Marking the New Year

From Our Collections

"The Cry of Captivity" – a prayer book and calendar for the New Year 5705 – 1944

In the summer of 1942, at the age of 27, Shlomo Ullmann was drafted into the Hungarian labor battalions. The Fascist government in Hungary sent male Jews of military age to forced labor on the battlefront. They were forced to clear mines and dig anti-tank ditches in terrible conditions, at the same time suffering humiliation and degradation at the hands of their commanding officers.

In early 1943, many Jews took advantage of the pandemonium during a battle to escape to Soviet-held territory, thereby hoping to alleviate the conditions of slavery they suffered under Hungarian command. They quickly discovered that they had jumped from the frying pan into the fire: the Soviet troops sent them to camps where they were imprisoned under appalling conditions together with German and Hungarian prisoners-of-war.

A few months after their capture, in the summer of 1943, a rumor spread among the prisoners that a train travelling to Siberia would stop nearby and anyone who managed to get to the train could escape the camp. Seeing this as his last opportunity to survive, Shlomo crawled hundreds of meters to the station, and managed to jump on board and travel to a camp with improved conditions.

In this camp he met Mordecai Glick, and the two worked together to create a handwritten Machzor for the High Holy Days and a Jewish calendar. Together they remembered the prayers, and Mordecai wrote them down on pages of Soviet propaganda, printed on tobacco leaves, which Shlomo took from the infirmary. They managed to make two copies of the prayer book, one for each of them.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Rachel Ullmann and Chana (Ullmann) Bechor, Kiryat Tivon