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

 

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