Sir Ronald Harwood: Obit by Abel Levitt

Plunge, Lithuania

Sept 2020: planted by Eugenijus Bunka at Litvakland, Plateliai

Sir Ronald Harwood 

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Harwood

The Ronald Harwood International Art Competition
 

The Tolerance Centre

More artwork to follow….

Abel Levitt on the passing of Sir Ronald Harwood from natural causes at his home in Sussex on 8 September 2020, at age 85.

Abel:

I would like to write specifically about Ronald’s connection to Plungyan in Lithuania and his visit there with his wife Natasha in 2005.

I grew up with Ronnie Horwitz. We started school at the Kings Road Primary School in 1941, in the same class of sub A. We completed our schooling at Sea Point Boys’ High in 1951. Throughout our school lives we were in the same class, at Kings Road, at Sea Point Junior and at Sea Point Boys’ High. We lived close to one another, Ronnie in Victoria Road Bantry Bay, and, I, 150 yards away in Brompton Avenue. We were in the Cubs and Scouts together at the 10th Green and Sea Point, We played tennis together, watched cricket at Newlands together, competed with one another at the Eisteddfods. 

At school, Ronnie took the lead in the school plays. He was outstanding. After we had finished writing our matric exams, Ronnie left for London, to study Dramatic Art, dropped out of the Royal Academy due to financial difficulties, and the rest, as they say, is history. A career of writing and leadership. We maintained a loose relationship, the occasional phone call when I was in London, but we did spend a day together after watching his acclaimed play “Taking Sides”.

It was whilst reading his novel “HOME” that I learned for the first time that Ronald’s father Isaac Horwitz had emigrated from Lithuania. In half a lifetime, our fathers’ ancestry was not a subject of discussion. Glenda and my journey to Lithuania had already began, when I read Ronnie’s book “Home” and discovered that both of our fathers were from Plungyan. I called Ronnie. “What about you and Natasha joining us in a trip to our shtetl Plungyan” I asked. The reply was immediate. And the date 25th May agreed upon, with our guide Regina to be our leader.

The meeting at the airport was emotional. Ronnie had recently been awarded the Oscar for writing the screenplay of what was to become a Holocaust Classic “The Pianist”. And here he was, with his dear wife Natasha, in Lithuania.

Our journey to Plungyan was via Kovno where we visited Eugenijus Bunka, the son of the “Last Jew in Plungyan”, and our friend and partner in our Plungyan ventures. Eugenijus was in hospital, recovering from an operation. He would not be with us on the upcoming welcome to the Oscar winner.

 Upon our arrival in the town our first stop was at the apartment of Yacovas Bunka. During the few years of Lithuanian independence from the Soviet occupation, Yacovas Bunka had welcomed some hundreds of Plungyaner Jews. Few would have been of the international stature of the writer, playwright, literary giant and Oscar winner as Ronald Harwood. There was an immediate warm relationship although Bunka spoke no English and Ronald did not understand Yiddish.

The following morning we proceeded to the mass graves, where 1800 Plungyan Jews had been murdered by the Germans and their Lithuanian Collaborators in July 1941. The mass graves in Plungyan are special .The acclaimed sculptor Bunka, together with his Lithuanian sculptor friends had carved the sculptures which stand as sentinels overlooking the mass graves. These mass graves in the Kausenai Forest have been described by some as the most impressive in the whole of Eastern Europe. Ronald did not have family who had remained in Lithuania, but he walked around, silent, as he absorbed the sanctity of the moment. He was profoundly moved. The photo of Ronald sitting quietly on a bench describes the emotion of the visit.

Our next visit was to the Saules Gymnasium. The headmaster Jouzas Milacius welcomed his important guests, the Harwood’s, in one of the multiple European languages that he spoke, but not a word of English. Jouzas is a true friend of ours, a man who was directly helpful when we proposed the establishment of a Tolerance Education Centre in his school.  The pupils were assembled in the hall, waiting for the guests to arrive. They were well prepared. Every class had seen the film, “The Pianist”, and had lessons about the Warsaw ghetto uprising. And here they were, seated and waiting to hear from Ronald. The students were riveted by Ronald’s charm and dynamic personality.

The questions were intelligent. These children had as a teacher Danute Serapiniene, a committed and sincere lady who since 1995 had been teaching children about the Holocaust and about the Jews who lived in their town Plunge.

In the evening there was an event at the local Ogynski Palace where Ronald addressed the intellectuals of the town, relating his experiences of working in Poland with the director of the film Roman Polansky. Again the audience interacted with his engaging and charismatic personality and interacted with many questions about the film.

The following morning was a scheduled meeting with the mayor of Plunge, all arranged by the school? We sat in the mayor’s office, listening to the usual welcome and niceties.

