Zalman Sukman' story
A few more than thirty Christian families, and a few Jewish families,
lived in the village of Pietkowo, near Sokoly.............. (1942) the
general manager's wife informed her Jewish workers that the next day
they were going to send all of the Jews out of the village. My
daughter went to ask advice of the Christian bookkeeper, and he
advised that we leave the books and the keys on the table....I, my
wife Yocheved and our two daughters, Golda and Chaya, decided that
night to flee to the city of Bransk.
The next morning, the Jews remaining in the village were transported
to the vicinity of Bransk and killed. All of the members of my family
and I were in a bunker in Bransk. After some time, we received news
from the Bialystok ghetto that the next day they were going to take
all of the Jews from Bransk and bring them to Bialystok via Bielsk
[Podlaski]. That day, the Jews were expelled from 56 towns.
My family and I decided to flee to the village of Lukowce, to a
Christian friend. The Christian friend advised me to divide my family
and hide each of them separately. I bought an identity card for my
wife, appropriate to her age, and sent her with my Christian friend to
a second Christian acquaintance in a safe location. On the way, my
wife asked the Christian messenger to take her somewhere else, where
it appeared to her to be safer for her. There, she met others: two
young Christian men who murdered her and took all of her possessions,
dollars, gold and jewelry. searched for a safe place for my
daughters, in the village of Liza Stara. I paid [a Polish man] 1,000
German marks per month for a hiding place for my two daughters and
myself. He gave a room with a special entrance for my daughters, and
for me he prepared a hole in his barn with an entrance from the
garden. In the hole it was always dark, even in the daytime…an actual
living grave. My daughters were in their tiny room for eight months
and nobody knew who they were.
Once, when the housewife was baking bread, my daughters came in to
roast some potatoes in the hot oven. Then a neighbor woman came in and
saw my daughters. After that, they had to come to my hole in the barn,
and I was together with them for 14 months. When our farmer was drunk,
he would brag that he could kill all of us and nobody would ever know.
But, since he was not the One who gave us life, he also would not take
it away from us. His wife complained that she actually had no benefit
from renting the bunker to us, because her husband drank excessively
and wasted all of the money he received [on drink]. I asked him to
share the profits with his wife, because she was likely to chatter and
reveal our hiding place. The drunkard ignored my advice, saying that
his wife would not dare to do such a thing, because she was afraid of
Sometimes I would go to Christian friends, even priests who were among
my friends, and [from them] I received bread and other food. Without
this, we would have died of hunger. Death lay in wait for us and
hovered before our eyes.
To our great joy, nobody knew about our existence, not even the
farmer's family, such as his mother, his son and his sister.
At that time, the Germans were about to leave the region and they
burned the houses of the village. The farmer asked us to leave his
farm and we did. Here and there, there still were some Germans. On our
way, we saw a dugout and we went inside it. There was a pig lying
there. By chance, a German passed by and saw us. My daughter asked him
to allow her to go to the nearby wood, because there was a bag there
with bread. The German answered that the front line passes through
here and it is forbidden for a citizen to be here. Apparently, the
German didn't know that we were Jews and he went to bring us the
Our ears were deafened by the thunder of the shells. After midnight,
we got up and tried to get farther away, to the fields. We had only
gone a few meters and were immediately stopped by a German, who
brought us to an officer. The officer asked if we were Poles.
My daughter answered, "Yes!"
And then he reprimanded us and sent us back, with a warning that they
would shoot us, like it happened last night to a woman and a girl. My
daughter asked him where we should go. He advised us to hide in the
forest, because according to his estimation, the Russians would soon
The situation continued for an entire week. Before the Russians came,
we were able to hide in the piles of grain in the fields. But the
Germans set them on fire before they left. With difficulty, we escaped
to the forest. There were dugouts there, where we sat for two days. We
were very hungry and went out to look for food. We met one Pole, who
told us that the Germans had chased the Russians at the front, a
distance of four kilometers, and at the moment there were no Germans
at all in the village. Thus, we entered the village and stood next to
one of the farms. Suddenly, a German appeared and stopped us, along
with a number of young men and women. He only warned everyone to flee,
because the front was approaching.
My daughters and I were very happy, and we thought that we had already
been saved from danger, but one of the young women pointed us out to
the German and said we are Jews. He stood us aside, under the
supervision of a Pole, and went to get his rifle. By chance, the Pole
was an honest man and he advised us to flee, if we were able to do so!
