Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Simon Kagan

Simcha (Sidney) Itzkowitz and friends repairing boots in a partisan camp

Mir Castle

Mass gravesite where Simon Kagan's family members were buried


Sidnay Itzkowitz



Sidney Itzkowitz, March 20, 2012

My friend Chaim Simon Kagan was born in my town of Mir, Poland, in 1927. Most of the time, we used to meet in our synagogue  every Saturday. Simon's father used to sit facing my family. We were father and five brothers. We attended Talmud Torah School together, until grade 4, after which I went to a polish public school.

In 1939, the Russians occupied this territory, which became a province of Byalarus. I went after that to a Russian school, where we learned  three languages, Russian Byelorussian and German.
In 1941 the Germans occupied Mir. On November 9, 1941 the Germans massacred approximately 1650 people in one day.
My parents and Simon's parents were killed on the same day.
After that, the Germans transferred us to the ghetto in Mir, which was an old destroyed castle, once owned by the Radjivil family.
Other people lived there as well, by the name of Swiatopolk-Mirski. There is still a grand-daughter, Princess Irene Swiatopolk-Mirska living in Germany today. I sent her my memoirs which I wrote, entitled "From Mir to Montreal."
A small part of the castle was livable, but the rest was very old and in bad condition, but we managed to house 850 people.
Thanks to the German chief of police, Oswald Rufeisen (who was a Jew  but this was unknown to the German police) we survived the Holocaust. Oswald found out from the chief of the German gendarmerie, the date of liquidation of the ghetto, which was set for august 13, 1942.
Oswald supplied us with some ammunition in the ghetto and he went with the police department, prior to the liquidation, on a false partisan hunt, in order for us to escape from the Ghetto. We were an organized group of 45 men and two women (both nurses). Because my three older brothers were in the organized group, my younger brother and I were included in the group. Approximately 160 people followed us out of the Ghetto.
Some people were hiding in the ghetto and escaped by themselves. Simon with his sister broke the iron bars from the window and managed to jump to safety.
In the year 1971, on a first visit to Israel, I met one of Simon's sisters in Jerusalem. One sister lives in Toronto, Canada and I met her on several occasions.
In 1992, a group of people from Mir, went for the 50th Anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto in Mir. We took with us stone plaques (written in Hebrew and Byelorussian) to put on the tombstones of the four mass graves of approximately 2200 killed in Mir.
Oswald Rufeisen (who rescued us in the ghetto) brought a group of photographers from Germany to film and witness the destruction of the Mir Castle"

At the same time, Simon and I were chosen to explain to the photographers what they should film. Simon brought them to the place in the castle where he showed them the window, where the iron gate had been installed.

Simon had broken that gate to escape with his sisters. I photographed Simon when he was talking to the German crew and I have it on film in Montreal.

The castle in Mir was restored about 20 years ago and today is an agricultural museum. I believe that the management of the castle made a room of remembrance in memory of the martyrs of the holocaust.
Editor's note: I recently saw Sidney Itzkowitz of Montreal in Israel and thank him for writing this article. Since Simon Kagan's story was not recorded in the book edited by Belle Millo, Voices of Holocaust Survivors, I thought it would be especially worthwhile to record it through this article.To read more about Sidney itzkowitz click here:
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Royal Bank
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • JNF Manitoba / Saskatchewan
  • JCFS
  • JCFS Winnipeg
  • Orthodox Union
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Sobey's
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Safeway Tuxedo
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgleish
  • Lipkin Family
  • Booke + Partners
  • Red River Coop
  • Gislason Targownik
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • James Teitsma
  • Obby Khan
  • Jon Reyes
  • James Bezan
  • Markus Chambers
  • Ross Eadie
  • Ted Falk
  • Artista Homes
  • Fetching Style
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • Shinewald Family
  • MLT Aikins
  • Charach Family
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • MCW Consultants Ltd.
  • Preventative Health First
  • Lanny Silver
  • Josef Ryan
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Holiday Inn Polo Park
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • PFK Lawyers
  • Commercial Pool
  • Simmonds and Associates
  • CdnVISA Immigration Consultants
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Dr. Brent Schachter and Sora Ludwig
  • Clear Care Periodontal
  • Shindico
  • Doheny Securities Limited
  • Lazar Family
  • Superlite
  • Chochy's
  • Nick's Inn
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Global Philanthropic
  • Abe and Toni Berenhaut
  • Peerless Garments
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Roseman Corp
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • kristinas-greek
  • Broadway Law Group
  • West Kildonan Auto Service
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.