Very few people, especially women, needed Ash’s services. What is the meaning of his services?
Today it is acceptable for a woman to buy a readymade cake according to her taste.
At Ash’s confectionery, which was located on the corner of Filskigo and Kilinskigo, in front of the city clock tower, one could obtain slices of cakes that no Balbosta worthy of the name could bake. Moreover, Ash’s cakes were kosher, unlike Feldobski’s.
So who needed Ash’s services? Capable people, passerby with a penny in their pockets, or those wishing to have a cup of tea with cake and carry small talk with friends and acquaintances.
I also bought cakes from Ash a number of times. When buying a cake, I always went half and half. Mostly I shared with my friend Moshe Kozsnitzki.
Well, what cake can you buy for the few pennies at our disposal? There were very expensive cakes with creams of all sorts and wafting fragrance, and the simplest cakes, called “Kleib Tz’sta” in Polish, for some reason (meaning a pie baked of bread crumbs).
Where was the cake and where were the bread crumbs? For us it was a slice of honey. A taste of paradise. What did Ash put into his cakes that I loved so, I do not know, every morsel was swallowed up and gone.
I knew fat Ash well, since I had met him in the Civil Defense in the fire department in our town (I will write about this separately).
When we were already in Brisk, Ash also appeared not just once, but several times. On the last occasion he proudly showed us an armband with the Star of David that Jews in Siedlce has been forced to wear on their hands. This was the beginning of the notorious end. As usual, Ash joked against the Germans and argued that nothing bad would happen to the Jews. His words almost persuaded our parents to return to Siedlce.
Holocaust survivors who knew Ash well, told after the war of Ash’s tragic end. One day, as told, he got into a situation which he hadn’t survived.
This was what had happened. The Germans rounded up Jews and Poles to abuse each other. One of the Germans gave Ash a fire ax and ordered him to decapitate a Polish, for no reason. Ash was shocked and deterred from doing so. Then the German turned to the Pole and handed him the ax. The Pole did not think twice and chopped off Ash’s head without blinking.
So died the man who saw the Germans as a transitional period. He always recalled the days of the First World War when baking supplies were short. He claimed that when the war will be over buyers will flock again and everything will fall back into place. He thought, but he did not see what was coming. Ash’s blood covered the cobbles and his head was lying when Germans and Poles were smiling to each other.
May his memory be blessed.