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Rywek Żytnik photograph collection

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1998.91

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    Rywek Żytnik photograph collection

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    The Rywek Żytnik photograph collection consist of photographs of the Żytnik family in Sawin, Poland, and the surrounding area before and during the Holocaust as well as a photograph of a memorial to Jews killed by the Germans in Dashev, Ukraine, from 1941 to 1942.
    inclusive:  1930-1950
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Rywek Zytnik
    Collection Creator
    Rywek Zytnik
    Rywek Zytnik was born Ruwen Zytnik on December 2, 1928, in Bukowa Mala, near Chelm, Poland. His father, Mosze Zytnik (1895-1944), was a carpenter, and his mother, Brandl Ribajzen Zytnik (1897-1942), took care of the children. Rywek had six siblings: Ruchl Rozia (1918-?); Herszl (1920-1942); Zalman (1922-1941); Idl (1924-1942); Malka Rajzl (1926-1941) and Gitl (1930-1942).

    In 1932, the Zytnik family moved to Sawin, Poland, where Mosze Zytnik had better job opportunities. In September 1939, the Soviet Army occupied Lublin, Chelm, and the surrounding area. In October 1939, the Soviets and Germans agreed to establish the Bug River as the border between the two occupying forces. The Soviets warned the Jews in Sawin that great danger awaited them from the Germans. The Zytnik family and many other Jewish families moved eastwards. They spent three weeks in Lyiubomil in Ukraine but were moved away from the German Soviet border to Dashev (Dasiv), Ukraine, near Uman. In July 1941 the Germans occupied Dashev, and on a Friday in December 1941, they conducted the first Aktion in which Zalman Zytnik and Malka Rajzl Zytnik were shot, along with hundreds of other Jews. Four days later, on a Tuesday night, Ukrainian auxiliary police surrounded the Jewish Quarter of Dashev, and in the morning German soldiers executed some 1,000 Jews.

    After the second Aktion, the Germans established a ghetto in which some 120 Jewish families were left. A period of relative peace lasted until May 1942. During the third Aktion, Rywek lost his mother, Brandl Ribajzen Zytnik; his brother, Herszl, with his small daughter; his brother, Idl; and his youngest sister, Gitl. Ruchl Rozia obtained false identification papers and was able to pass as an Aryan. Rózia’s husband, Wigdor Kreis, was killed during his service in the Red Army. Mosze Zytnik was forced to build wooden crates for the Germans which were used to ship stolen property to Germany. He was killed by the Germans in January 1944.

    Rywek fled Dashev to a nearby forest, but at the end of the Aktion; he returned to the family house. He found out about the fate of his loved ones and saw that all of his family’s belongings had been stolen. When he met a young girl gathering his family photographs from the floor of his house, he asked her to give them to him, and she did. Rywek asked two Russian women, Wiera and Nadia, who lived at the outskirts of town, to give him a job as a shepherd and to let him stay in their house. In September 1942 the Germans liquidated the Jewish population of Dashev. It became too dangerous for Rywek to hide in Wiera and Nadia’s house. He left and hid in the barn of Wasilij Rataj, a shoemaker and an acquaintance of his brother-in-law, Wigdor. Fourteen year old Rywek only left the barn at night. In October 1943, he joined a partisan group. The Soviet Army liberated Dashev on January 14, 1944. Afterwards, he settled in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1949, he married Mura Fersztman, a fellow survivor. Their two sons, Boris and Michal, were born in Kiev. In 1959 the family moved to Wroclaw, Poland, and in 1969 they left Poland for Denmark.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The photograph collection is arranged in a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Rywek Żytnik donated the collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:15:14
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