And then Ronald Harwood spoke. I remember his words very clearly. “Mr. Mayor, I know that you have difficulties with budgets. I appeal to you, whatever you do don’t reduce the budgets for culture. To do so will be to the detriment of your society.”

As we walked down the stairs at the conclusion of the meeting, Glenda looked at me, and I looked back at her. We were both thinking of the very same thing. That was to create an art competition, called “The Ronald Harwood Holocaust Art competition“. Ronald’s words to the mayor of Plunge had inspired us and since that time the Ronald Harwood Art Competition has grown from a local event, to a regional event and to a national event. The word “Art” has become “Arts” as all forms of art are part of the competition today. Painting, drawing, sculpture, drama, music and writing.

We were present at the 10th anniversary of the Ronald Harwood Arts Competition, held in the Plunge Town Hall. There was an exhibition of prize-winning art works from previous years and entries from throughout Lithuania. The International School in Vilnius arrived with two full busloads of children of all ages who took part in a musical play, in Lithuanian, English and Yiddish with

Vilna and the Holocaust as the theme.

On Friday night at our hotel in the nearby resort of Plateliai we had a traditional Friday night dinner with candle lighting and Kiddush. Our guests included teachers from the district.

Before leaving Plungyan we had a special visit to make. Living in the centre of the town was Kazys Vitkevicius and his wife. As a 14year old in 1941 Kazys had helped his mother to save Jewish girls. He did this by digging pits in which he hid the girls covered by branches, and bringing them food. Both his mother and Kazys were honoured by Yad Vashem and became Righteous among the Nations. Ronald and Natasha were visibly moved at the experience of meeting this special man.

And so back to Vilnius where Ronald addressed the students at the Sholem Aleichem Jewish Day School. Again, the subject was the movie The Pianist and once more the children at the school were enthralled by the charm and competence of the writer of the script of the film

The Harwoods returned to their home in London after an experience which Ronald told me was something beyond his expectations.

 For us, that experience of being with my lifelong friend in the land of the birth of our fathers, to witness the appreciation of the young people of the artistry of Ronald Harwood inspired us to talk about Tolerance Education and to display the winning art works from the Ronald Harwood competition in countries around the world, including South Africa and Lithuania.

Abel Levitt 

Eli with Glenda & Abel Levitt in Ra’anana, Israel – July 2017

———————

Sea Point High School 

Sea Point High School – Wikipedia

Sea Point High School, formerly Sea Point Boys High School, is a co-educational public high school in Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa. The school was established on 21 April 1884. In 1925, the senior grades were separated from the junior grades. In 1989, the school merged with Ellerslie Girls’ High School after becoming co-educational.

Sea Point Boys connected to Plunyan

  • Sir Ronald Harwood (Horwitz)
  • Sir Antony Sher
  • Abel Levitt
  • Eli Rabinowitz (KehilaLink manager)

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Point_High_School

The Last Jew in Plunge

Last Jew

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/plunge/Last_Jew.html

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/plunge/Home.html

 

Gintautas Rimeikis and Yolanta Mazhukne

   

Yolanta Mazhukne, Gintautas Rimeikis and Danutė Serapinienė 

With Gintautas Rimeikis, Yolanta Mazhukne and Danutė Serapinienė 

 

Keidan Commemoration 28 August 2020

Greetings to all our Keidaner community and friends!   

from Aryeh (Leonard) Shcherbakov
secretary of the Association of Keidaners in Israel

Israel July 2019

For those of you who are not members of the “Roots in Keidan” group on Facebook, and couldn’t attend the commemoration meeting, we send the following note. 

As you know, yesterday, Friday, August 28, 2020, we commemorated the 79th anniversary of extermination of our families, who were brutally slaughtered together with all Jewish community of Kėdainiai (Keidan) in one single day – on August 28, 1941. 

Two simultaneous commemoration ceremonies were held at 11:00, one – in Israel, by the memorial dedicated to the lost communities of Kėdainiai, Ariogala, Dotnuva, Krakės, and Šėta, at the old cemetery in Holon, another – in Lithuania, by the mass grave in Kėdainiai. 

The first one was conducted by a number of descendants of the Keidan Jewish community living in Israel, the second – by our Lithuanian friends in Kėdainiai, who are faithfully devoted to the preservation of memory of our community.  

Israel 28 August 2020

Kedainiai, Lithuania 28 August 2020

We thank all those who attended – both in Lithuania and Israel – as well as those who were with us at this sad hour. 

