Bella Berstein - Mering, born in Yurburg, testified at the Landesberg camp in Germany to L. Koniochovsky, on 16 January 1947 - describing her fate and the fate of her family during the holocaust.
Bella, the daughter of Wolf Bernstein, was born in Yurburg. Her father was a wealthy Jew and her family was well-known in Yurburg. Bella married Lou Mering and lived in Memel (Klaifada) until after the evacuation of the town's Jews by the German Nazis. Bella, her husband and daughter Yetti, moved to Kovno.
When war broke out they were sent, like all the Kovno Jews, to the ghetto on August 7, 1941. On that day Bella and her daughter were already at the ghetto, but her husband remained behind for a day, busy transferring their belongings to the ghetto. He was caught by the Nazis and together with 550 other men they were taken to the Seventh Fort near Kovno. Later it was said they had all been shot.
A short while later Bella's brother, Schmerl Bernstein, arrived at the Kovno Ghetto, together with his wife Chava, born in Kybartai, their daughter Yetta and their son Zeev-Wolf. They had been saved, as will be described hereunder, from the terrible "actions" in Yurburg and arrived at the Kovno Ghetto. Schmerl Bernstein was born and lived in Yurburg until the outbreak of World War II. In Yurburg Schmerl Bernstein was the Manager of the Kommertz Bank. He lived in his private, two-story home, on the German Street (Daitsche Gass). There was a large fruit garden around the house. The moment the Germans entered, the Jews of Yurburg had no time to escape. Yurburg was only 9 km. away from the German border. On Sunday, June 22,1941, the Nazi soldiers arrived in the Kovno streets too. The town was captured without a battle.
When Schmerl Bernstein arrived at the Kovno Ghetto, he told Bella what had happened to him and to the Jews of Yurburg. The Germans had already entered Yurburg in the early morning hours - said Schmerl - and they immediately took over the town. The Germans also came to Schmerl's beautiful home. The German officers thought the house was an elegant place of residence so they confiscated the house and turned it into their home.
The Germans found a visa card (Visit-Karte) in Schmerl's home on which was written : Schmaryahu (Schmerl) Bernstein - Manager of the Kommertz Bank in Yurburg. One of the officers read what was written on the card and commentedcynically: "Jezt wirst du nicht mehr Bankdirektor sein, du wirst bei uns ein Stiefelputzer sein " - i.e. Schmerl would no longer serve as Director, but as a shoe-shiner . . . indeed that is what happened. They turned him into the shoe-shiner of the officers in his own home, where they resided.
In the first week when they took over Yurburg, the Nazis, assisted by the Lithuanian hooligans, arrested the well-known physicians: Dr. Karlinsky, Dr. Gershovitz, the dentist Simonov, the dentist Koplov, and the owner of the pharmacy Bargovsky, as well as other prominent people of the town. The cruel Lithuanians who worked in the service of the Nazis, tortured and humiliated them, and took them to the Jewish cemetery, where they were all shot. The pharmacy owner's wife - Genya Bargovsky - arrived at the Kovno Ghetto a few days after Schmerl Bernstein. Genya said her husband had been forced to leave the pharmacy, dressed in his white coat, preparing drugs for the sick. Genya's pleas and supplications were to no avail. The murderers merely reassured her that her husband would return.
In the course of polishing the German officers' shoes, Schmerl Bernstein became friendly with them. When the Lithuanian murderers arrested the prominent townspeople, they also wanted to arrest Schmerl. But the German officers protected their efficient shoe-shiner, and did not arrest him. Schmerl told all this, as well as other stories, to Bella when he arrived at the Kovno Ghetto. One day the murderers took the women, children and elderly out of their homes and gathered them together at the "Talmud Torah" yard. Here the murderers kept them for several days and nights, hungry and exhausted. Later, they led them a few kilometers along to the Kalnianai village, where they were all cruelly shot .The men were shot one or two months later. No one was left in Yurburg. Bella no longer remembers all the terrible things that happened in those days, but she remembers one detail connected with her brother. During the days when the women, children and elderly were detained at the "Talmud Torah" yard, Schmerl managed, after many efforts, to remove the dentist's wife Mrs. Koplov, born in Goldheim in Mariampol, together with her two daughters. Mrs. Koplov left Yurburg with her two daughters, heading for Kovno. However, they disappeared, and it is not known what happened to them.
