Table of Contents Next Page »

 

Testimony on the Murder
of the Jews of Shkud, Lithuania

Translated by Sara Mages

[Page 1]

Yad Vashem

The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority

The book saw light with the assistance of the Foundation of The Holocaust Survivors' Memoirs Project, the contents, data, and editing are the responsibility of the author.


And with the assistance of The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel


Was printed in Israel 5761-2001
By Quick Printing Ltd. Haifa


[Page 2]

My gratitude is given to those who helped me to collect the names of the murdered from Shkud Lithuania.

The new city: Shimon Zisling

The old city: Sara Reif. Zvia Reif, Sender Blacher

The new and old city: Ester Zelikovitc-Sharvit, Kibbutz Dafna, Kibbutz Shefaim

Dr. Leah Aizen-Levit from Vilnius, Lithuania

Without you I would not have finished the memorial for our loved ones.

At the end of the list of names there is a supplement of names that I received on 23.5.2001 from Dr. Leah Aizen-Levit from the National Archive in Lithuania.
The names of Shkud's rabbinate, HaRav Terushkin.

  You stand on the shelf
row-row, joined-joined
silent-silent, without making a sound…
and I am your mouth.
  Hana Brener from the Shaf family


[Page 7]

The Holocaust of Shkud's Jews

At the request of Shkud's Jews in Israel

This testimony is about the annihilation of our beloved, our families, the entire Shkud community in Lithuania, most of them perished without having anyone to mourn them. They were murdered with terrible cruelty by the hands of a Lithuanian killer gang, (not by the hands of the Germans, but with their blessing), at the outbreak of the Second World War, June/July/August 1941.

It is difficult for me to distinguish between my mother and my sisters, my relatives and all the men, the women, children and small children from Shkud. All of them, all of them experienced the same torture and terrible suffering until death arrived, until they took their last breath. Some were shot to death by bullets, some were buried alive in mass graves, pregnant women were murdered by a bayonet to their abdomen, from the shattering of skulls to the tearing of babies to half, and the drowning of babies in a well. Today all of them are one family in the same mass grave in Shkud and in the Alkus Mountain near Dimitravas.

May their memory be blessed!

In the earth that is heavy for them!

We remained alive, those who left Shkud in the afternoon of 22 June 1941.

  1. Efraim Yelowitz (fell in the battle of Lake Ladoga) of blessed memory
  2. Leib Yelowitz of blessed memory (passed away in Vilnius)
  3. Haim Alkin of blessed memory (fell in a Red Army battle)
  4. Hinda Segal of blessed memory (passed away in Russia after the war)
  5. Hirsh Meir Rubinstein, lives in Israel
  6. Sender Blecher, lives in Israel
  7. Moshe Alkon, passed away in Israel
  8. Hana Shaf, lives in Israel
  9. Lieb Jankielowicz, lives in Lithuania
  10. Leib Kegnzon of blessed memory (passed away in Israel)
Left is also the entire family of the Gabai Yosef Jankielowicz, they were murdered on the road during their escape. Of blessed memory.

The White Partisans wandered in the roads and in the forests, not only in Lithuania but also in Latvia, they waited and helped the Germans. Many refugees fell into their cruel hands. We also escaped and by miracle survived the White Partisans' bullets.


[Page 8]

Events in Shkud during the week
before the start of the war

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

On Wednesday, the 18th of June, 1941, people in Skhud felt that something was happening. Many Red Army tanks were passing through the Old Town in the direction of Ylakiai, and on Friday tanks went down the Long Street (Lange Gas) in the direction of Ylakiai.

On Saturday evening, there was an announcement that it was forbidden to leave the houses between midnight and 6:00 a.m., and it was forbidden to turn on lights. This was the night before the war, and in Shkud there were probably some who already knew about it. On the morning of June 22, the day the war started, in order to pacify the residents the police announced that the Russians had conquered Klaipeda. Until 12:00 noon, everyone walked around freely. All the stores were closed, and in two of the pharmacies iodine and bandages were distributed for free. At 12:00, the men were ordered to go out to the football field with shovels in order to bring sand to the marketplace in case of shelling and fires. Other family members were forbidden to leave their homes until 4:00 in the afternoon. From 4:00 on, they were allowed to walk freely. People carried parcels, looked out through their windows, and gazed from their doorways with worried and startled eyes. Transportation was completely unavailable. One train had passed by very early in the morning. The only bus had been taken in the morning by the Russian officers for their wives and children. A few people left Shkud by bicycle and on foot.

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, two Russian soldiers ran towards Ylakiai, barefoot, without ammunition or headgear; and they explained that the Germans had arrived at the Shkud train station on motorcycles. Three soldiers had been left there as guards. They killed one of the Germans and then escaped via the river. Before 5:00, there was an aerial fight over Shkud.

I was already on my way to Ylakiai on my own, and this is all that I could witness from Shkud. And I was 17, young and alive.

The rest of the eyewitness reports will come mostly from the trial in Klaipeda, in March 1964, against the Nazi war criminals. The trial was for the killing of the citizens of Shkud, and most of the victims were Jews.

In two mass graves, one near the other, to the left of the Shaul Hall, are buried together the bones of Soviet soldiers, Lithuanians, those who supported the Soviet government, and Jews. All together, more than 3000 people were massacred in the area of Shkud. In the town of Kretinga, the Communist Party area committee found a film from the trial in Klaipeda, 25 kilometres long, including descriptions of all the atrocities and the suffering of our dear ones.