Our special thanks to Mrs.Laima Ardavičienė, who prepared a touching presentation commemorating the tragic fate of our community – “Every single man has a name”: 

https://view.genial.ly/5f467a84ab36c80d5988f1ef/presentation-every-single-man-has-a-name 

 

 

With best regards,
Aryeh (Leonard) Shcherbakov
secretary of the Association of Keidaners in Israel
ashcherbakov@hotmail.com  

Kedainiai June 2019

In memory of Simon Davidovich z”l

Israel Jul 2019

With Ben-Tsion and Batya
With Len
With Aryeh

Elected to IAJGS Board

August 2020,  For release: Upon receipt

Contact: Sandra Golden, Publicity Chair, IAJGS, publicity@iajgs2020.org

Perth resident elected to International Jewish Genealogy Board                 

Eli Rabinowitz, a Perth, Australia, resident,  was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) at its International Jewish Genealogy Conference, presented virtually on Aug. 12.  The Conference drew more than 2300 registrants from 28 countries.

Eli  has researched his family’s genealogy and associated Jewish cultural history for over 30 years. A South African-born Australian, Eli has travelled extensively, writing about Jewish life, travel and education on his website, Tangential Travel and Jewish Life. https://elirab.me 

 Eli writes and manages 87 Jewishgen KehilaLinks, and over 750 WordPress posts. His articles have appeared in numerous publications. Eli has lectured internationally: at educational institutions, commemorative events, at IAJGS and other conferences, and online platforms.

He established the Partisans’ Song Project, and was awarded a U.S. government cultural grant for his WE ARE HERE! Human Rights and Social Justice initiative, https://wah.foundation.

Eli has an Economics Honours degree from the University of Cape Town.

IAJGS is an umbrella organization of more than 91 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide.  The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members. The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: www.iajgs.org and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/iajgsjewishgenealogy.  

                                                            

 

They Are Returning – A Year On!

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania

Reflecting back to  June 2019

Rabbi Dan Fink

Bobbie Lamont

Eli Rabinowitz 

13 June 2019

VIDEO OF OUR EVENT IN LITHUANIA

They Are Returning

‘’TILTAI-BRIDGES-בריקן’’

For video, click here:

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZXBEuPfeFc

Rabbi Dan Fink handing out gifts to students
With Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon
Photos of our group – descendants of Keidaners

At the school

At the cemetery

At the Holocaust site

Vale Simonas Dovidavicius. 

Standing between Laima Ardaviciene and me in Kėdainiai, Lithuania on 15 June this year. Simon passed away last week and was laid to rest on the 18th December 2019. 

With Rimantas Zirgulis

 

We Are Here – Now!

How an idea has progressed around the globe!

From: UK Jewish Telegraph Manchester – May 2018

To: Philadephia – April 2020

Highlights

Australia 2019

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

Source: wah.foundation

Melbourne, Australia
The William Cooper Legacy

The Ark Centre Melbourne
Elder Shane & Rabbi Gabi
Barbara Miller & Federal Minister Ken Wyatt
With Viv Parry
Maroopna VIC, Australia 2019
Uncle Boydie, Maroopna VIC
London 2019 – World ORT
With Shoshana, Daniel & Edwin

Johannesburg  – ORT SA
Marcelle & Ariella
The Together Plan 2019
With Debra Brunner & Michael Mail in London
Birzh Lithuania 2019
Benny Rabinowitz
Aldone Shapiro & Emanuelis Zingeris MP at Birzh commemoration
Ambassadors to Lithuania
Kedainiai, Lithuania 2019
Keidaner descendants weekend at cemetery with Laima Ardaviciene 
Kedainiai Students

Israel 2019
Group at Yad Vashem

Belarus 2019

The welcome committee to Novogrudok – Tamara & Olga 
Nance Adler, Aron Bell- the last of the original Bielski with wife Henryka
Jerusalem Forest, Naliboki
IAJGS Conference in Cleveland 2019
With Saul Issroff, Roy Ogus & Henry Blumberg – all ex SA
South Africa

King David Victory Park, South Africa
Zog Nit Keynmol on Yom Hashoah 2020

Zog Nit Keynmol on Yom Hashoah 2020

South Africa  – Footage from SAJBD Facebook Live Stream with thanks

Source: youtu.be/ab_o311MR6Y

Choir Performances | WE ARE HERE!

Choir Performances | WE ARE HERE!

At Perth Modern School at Kristallnacht Commemoration on 10 November 2019 The joint choir of Ellenbrook Secondary College and Carmel High School The World Premiere performance at Ellenbrook Secondary

Source: wah.foundation/program/

Audience at Perth Modern School

 

Yom Hashoah – The Partisans’ Song Legacy

Commencing tonight, on 20 April 2020, and continuing tomorrow, on the 21st, corresponding to the 27th day of Nisan, the State of Israel and many Jews around the globe, commemorate the six million Jews who perished in the  Holocaust, as well as the heroism of survivors, and Jewish Partisans and rescuers.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown, regular ceremonies will not be held.

