Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Koby - April 20, 1999

Family (continued)

Your father had--did he have siblings as well.

Oh, my father had siblings, sure. My father was born--I know for a fact that he was born in 1898. Because once upon a time, I read documents, because you know, there was a box--not a box, a ba...like a bushel basket, a woven bushel basket under the bed. And that's where all the wealth stayed. But there was some documents. And I read it. I didn't know what it meant. And--I don't know exactly how old I was. But I found it and I was able to read. There were--it was written in Polish and there were documents that he was allowed to go to the United States of America.

This was before the war?

Oh, sure, before the war. My father was born a Kobylanski out on--over there near the Pripet Marshes ???. He had uh, my grandfather was--name was Fischel. And my grandma was Grandma. I didn't know her first--you know, for--later on I found out, Faigayetta was her--and uh, I only know that she lived in Rovno most of her time, when I came to--to know her. I have a picture at home of her Grandma, that me and a brother and a cousin Chyka Kobylanski and my grandma and one of her son-in-laws, my grandma's son-in-law. We have to be--we were shipped to the city for the weekend and we take a picture of--quite cute.


And my brother had uh, uh, has a sister uh, Bertha--Blume and a sister Chyka. Chyka was the oldest sister. So there was Chyka, then Blume and Bryndle--three sisters. Then he had a brother Chaim and Yankiel--Jack. Uh, uh, Bertha--Blume came to United States in 1910. That's how we happened to be in the United States in the Detroit area because...

Because of Bertha?

Because of her, yeah. She brought us here after the war. Uh, Tante Chyka uh, lived in--in Rovno. She had two sons. Now it's--one son was born, I think, 1912; one son was born in 1916. Both sons survived the war because uh, sponsorship of the Soviet Union, when they were retreating when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941...


...they were drafted into the army and they were shipped way back. Since they were westerners---since they were Polish origin, they were not put in the army, they were put into those working battalions...


...so they both survived, the sons.

Because they were, were--there was...

They were from the west.

Not because they were Jews.

Not because they were Jews. They were westerners.


You see. Uh, I'm sure you're aware that there were a lot of the armies were trapped by the German--a lot of Soviet armies were trapped with and encircled by the, by the Germans...

When they invaded.

...when they invaded. It was not because they weren't good soldiers, it's because the Stalin and his cohorts were schmucks. You know, because they were not prepared. And they mismanaged the whole thing. When the generals--when the Russian generals uh, they commanded retreat, what did he do with them? He shot them. There's no retreat. Stalin would not allow retreat. So all those people--he thought that the Ukrainians and the--all the western soldiers were the guys responsible for the surrenders. So they--those that were already drafted in the army with, with guns, they were demobilized, take away the guns, no army and they were shipped you know, to Siberia, the Ural Mountains to do the work you know, build factories or whatever production. So he had uh, so that was Chyka. Her name was Crommers. She survived the war, she survived with us. Uh, in Russian there's a word ??? you know, a body warmer. That was Tante Chyka to me during--when we were hiding out.

She kept you warm?

She was a big--she was a big lady, a big chubby lady, so I'm--I slept right, right next to her. It was warm.


Otherwise I would have frozen to death. I couldn't sleep ??? this was my father and my mother. And--or my brother was ??? too, he was always cold, he was always complaining he was cold. And I can understand. And her husband--when the Germans came to Rovno, her husband got out of the house. He was walking down--it was--he lived on a side street you know, near the big church in Rovno called the ???, the big church--big Russian Orthodox church. And they lived on a side street there. And one day he walked out of the house and never came back. They snatched him up, right off the street. Whatever happened to him, too bad. Before the war he was a uh, he worked in the woods you know in the forest. He was some kind of a specialist with wood uh, it was like a uh, he ran or whatever--whoever owned the wood, the forest, we used to gather--harvest trees.

Was this in your village at the same time?

No, no this was--you know, where--where does Agnon come from? From, from Galicia.


Somewheres near where Agnon was born and lived.

Okay. And then so the Germans had taken over.

But well, well--no, no. Yeah, the--when the Russians liberated Western Ukraine or Eastern Poland, he came back to the city. Who needed--they didn't need him, because remember, the--our part of the Ukraine, our part of Poland was taken over by the Russians.


So he came back home to live in the city. So he--this Moishe Crommers and my Tante Chyka, my mother's--my father's sister and the two boys lived in that house, in the apartment. With them lived my grandmother...

Yeah. Wow.

Faigayetta Kobylanski and the other sister, Bryndle.


This was already under the Soviets. But uh, I think just when the war--just--right at sometimes under the Soviet, my Aunt Bryndle married.

Okay. So this would have been...

She was an old maid.

...between 1939 and 1941.

And 1941, when she married, yes.

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