Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Return to Grave

When in '44 did you go back? After the liberation?

Yeah. Because they used to bomb the city.

I see.

So I used to go to the village and work on the farm there. You know, I used to come there Monday morning or sometimes Monday. I used to hitchhike with the soldiers. They'd go there and I'd work there, help them out with the work. On Friday night they used to go back to the city. It's Shabbos, got to be home, right?

So you knew where the grave was and you didn't go to--no?

I didn't know exactly where, because it was in the same forest where we used to graze the cows, okay?


So I knew the forest. Besides, I was afraid to go to a grave. It took me a long time to get--to go to a cemetery. Finally, when I was--after my father died, I started visiting his grave, or go to cemet...relatives you know, graves in a cemetery. It was very difficult.

Have you said Kaddish for them?

Oh, sure.

Yeah. You know the--even the day that they were shot?

No, I don't know the day.

But the month, anyway.

Mikala brought me you know, before he came here, I wrote him a letter. And I also wrote to Olga, I used to write. But I didn't tell him you know, who's who and what's what. I kept them all separate. But later on, they talked to each other. There were some who told--the neighbor told Olga that Mikala was here. See, I didn't tell her.

Okay. So they...


...know each other still?

In a way. They know of each other, but they're not acquaint...they're not, they're good acquaintances.


I wrote to Olga, said, "Olga, I would like to put a fence or a monument or some kind of marker so--over the, the grave of our Jews from the village, so you know, so the animals and the cows and the horses and whatever don't go there?" She wrote me, she says, "Well..." you know, she's only five or six grades schooling.


I'll show you someday a letter--the letters that she writes. No punctuation, it's misspelled, there are no paragraphs. Everything is one shot. And she says, "No," she says, "you better get used to it." she says, "Don't do anything. You put it up today and tomorrow it will be all smashed up." What do you do? You know, you have to recruit--somebody has to recruit some workers.


And when, when she said that, I already understood what she meant. Even if somebody is willing to do it, he's put in danger automatically, right?

Yeah. Now, it was the Ukrainians who killed them.

Oh, yeah.

You're sure of that?

You know what they used to do? Let's say they have Jews in--here in Southfield and they have Jews in Dearborn, okay? How many people do you know in Dearborn, if you live in Southfield. I know very few people in Dearborn.


Okay? So--and how many people in, in Dearborn know the Jews in Southfield. They know very, they--as many people as I do Ukrainians in Dearborn, right? Very few.

Oh, okay.

So--but the people in our village, I know, in person. So what did they do? They say, "You come and kill my Jews, I'll--the Jews in our village and we'll do..."

Kill the Jews...

"...return you the favor, we'll kill the Jews over there." That's how--this way you don't have no identity. You have--unless you have a guy like Ivan and Ivan you know, is not alive. You had to c...you had to interview, talk to Ivan the day it happened or two days later, or even a year later. But you see, we didn't know what happened, that Ivan was a witness of the killing.

I see.

We found out about Ivan. Ivan told us about it in the summer--did I say '43?


Sometimes in the summer of '43.


It had to be June--late June. We had to leave Stark you know, hiding uh, the--the estate of the...


Polish estate.

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