We have compiled this YouTube highlights video to give you a perspective of why the the Partisans’ Song is so integral to a meaningful commemoration:

Educators and students are welcome to download a functional powerpoint presentation (1.8gb) that matches this video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18g67tFpg0YpKtAp2dtSX1J1CyUTOsVeQ/view?usp=sharing

I can also run an online ZOOM presentation for your school or organisation.   Please contact me at  eli@elirab.com to arrange this. There is no charge for this or the accompanying lesson plans and films.

Here is a pdf of the List of Slides on my presentation:

A List of Slides

 

Here is more information for you:

Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In Israel, flags are lowered to half-mast, there is no public entertainment; ceremonies are held, and a siren at 10:00 signals the start of two minutes of silence.

The ceremonies held, usually conclude with Zog Nit Keynmol, the Partisans’ Song and Hatikvah.

 

Zog nit keyn mol” (Never Say; Yiddish: זאָג ניט קיין מאָל‎, [zɔg nit kɛjn mɔl]) or “Partizaner lid” (Partisan Song) is a Yiddish song considered one of the chief anthems of the Holocaust survivors and is sung in memorial services around the world.

The lyrics of the song were written in 1943 by Hirsh Glick, a young Jewish inmate of the Vilna Ghetto. The title means “Never Say”, and derives from the first line of the song. Glick’s lyrics were set to music from a pre-war Soviet song written by Pokrass brothers, Dmitri and Daniel, “Терская походная” (Terek Cossacks’ March Song), also known as “То не тучи – грозовые облака” (Those aren’t clouds but thunderclouds), originally from the 1937 film I, Son of Working People (story by Valentin Kataev).

Glick was inspired to write the song by news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. During World War II, “Zog nit keyn mol” was adopted by a number of Jewish partisan groups operating in Eastern Europe. It became a symbol of resistance against Nazi Germany‘s persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

For more information on the WE ARE HERE! Foundation, a not for profit organisation, please visit:

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

Source: wah.foundation

 

WE ARE HERE! In South Africa

Human Rights and Social Justice Project

Eli Rabinowitz introduced his highly successful WE ARE HERE! Education Program to key educators and students while on a recent visit to Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Here are some photo highlights:

King David Victory Park, Johannesburg – Presentation

King David Linksfield – Leadership Meeting
Darryl Frankel, Shelly Freinkel, Myleen Ben Melech & Eli Rabinowitz

ORT SA – Johannesburg
With Marcelle and Ariella
With Marcelle & Tyde
ORT Honour Plaques
Evelyn Green & Russel Lurie.
A Possible Collaboration on a multi-language Partisans’ Song in the Future! 
United Herzlia Schools – Cape Town
Highlands House, Cape Town – Presentation

Slide Show Presentation

 
WE ARE HERE! Project Australia

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

Source: wah.foundation

The World Premiere of the four language Partisan Song

The World Premiere of the four language Partisan Song

Ellenbrook Secondary College & Carmel High School At Ellenbrook Secondary College 5 August 2019

Source: youtu.be/iIJ-rC-DcWA

Educational Projects in Lithuania

An email from Abel and Glenda Levitt

K’far Sava, Israel

Dear Birzaim,

The below e-mail and attachments were received today from Ingrida Vilkiene of Vilnius. Ingrida, the lady who introduced us to Birzai, heads the Kommisja’s educational projects. The Kommisija is a Lithuanian government body entrusted with the teaching of the Holocaust and the expulsion of Lithuanians to Siberia.

We have known Ingrida for many years and respect her for the quality of her work and her commitment to Holocaust Education in Lithuania..

Look carefully at the attachments, and read Ingrida’s comments about her programmes. The art work done by young Lithuanians who learn about the Jewish past, including their lives in towns and villages before the period of mass murder, is  of an extraordinary level, and the students and their teachers deserve much credit.

Try to share this mail plus attachments with family and friends so that they too may learn to appreciate the work of Tolerance Education in Lithuania.

We would appreciate your thoughts and comments, and your passing this on to family and friends around the world

Regards

Abel & Glenda Levitt

Dear Glenda and Abel,

I hope that you are well. I know that you follow about the situation in Lithuania and also, I think that you sometimes check our website and you know – what we do.

Now about the situation in Lithuania. At this moment – everything is connected with coronavirus and it isn’t funny, because today in Governmental building people said that all workers must be prepared to work from house, all conferences, commemorational and cultural events must be postponed.

I postponed all our activities in March – 2 seminars and one huge events, which is the final event of our project: https://www.komisija.lt/en/renginiai/getting-to-know-the-jewish-cultural-heritage/

It is the project about Jewish history, culture and students sent to us drawings. 2 days ago I was in Kedainiai (we prepared the exhibition), but the final event, which was planned on 27th of March, we postponed 2 days ago also. Now we have plan to organize it on 24th of April, but we will see – how it be with this coronavirus. I added to this e-mail some drawings – just for your interest. Please, look especially it is for Glenda, because you are very close connected with art.