[Page 9]

With the Eruption of the War

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

In the first week after June 22nd, the Jews of Shkud lived in their homes, and they walked around freely and unmolested in the streets of the town. But the Red Army forces had been surrounded in Libau, and the fighting reached Shkud. The Germans claimed that the Jews had called on the Red Army for help, and then the cruel Sabbath started on June 28th, 1941. The stones in the marketplace were covered with blood and with Jewish bodies, and some Shkud Jews were violently mistreated. They were hitched to carts loaded with bodies and bricks from the ruins and forced by murderous beatings to pull them.

According to the eyewitness account of Sarah Belkind:

On that day, her oldest brother Leib was murdered as well as Yosef Faktor.

Eyewitness account of Berl Yelovich who attended the trial:

They hitched Dr. Lev and  Chatze Karb to carts. Dr. Lev was a dedicated caregiver by day and night, not only in Shkud, but also in other villages. He was tortured very badly. Afterwards, the men and women were separated. The men were placed in the Shaul Hall and the women in the synagogue in the old town. Afterwards, they brought everybody to the Shaul Hall, tortured them insanely, and murdered them. The victims had no food or drink, and they were murderously beaten. Along both sides of the hall there were windows, one across from the other, and the murderers looked through the windows and shot, on the spot, on account of every small thing (and even not such small things), even for standing or sitting. If people had to urinate or defecate, they had to do it on the spot, and not move. Some people lost their minds. The conditions were unbearable, not so much physically as mentally. Amongst them was also the Shkud rabbi, Rabbi Terushkin. One woman was getting ready to give birth, and this was exactly when the murderers arrived. She lay on the floor and asked for help, and the Lithuanian murderer stabbed her in the belly with a knife and said, “Here, you snake, is your help.” Some children found their deaths there. They were taken from their poor mothers and their heads were smashed against the rim of a nearby well. And then they threw the bodies into the well or threw the children alive into the well. Although we asked them to show us the well or the place where the well was, they did not show it to us.

Eyewitness account of Berl Yelovich from the trial:

Babies were torn in two. The stuffy air in the Shaul Hall was so difficult to breathe that the Germans, though not the Lithuanians, retreated outside. Then they started to take out groups of men behind the Shaul Hall. Behind the hall there is a threshing place by the river, and there they shot them. In the Shaul Hall they could hear everything, and also nobody returned. The murderers came back and took out more groups. Near the Shaul Hall, Leib Zelikovich, the brother of Esther, resisted, and this was described at the funeral of the bones.

[Page 10]

Some 80 young men were killed together with Lithuanian activists near the train tracks, behind and to the right of the Jewish cemetery. An additional group of about 200 strong young men was taken to sand pits near the Russian cemetery, across from the train station, and they were all shot there. The young Michal Fogelman, who was tall and husky and broad-shouldered, resisted. We were told during the funeral of the bones that these were refined young men; mirrors and combs were found with them.

Leizer Fischer hid on his brother Freidel's farm, in Narvod, in the country. Lithuanian countrymen betrayed him to the Germans, and he was taken away under guard. He was brought to the Shaul Hall. In Shkud they stopped and he asked for mercy - for water and for bread. A Lithuanian woman neighbour, Karbauskiene, immediately brought him water and bread. They tortured him terribly, and didn't let him eat or drink. And her they took to prison, but the priest let her out. She was killed by a shell when the front came back. And this was also told at the funeral of the bones.

The eyewitnesses during the trial for the terrible atrocities in Shaul Hall were Lithuanians who were active during the time of the Russians; they had been detained and brought to the Shaul Hall together with the Jews.

Genya Solovichik [Lithuanian: Gene Soloveicikiene], the daughter of the lawyer Solovichik, and his Lithuanian wife from Shkud who survived, were also witnesses. Genya herself told me that when she and her mother were driven out with fifteen girls from Dimitravas to Darbenai, at night a Lithuanian cousin of her mother came, and with bottles of wine [as bribes] managed to release them both.

And the Lithuanians were saying that the colour of the river was red the whole time from the blood of the murdered Jews.


[Page 11]

The Driving Out of the Women and Children

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

On July 17, 1941, at 5:00 a.m., the women and children were driven out of Shkud, and with them two men, one of whom was Dr. Fogelman.

Dr. Yosef Fogelman and Shulamit (Lama) Metusevich were taken to the prison in Kretinga, and there they were tortured to death. I heard an eyewitness account of Shulamit Metusevich from a Shkud resident, Galdikiene, who was with her in the same prison cell. At night they would take Lama, and she would return in terrible condition in the morning. Her words would ring in my ears: “What have they done to me? What have they done to me?” - and when she went for the third night, she said she would not return, and she did not. The Lithuanian Shkud newspaper, Musu Zodis, on September 17, 1966, wrote about the tragedy of the women and children of Shkud (everything is from the eyewitnesses at the trial in Klaipeda), about the atrocities and suffering on the two-day journey from Shkud to Dimitravas. They called this road “The Way of Torment.” It was a journey of 75 kilometres, lasting two days, without food or drink, in the burning heat.

