girl and no one would let go of that possession of the information that might, collectively, have broadened the picture we have been presented with. For me, it is evident that The Holocaust belongs to all of us who choose to learn from it and it most definitely belongs to the memory of 6,000,000 Jews who can no longer speak for themselves.
“..robbers stole ..boots and shoes from their victims ..as well as possessions from ..beds and closets.” Michael Maik. #We must disown such possessiveness so that we can all add toward a credible understanding of the catastrophe itself, in order that we are affected by the need to learn. There is often a vitriole that exists for those who seek to open out the debate, in order that some might disguise further the wrong done. There is no closure without acceptance firstly of the great wrong done, and so the work continues to expose that wrong and supply the answers which might yet comprehend the need to appreciate the grave debt we owe the Jewish People.
“..I knew ..Tokele ..she is Tovah Olshak ..the Sister of Shaina Olshak. Both of Tokele’s Parents were previously shot in ..nearby Lupochowo Forest and she had been cared for and Loved by a Christian woman.” Yaffa Litwak.
All of my work is part of that process and it flows from the essential of the first book, through the 2nd., 3rd. and even the 4th. Book to add an Irish voice to a particularly specific and Jewish Catastrophe. This all leads me toward that certain necessity, in the hope that my work is an essential in affording to the memory of these Jews, an Irish accent that is an Irish lament. A 4 year old Jewish Child, taken from us when she had so much to live for deserves as much respect as the disdain for the perpetrator is measureable.