Also, we had plan to participate in the March of the Living in Poland. Almost everything was planned for that (I booked bus, hotels, I had teachers and students who were prepared for participation). Today I postponed it, because I got the information, that officially this event is postponed and the organizers have plan to make it on 22 of July (the date of liquidation of Warsaw Ghetto or 9 -10 November – the date of Kristallnight (in 1938). So, we will see, what happens in the future, but of course, our plan to visit with teachers and students Poland is still exists.

So, I added some drawings from this project to this e-mail.

Regards from Vilnius and take care.

Ingrida Vilkiene

KehilaLinks

KehilaLinks

Lithuania Alita (Alytus) Aran (Varena) Balbieriškis Birzh (Birzai) Druskieniki (Druskininkai) Keidan (Kedainiai) Kibart (Kybartai) Kopcheve (Kapciamiestis)  Koshedar (Kaisiadorys) Mariampol (M…

Source: elirab.me/kehila

 

WE ARE HERE! at SA Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth

  

On Friday 13 March 2020, the South African Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth will be hosting a presentation by Eli Rabinowitz, from Perth.

Eli, who is the founder of the education project the We Are Here Foundation, will be giving a talk accompanied by video footage about the programme for youth across the globe. The foundation focuses on the importance of educating Jewish youth about the Jewish partisans during the World War II. He will be giving an update on the success of this project, which is funded by the US government.

The project which started at schools in Australia is now functioning in Belarus, Lithuania, Israel and the USA.  Communities across the globe have been taught to sing the famous Partisans Song (Shir HaPartizanim).

His message is loud and clear: WE MUST NEVER FORGET!

If you would like to attend please email us at museum@beyachad.co.za

For more information please visit the website:  https://wah.foundation

WE ARE HERE! An Education Program That Inspires Upstanders

 

With Barbara Miller and Ken Wyatt, Federal Minister 2019
With Vince Connelly MP 2020

Kristallnacht Cantata Melbourne – World Premiere 2019

With Benny Rabinowitz in Birzh, Lithuania 2019
With Ambassadors of of China, Israel and Japan in Birzh, Lithuania 2019
Ground Turning at Lost Shtetl Museum, Seduva Lithuania
With Finnish, UK and US Ambassadors in Lithuania 2018
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2019
With Ian Stein and Dimitri Coutras at Sea Point School in 2019
At Beyachad meeting in 2019

New Book on Lithuania Compiled by David Sandler

 

Leyb Koniuchowsky

  The Lithuanian Slaughter of its Jews

The Testimonies from 121 Jewish survivors of the

Holocaust in Lithuania, recorded by Leyb Koniuchowsky,

in Displaced Persons’ camps (1946-48)

Translated into English by Dr Jonathan Boyarin

Book Compiled by David Solly Sandler

 

The Testimonies from 121 Jewish survivors of the

Holocaust in Lithuania, recorded by Leyb Koniuchowsky,

in Displaced Persons’ camps (1946-48)

 

Foreword

This book contains first-hand accounts from 121 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Lithuania, recorded by Leib Koniuchowsky in Displaced Persons’ camps from 1946 to 1948.

HISTORY

Grand Duke Vytautas the Great ruled Lithuania from 1386 to 1430. Early in his reign he granted Jews formal privileges, which formed the basis of the legal, political and economic structure of Lithuanian Jewry until the end of the eighteenth century.  

More than five centuries after Vytautas, however, Jewish life in Lithuania was abruptly ended. Lithuanian Jews were slaughtered en masse in the second half of 1941. 

 HORRORS

The testimonies published here tell of the destruction of Jewish life in Lithuania. Perpetrators of the massacre, most of them Lithuanians, acted with enthusiasm and in many cases without help or supervision from the invading Germans.

The testimonies are not pleasant to read. They tell of the horrors and evils inflicted on Lithuanian Jews.  Many echo the same pattern of degradation and slaughter: Lithuanians first attacked Jews morally and spiritually, imposing assorted humiliating labours, torture and other evils; then began their physical annihilation.

Armed bands of self-described “partisans” took control of Lithuanian towns as soon as the occupying Soviets left. Often, even before the Germans arrived, these bands started to terrorise and abuse the Jewish population: Partisans and others broke into Jewish homes and brazenly looted Jewish property. Jailings, torture, and summary executions began shortly afterward. First to be killed were Jews with Soviet connections; later, any perceived or invented offence could mean execution, or a Jew could be killed for no reason at all. Jews’ non-moveable possessions were claimed by their Lithuanian neighbors, particularly the partisans and their families.

In towns and villages, new civilian administrations suddenly emerged from underground with the German invasion. Lithuanian mayors, police chiefs and civil servants worked hand in hand with the partisans and a few Germans. These new governments often worked to extort money, jewellery and household goods from the Jews.

