Yossela Margulies
Born in May 1925, Wolf ‘Yossela’ Margulies, grew up in the small farming village of Czerniejow in southeastern Poland, not far from the town of Stanislawow.

Yossela’s parents, Yitzhak and Ettel Gabirer Margulies, were deeply religious Orthodox Jews. Poor and hungry, his family worked hard to keep food on the table. The fourth of seven siblings, by the time he was a young teen Yossela had already acquired adept farming skills which would later prove useful. His father Yitzhak often told him: “You are a good boy… always remember to work hard and the Lord will bless you.”

After the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, anti-Semitism grew even worse and life for the Jewish population became increasingly difficult. In 1941, when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, he was sixteen years old, Yossela’s grandfather was taken during the night—his beard cut—and was drowned by local Ukranian attackers. Anti-Jewish boycotts were enforced and all Jews were required to wear Star of David armbands. The family lived in constant fear and he often wondered why being Jewish was a crime, worthy of such injustice.

Yet the nightmare for Yossela and his family was just beginning. Soon all the Jews in his village were forced from their homes and sent to the Stanislawow ghetto, where they met fates of being shot at random, succumbing to illness and starvation or eventual deportation to concentration camps…the ultimate Nazi solution to the Jewish ‘problem’.

Conditions in the filthy, crowded ghetto were horrific—food was scarce, his parents and siblings ailing and malnourished. Fortunate to have farming skills, Yossela was sent to work on a farm outside the ghetto during day, returning at night with meager portions of food hidden in his clothing to give to his family…but it was never enough.

A painful moment of truth came one evening when he returned from the farm back home to the ghetto and witnessed a group of Jews who were hanged, one of them his own brother. He knew he must somehow try to escape or face certain death. Having become friendly with a nearby Christian farmhand around his age, Yossela convinced his friend Zgeslow Chesnofski to loan him his Polish birth certificate.

One day, shortly afterwards, Yossela and other young men were forced by the Nazis to dig holes in a nearby graveyard, only to learn they were digging graves for their fellow Jews. Truckload after truckload of innocent men, women and children were brought to the gravesides, brutally shot and left to die inside the dirt pits. Carefully hiding behind a gravestone until dark and horrified by what he had witnessed, Yossela decided the moment had finally come to flee.

He returned one last time to the ghetto to see his family and to say goodbye. His frail parents—worried how they would find food without him—were heartbroken to see him go, but knew he could not stay. Filled with regret and sadness, Yossela received a final blessing from his father and disappeared into the night. “Son, if you survive we'll meet in heaven and you tell me all about it.”

That was the last time he would ever see his family again.


Yossela Margulies
Stefan Chesnofski
Willie Weisberg
William Jacob Morgan

Born
Wolf 'Yossela' Margulies
Czerniejow, Ploand
May 18,1925

Parents
Yitzhak Marqulies d. in Holocaust
Ettel Gabirer Marqulies d. in Holocaust

Siblings
Sarah, d. in Holocaust
Solomon, d. Stanislawow Ghetto,1941
Bunya, d. in Holocaust
Byla, d. in Holocaust
Two other brothers, d. in Holocaust