Ghetto Kovna (Slobodka) - Valley of Tears of the
Jews of Kovno and other places
including the escapees from Yurburg Esther Luria (need to verify the translation)
When the last Jews in the Kovno Ghetto were sent to camps in Germany, at the end of the war, Schmerl Bernstein, his wife and children hid in a "malinah", a kind of cellar in the ghetto. The "malinah" was blown up by the Lithuanian murderers and everyone inside was killed.
Thus quite a few Jewish families and persons who tried to save themselves were killed, betrayed by destiny. They failed to escape from the claws of the Nazi beast and found their death and burial under the ruins of the "malinos" at Salbodka.
In those days there were no Jews left at the ghetto -and Jews no longer walked on the earth of Kovno.
[Pages 398 - 403]
The regular German army was the first to take over the town. They did not single out the Jews, or treat them badly. The Jews sensed something might happen to them, and huddled together. It is not known where it originated, but a call was heard to go to the bathhouse. It was a large, strong building, with thick walls and the Jews thought they would be safer there. They all went to the bathhouse and crowded there. At first, food was brought only for the babies, but later for the adults too.
The moment they arrived in town, the Germans started to look for possible pockets of resistance, and that is how they noticed the crowd that had gathered at the bathhouse.
Four soldiers broke open the doors of the bathhouse and ordered the Jews to leave.They tried to convince the crowd that it was a very dangerous place, explaining that the building drew attention, due to its size, and a plane might bomb it, causing far more casualties to those inside than outside. They also told the Jews they had nothing to fear, for no harm would come to them. The Jews were impressed by the German soldiers' courtesy and insistence, and they left the bathhouse.
The Lithuanian "activists" already started to get organized in the first days. They put themselves at the disposal of the Germans, and started to take part in the government. Their influence grew by the day, and the Germans gradually transferred handling of the local population to them. A Lithuanian Police was immediately set up, headed by the teacher of the Gymnasia, Lavitzkas. Hoffner was appointed mayor.
Already on the second day of the war an order was issued obliging all the young Jews, without exception, to gather at Mottel Labayosh' yard, on Raisen street. This place became the labor camp. Each day the young men were sent on different kinds of jobs in town. They cleaned the streets, worked in the parks and carried out all sorts of public work.
Each day a new decree was issued: it was forbidden to walk on the sidewalks, a yellow patch had to be worn etc.
One day the Lithuanian soldiers' wrath fell on the synagogue. It was a very special building, dating from the 17th century. Its holy ark, the pulpit and Elyahu's beautiful chair were decorated in splendid woodcuts. This synagogue was the pride of the Yurburg people. Now the Jews were ordered to destroy the synagogue, bring down its walls and distribute everything inside to the local Lithuanians. The Jews carried out the order with tears in their eyes, their knees trembling. The Lithuanian throngs stood around them and looked on, but only a few agreed to take the spoils.
Next to the synagogue stood a small building, used as a poultry slaughterhouse - "a Shechita Stiebel". The Lithuanians ordered its destruction as well. The building was full of feathers, and when the Jews started to destroy the building, the feathers stuck to them and they got very dirty. The Lithuanian "activists", who were overseeing the destruction, ordered the Jews to go down to the Neiman river and wash themselves. During the destruction and near the river they tortured the Jews, beat them, kicked them and chased them into the water.
The Germans stood around and took photographs. Some asked: "Why do the Lithuanians hate the Jews so much ?. . ."
The next day, the torture continued. This time Cantor Alperovitz was the town's victim, an old Jew, tall and distinguished looking. They took the cantor to the center of town, tied a stone to his gray beard and dragged him through the streets of the town.
On June 28, 1941. on the Sabbath morning, all the Jews were ordered to go to work and pull out weeds in the streets. They were also ordered to bring all their books, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, to the synagogue yard, and the old rabbi - dayan, Rabbi Haim Reuven Rubinstein was forced to bring his books and manuscripts there on a wheelbarrow.
At 5 o'clock the Lithuanians ordered the Jews to remove the Torah scrolls from the synagogues. They were put on the pile of books, and everything was set on fire. The next day all the Jews were ordered to gather next to the town's bookstore, and it was threatened that anyone who refused would be shot. The Jews lined up in rows of three.
Four of the strongest Jews were ordered to remove a statue of Stalin from the store. Pictures of the most important Soviets were placed next to the women. They had to parade through the streets of the town. The teacher Lavitzkas, and the policemen Botvinskis and Kilikovitshus were in charge of the parade. They arrived at the sports grounds near the Neiman. The Lithuanians were already there, "the intelligentsia" up front. They were very happy to welcome the parade. Stalin's statue was placed on a table prepared for the purpose, and all the Jews were ordered to stand around it. One of the house owners was ordered to read a speech from paper handed over to him, containing degrading and nasty words about the Jewish people. After the speech, the statue and pictures were thrown into the fire, and the Jews were forced to dance around the fire and sing. They sang psalms, from the bottom of their heart. The Germans took photographs of the scene.