Jews were harassed and subjected to harsh decrees. They were forced to wear yellow armbands, forbidden to walk on sidewalks, barred from trading or even talking with non-Jews, and permitted to leave their houses only at certain times each day. Jews had to report for forced labour that in many cases was designed to be demeaning, harsh and degrading. Guarded by armed Lithuanians, they were constantly tormented, humiliated, beaten and starved.

Jews were forced to remove Torah scrolls and holy books from synagogues and study houses and burn them. Rabbis were humiliated, often having their beards cut or ripped off. Jewish women were frequently raped, and often tortured and killed afterward.

Within several weeks of the German invasion, most Jews were forced out of their homes and confined in small, closed areas, without food or water, and subject to constant harassment and torture as they were prepared for the final slaughter. Many died during this process. Often their former neighbors turned up to watch Jews being beaten and bludgeoned. In other cases, Jews were crowded into tiny ghettos in rundown areas. Hunger, thirst, and filth was common, and disease followed.

Eventually, the Jews were taken to pits dug in nearby forests to be shot. Amid the chaos of this organized slaughter, many were buried alive in the pits. At times partisans broke small children on their knees or bashed their heads on trees before throwing them, half dead, into a pit. 

WHO COMMITTED CRIMES, AND WHO KNEW

From the 121 testimonies published here, it is clear that the slaughter of the Jews was widely known. Townsfolk saw Jews being confined, tortured, abused and taken away. Peasants with wagons at times helped to transport Jews and their property.

Besides that portion of the population that actively participated in the slaughter of the Jews, or engaged in torture or rape, many local people appropriated or “inherited” Jews’ houses. The same happened with household property, including the clothes Jews had to remove at the pits before they were murdered. Money and jewellery not taken by the Germans or by those in charge was extorted by townsfolk or rural people.

It was common for Jews to entrust their property to Lithuanian friends or neighbors, “until after the war.” The mass slaughter meant that most often, this property was never reclaimed. In some cases Lithuanians later betrayed Jews who tried to recover their property.

On the other side, there were Lithuanians who were honest, and who risked their own lives and the lives of their family members to help Jews. Today we salute, honour, and thank them. Moreover, it is important to recognize that contemporary Lithuanians are not guilty of the crimes of earlier generations.

Yet the current Lithuanian government, unlike the German government, is reluctant to take full responsibility for genocide committed on its territory. Indeed, some of the perpetrators have been honoured as heroes for resisting the Soviet occupation. They have commemorative plaques and streets named after them. None of these “heroes” were prosecuted when alive.

The extent of participation in the genocide of Jews and collaboration with Nazis is still downplayed in Lithuania and the current Lithuanian government is seeking to legislate their responsibility away. We hope that this attitude and honouring of criminals will change.

David Solly Sandler

 

IN MEMORY OF MY BELOVED

FATHER MAUSHE-JOSEPH KONIUCHOWSKY

MOTHER FRUME-LIBE KONIUCHOWSKY-DREJERMAN

Both shot September 10, 1941, together with the rest of

the Jews of Alytus ghetto by Lithuanian murderers

 

FOR MY DEAREST

SISTER SLOVE KONIUCHOWSKY (CHAZANOWITZ)

Died September 8, 1936 in Alytus

HER HUSBAND JAKOV CHAZANOWITZ

Shot at the end of 1941 in Alytus ghetto by Lithuanian murderers

BROTHER KOPL

Died in Israel October 29, 1974

BROTHER EPHROJIM

Died in Montevideo, Uruguay December 18, 1983

 

LEYB KONIUCHOWSKY 

Leyb was the author and collector of these testamonies and a survivor of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

Leyb Koniuchowsky was born in Lithuania on 18 November 1910.

He graduated in 1928 from the Jewish Real Gymnasium in Vilkomir, and then studied civil engineering. He was an engineer by profession and resided in Kaunas (Kovno).

During the German occupation he lived in the Kaunas Ghetto and worked there until his escape.

He found shelter in a bunker at a farmer’s home where he remained until the liberation of Lithuania by the Red Army in 1944.

From 1944-46, he wandered through the war battered towns of Lithuania, collecting testimonies from the few Jews that survived.

The testimonies focus on the extermination of the Jews and the destruction of the local towns and villages. Koniuchowsky was meticulous about the accuracy and authenticity of the information in the testimonies, and even had the witnesses sign their testimonies. The testimonies include the names of thousands of victims of the Holocaust, the names of their murderers and those who had collaborated with the Germans.

Koniuchowsky continued to collect testimonies in She’erit Hapletah DP camps in Germany, where he lived for a few years.

From Germany he immigrated to the United States in 1951 and settled in New York, with help from the HIAS organization.

He lived in Israel between 1975 and 1982 and then later lived in Florida and passed away in 2003.

AKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS

Leyb Koniuchowsky’s foresight and diligence in collecting these testimonies deserves to be acknowledged, recognised and honoured. Hopefully this publication will help towards this.