The journey began in Shkud's old town. A woman was in labour, and she leaned on a tree to give birth to her baby. The murderer grabbed the baby and smashed its tiny head against the tree-trunk. And the mother was finished up with the butt of a gun. This was the beginning of the anxious and terrible road. There were old women. There were some with lame legs who were not able to move or to walk far. In the pits along the road, they were tortured and shot. A grave containing nine women was found in the sand pits behind the men's grave to the left. They said that among them were Mrs. Epstein of Ylakiai Street and Mrs. Sheindling who lived at the end of Long Street (Lange Gas); the one who was not able to walk, they shot between the rows. They said there were two sisters. One was Minne who lived at the end of Ylakiai Street. She was unmarried and had an old mother, who was shot as she walked holding the hands of her daughters.

And there were beatings, tortures, and rapes along that difficult road.

After the first day of nightmare, they rested in the forest for the night. Girls of 13 and 14 years were taken, raped, and killed. Their heads were bashed against the tree-trunks, and this was the first night of atrocities on the road. The next day they passed Darbenai.

Eyewitness account of Rivka Shatlis (who lives in Israel):

She hid during the war with Lithuanians in and around Darbenai.


[Page 12]

Dimitravas and Alka Hill

(Dimitravas is located 12.5 km from Kretinga)

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

The End of the Jews of Shkud 15-16 August 1941.

In Dimitravas, the women were held for about a month. They worked and had relative peace. At the end, they separated out the 15 most beautiful girls from the women, and at the trial, nobody was witness to when or where they were killed.

Rivka Shatlis:

They were brought to Darbenai. They were tortured and killed with the Jews of Darbenai.

Eyewitness account of Genya Solovichik [Lithuanian: Gene Soloveicikiene]

who, with her mother, was expelled together with the women: on August 15th, a band of Lithuanian murderers from Shkud arrived in Dimitravas. And then began the expulsion from Dimitravas to the forest, to Alka Hill and the terrible killing. According to the newspaper Musu Zodis (Sept 17 1966), the witnesses had Lithuanian names. My translation (not word by word): “We were told to dig four pits; we dug them before evening, three big ones and one small. We returned to Dimitravas. We were given revolvers and bullets. When it started to get dark, we drove out three hundred women and children. The people we took understood that we were going to shoot them. Most of them cried and asked for mercy. One woman fell behind and was shot on the spot, and later she was buried separately. Around 40-50 metres from Alka Hill, they stopped the line of women and children. And there was an order to undress completely. Some of the women and the children took off all their clothes, and the others took off only their outer clothing. When they were undressed, we drove them to the pits and told them to get in. Most of the women resisted. We pushed them and hit them on the head with gun butts and clubs. (And it's written who were the most vicious ones, may their names be erased.) We started to shoot those who had been driven into the pits, but because we had very few bullets, we fired only a few into one pit and then we went to the other pit and fired all the bullets. After the shooting we heard screams and moans from the pit. And we were told to bury them even though many were still alive. We covered the pits at night.

In the morning they expelled 200 women and children, and this group they divided into two parts. One group they took to the forest, and the other was ordered to undress. The women who resisted we undressed by force. We took the children from their mothers, threw them into the pits, and killed them. When we finished with the last group, we rushed to their possessions.”

In Shkud, we asked the value of a Jew who was killed there. And the answer was “a pair of pants and 25 marks.” This was the price of a Jewish head or a newborn baby.

[Page 13]

Seventeen years later, a trip to Dimitravas and Alka was organized in Vilna and in Kovno.

A thick forest with a steep mountain, on which many trees grew; on tree branches hung the hair of Shkud women and children's striped socks. This is how the tragedy there took place! We, the lucky ones, could barely walk up the hill. Our beloved, unfortunate ones walked up this hill with their babies in their arms, and they were sadistically tortured there. They were pushed, with their babies, down from the mountain, and forced to walk up again and again.

And most of them were buried alive under the ground, including almost all the babies.


[Page 14]

Words of the Certificates

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

In 1945, after the Red Army frontier moved and the place was freed, a committee of army medical justice experts opened the pits, removed the bodies, and determined how the killings took place. In Dimitravas there is a museum containing the certificates made by that committee, giving details of every separate pit with its parameters: exactly where it is located, and the exact number of murdered. The certificates are signed and stamped by the examiners.

Translation:

289 Were Buried Alive.

In the corner, on the mountaintop, 103 people between 3-5 years and 31 years of age were found. One woman, shot in the back of her head, was hugging a 1-year-old baby. He was not injured; he had been buried alive.

In the second burial place 149 people were found. “When the skulls and bones were investigated (it's written in the document), the medical justice experts of the committee could not find any remnants of bullets or injuries caused by blunt or other instruments. The committee concluded that all 149 people were buried alive in the ground.

In the third burial place 151 bodies were found. Almost all of them were women, amongst them two pregnant ones.

In the fourth burial place were 107 bodies: 61 women and the rest young males and females to age 15, shot with guns.”

“And here is the unfortunate end:

Altogether, on Alka Hill and at its foot, 510 people were shot, tortured to death, and buried: 31 babies, 94 children, and 395 women; 289 had been buried alive.”

We were present at the unveiling of the tombstone at Alka: one small white stone on the peak of the hill, the burial place of the mothers and babies, and a natural grey stone at the bottom of the hill. There is no mention in the inscriptions that only Jewish blood was spilled here. Two burial places are on the hill, two underneath. The place is decorated with flowers, and stairs have been built. Schoolchildren are brought there.

During the ceremony on Alka Hill, a Lithuanian woman with a familiar face from Shkud came up to me and said, “Here are your mother and your sisters.” I asked her how she knew this. She answered that she had been captured together with them in Dimitravas.


