David Leizon about Narewka's community and live there before war, about live in Krakow before and during WW2, about his way to Israel and his wife's history
An English resume of an interview in Hebrew that took place in Israel as a part of the Polish Roots in Israel Project. interviewee name: David Leizon
Name of the Father: Moshe Leizon
Name of the Mother: Hanna Leizon
Date of Birth: 1928
David was born in 1928 in the town of Narewka, near Bialystok Poland. The town was very small and pastoral, and was surrounded by woods. David's parents: Moshe and Hanna Leizon had four other children, whos names were: Hershel, Betzalel, Paula (who later took on the Hebrew name Aviva) and Leon.
At the time of David's childhood, the town consisted of 800 Jewish families, who lived among communities of Russians, Russian orthodox peasants, and Polish Catholics; who were generally very tolerant towards the Jews. His childhood home was made out of heavy wooden boards smeared with tar. There was no electric lighting, nor was there any running water. Instead, there was a well in the yard, from which water was drawn and carried into the house in buckets. There was also a "toilet" in the yard, and David remembers his feet freezing when he would use it in the winter.
There were several synagogues in Narewka, as well as a Yeshiva for young boys. David himself attended a "Hedder" as a child, and then went on to attend only several classes in the government's Polish school. He defines his parents as secular working-class people, who only fulfilled the necessary religious commandments such as: keeping the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays. Still, their physical appearance was in the secular fashion, and they were Zionists. In their living room, stood a chest and on top it was a Jewish National Fund donation box, which was meant for the redemption of the lands in distant Palestine. The family was very excited about the idea of donating to the Zionist settlement in Palestine (Israel) so that they made sure that every family member would always slip whatever coins they had into the box, every day of the week.
Older brothers, Hershel and Betzalel took part in the social activities of the Zionist "Ha'Chalutz" movement ("The Pioneer"), which operated in Narewka. They would even attend pioneer training camps with their friends, as preparation for the immigration to Israel. The town of Narewka itself had been a home to generations upon generations of the extended Leizon family, which at the pre-war years was a clan consisting of over a hundred people. That includes the aunt and uncle who had immigrated to America and Argentina before the war.
Mr. Leizon was a metal ingraver by profession; a highly requested and lucrative mechanical profession. His father, David's grandfather, was the town's tinsmith, who catered to both Jews and gentiles.
In 1936, following the diminishing of work opportunities in the town and its surrounding region, Mr. Leizon was forced to search other sources of income in faraway regions, and he even traveled as far as the city of Krakow, which was 800km away. Still, the journey paid off, and he soon received a position at a bottle factory in Krakow. His salary was high enough so that he could afford to send money home, allowing Mrs. Leizon to comfortably raise the couple's five children.
Nevertheless, his loyalty to his work and the great distance from his home town, allowed Mr. Leizon to only visit his family once or twice a year. David members his mother being very bitter about this split, and trying her best to convince her husband to prepare living conditions for the rest of the family in Krakow, so that they may join them.
David recalls his family leaving Narewka in 1937. When they said goodbye to their relatives at the train station, no one from the entire extended family could guess that it would be the last time they would ever see each other.
Upon their arrival to Krakow, David remembers his family moving into a specious rented apartment on the Polish street of the Podgórze quarter. He managed to attend public school, where he studied alongside gentile students, for two more years before the war broke out.
At that time, David's oldest brothers were already adult men, who were working to help support their mother.
He particularly remembers the Germans entering Krakow with a victory parade in the streets. Still, the historical and cultural treasures, which the city of Krakow possessed, kept the Nazis interested in keeping it unharmed thus it was hardly ever bombed by air raids. In October, the city was pronounced as the new capital of the General Government- an autonomous Nazi territory governed by a "Gauleiter"; a governor.
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