The testimonies collected by Leyb have been in archives for decades and their publishing is long overdue. I have been honoured to have been given the opportunity to publish them and salute and thank Leyb Koniuchowsky for leaving this legacy for us and generations yet unborn.

 The Lithuanian  Slaughter of its Jews

Table of Contents

                                                                                                                                                             PAGE

FOREWORD                                                                                                                                       3

 

IN MEMORY OF                                                                                                                              5

LEYB KONIUCHOWSKY                                                                                                          6

 

THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN LITHUANIA                                                          11

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS                                                                                      21

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN COUNTY SEAT TELZH (TELSHIAI)          22

Compound at Rainiai, Camp at Geruliai and Telzh Ghetto

Testamonies of Malke Gilis (nee Rabinovitz) and Khane Pelts

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF RIETAVAS                                    41

Vieshvenai Compound

Testimony of Yente Alter (nee Gershovitz)

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE TELZH COUNTY TOWNS:                                         51

Towns: Nevarenai, Varnai, Tverai, Zarenai, Liplauke and Alsedzhiai.

Camps: Vieshvenai and Geruliai

Testimony of Khane Golemba

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF LUOKE                                                                  

62

Testimony of Dvoyre Zif

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF PLUNGYAN (PLUNGE)                                                     66

The Geruliai Camp

Testimony of Mashe Rikhman

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN COUNTY SEAT RASEINIAI                        70

The Biliūnai Compound

Testimonies of Dvoyre Lazarsky (nee Yankelevitsh), Frida Praz, Yeshayohu and Rivka Krom

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF THE SMALL LITHUANIAN TOWN SHIMKAITSIAI                       93

Testimony of Yeshayohu Krom

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF KELM                                                                                        95

Towns: Vaiguva and Padubisis and in the Shavl Ghetto

Testimonies of Yakov Zak and Khaye Roziene

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN JURBARKAS                            116

Testimony of Khane Goldman (nee Magidovits)

                                    

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE SMALL LITHUANIAN TOWN VIDUKLE                                125

Testimonies of Hirsh Hirshovits and Peshe Icikovits

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF KRAZHIAI                                    129

Testimony of Elke Flaks

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF TITOVENAI                                  135

Testimony of Bashe Bloch

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF STAKIAI                             138

Testimony of Yitskhok and Zelda Feinshtein

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN MAZHEIKIAI COUNTY                                                          146

Towns: Vekshniai, Tirkshliai, Seda, Zhidikai, Klikoliai, Vegerai, Mazheikiai and Akmene.

Testimony of Khonon Reif

 

THE GRUESOME SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF KĖDAINIAI, SHETA AND ZHEIME                    154

Testimonies of Moyshe Krost and Aba Lison 

THE EXTERMINATION OF JEWS IN THE COUNTY SEAT TAWRIK (TAURAGE), LITHUANIA               162

Testimonies of Berl Gurvitz, Eliyohu Baykovitz, Frume Baykovitz, Dvoyre Fish, Ida Fish,

Dina Koropatkin, Miriam Kivelevitz and Rokhel Maler.

Supplementry testimony of Tobe Rosenshteyn-Gurvitz                                                                      173

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF ERZHVILIK (ERZVILKAS)                                                          177

Testimonies of Khayem Goldshteyn and Menukhe Goldshteyn

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS .IN THE TOWN OF LAUKUVA                                                          190

Testimony of Josef Aranovitz

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF LAUKUVA AND SHILALE                                                          194

Testimony of Lea Szapiro-Rudnik

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF PAJURIS                                                                                   200

Testimony of Peshe Meltsner

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN UPYNAS (UPYNAS), BOTIK (BATAKIAI) AND SKAUDVILE         202

Testimony of Peshe Meltsner

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE SMALL LITHUANIAN TOWN KOLTINAN (KALTINENAI)              209

Testimony of Sender Linkimer

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF SHVEKSHNE (SVEKSNA)                                                          212

Testimonies of Moyshe Ment, Naftoli Ziv, Mayer Shmulovitz and Yitskhok Markushevitz

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF KHVEIDAN (KVEDARNA)                                                          217

Testimonies of Motl Druzin, Gershon Yung, Berl Levit, Khayem Nadl, Roze Rakhmil and

Rosa Rachmil.

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF NAY-SHTOT                                                                              223

Testimonies of Henekh Elert, Azriel Glukh and Leyzer Gold

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF VAINUTA (VAINUTAS)                                                               227

Testimonies of Yitskhok Markus and Yakov-Mendl

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF VERZHAN (VEIVIRZHENAI)                                                       234

Testimonies of Shimen and Yoysef Shlomovitz

  THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN JONISHKIS                                                                                 237

Testimony of Efroyim Veinpres

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF ANYKSHTSIAI                               240

Testimonies of Golde Yed and Zalmen and Galya Bregman

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN KRUONIS, PAKUONIS AND DARSHUNISHKIS                           246

Testimony of Yosef Gar

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE SMALL TOWN OF RUMSHISHKES                                             249

Testamony of Khane Shuster

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN ZAPYSHKIS AND KRUKIAI                                                                 252

Testimonies of Shakhne, Yerakhmiel, Yitzkhok and Nosn Volk.