[Page 15]

The Funeral of the Bones in Shkud

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

In Vilna, we were notified by telegram to come to Shkud for the funeral of the bones. We had no idea what it was about. In Shkud and its surroundings, and on the road of suffering to Dimitravas, there were, according to eyewitness accounts, twelve graves. Only eight of them were found. Everyone from the graves (not including the graves on Alka Hill) was brought to Shkud to be buried in two mass graves to the left of the Shaul Hall, on June 13 1963, in a stately ceremony. There were 30 coffins on 15 trucks with a guard of honour, with many (about 100) flower bouquets, in a long procession. There was much respect and many speeches.

A memorial was erected afterwards, and on it was written, “Here were buried 3000 people murdered by the fascists.” There was not one word mentioned about the Jewish community of Shkud, that there even was a community! A Zionist community, and wonderfully cultural! In 1987 they rebuilt the memorial to be bigger and more beautiful.

A translation from an article in the Shkud newspaper, Musu Zodis, to mark the erection of the first memorial says: “In June, July, and August 1941, the Jewish community of Shkud was eradicated: around 3000 people. The road from Shkud to Dimitravas was covered with the murdered bodies of children and women. The murderers shot them and buried them alive; they trampled them, beat them with gun butts, pitchforks, and clubs. In Shkud, murderers of the Shkud gang cracked children's heads on the telephone poles and drowned them in wells.”

In Lithuania, there were two trials for the murderers of WWII. One was for the murderers of the Kovno Jews, and the second, for the murderers of Shkud Jews, took place in Klaipeda in March, 1964. The trial was called “the trial of the Nazi war criminals in Klaipeda.” In Shkud, the organizer of the gang of 33 murderers was the priest from the Lithuanian gymnasium. Many of us remember him. He escaped to the United States, and there he lives to this day. The Soviet Union, Moscow, wanted to extradite him for public trial, but the Americans would not allow it. Then, in Shkud, there was an investigation of the criminals, and they carried out the funeral, and there was a trial.

Most of the murderers that were tried received 15-year sentences according to the law of statute of limitations [? translation uncertain] in the Soviet Union, 20 years and over. There were also people who were witnesses at the trial who participated in the killings. And today everybody is walking free, may their names be erased!!

I went and asked the Vice-President of the Soviet High Commission of Lithuania for judicial matters to give the death penalty. He told me that if it depended on him, simple death would be a very small punishment for them, because he had never seen such terrible cruelty, but he was unable to do anything because Moscow determined the 15-year sentence according to law.

[Page 16]

Eyewitness Account of Sender Blecher:

Sender Blecher was at the front with the 16th Lithuanian Division during the liberation of Shkud. “The shtetl was empty of Jews.” He was called as a witness by the army's investigative department to identify one of the murderers from Shkud. Sender and the murderer recognized one another. The murderer had changed his last name. The murderer admitted that he had participated in the interrogation of the girls. This was the only eyewitness account that referred to this interrogation before their deaths; they had been so terribly tortured that nobody else dared to be a witness or say anything. “Afterwards there was the trial. Sender was a witness. And the sentence was death. The Jewish soldiers from Shkud who served in that division begged to be allowed to carry out the death sentence, but they were refused. The sentence was carried out!!”

Assembled and written by Hana Shaf-Brener

Haifa Israel 1987-1988 06-09
And life continues, the people of Israel live, Amen!!


[Page 17]

The Destruction of the Jewish Cemetery of Shkud, Z”L
My eyewitness account:

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

In August 1971, I travelled by myself to Shkud and to Alka, and to the graves of my ancestors. After I had been to the Shaul Hall near the mass graves, I went to the Jewish cemetery. I entered, and I was astounded: except for three complete tombstones, all the tombstones in the entire cemetery, the big and ancient ones, up to about 400 years old, were all broken, and there were only three left, in a triangle. And all the tombstones had been stolen (I was told they used them to build a fence for the new city park). Near the anonymous graves, without names, were broken vodka bottles and the feces of domestic animals. It's a Jewish cemetery that was violated! A terrible, terrible sight! That day, seeing this place was more difficult for me than seeing the cultivated graves, orderly and decorated with flowers, near the Shaul Hall. May they excuse me for saying so.

The destruction was terrible, and I'll never forget it.

I would like to add that we delivered a message to Vilna from Shkud, saying that the Jewish cemetery should be demolished, because nobody had been buried there for over 20 years (by law), and if somebody wanted to move the graves, they would allow it.

Hana Shaf-Brener
Haifa 06.09.1988


[Page 18]

This is a holy memorial to those who fell
on the Russian Front among the partisans

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

In my opinion, we should eternalize the names of the young men from Shkud, who, serving in the Red Army, fell at the Russian Front.

  1. Shloime Yankelovich and his good friend from the Halutz [Pioneers], Abrasha Luria. They were killed by a direct artillery hit near Oryol in February 1943. Their last words before their deaths were “It's good to die for our country!”

    I spoke with Berl Yelovich, and he told me that Shloime Yankelovich, with Abrasha Luria, were killed by a direct artillery hit near Oryol in February, 1943. Berl had met him previously, in an army division during a military march.

    I remember that they were saying in Blekhna (the Lithuanian reserve division), that Shloime and Abrasha fell together, and before their deaths, their last words were “It's good to die for our country.”

  2. Ephraim Yelovich was killed on Lake Ladoga, in the fights surrounding Leningrad on 02.08.1942. He was buried in the Kalininski cemetery.

