Best Great Story Content

  • The Revenge of The Thunder Brigade- Witness: Lieutenant Erdogan Erkan

    I have found my grandfather's wartime photos from our family archive. He was younger than me at that time,however the looks clearly give the stress and pain of war, no matter how strong one is. I'll bring the psychological aspects of war. The last photo is from late 1990's.He worked as a mechanical engineer and researched on filtering methods and environmental strategies in industry for more than.May his soul Rest in Peace. in another story perhaps.
  • The Revenge of The Thunder Brigade- Witness: Lieutenant Erdogan Erkan

    The Turkish Brigade entered into the Korean War in 1950, as the result of Marshall Plan and Soviet threat of invasion; after the deaths of Lenin(1924) and Atatürk (1938). App.14,936 man were send to Korea in the Allied/NATO front against North Koreans and later Chinese. The Brigade, my paternal grandfather was in called The Thunder Brigade "Yildirim Tugayi" (also the name of my oldest uncle "Yildirim") leading the first assault with the Allied forces against North Koreans. The event took place, shortly after the Chinese involvement to Korean War in 1951. I have to pause for a second and explain another story regarding the event. My second uncle, as a kid, found one day a photo of death soldiers lying on top of each other. (like Mongols did to their enemies during the Khan's Era) Immediately after seeing the photo in my uncle hands, my grandfather (it must be 1960's at that time) slapped my uncle and took the photo form his hand. Years later, he learned and told us the story, much after my grandfather (2001) passed. The reason, why the Thunder Brigade became so violent, was the result of the Chinese offensive. Sadly, our family could not remember the real place and time of the event and my grandfather(as my uncle told) refused to told them, as a respect for his comrades, that suffered from PTSD years onwards. The Chinese attacked the stationed troops at a midnight raid in 1951 in North Korean grounds, killing most of the soldiers(they didn't take any prisoners) The unexpected attack gave the soldiers even more anger and morale to stay to avenge their comrades. Although the superiors (like my grandfather, who was also at their age but a member of the Academy and a lieutenant) tried to convince them to calm down. A few day later, the soldiers planned a well arranged ambush on the Chinese encampment at dawn. There has been a rumour around Turks, that the Chinese were afraid of trench warfare, due to religious reasons. The Turks, on the other hand, mastered this technique for the 10 year(1911 to 1922) warfare experience of their fathers and commanders at the lack of technology, that forced them to use this strategy, during those dire times. The result of this attack was a massacre for the Chinese rather than an ambush, were uncontrolled Turkish soldiers, simply dismembered and decapitated running Chinese soldiers. When the sun begin to rise, the troops piled up the horrified bodies of Chinese soldiers on the hill and begin shouting and chanting to the frontline. Seeing his men in this situation, my grandfather wept for the first time, he has arrived there. The military cameraman took a photo of the "victory" and my grandfather kept it as a sign of Terror of War. He resigned from the Military,after his service is done in 1969 as Lieutenant Commander and a War Hero. Until his death, as my father and uncles told me, my veteran grandfather never brag not even said any good thing, about the Korean War; and none of his comrades nor friends complained against his thoughts against war.

    This story is dedicated to My Grandfather, all the veterans and martyr of the Korean War and "Göktürk" my grandfather's adopted son(who may still live in Korea, but was never found after the War) in Korea and all victims of the Korean War.

  • Tsilya Gershman Zaslavsky - Holocaust Survivor

    Chapter one, two, three, four of Tsilya Zaslavsky's story is now up. 
    Chapter One - 
    Chapter Two - 
    Chapter Three -
    Chapter Four -
  • My Grandfather Mendel Guslitser, Holocaust Survivor, Leader of Belarusian partisans

    My grandfather, Mendel Guslitzer, shared with me his incredible story before he passed away in 2004.  Mendel was born in 1916 in Belarus, and was 25 years old when the WWII started.   Mendel was captured by the Germans and was sent to camp.  There were three amazing parts of Mendel's story: avoiding Germans finding out Mendel was Jewish, being secretly saved by a German captor, and becoming a leader of Belarusian Partisans - a resistance movement against the German Nazis.

    Being Jewish
    The first part of his incredible story was that Germans screened out the Jews, by checking who was circumcised.  Mendel got someone else to do that on his behalf, avoiding sure death.  I am still not quite sure what kind of process Germans used for screening that Mendel was able to get someone else to pretend to be him and pass the test.  Being Jewish, wasn't great for survival chances for Mendel. There was the obvious Germans threat against the Jews and high antisemitism against many Russians and Belorussians, many of whom were happy to give up Jews to the Germans. From that day, Mendel started referring to himself as Mikhail Gusev, a more typical Russian name that wouldn't raise suspicions of him being Jewish.

