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Oksana Barsukova

Alexander Friedman

Alexander Friedman


The Polish-Soviet war of 1919-1920 and the Polish occupation of the Belarusian territories brought enormous suffering to the local Jews. They were continuously persecuted during these years. The territory of Belarus experienced a row of bloody Jewish pogroms.

Ales Dudar, a famous Belarusian poet and translator (1904- 1937) was against separation of Belarusian lands between Poland and Soviet Russia and participated in the campaign against it. In the middle of the 1930s his essay "Murder of the Geklers" was published in the Belarusian journal "Polymia revalutsii". The essay related about the tragic events that took place in Bobruisk in October 1919 and was based on the memories of Sarrah S. Gekler-Tunkler and other people. Dudar recreated the scene of the horrendous crime which took place on October 19, 1919.

By that moment Bobruisk had for several months been occupied by Poles, who had been keeping the town under their control. Anti-Semitic incidents started taking place on the first days of the occupation, when several Jewish shops and houses were set on fire.

On October 4th, 1919, on Yom Kippur, a pogrom took place. The Poles broke into synagogues and rushed the people into the streets. They were taken out of town and beaten.

Two weeks after the pogrom Gdalia Gekler, his wife Shifra, small children Fania, Lisa, Mendel and Isaak, elder son Boris, daughter Ester and her husband Solomon Baskin were caught. It was the day before Sabbath.

On October 19 Shifra and the small children were released from custody. Gdalia, Boris and Ester, who was five months pregnant, as well as Solomon, remained in prison. In the evening decision about the release of Shifra and the children was cancelled. The Geklers were accused of having links with Bolsheviks. The suspicions were partially correct: Boris, Ester and Solomon did have connections with the red partisans. Gdalia, Shifra, Fania, Lisa, Mendel and Isaak did not have any relation to that.

There was a plan to send the family to court in Minsk. However, they did not reach Minsk. Captain of artillery Kozuba-Kozubsky, who was a personal enemy of the family, together with several Poles, murdered the family. First the family members were tortured and then killed.

The story about the Jewish family from Bobruisk was on of the last essays by Ales Dudar. On October 31, 1936 he was arrested and on October 29, 1937 – shot as "member of anti-Soviet united spy-terror national-fascist organization".

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