Richard V.

I was born in Warsaw Poland and I lived there until 1939. In that year, after Germans occupied Poland, my parents and I managed to get across the border to the eastern part of Poland that was occupied by Russia. Due to various government restrictions we managed to finish up in a little village called Stolovich, near a town called Baranovich, in Belorus. The village had a population of about a 1000 people and it was split about 50/50 between Jews and Gentiles. In 1941 the Germans occupied this part and immediately started the systematic oppression of the Jewish population. In 1943 the whole Ghetto was

Eliminated in 2 actions over a period of some 2 weeks. I was saved by a Polish lady who risked the lives of Her daughter, father, aunt and Her own. Her name the was Teressa Wrzosek. She managed to get me out of the Ghetto and one way or another looked after me until the end of the war. I returned to Warsaw hoping to find some family but no one survived and eventually found an aunt in England who managed to get me over there in 1947. In 1970 I made Alya with my wife and two children.

The next time that I visited the Mass Grave was in 1991. The Germans and their helpers used some WW1 trenches, situated some 3 kilometers from the village, to bury the whole population of the Stolovich Ghetto including my Parents. Over the years there was no trace of the fact that some 400+ people were buried there. It became an overgrown and neglected part of the forest. This upset me very much and I started trying to locate any survivors or their families to try and do something about this situation. After a few years of this search I have not been able to locate anybody with connections to Stolovich, so my son and myself decided to do this on our own.

On the 22 nd of August 2002 we went over there and had the unveiling ceremony in the presence of a Rabbi from Minsk, The chairman of the Baranovich municipal council, the chairman of the Horodishche council, the chairman of the regional environment council, the chairlady of the Shalom group from Baranovich with 15 members of the Khila, (10% of the Jewish community) and representatives of the Polish club and many other non Jewish groups, individuals. The Polish club did all the work on my behalf in getting the various documents, engaging a architect, builder and all the jobs that had to be done. They also sent a car to bring the Rabbi from Minsk and take him back, some 150 kilometers each way and would not accept any payment for all their work.

Without their help I would not have been able to achieve this goal. The event was covered by two TV stations and two newspapers.

I also had a surprise when some Jewish visitors arrived from Lyda, over 100 kilometers away, with a Jewish violinist who made everybody cry with his playing of a sad Yiddish melody. The Polish club put on a buffet lunch for some 50 people who came back to the club house and the Rabbi was delighted to see that we had a lot of Israeli food ready for him, so he enjoyed his ” bamba” etc.

We finished the afternoon by singing Hebrew songs ( which we taught them) and listening to the music of Misha’s violin.
I was accompanied on my trip by my son Jonathan and my two grandsons, Uriel (12) and Amir (14.5)

Join Our Mailing List

Stay up to date on conference news and updates