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Between Antaliept and Dusiat (cont.)

Hebrew School in Antaliept

The founding of a Hebrew school in Antaliept was a wonder. In my time there was one female teacher Esther Shapira.

I should state the Jews organized their institutions very well: if a teacher was needed – they brought her from a place a hundred kilometers away from the shtetl. To the credit of the Lithuanians I must state that they paid the teachers' salaries and gave official recognition to the schools, with graduation certificates.

Lithuanian was the national language. At home we spoke Yiddish, but the language of instruction for all subjects was Hebrew, and they were especially strict about this in the Hebrew gymnasium [high school]. There the teacher would walk around, and during recess he would listen to what language we were speaking.

I know that in the Hebrew school in Dusiat they spoke only Hebrew, and it had an excellent reputation. The teachers were local, and they cared, and perhaps that is why it excelled.

In Antaliept there was a Lithuanian pro-gymnasium, attached to a convent. This was a huge building in which nuns resided. The church also looked huge to me. When the Gentiles came to pray, it sometimes created the background for brawls, and on Christmas all the Jews used to hide in their homes. But I don't remember a case of a Jew fleeing from the blows of a Gentile, not in Antaliept nor anywhere else. The Gentiles knew that it was not a good idea to start up with the Jews, because they would give back as good as they got.

More than once twenty or thirty of us children from the youth movement would go out to a Gentile area, without fear, even when we knew that there were extremist groups among them. Anti-Semitism was already being spread with the dissemination of the poison: “Don't buy from the Jews.”

When Lithuania gained its independence it still needed the help of the Jews. In the meantime, a new generation had grown up there, and the eyes of the Gentiles opened up and saw that most of the trade and artisans' workshops were in Jewish hands. Consequently it is no wonder that the hatred for Jews grew even stronger.

The Šaulių Sąjunga were the most extreme in their hatred of Jews, and they preceded the Germans in the annihilation of the Lithuanian Jewry.

Šaulių Sąjunga – the Sharpshooters Association - was at first a civilian association of fighters for Lithuania's independence. Over time it became extremely anti-Semitic, and during the German occupation they played a central role in the annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry.

 

After the war, while still in uniform, I left Vilna and made my way to Antaliept. Traveling with me was Yehuda Levin from my shtetl, and another friend.

Everyone there was putting on innocent faces, and expressing sorrow for what had happened…

I was not given a single item from my home. They did me a great favor by giving me the photographs of the slaughter.

 

Mass Grave in the Deguciai Forest
In this place the Jews of Zarasai, Dusiat,
Antaliept, Salok and the surrounds found their cruel death …

 

Reunion of close friends from Antaliept and Dusiat at the Yizkor Book Launch
Tel Aviv, October 15, 1989

From left to right: Rivka Shteinman (Shub), Fania Toker, Rina-Reinke Ivri (Levin), Shimon Toker

 

From left to right: Fania and Shimon Toker; Lazi Ivri, Yehuda Levin with his wife Chana and his sisters Rina-Reinke Ivri and Batya Duchan

 

From right to left, third row: Shimon and Fania Toker, Shayke Glick, his sister Adina-Hinda and her husband Moshe Rashman
Second row: Bracha Lavi (Levitt), David Yardeni, Elka Klug, Betty Aires, Rina-Reinke Ivri

In front: Elka Slovo (Melamed), Rivka Friedman (Orlin), Yosef Yavnai (Slep) and his granddaughter Hila Yavnai, Rina Milon (in a white blouse), behind her: Zelig Yoffe

 

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