    He was the head of the branch of the Hashomer Hatzair [Young Guards] in Shkud from the end of 1931 until the arrival of the Russians, when he was 17. He was very clever. His brother Leib told me that Ephraim wanted to travel from Russia to Israel on foot. That did not take place. He volunteered with the Red Army.

  3. Chaim Elkin fell at the front, in a unit of the Red Army, in 1943.

  4. Chane Grinker fell in the battle near Priekule in Latvia in the Lithuanian 16th division on 22.02.1945, a very cruel fate at the end of the war, not far from Shkud.

  5. Miriam Maya Bernstein fell in battle in the forests of Lithuania with the partisans on the bridge, when she returned from activities with her group in 1943. The entire group fell in battle.

May their memory be for a blessing!

Haifa 19.07.1989


[Page 19]

An addition to eyewitness accounts
of the Holocaust of the Jews of Shkud

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

I, Hana Shaf, at 17 years old, escaped from Shkud alone, the last of the Shkudders, about 4:30 in the afternoon of 22.06.1941, on the first day of the war, when the German motorcycles had already been in Shkud for two hours and they had “conquered” Shkud, without any resistance, quietly, without any fuss.

After my escape, the Lithuanians announced that they had shot and killed me. It was a blow to their honour that I had escaped from their hands. In February 1945, when I was serving in the Red Army, I approached the liberated town hall in Shkud, to discover the condition of my family and the condition of the Jews of Shkud.

The reply was very brief and to the point: Just one month from the outbreak of war, nobody of Jewish nationality remained in Shkud. Nobody survived in Shkud: not by hiding, not by escaping, not even from the road of torment to Dimitravas, which was very strictly guarded.

I must add to my eyewitness account a translation from some of the government newspapers of Soviet Lithuania, then called “Tiesa.”

Recently, after great effort, I received some newspapers from the time of the trial of the murders in Klaipeda. In clarification that I did not note in my first eyewitness account, because I was not aware that I must note them:

These are copies from three “Tiesa” newspapers, from the 6th to the 15th of March 1964. The number of the newspapers are:

(6407) 56 64306, date 06.03.1964
(6415) 62 640314, date 14.03.1964
(6416) 63 640315, date 15.03.1964

Until the state funeral of the bones in Shkud, on June 13, 1963, we knew only that the Jews of Shkud had been murdered. We didn't know details about the atrocities, the torment, the suffering, the degradation, the rapes, and the terrible killing. At the beginning of June, 1963, a telegram arrived from in Vilna from Shkud with an invitation to the funeral of the bones to take place on June 13, 1963.

On the morning before the funeral, we visited the places that were dear to us, where we had grown up. Near the Shaul Hall, four Russian men approached us and asked who we were representing. They were from the NKVD, the Lithuanian Department of the Interior, who had interrogated the murderers before the trial in Klaipeda. They told us in more detail about the terrible tragedy of the Jews of Shkud. They said that there were 12 graves on the road from Shkud to Dimitravas, and emphasized that they had found only eight. Four had never been found. On Alka Hill, all four graves remained in place. [i.e. the bones were left there.] Of all eight of the burial places [presumably the ones the bones were removed from for reburial], the biggest was behind the storage places, behind the Shaul Hall.

[Page 20]

They transferred the bones to two mass graves, with 15 coffins in each grave, to the left of the Shaul Hall, across from the houses on the street, near the Lithuanian gymnasium in the Old Town.

Written on the first tombstone: “Around 3000 people murdered.” (Jews, Lithuanians, and Russian soldiers) (Whatever is written in brackets are my own notes, and the rest is copied.)

From March 9th to 15th, 1964, the trial of the murderers of the citizens of Shkud and the surrounding areas took place in Klaipeda. The trial was published in the daily newspaper “Tiesa”, and the atrocious and terrible eyewitness accounts were broadcast on the radio. Thirty-three armed gang murderers were organized by their leader, the priest Jankauskas and his assistant Vasaris. The previous 10 pages of eyewitness accounts, I wrote and translated from the Shkud newspaper Musu Zodis, from 17.09.1966, a newspaper that we received after the unveiling of the tombstones on and under Alka Hill. Part of the newspaper got lost on my journey to Israel, and I am adding here more eyewitness accounts that my husband Z“L remembered, and that I and Sonja Rudman, the daughter of Berl Yelovich remembered - who at that time read the paper “Our Word” (Musu Zodis).

On August 15, 1941, the murderers returned from Shkud to Dimitravas to wipe out the women and children. Before evening, 300 women, children, and babies were driven to Alka Hill in the Jazdai Forest. On the way, Mrs. Cohen (Kaniene) attempted to escape with a boy, and both were shot on the spot.

The murderers, who didn't have enough bullets for the second grave, approached the pit and beat people with gun butts, clubs, and pitchforks. The women dragged one of the murderers into the pit with them; the rest of the murderers took him out, beat the women, and covered them with earth, burying them alive. And the earth breathed.

From the eyewitness account of the Red Army's medical expert committee, who went after the liberation and checked every grave. They found a grave in which everybody had been buried alive (the certificate of every grave).

Of all 510 women, babies, and children, 289 were buried alive on and below Alka Hill.

According to the eyewitness account of Leib Shpitz:

His father, Betzalel Shpitz (“Tsale der Hinkedicker”), whose leg had been amputated above the knee and who had a wooden leg, together with Dr. Yosef Fogelman, who limped and walked with a stick, were expelled on 17.07.1941 from Shkud to Kretinga together with the women and children on that terrible road of torment to Dimitravas. In Kretinga they were executed.

