PARENTS: Mordcha Feldman & Dvora Miller married on 1930
BORN: September 27, 1933 in Lipkany, Besarabia (now Moldova)
SIBLINGS: 1935 – Simon’s younger sister Masha was born in 1935
1937 – Simon’s younger brother Moshe was born in 1937
Lipkany, Moldova (see website below)
“Lipkany was never a major center of Jewish life or an exceptional community among the Bessarabian shtetls before the Holocaust (except for the surprising concentration of genius in the images of its scribes and scholars – a veritable treasure trove for such a faraway shtetl). Lipkany, like all the rest, had always been involved in the usual worries of earning a living (commerce, crafts, brokerage), bringing up children (cheder, synagogue, yeshiva) and marrying them off. The spiritual life was synagogue, righteous leader (tsaddikim), chassidim, rabbis, ritual objects, ring leaders, disputes, character traits, charity, anonymous charitable contributions, assistance for various problems. Faith, trust in G-d, forgiveness, accepting physical suffering, pure family life. With the Enlightenment, there were the gymanzia, political parties and not enough modern institutions. From time to time, normal daily life was interrupted by evil decrees and persecutions: cholera, crime, "rushed" weddings, fires, wars – and then back to normal daily life, busily engaged in personal and community life – until the arrival of the Holocaust.”
- Simon’s Father Mordcha was trained as a fur tailor and also owned the horse and carriage service in their Shtetl.
- During the period between 1937 and 1941 there were various invasions by the Russians and Romanian armies. During the Russian occupation Mordcha earned a living by transporting goods on his horse and carriage for the Russian army.
- By 1939 World War II had broken out in full, and Simon and his family fled with a few possessions including 2 horses, to the border town of Nartzis to escape the German occupation.
- During the Fall of 1941 they arrived in Kavkaz, Georgia where they remained for almost 7 months.
- As Germany continued to infiltrate the area, the Feldmans boarded escape trains, heading deeper into Russia.
- In Stalingrad, the German army finally caught up and destroyed 5 escape trains, one that unfortunately included the Feldmans. The attack would claim Dvora Feldman’s life at the young age of 32 and wound Simon Feldman.
- For the next 3 months, the remaining family members continued to travel on escape trains, barely surviving. The youngest, Moshe, would become deathly ill and eventually die of starvation at the age of six. The unavoidable circumstances of war would force the family to bury Moshe in the snow.
- The remaining family members would end up in Bural, Russia where faced with unemployment and unable to provide for his children Mordcha Feldman would make the heart wrenching decision to give away Masha, Simon’s sister.
- Heartbroken by his sister’s situation Simon would run to live on the streets at the age of ten. Shortly afterwards he was adopted as a “son of the army” and sent to the war front in Belarus. Germans would soon destroy the city, and the Russian population, including Simon, fled to gorilla camps, becoming partisans (see websites below).
- Part of Simon’s duties in the gorilla camp included going undercover as a homeless child to spy on the Germans, but after 5 months Simon’s Jewish identity was revealed. It was deemed too risky for him to continue covert operations, and he was ordered back to the Russian army. (Children were actual combatants. They fought with partisan units in the Soviet Union. They also helped collect intelligence on Axis occupying forces. )
- Upon his return, the army was attacked and Simon was severely injured by an exploding gas tank, where a fellow soldier rescued him in time to save his life.
- Simon would spend the end of World War II in a hospital near Kiev, Ukraine. His heroic work as a soldier would earn him a badge and 3 Medals of Honor from the Soviet government.
- In the aftermath of the war he asked to be sent back to Lipkany to look for his father and sister. When he arrived in Lipkany, conditions in his home had changed dramatically; his father had remarried and had started a new family leaving Simon feeling completely out of place.
- Between 1946 and 1948 Simon would again run away and live on the streets of western Ukraine where in 1948 he would be recognized by a Russian army soldier and be taken in to live for a year and half amongst army musicians.
1949 - 1953
- In 1949 Simon was sent to study in Moscow. Unfortunately, he was denied admittance due to his lack of education. Consequently, he was sent to live in an orphanage until 1953 where he began to work in a factory manufacturing bearings and illegal metal roofing.
- The factory was raided and the workers were all be sent to jail. In 1953 Simon was unfairly sentenced to five years imprisonment.
- During his time in prison he built power lines along the Volga river.
- In 1960 Simon began to rebuild his life. He began working in a factory and going to school. He later worked as a supervisor in a metal factory.
- He was introduced to Emma “Etl” Ritsman and whom he married that year.
- In 1961 Simon and Emma would name the first born Dina after Simon’s mother. Shortly thereafter in 1964, Igor would be born.
- Simon worked two jobs and attended college at night. He earned a college degree in 1964.
- During this whole time after the war, Simon never stopped searching for his sister Masha, and with his new family he was determined more than ever to find her. He used his Uncle Charlie’s marriage gift of a gold watch to buy his train ticket to Moscow where he searched through extensive archives of orphaned children, looking for Masha.
