"I left everyone at home, Mother and Father, in the ghetto, everyone. I feel terrible for leaving them in the thieving hands of Hitler's robbers."
These words were written by Tuvia (Tevele) Grin (Green) in a postcard he sent from Russia to Hava-Rivka Degani in Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine). Tuvia was killed serving among the partisans.
Moshe Grin and Sara-Hene née Tzadovicz lived in Panevėžys, Lithuania. Moshe worked as a merchant, and the family lived a traditional, comfortable life. They had eight children: Borney (b. 1903), Hilda (b. 1906), Bela (b.1909), Gitta-Gitl (b. 1911), Hava-Rivka (b. 1913), Miriam (b. 1915), Azriel (b. 1916), and Tuvia (b. 1920). During WWI, the family left Panevėžys, and wandered throughout Russia, before returning to Panevėžys in the 1920s. Tuvia was born during their wanderings in Russia.
During the 1920s, Borney and Hilda immigrated to South Africa. Hava trained in the Maccabi Youth Sport Association in Panevėžys and joined the Borochov youth movement. She later joined the Hechalutz movement, left for Hachshara (agricultural training in preparation for immigrating to Eretz Israel) and in 1933 immigrated to Eretz Israel. Thirteen-year-old Tuvia accompanied her to the train station. There he enveloped her and begged her in tears, "Please don't go Havkeh, please don't go." But Hava left. A few years later, she managed to get an immigration certificate for her sister Bela, who left for Eretz Israel before the war. Parents Moshe and Hene, and their children, Azriel, Miriam, Gitta (who was a pharmacist) and Tuvia, remained in Panevėžys.
Azriel married Zenia, and after the occupation of Lithuania, fled with her to Russia. During their wanderings, their daughter Mary-Mira was born. The remainder of the family were interned in the Panevėžys ghetto. The last letters that reach Hava from her sisters were sent in 1941. Tuvia managed to flee the ghetto, joined the partisans in the area and went to Russia. The last sign of life from Tuvia was the postcard he sent from Balakhna to his sister Hava in Eretz Israel. Tuvia was killed fighting as a partisan. The circumstances of his death remain unknown. The parents of the family, Moshe and Hene, and their daughters Gitta and Miriam were murdered in Ponowitz. Azriel, Zenia and Mary-Mira survived and immigrated after the war to Israel.
In 1956, Azriel submitted to Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony in memory of his parents, Moshe and Hene Grin, and his sister, Gitta. In 2005, Varda Talmor, the daughter of Hava-Rivka Degani-Grin and the granddaughter of Moshe and Hene Grin, submitted to Yad Vashem a Page of Testimony in memory of her uncle Tuvia and aunt Miriam. In 2012, through Yad Vashem's ongoing "Gathering the Fragments" campaign, Talmor gave to Yad Vashem the letters sent to her mother in Lithuania, before and during the war, among them this last postcard from Tuvia.
27 August, my dear and beloved sister and brother-in-law […], how are you
Dear sister, I received your postcard of 15 [July] today, and read about your children with great joy.
Dear sister, I will respond to your letters. I fled Lithuania, Panevėžys. I left everyone at home, Mother and Father, in the ghetto, everyone. I feel terrible for leaving them in the thieving hands of Hitler's robbers, and who knows what is happening to them. Azriel is well. They recruited […] too. He is not far from me.
Regards to everyone. Be healthy and strong. I live in hope that we will soon celebrate victory over the enemy of us all.
Write often. From me, your devoted brother
Regards to Lipa (?) I remembered a joke […]