Haifa 11.09.2000
Hana Shaf-Brener


[Page 21]

Witnesses who are alive, accusing the murderers
(from the newspaper “Tiesa“)

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

I'm translating from Lithuanian, not everything, because there are articles also about the cruel killings of Lithuanian and Russian war prisoners. The Jews are not mentioned with their Jewish names, but only people, men, youths, women, children, babies, and old people. At the trial were more than 70 witnesses who had suffered.

The eyewitness account of Petre Dirkstiene:

They killed her husband; she was pregnant, with six children. Her eyewitness account from the Shkud marketplace: Shkud is covered with bodies. Brickus took it upon himself to bring order, and he brought eight prisoners. Vysniauskas ordered (the Jews) to pile the bodies into a cart. He hitched four men to the cart and ordered the other four to push it. Whoever didn't do as he wished, he beat them with his gun butt.

The eyewitness account of Kazys Kova:

They took him to dig pits near the bridge. He saw Mockus stabbing pregnant women with a dagger near the river.

Mockus and Jurgis Embrasus forced old men, naked, to hit each other with clubs. Whoever did not do so was beaten with gun butts (near the river).

Mockus tortured women near the river Bartuva (near the bridge to the Old Town). They brought women down to the river bank, and they ordered them to climb back up the slippery slope. Whoever slipped was shot. Many were buried near the bridge along the Bartuva. Mockus grabbed children by the legs from their mothers and said, “Are you still kicking?” and right on the spot he bashed the baby's head on the rim of a well, and threw the baby inside.

In the courtroom, there were shouts: “Murders of people, how can the earth carry you?”

The eyewitness account of Kostas Jonaitis:

He reminds the murderer Embrasus of a very terrible sight. Embrasus took a 2- or 3-year-old baby from his mother, smashed his head on a pole, and the head split open. The mother fainted, and then he finished her up by shooting her. The leaders, Jankauskas and Vasaris, smashed the heads of babies.

The eyewitness account of Pranas Guze:

Brickus waited with a revolver in the sand pits. Kniuipis also shot in the sand pits. The trial lawyer asked Brickus, “how many did you bury?” and he answered that he hadn't counted.

The murderer Jonas Mockus said in his trial that he didn't see anything and he didn't know anything. One after the other, the witnesses reminded him that he had shot at people near the Shaul Hall, near the Bartuva, and in the town of Kulai (in the sand pits); and they reminded him of his sadistic behaviour.

[Page 22]

Also the murder Meidus said “I wasn't there and I didn't see.”

The eyewitness account of Viktoras Stonys:

(about the pit that is behind the Jewish Cemetery - the young people and the activists). He reminded Brickus how they tortured (the young people). The prisoners dug the pits, and Vysniauskas was going wild in those pits, and ordered them to bury the dead and dance a Cossack dance. The prisoners refused to dance and were beaten with gun butts. The priest Jankauskas told them to make confession, and they sang the “Internationale”.

The eyewitness account of Kazimiera Satkauskiene:

(she and her daughter were imprisoned together with the Jews in the Shaul Hall): The hall was very stuffy. There were also Lithuanians there, who served with the Russians. They beat people with rifle butts: women, men, children, babies, without any distinction. You were unable to raise your head - they shot from the windows, they confiscated everything, they demanded valuables, they plundered and plundered. They even took a pencil sharpener from a small child. Some people lost their minds. The murderers took them from the hall and shot them. They stabbed pregnant women.

The eyewitness account of Petras Jablonskis:

In the churchyard, the leader of the gang, the priest Lionginas Jankauskas, killed Russian prisoners of war, and he also confiscated all their possessions. According to witnesses, he often confiscated things.

The eyewitness account of Pranas Guze:

He saw the priest wearing the clothes of murdered people and looting their possessions; he was called the “Black Priest”.

The eyewitness account of Petras Jablonskis, Kringeliene, and Malukiene:

At the hospital, the priest ripped the bandages from a wounded Russian soldier and shot him. The Germans stood by, photographed the event, and enjoyed the “work” of their Lithuanians.

Eyewitness account of Aldona Bruzaite:

They arrested her and her mother. After suffering torture and beatings, she managed to escape the prison in Shkud before the Germans could shoot her. Again she was caught. Along with some soldiers and another woman, she was taken to be shot. They stood her near a wall and shot her.

“I fell. When I recovered, I saw three bodies without heads. The exploding bullet had not hit me. It only scratched my head. I heard orders to shoot everybody, to make sure nobody was alive. I was hit in the sole of my right foot. When the murderers left, I tried to crawl. I tumbled down to the Bartuva River; there were many dead people there. Five men were hiding in the rushes. They were shot, and one of them fell on top of me. I could hardly struggle out from under the bodies. Two women approached and started shouting, and ran away. A man came and dragged me back to Skuodas. He left me with the bodies of yesterday. As I lay there, I saw a man with a small axe and a basket. He was cutting off fingers with gold rings on them.”


[Page 23]

The Road of Torment

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

The Road to Dimitravas Concentration Camp

The armed gang of Jankauskas and Vasaris shot people in the marketplace near the hall, near the bridge, and near the river Bartuva; and a few hundred were killed in the sand pits at Kulai I.