- Eventually with the help of a local reporter and after almost 20 years, Simon reunited with his sister in Chernovitz, Ukraine
- In 1971 with the help of Uncle Charlie, Simon and his new family moved to the Bronx.
- In New York City he worked in a factory and drove a cab, eventually moving to Brooklyn. After 10 ½ years, he decided to buy his first supermarket that would become “White Acacia specialty foods.”
- Simon’s new financial freedom allowed him to bring over family members from abroad including Masha. With the family in New York City, Simon was able to involve some of them in the business.
- Simon would later go on to be very influential in the community of Brighton Beach, where he led efforts to start the Russian division of the UJA as well as the Brighton Beach Preservation and Anti-drug Movement.
- After years of community service and entrepreneurship, he helped his son and his new family to relocate in South Florida in hopes of providing a better family environment.
- In addition to New York, Simon also owned and operated a restaurant “Tradition”in Florida and was heavily involved with the Russian community of Miami.
- Simon’s wife Emma passed away, and he moved to Florida.
- Simon presently resides in South Florida where he continues to share his life stories and experiences with the younger generation including the latest family addition, his granddaughter Mimi.
Battle of Stalingrad
Time line—click on the underlined words.
- End of 1930s: Lipkany was a small provincial town, very cozy and picturesque. It was populated mainly by Jews, who mostly lived in the central part of the town. There were about ten synagogues in Lipkany; There was a different synagogue for each guild: Tailors, shoemakers, cabmen, etc. "Guild" synagogues were located in neighborhoods in the outskirts of town. Richer Jews had big synagogues in the center of town. There were 4,698 Jews at the eve of WWII.
- August 23, 1939: German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav M. Molotov signed a Treaty of Non-Aggression: The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This treaty freed Hitler to invade Poland and Stalin to invade Finland. Secret protocols, made public years later, were added that assigned Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Bessarabia to be within the Soviet sphere of influence.
- August 2, 1940: The Moldavian SSR was formed, which included Bessarabia without its Southern part. Territories given to Ukraine initially included Edinet, Briceni, Lipkany and Ocnita. When the Russians came, Lipkany was a town near the border. It belonged to the USSR and the area beyond the town was Romania.
- November 4, 1940: The borders were changed by the decree of the SS of USSR.
- Sometime by the end of 1940: The Red Army entered Lipkany declaring it part of the Soviet Union. Many Romanians escaped to Romania and left all their belongings behind. Following the slogan: A Nobody should become a Somebody, the Soviet authorities arrested all rich people, executed some and sent the rest to Siberia. Those people in Lipkany that had made any efforts in their life (mostly poor) reported on their rich fellow citizens and received their belongings from the new authorities for their services. Since the Communist system promoted atheism, the authorities began to fight religion by closing synagogues, churches and cheders.
- June 7, 1941: The Romanian Royal Army, 7th Infantry Division, crossed the Prut river in pursuit of Soviet troops along the direction Noua Suli - Lipkany (South of Hotin). At that time, Bessarabia was occupied by USSR.
- June 22, 1941: The Germans arrived in the Romanian territory and opened fire on Lipkany. There was a commandant office and a frontier regiment in Lipkany that set up a defensive position.
- July 1941: The Germans captured Bessarabia, and the 16,000 sq. mile area of the Ukraine named Transnistria was granted by Hitler to the Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu for Romania�s participation in the war against the soviet Union. Jews from Bessarabia, Bukovina and Moldova were transferred to Transnistria and many thousands were murdered from 1941–1944 by the Romanian Gendarmeric, the Einsatrzgruppe D, Ukrainian police and Sonderkommando R.
- July 8, 1941: Jews from the neighboring towns of Lipkany and Sekiryany were sent to Brichany.
- July 11, 1941: In Lipkany-Hotin, the Military Police took 12 Jewish hostages and executed them.
- Jul 20, 1941: The death march of 1,200 Jews from Lipkany began. The Germans took them to concentration camps where they were never heard of again. The ones that could not make the trip on foot were shot on site and during the trip.
- July 28, 1941: All Jews from Brichany were dispatched across the Dniester and several were shot en route. When they arrived in Mogilev, the Germans "selected" the old people and forced the younger ones to dig graves for them. From Mogilev the rest were turned back to Ataki (Atachi) and then on to Sekiryany. Hundreds died en route. For a month they stayed in the ghetto, only to be deported again to Transnistria. All the young Jews were murdered in the forest near Soroca.
- October 9 and 10, 1941: Jews from Radautz were carried to their death in train wagons meant for transporting animals. These trains passed through Lipkany. There, the Germans sent one group to the Dniester through Ataki, and the other group to Markulesti.
- 1941–1944: Around 148,000 Bessarabian Jews were killed in Rybnitsa and other ghettos and concentration camps on the East bank of the Dniester during the Nazi occupation. During the war, the town, including almost all synagogues, was burnt down by the Germans.
- 1944: Bessarabia was "liberated" and since then it has been an integral part of the Moldavian Republic of the USSR (As of 2004, Bessarabia is part of the independent Republic Moldavia, after the dissolution of the USSR).