Monday, January 12, 2015
MATZEIVAH OF RABBI BARUCH HAGER, AND HIS FATHER RABBI YECHIEL MICHEL OF HORODENKA, TRANSNISTRIA CONCENTRATION CAMP
Rav Yechiel Michel (ben Baruch) Hager of Horodenka (1941). One of the sons of the Imrei Baruch, he was appointed Rebbe (as were his brothers), after his father's petira on 20 Kislev 1892. Rav Yechiel Michel moved to Horodenka, to succeed his brother, Rav Shmuel Abba, who passed away childless in 1895. He married the daughter of his older brother, Rav Chaim (Rebbe in Antiniya). During World War I, he escaped to Chernowitz and served as Rebbe to the many Vizhnitz Chassidim there. He had one son, Baruch, who was later appointed Dayan in Chernowitz. After Sukkos of 1941, he was among 5000 Jews who were deported to Transnistria, and area in southwestern Ukraine, between the Dniester River ("Nistru" in Romanian) and the Bug River, north of the Black Sea. Also on that transport was Rav Aharon of Boyan, who came down with typhus and was niftar on 13 or 14 Cheshvan. Both Rav Yechiel Michel and his son Baruch came down with typhus in the work camp in Warchovka and died there.
TRANS-NISTRIA meant "beyond the River Dniester". The name Transnistria was decreed into existence by the Romanian dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, in the summer of 1941. Territorially, Transnistria was the largest killing field in the Holocaust. Many authors refer to it as "The Romanian Auschwitz". The name of that territory was in existence until the spring of 1944, when the Soviet Army re-conquered southern Ukraine.
Concealment & Revelation
A Personal Account of the Second World War
By Rabbi Aharon Yeshaya Roter
Others in Our Room Die of Typhoid Fever
Right after my father’s burial, another person in our room came down with Typhoid Fever – the son the Rebbe of Horodanka, HaRav Baruch Hagar zt’l of Chernovitz. His wife summoned the doctor, who gave him an injection in his stomach. Immediately, the stricken man began to groan, and he continued non-stop until around mid-night of the 13th of Kislev, when he finally died and his soul returned to Heaven. His son, Moshe, cried out to his grandfather, the Rebbe of Horodanka zt’l, “What will we do without Abba!” The answer came back, “The same thing that you will do without Sabba.”
In fact, the next morning, the Rebbe of Horodanka also passed away, and the plague continued to rage. The father and son were buried together in a special grave on the same slope where my father was buried the day before. That Friday, the 15th of Kislev, they came to bury The Rebbetsin of the Rebbe of Horodanka, who had already been lying motionless for thirty days, and we thought she was dead. When the “Chevra Kadisha” party started to pick her up, however, everyone was startled, for she asked for a cup of tea. We brought her a cup of water, which she drank. Within a few minutes she, too, returned her soul to Heaven. Her burial was delayed until after Shabbos. By Sunday, the day of her burial, there was no longer anyone in our room suffering from typhus, for all who had had it were either dead or now on the road to recovery.
Soon, however, Rebbetsin Miriam, the wife of HaRav Baruch Hagar zt’l, also came down with the dreaded disease. In the midst of her fever, she imagined that she was sitting at a sumptuous Shabbos table. She even asked us to pass her the challah and fish. Despite our desperate situation, the request struck us as funny, and we could not help but smile. With HaShem’s help, her fever subsided, and she, too, survived the plague.