In the middle of July 1941, only women, children, and a few men remained in Shkud. Then, according to Vasaris's orders, these people were driven out to the Dimitravas camp. The road from Shkud to Dimitravas was covered with the bodies of women and children. Over 40 women and children were killed on the road (four graves were never found). Embrasus admitted that he killed a woman, a baby, and an old woman.

All the cruel ones guarded the prisoners on that terrible way: Mockus, Embrasus, Meidus, Brickus, Kniuipis, and others. According to witnesses on that road, they shot and shot.

Eyewitness account of Joana Soloveicikiene:

With her daughter Genya, Kazimiera Satkauskiene, and a boy, she was driven out together with the women. They were witnesses at the trial and they spoke about their experience, what they went through and what they saw. (Joana Soloveicikiene was the daughter of a Lithuanian shoemaker; she converted and became the wife of a Jewish lawyer, Soloveicik, and their daughter was Genya.) “Genya and I walked with 500 women. It was very hard, we threw things away. Whoever could not walk, they put into the ditches at the side of the road and we heard shots. To turn your head back was absolutely forbidden,” Genya and her mother testified.

Eyewitness account of Satkauskiene:

She walked at the end of the line with her daughter. “On that road, they shot people more cruelly than if they had been animals. Between the village of Lenkimai and the town of Darbenai, Brickus took a group of women to a big rock. I heard shots. How many, I don't know. The shots were heard all along the way. We slept outside. I heard that Brickus took a young girl to the forest, raped her, and smashed her head against a tree trunk. He was raging at the women with a whip.”

Eyewitness account of Kaubriene:

She lived along the road that leads to Dimitravas, and saw women being shot in the ditches. She saw pregnant woman and one woman giving birth. The women were tired. One of them, Mrs. Epstein, was bleeding from the mouth, and was shot on the spot. During those two days, other witnesses passed by in carts and on bicycles. “They shot and shot,” said eyewitnesses at the trial.

Eyewitness account of Adolfina Kaubriene:

She had already suffered a terrible personal tragedy: in the sandpits, the murderers had killed her husband, and, to spite her, they brought her his teeth. She suffered again when all those women passed her house on their way to Dimitravas.

[Page 24]

After crossing the train tracks, Vysniauskas ordered some women to lie in a pit, and when it was convenient for him to shoot, he ordered them to raise their heads. He killed two, and Bauzys killed the remaining three. The women were very tired. I saw pregnant women. One even gave birth on the road.

Eyewitness account of Petras Jablonskis:

He was travelling to Kretinga by bicycle. Kazys Vysniauskas (the murderer) took the bicycle from him, ran over a woman, and killed her. He killed three more women and wounded a fourth.

Eyewitness account of the murderer Kazys Vysniuskas:

During the expulsion to Dimitravas, Meidus gave me a rifle and told me to kill four women and a child. I fired three shots at one woman. After Lenkimai (a village), Meidus told me to shoot another woman. I saw Meidus confiscating the possessions from one woman, and on the way he shot her.

The last ones fell in the village of Benaiciai, in the district of Kretinga.

Eyewitness account of the murderer Jurgis Embrasus:

At the beginning, we shot at old women and babies. Vasaris and Meidus went with the first group. We drove the women about three kilometres to the forest of Jazdai, near Alka Hill. We stripped them to just their underwear. Meidus beat them with a club.

During the shooting, there was an order: Men, be careful! There are no more bullets!” (That was the 15th of August.) They brought more bullets from Darbenai.

Eyewitness account of the murderer Embrasus:

Mockus and Kniuipis were shooting, and I was shooting too. I saw a huge pit. We were ordered to bury people alive, mostly children. When the sun rose, the shooting ended. The clothes were put into a cart. We ate breakfast in a small house. Meidus and Vasaris, and some others, ate in a room. They took us outside and gave us samogin (homemade vodka). We washed our bloody hands. We cleaned our weapons in the labour camp. We took our things and went back to Shkud.

The surviving witnesses of these events were Steponas Grikstas, Kazys Spucys, and Izabele Aleksandraviciene. They all described how people who were doomed to death were forced to stand on the dead bodies, and how there were not enough bullets. The murderers buried women and children alive. For a long time after the mass shootings, after the pits were covered with dirt, the earth trembled.

[Page 25]

These murderers served the Germans. Jurgis Embrasus went to Belarus to kill Soviet citizens. Albinas Meidus worked in a factory in Kovno. Brickus hid in Lithuania. Jonas Mockus was found beyond the [USSR?] borders. The verdict was 15 years' imprisonment, according to the Soviet statute of limitations [? - translation uncertain], as per Moscow's instructions.

Almost all pled guilty, or partly. Meidus was the only one who denied everything.

(And this is the end of the eyewitness accounts of the three “Tiesa” newspaper articles I received. Of course these are not all the eyewitness accounts during the nine-day trial.)

May their names be erased forever!!

May the holy memory of the Jews of Shkud - my town - be blessed forever!

Hana Shaf-Brener
Haifa, 11-09-2000.


[Page 26]

Names of the killing places of the murdered

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

Time and places of the killings of the men and young men:

  1. In Shkud, in the market square, and in the streets: 28 June, 1941. They were brought to the big grave behind the Shaul Hall to be buried.
  2. Behind the Shaul Hall, behind the storage places, near the Bartuva River, on the land of Zelikovich-Malkinson, the big grave: from the beginning until the middle of July, 1941.
  3. Near the bridge to the Old Town.
  4. To the right of the Jewish Cemetery, near the train tracks. The young men - the activists - were killed at the beginning of July, 1941.
  5. In the sand pits, near the Russian cemetery, across from the train station in the town Kulai I: 200 young, strong men. Until the middle of July, 1941.