My daughter said to me that she did not have the strength to run. I
shouted at her and comforted her, "Maybe Hashem will help, and we will
be saved." I ran and the German fired a round of shots after me. I
succeeded in reaching the wood and disappeared out of the range of his
sight. He approached my daughter and asked her again, if she really is
a Jew, and stood her with her face to the wall. She heard the bullets
being loaded into the rifle.
A miracle occurred. A man passed by with a pack on his back. The
German thought he was a Russian and ordered him to stand with his face
to the wall. The man argued that he is a Pole, and took out his
identity card. He added that he knew how to speak German.
"If that is so", said the German, "it is a sign that you are a spy!"
My daughter exploited the soldier's interest in the citizen and
escaped into a field, where she hid among the flax that was in the
fields at that season. She remained there for two days. Meanwhile, the
Russians arrived and she was saved from certain death.
After I fled from the German, I came across a ditch full of water.
Without thinking, I jumped in, and afterwards I got out of there with
difficulty. Soaking wet, I entered a field of wheat. Around me it was
getting dark. Not far away, stood artillery guns, Germans at their
sides. The thunder of the shells was accompanied by shouts and orders.
I crawled on all four, as far away from them as possible.
In the morning, I joined a group of Poles who were passing by in the
direction of the burnt-down village. The last house in the village
remained whole, and behind it was an orchard of plum trees. I found a
pile of straw and lay down on it to rest.
I didn't even have time to close my eyes before the Germans passed by
in front of me. Thank G-d, they didn't see me! I could no longer stay
in that location and I continued to advance. Two soldiers appeared in
front of me and took me to their headquarters. There, they asked my
identity and what was I doing there? I said I was looking for my cow,
which had run away. I told them that my name is Plonski and that I am
a Pole. My words convinced them and they released me.
Later, I found out that these were Russians. I returned to them and
among them I saw a Jewish soldier. I told him that I am also a Jew.
The Jewish soldier went into the house and from there, he brought me
some bread and a pitcher of milk.
When it became known in the headquarters that I am a Jew, they asked
me why I had deceived them, saying that I am a Pole? I told them some
of the horrors that had happened to my family, and they immediately
became very friendly to me. I was given food and a good drink, and was
able to rest on an excellent mattress.
After all that, I went to look for my daughter, whom I had last seen
under the German's control. I didn't believe that I would meet her
alive. To my great joy, after looking in the nearby village, I found
both of my daughters, the younger one, and the older one, who had
worked there in the kitchen during the time of the Germans, and nobody
knew she was a Jew. Who can describe our happiness? We hugged each
other and cried.
Yokheved Sukman was born in Bialystok to Eliahu Waldbaum. She was a
housewife and married to Zalman. Prior to WWII she lived in Petkowo,
Poland. During the war she was in Bialystok, Poland. Yokheved perished
in 1942 while escaping from the Bryansk, Ghetto at the age of 45. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted on 26-Apr-1999 by her daughter Chaia Sukerman Kagan of
Jochewed Sukman was born in Bialystok in 1885 to Volf and Sara. She
was a housewife and married to Zalman and had 3 children. Prior to
WWII she lived in Pietkowo, Poland. During the war she was in Bransk,
Ghetto. Jochewed perished in 1942 in the Shoah whle hidding. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted on 10-Jun-1956 by her daughter
Ester Lustgraten in Tel Aviv
Fruma Waldbaum was born in Bialystok in 1900 to Volf and Sara. She
was a seamstress. Prior to WWII she lived in Bialystok, Poland. During
the war she was in Bialystok, Poland. Fruma perished in Bialystok,
Camp. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on
left) submitted on 10-Jun-1956 by her sister' daughter; Ester
Lustgraten in Tel Aviv
Frida Waldbaum was born in Bialystok in 1890 to Volf and Sara. She
was a seamstress and married. Prior to WWII she lived in Bialystok,
Poland. During the war she was in Bialystok, Poland. Frida perished in
the Shoah. This information is based on a Page of Testimony found in
the Pages of Testimony by her sister' daughter; Ester Lustgraten in
Liba Waldbaum was born in Bialystok in 1895 to Volf and Sara. Prior
to WWII she lived in Bialystok, Poland. During the war she was in
Bialystok, Poland. Liba perished in the Shoah. This information is
based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on
10-Jun-1956 by her niece
David Lustgarten was born in Bochnia. He was married to Golda nee
Kleinberger. Prior to WWII he lived in Bochnia, Poland. During the war
he was in Bochnia, Poland. David perished in Auschwitz, Camp at the
age of 30. This information is based on a Page of Testimony