Research

Kresch, Dave Berek

Survivor/Escapee

Dynow, Chortkiv, Buhkara, Tehran

Mr. Kresch was born in Dynow in 1929.  Dynow was a city of three to four thousand people and only about one hundred Jews.  

Dave’s family were in grain business and dealt in real estate; they also owned their own home.  He lived with his parents, his brothers and a cleaning woman.

His maternal grandparents were Sara and Michael Ryss and paternal grandparents Sara and Pinchos Kresch who all lived closeby.

His father’s brother Herman lived in New York and his mother had four brothers and two sisters.  His aunts, Ruzha and Deena moved to Paris and survived the war.

The Jewish holidays and Shabbat were very special.  This meant lots of cleaning, cooking and also the purchase of new clothes to wear.

Dave went to public school and also Cheder and returned home after dark.  He had no non-Jewish friends.  His older brother went to a private school to learn accounting.

The family became frightened when listening to Hitler on the radio, but the rabbis told them not to worry, but to believe in G-d and wait for miracles to occur.**

Their town was quickly occupied by the Germans who were beautiful, “top of the line” soldiers.  It was during a Yom Kippur service that the Jews were taken away, made to dig ditches and then were shot and killed.  The synagogues were set on fire.

Dave’s parents told them the SS were coming and to run to their grandparents house to hide in their “safe” room, a room that was hidden with no doors nor windows.  The SS caught one of their uncles trying to find the safe room and shot him.

The Germans rounded up all the Jews in a ring, surrounded by barbed wire, and took pictures of every one of them.  Their Polish neighbors began turning in the Jews, throwing all the bedridden ones on the street to be killed.

Most of the Jews from his town were murdered in the woods, leaving his family in tears.  The SS continued going from small town to small town, killing everyone.

The women and children, trying to escape, had to cross the river into Russia and many of the older ones drowned.  He and his entire family made it across, the women keeping the keys to their homes, expecting to one day return.  They took blankets, money and some food with them.

They settled in a town called Chortkiv where there was no school, but there was a Cheder.  The Russians didn’t like having so many refugees, so they shipped them by wagons and trains to Siberia.  They traveled for weeks and were given loaves of bread to eat.  Dave was then ten years old and was enjoying this great adventure.  When they arrived, they had one room per family with a common kitchen for all.  They stayed there for six months.  His father got a job in a factory and he skied to school and if he arrived early, he was given a sweet roll.

Everyone lived together in this town that included Poles and Hungarians.  They all hated the Jews.  Dave’s father was still practicing Jewish rituals.  They tried to entice Dave to join youth organizations.

In order to get clothes, food, etc., one had to stand in line, sometimes all night.

Dave’s uncle in America sent packages that contained sweaters, pants and even underwear.  His father received a coat before the Blitzkrieg.  They fled to Bukhara by train and rented a one room apartment.  There were millions of refugees and, although the Russians were loosing to the Germans, they were treated nicely.

His father could not find work and people were dying of disease and starvation.  He and his brother Joe were put in a Polish orphanage in Russia and were left there in 1942, his parents saying they were going to another country. Dave’s only thoughts were about food and clothes.

Next he was shipped to a missionary in Iran where the priests turned the Jews away.  Then on to Teheran and Palestine.  He heard from his parents who were in a camp in Tehran, which was the headquarters for Poles.  Next he went by ship to India where social workers accompanied the seven hundred children.  Next he traveled to Yemen and finally by ship to Palestine, through the Suez Canal.  They arrived in Palestine February 18, 1943 and the British let them in, with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt and Henrietta Szold.  

The kibutzim seemed like country clubs and he was checked in by Henrietta Szold.  He went to school in Jerusalem and lived in dorms with lots of German Jewish children.

Dave was in Israel when the WWII ended.  He received mail from his family and, when he could, he sent packages to them.  His parents stayed in Russia.

He was then taken to Haifa as the Haganah was going to attack the British.  He was put on a ship bound for Cyprus.  This was 1947.

His kibbutz had wealthy German Jews, many were doctors and lawyers.  He did mechanical work and stayed for two years.

Next he went to Tel Aviv and volunteer for the Israeli army with his brother.  He trained for eight months to be an officer and was assigned to the armored car and tank unit.  He was amongst the first to enter Nazareth when Isarel was declared a state.
He was told not to undress and to always sleep with a gun.  He stayed eight years, five in the army.

Dave came to the U.S. and was very unhappy, although overjoyed to see his parents.  He didn’t want to come to the U.S. because he was an army hero in Israel.  He came by ship through Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, arriving in New Jersey.

His father was working and already speaking English.  He came to Detroit to be with his parents and joined the Yeshiva on Linwood.  He lived with them, one block north of Joy Road and Dexter.

He didn’t like the Yeshiva and wanted to go back into the army, but was rejected.  He met his wife, Zena Byck and married on September 15, 1957.  He became a butcher and worked at Krogers while attending Northern High School to learn English.  He bought a business called U.S. Meats.

Dave has three children:  Linda Nusynowitz, an occupational therapist; Sandy, an attorney and Janet Belsky, a nurse.  He has many grandchildren and spends time babysitting, working out and going to the synagogue.   

Interview information:

Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Date: 7/13/2010
Format: Video recording