Time and places of the killing of women and children:

  1. On the road to the Old Town, near the bridge, near the river: beginning of July, 1941.
  2. In the Shaul Hall and near the hall: until the middle of July, 1941.
  3. Babies in the well, on the street, across from the hall: until the middle of July, 1941.
  4. 15-16 August, 1941, on Alka Hill and at its foot. On the hill, above the grave of the babies and the mothers, there is a small white memorial stone, and at the bottom there is a large, grey memorial stone, but not on the grave. The graves are a bit higher and to the left. 12.5 kilometres from Kretinga and Palanga.

The Shaul Hall was a place of entertainment for all the townspeople: the Hebrew pre-Gymnasium's amateur dramatic performances, visits of the Kovno Yiddish Theatre, and the jubilees of the Hashomer Hatzair. It is a large hall with a big stage for everybody - for Lithuanians and Jews.

[Page 27]

Places

Alkos Kalnas: Alka Hill
Jazdu Miskas: Jazdai Forest
Dimitrava: Dimitravas concentration camp
Kretinga: Kretinge, a regional city
Darbenai: Dorbian, a town,
Lenkimai: Lenkim, a village
Kulai: a village
Zvyrduobes: sand pits
Bartuva: a river
Jlakiai: Yelok, a town
Barstyciai: Barshtitz, a town
Palanga: Polangen, small resort town near the Baltic Sea
Shauliai: Shavl, a city
Paneveyzys: Poneves, a city
Kedainiai: Keidin, a city
Kaunas: Kovno, a city
Vilnius: Vilne, capital city of Lithuania
Riga: capital city of Latvia
Liepaja

[Page 28]

Jegava: Yel [Editor: Mitav]
Paris: the capital of France
Beniaciu Kaimas: Beneitsin, village
Moseidis: Maisyad, town
Klaipeda: (Memel), a port city
Mazeikiai: Mazheik


[Page 29]

Witnesses in the Klaipeda trial

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

Dirkstiene, Petre witness (f)
Satkauskiene, Kazimiera witness (f)
Soloveicikiene, Joana witness (f)
Soloveicikiene, Gene (Joana Soloveicikiene was Lithuanian, the wife of the lawyer Paul Soloveicik; she converted, and their daughter is Genya)
Kaubriene witness (f)
Kringeliene witness (f)
Malukiene witness (f)
Vasilaviciene, Rozalija witness (f)
Stonys, Viktoras witness (m)
Guze, Pranas witness (m)
Bruzaite-Arbaciauskiene
Aldona witness (f)
Kova, Kazys witness (m)
Jonaitis Kostas witness (m)
Jablonskis, Petras witness (m)
Grikstras, Steponas witness (m)
Spucys, Kazys witness (m)
Aleksandraviciene, Jzabele witness (m)

Nine names from the gang of 33 armed murderers of Jankauskas and Vasaris: The killers of the Jews of Shkud

[Page 30]

Jankauskas Lionginas the priest - the organizer and head of the gang of murderers. A teacher of religion in the Gymnasium.
Vasaris a terrible murderer. The assistant.
Mockus, Jonas murderer
Meidus, Albilas murderer
Embrasius, Jurgis murderer
Vysniaskas, Kazys murderer
Kniuipis, Liudas murderer [Editor's note: Brener's text has “Kiuipis,” a misspelling of the name given in the newspaper article.]
Brickus, Aleksandras murderer
Bauzys murderer
The cruellest. May their names be erased forever!


[Page 31]

About a False Witness

Translated by Haya Newman

Edited by Rachel Mines

One eyewitness account has been denied by her family, who was together with her [the witness] throughout the entire war. On Thursday, June 19, 1941, three days before the Second World War started [in Lithuania], Chaya Reif went to the city Shavl to visit her mother, Rochl-Riva, her daughter Ita, and her niece (her brother's daughter) Tsvia. The war broke out on Sunday, 27 June 1941, and it was impossible for them to return to Shkud. They were imprisoned in the Shavl ghetto with their family. [Chaya's] mother, Rochl-Riva, passed away in the Shavl Ghetto. Her daughter Ita and her brother's daughter Tsvia were taken away in an Aktion [mass arrests and killings] of the ghetto's children.

Chaya survived, made aliyah to Israel, and passed away here [in Israel]. She was not in Shkud from the beginning of the war. She was not in the expulsion of the women and children to Dimitravas, 5:00 a.m. on July 17, 1941. Neither is she the hero of the unfortunate women of Shkud, z”l. She was not amongst them, she was on a family visit to the city of Shavl.

Her eyewitness account is false.

I investigated: Hana Shaf-Brener.
Haifa: September 6, 2000.

In the book Kehilat Shkud [Yizkor Book], the section “How Shkud was Destroyed” does not match the reality and eyewitness accounts of the trial in Klaipeda.

Also, in other publications about the Shoah of the Shkud Jews, eyewitness accounts do not match the ones at the Klaipeda trial. This is because they were taken from the Kehilat Shkud.

In the book [Editor: presumably the Kehilat Shkud], the Lithuanian eyewitnesses from Shkud said whatever they wanted and whatever was convenient for them to tell.

Hana Shaf-Brener
Haifa March 11, 2000.

 

Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Skuodas, Lithuania     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 8 Feb Oct 2012 by MGH