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[Page 356]

We Tried To Receive News

By Rivka Shteinman (Shub)

Translated by Judy Grossman

Israel Levitt, Son of Getzl and Michl, in British Army Uniform
“To my dear ones in memory of the difficult times! It is the end of the third year of WWII! When will it end? August 12, 1942”

 

Rivka Shteinman:
During the Second World War, we sent a letter from Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet to our uncle Katriel Shub in America, and through him tried to receive news of Lithuania and to transfer money to there. At that time we did not know that there was no longer anyone to whom to send it.
From our uncle's letter (written in Hebrew) we learnt that he too did not know about the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry.

Excerpts from a letter written by Katriel Shub, the uncle in America

… I thoroughly investigated and enquired in all the American drafts agencies that transfer large sums to everywhere in the world, but unfortunately, none is willing to transfer money to Lithuania, and the same is true for letters. The American post office does not accept letters to Lithuania. In short, everything is now closed tight, like Jericho of yore… no one can enter or leave. There is no hope of sending help to that vale of tears, Lithuania, until the end of the war.

Let us hope for the end of the war, with the end of Hitler's regime, may his name be wiped out, and then we can hope in absolute certainty that a new world will be built, a world of grace, on social foundations, foundations of honesty and justice, and every nation will live in its country without fear, and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), will also be considered a nation like all others. Our flag will fly among the flags of the world…

The democratic hope is based on the destructive guns and planes that let loose bombs, which will soon be produced by the extraordinary technology of our country, the United States…

Let us hope for the day of judgment for these wicked ones – Hitler and his company – on which the Lord of vengeance will appear to avenge His enemies, the enemies of the democratic countries and the enemies of the Jewish people, through his holy emissary, the President of our country, Mr. Roosevelt.

May we all be privileged to witness the downfall of the tyrant Haman…

May peace come to our brothers in the Diaspora

Who are in trouble and captivity.

Peace to the oppressed democratic nations.

And all wickedness will be destroyed like smoke

and the regime of evil will disappear from the world.

I will be brief with best wishes for peace, and peace to you.

Peace to you in Eretz Yisrael, and peace to our family in the Diaspora,

And peace to all Jews everywhere.

Peace to the pioneers and the builders, “chalutzim v'chalutzot”…

Your uncle and friend,

In good faith,

Katriel Shub


[Page 357]

The Whole World - One Field of Slaughter! (A Letter)

By Arye (Leibele) Slovo

Translated by Judy Grossman

Leibele Slovo's letter “Dusiat's Front – July 23, 1944”
was published in the newspaper “Mishmar” on September 26, 1944
[1]

“The Whole World - One Field of Slaughter”

Three Letters from the Land of Destruction

Letter from Lithuania

This first letter, which recently arrived in Eretz Yisrael from the liberated parts of Lithuania, was written by a member of the pioneering movement presently serving in the Red Army. This letter, like all the records now coming from there, contains a bitter testimony as to what befell us during this war, news that can be summarized in one sentence: “There are no Jews to be found.”

Dusiat's Front, July 23, 1944

There were many hard days in this war, which always in the depths of our hearts, and in our thoughts, hopes and dreams forewarned us of a better world, the fall of fascism, and our return home as heroes, as the liberators of humanity.

We believed that with our strength and the assistance of our allies, we would destroy the enemy, and if they did not surrender, we would make an end of them on their own soil.

Our hearts beat with joy the closer we came to our country, to the place where we had left our parents, to the place where we grew up and were educated. We imagined that the war here would be easier for us, because each bit of land was well known to us, and our parents would also help us. Nothing, all our dreams burst and all our hopes were destroyed. A heavy cloud lies over them.

The country that we yearned for lies in front of us like one killing field, in which no graves nor gravestones can be seen. Our eyes see only pits and ditches everywhere, and in them lie thousands of slaughtered Lithuanian Jews. There is no friend nor relative whom we can tell of our wars, of our victories.

It is terrible! My hand can no longer write down the acts of cruelty perpetrated here against the Jews. My heart cannot rest! Everywhere the tears of innocent children's voices can be heard calling for revenge, revenge!

The descriptions of the Inquisition pale beside the reality in the shtetls of Lithuania:

There are no Jews to be found, nor people close to Jews. They were all annihilated. We, upon returning from the Soviet Union, are isolated Jews. Some of Lithuania has already been liberated by the Red Army. Now we are in the Utian (Utena) District, fifteen kilometers from Dusiat, which is still held by the enemy. A peasant who passed by pointed at the nearby forest in which hundreds of Jews were slaughtered. A friend from Salok (Salakas), who had gone to see the destruction with his own eyes, came here yesterday. Local peasants told him facts that made his hair stand on end when he heard them. How mothers and young children, nursing infants, were led to their death! How youths and girls were led to their end. Seven hundred from Salok were led to the nearby forest and buried there – from old to young, and afterwards the local population looted the Jews' possessions. Everyone had a hand in the plunder, and there were brawls that even ended in bloodshed. In Utian, 9,000 people dug a pit – among them the priest of the town who fought against his Christian brothers and would throw them out of church for their robbing of the Jews. You in Eretz Yisrael, the pearl of Judaism, its best and most preserved part, build and fortify the foundation so that the whole building can be completed.

Bless the Soviet Union, which gave the Jews safe harbor. Happy are those who fled from the lands of Hitlerism and found refuge in the Soviet Union, under the protection of Stalin.

The Jewish nation has been frightfully reduced, but it will not sink. Another page of atrocities has been written in the history of the Jewish people. We must unite. In partnership with the Soviet Union, we can vanquish our enemies, not just Hitlerism, but also Fascism.

Leib Slovo

 

One More Mass Grave Discovered in Utena
[Courtesy of Abba Shapira]

 

Footnotes

    [28] Sneh, Henia. Private collection, Beer Sheva. Return

 

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