    Saved by a German captor
    Germans used healthy men for hard physical labor at the camp. Mendel spoke fluent yiddish, which is actually similar to German, and was able to communicate with his German captors.  While at the work site, he was talking to one of the German captors. The German captor took pity on Mendel and helped him escape by hiding Mendel amongst many dead bodies that were regularly carried out from the camp.  That was a hugh risk that the German took to help Mendel escape. There were others that he helped to escape as well.  Mendel to his last days was searching for that German soldier to express his gratitude.  Mendel never found him, but was always telling us and others this heartwarming story of human kindness.

    Belarusian Partisans
    During the War, there was a major underground movement of loosely organized military groups that essentially lived in the woods and attacked German troops and German trains carrying supplies.

    After escaping from the camp, Mendel stumbled to one such a partisan unit and joined the partisans. He eventually became their leader.  Due to a high degree of anti-semitism in Belarus at that time,  it would have been likely unacceptable for them to follow a Jewish leader or even work with a Jew.  Therefore, Mendel continued on with his pseudo name, Mikhail Gusev.  

    After the War
    Mendel survived the war and eventually reunited with his young wife and daughter, who miraculously survived the War.  They moved to Minsk, and they subsequently had 3 more children, one of them being my mom.
    Mendel worked after the war as a director of an Orphanage, until the anti-semitic wave in Belarus forced him to be fired, as it wasn't acceptable for a Jew to be in a leadership position during the Soviet Era. He continued on as an elementary school teacher until his retirement.
    Having a Jewish first name was not a great option in Soviet Belarus, and Mendel often referred to himself as Mikhail Guslitzer (still kept his last name that was Jewish).  Many of his ex-partisan comrades were surprised to find out he was Jewish, but given that he saved their lives during the war under his leadership they respected him anyway.  Soviets awarded many war medals to Mendel for his bravery and accomplishments during WW2 (even despite him being Jewish). 

    The Golden Years
    Mendel immigrated to New York in 1993 with his wife and daughter. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 87, leaving behind his wife, 3 daughters, 1 son, 6 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild.  The family tree has evolved since then, and Mendel's legacy continues.
  • Tsilya Gershman Zaslavsky - Holocaust Survivor

    My great grandmother, Tsilya Zaslavsky (maiden name- Gershman) was born in 1926 at Mogilev-Podolskiy, Ukraine. She created a diary of the unique and saddening period of 1941-1945. Tsilya wrote about her life as a young girl during the Holocaust and her unique experience. She suffered substantial discrimination being a Jew in Ukraine during World War ll. Tsilya had less than a 15 percent chance of surviving the tragic event.

     On June 21, 1941, Tsilya, her mother (Haya Sura) father (Favish), and grandmother (Mindya) escaped from Nazi bombings in Mogilev-Podolskiy to Shargorod. During this journey, Nazis continued to bomb the villages and areas which Tsilya was walking through. After Tsilya reaches Sharhorod, her father was drafted into the Soviet Union army. Shortly after, the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police also known as Polizei took full control of Shargorod. In Shargorod, they experienced terrible suffering including being locked in a shed, belongings being stolen, and almost being killed by Nazi soldiers. After returning to Mogilev-Podolskiy, Tsilya's family found their house flooded and forced into a ghetto. For months, Tsilya and her family stayed at the Ghetto until they were sent to Pechora. Pechora is a concentration camp, also known as the “dead loop.” Tsilya and her family barely survived their journey to Pechora and were almost killed by Anti-Semitic Ukrainians. In Pechora, victims would primarily starve to death or die from sickness. Tsilya was at the camp for approximately one month. Then, Tsilya, Haya Sura, and Mindya met Motale, a Jewish boy who was also in the concentration camp. He offered to take them out of Pechora. Haya Sura opted for the boy to take Tsilya first. At night, Tsilya made her escape. She walked and hid in the forest for about 6 days. Then, she approached the edge of a mountain. Below was a village. Tsilya was tired, starving, and in horrible pain. She decided to slide off the mountain. Once she hit the ground, a woman approached her and took Tsilya inside a house where Tsilya partially recovered. After some time, Tsilya reunited with her mother who also escaped from the concentration camp. Then, Tsilya and Haya Sura again ended up in a ghetto where they withstood many hardships. They stayed there for years, until the Red army reclaimed their land. After the liberation, Tsilya worked in a Soviet military hospital until the war ended on May 8, 1945. On that day Tsilya met her future husband, Michael Zaslavsky. After the war, Tsilya's hardships were not over. USSR dictator, Joseph Stalin attempted to deport many Jews who survived the Holocaust to forced labor camps. Since Michael Zaslavsky was a captain in the Soviet Union army, he saved Tsilya from deportation. Sadly, Tsilya’s grandmother, Mindya, froze to death at the concentration camp.

    Check out her page - | Dedicated To Tsilya Zaslavsky

    NeverForgetSilverishGoldNovabillA | Share Your Ancestor's Story - Holocaust Stories, War Stories, And More

© 2019, All rights reserved. | Dedicated To Tsilya Gershman Zaslavsky - Holocaust Survivor

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