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF VILKIJA  (1 and 2)                                                                     256

Testimonies of Moyshe Karnovsky and Rokhel Gempl

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN VENDZHIOGALA AND BABTAI (1 and 2)                        261

Testimony of Abe Lison and Sheyne Nozhikov

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF JONAVA (1 and 2)                                 266

Testimony of Shloyme Katsas and Gershon Reybshteyn

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN TOWNS IN THE VILNIUS REGION:                                                     274

Towns: Pabershe, Maishiogala, Rieshe, Suderwe, Dukshtas, and Jerusalimka.

Testimony of Khyene Katsev (Izrailsky)

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN RIESHE                                                                                              283

Testimony of Khyene Fridberg-Mindes

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN MAISHIOGALA (1 and 2)                                                                    285

Testimony of Moyshe Fridberg and Dovid Rudnik

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE TOWN OF VALKININKAI                                                     293

Testimony of Leyzer Goldman

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE TOWN OF NEMENTZINE (1, 2 and 3)                                   296

Testimony of Sore Eynbinder, Yekusiel Gordon and Avrom Daytz

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE COUNTY OF SHVENTZIONYS (1, 2 and 3)                           313

The county includes: Ignalina, Tveritzius, Tzeikinia, Malagenai, Adutishkis, Kaltinenai,

Shventzioneliai, Daugilishkis, Stajatzishkis, Padbrade, Shventzionys and smaller settlements.

The Slaughter of the Jews in Lentupis and at Ponari and the Liquidation of the Vidz Ghetto

Testimony of Dr Binyomin Taraseysky, Yankl Levin, Avrom Taytz and Fruma Hochmann

THE SHVENTZIONYS GHETTO  Testimony of Shimen Bushkanetz and Khaye Ginzberg                   357

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF SHVENTZIONELIAI (1 and 2)                                                     360

Testimonies of Fayve Khayet and his wife Rokhl Khayet-Kramnik

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF IGNALINA                                                                                  370

Labor Camp: Padbardeand Dukshtas and Vidz Ghetto

Testimony of Tevye Solomyak

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF DAUGELISHKIS                                                                         387

Testimony of Dvoyre Kuritzky-Solomyak

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF PADBRADE                                                                               393

Collective testimonies of Yisroel and Feygl Bavarsky

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF ADUTISHKIS                                                                             400

Testimony of Mikhoel Potashnik

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF STAJATZISHKIS                                                                        410

Testimonies of Zalmen Yofe and Reyzl Yofe-Gantovnik

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF LENTUPIS                                                                                 418

Testimony of Moyshe Gilinsky

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF TZEIKINIAI                                                                                422

Testimonies of Zelik Gilinsky and Khasye Gilinsky

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF TZVERETZIUS                                                                           427

Testimony of Shmuel Yisroel Reykhl

THE WORK CAMPS IN HEIDEKRUG (SILUTE) IN MEMEL (KLEIPEDA) COUNTY                                 429

Work camps: Mactubern, Silwen, Piktaten, Versmininken, Varus, Rusne, Kalwelischken

and Heidekrug.

Concentration camps Auschwitz, Warsaw and Dachau,

Birkenau Extermination Camp and Warsaw Ghetto

Testimonies of Shimen Shlomovitz, Yoysef Shlomovitz, Yoysef Aranovitz, Sender Linkimer,

Berl Levit, Gershon Yung, Motl Druzin, Naftoli Ziv, Moyshe Ment, Gutman Shayovitz, Zev Ment,

Gutman Shayovitz, Zev Ment, Binyomin Lapin, Heyne Elert and Yitskhok Markus

THE HEROIC RESISTANCE AND LIQUIDATION OF THE JEWS OF MARCINKONIS                            465

Testimonies of Khane Gorfing, Leyb Kobrovsky, Khayim Kobrovsky and Shloyme Peretz.

MASS SHOOTINGS OF JEWS IN THE SEVENTH FORT KOVNO                                                         497

Testimonies of Khasye Khodash and Peshe Kagan

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN ANYKSHTSIAI                                                           520

Testimony of Motl Kuritsky

EVENTS DURING THE OCCUPATION OF GRODNO AND KOVNO                                                       555

GERMAN OFFICERS AND JEWISH FURS   Testimony of Yitskhok Kobrovsky

A HORSE SLIPPED 

 

To purchase, contact David Sandler:

sedsand@iinet.net.au