The Jews used to buy food at the food stores. They were the last in line. Only after the non-Jews bought everything they needed, could the Jews buy something
Yurburg - or as the Germans called it -Georgenburg- is 10 km. from the German border, and it is included in a 25 km. strip for which the Gestapo in Tilsit received an order to exterminate the Jews.
The head of the Gestapo at Tilsit, Bahmah, immediately started to plan the extermination. Thursday July 3 1941 was to be the day. After consultations with mayor Hoffner, the Jewish cemetery was chosen as the place of murder.
Details about the process of preparations and events on the day of the mass murder were heard at the German Court in Ulm, where the members of the Gestapo in Tilsit stood on trial. The record shows the following:
On the morning of July 3, 1941 Bahmah and his helpers arrived in town together with 30-40 Germans from Somlaninko (the border town on the German side). Small groups were formed of the Gestapo, together with Lithuanian assistant-policemen, who were ordered to take the Jewish men from their homes. When the number was insufficient, the teams went back once more to look for Jews and they returned with another 60 men. Three women with their children, who did not want to separate from their husbands, joined the group of men. During the arrest, a Lithuanian doctor asked one of the Gestapo leaders called Karsten, to release the Jewish doctor who was among the detainees. He said the Jewish doctor was a surgeon, and the population needed him badly. When the Lithuanian doctor repeated his request to Bahmah, the latter hit him severely. The arrested Jews numbered over 300.
The detainees were led on foot through the town to the Jewish cemetery. Here they had to hand over all their valuables and take off their clothes. The Jews were ordered to dig more pits, as the existing ones did not suffice for all the detainees. During the digging of the pits, the Germans ordered the Jews to hit each other with the spades, and promised that those who won from their neighbor would be spared.
The victims were led along by the Germans and the Lithuanians under threats, shouts and blows, their cries went up to heaven. They had to stand next to the pits, facing their graves. Some of them were forced to kneel down. The murderers went up to each of them, shot them in the neck and kicked them into the pit. As the victims were brought in at great speed, those who arrived witnessed what happened to the others. The Lithuanians, who resided at the two neighborhoods close to the cemetery, looked on.
Among the victims was a Jewish customs -clearance agent, who during World War I had served in the German army, and received the most distinguished service award, the "Iron Cross" grade 1. He assaulted Bahmah, but was immediately silenced by a murderer's bullet.
Many ran away from the pits. The murderers and guards pursued those who tried to escape. A few Germans and Lithuanians were hurt during the chase.
In this "action" 322 Jews were murdered, among them 5 women and children. Once the murderers had finished their job, a meal was prepared and there was plenty of vodka.
That same day another 80 men, who had been hiding, were caught and arrested. At 10 o'clock in the evening, policeman Botwinskis told them they would be shot at 3 o'clock. According to the report, the Jews were not particularly impressed, noone cried and there even was someone who had an annual Remembrance Day (Jahrzeit). All the detainees ardently prayed "Maariv" (afternoon prayer) in a group of 10 (minyan). The order was not carried out, and they were not shot. Those aged 15-50 who were still alive, were taken to work, and the old men were forced to present themselves at the Police twice a day.
On July 21, 1941 45 old men were arrested when they presented themselves, and were transferred on three carriages of Jewish coachmen to Raisen for a medical check-up - it was claimed. On the way to Raisen, at kilometer 15, they were murdered, together with the Jewish coachmen and the Jews of the small towns in the area. Before they were killed, the old men were forced to write to their families that they were working and did not need anything, and many in the town believed this was true.
On August 1, 1941 all the old women were forced to present themselves for a roll call. They were all put together in the "Talmud Torah" yard. Hundreds of women were cruelly dragged to the roll call, babies crying in their arms. They were held from morning till evening without any food or water.
Towards the evening Lithuanian "activists" arrived and ordered the women to line up in rows, two by two in each row. They were cruelly beaten, in order to urge them to hurry up. The dreadful event started when the women were surrounded by armed Lithuanians who hit them with their rifle butts. They especially tortured those who walked slowly. Children were hit, thrown down and trampled to death. The march went on until they arrived at the dense Schwentshani forest. Through the light of the murderers' torches it was possible to glimpse a deep pit dug that same day. The women panicked. The murderers fired in the air and shouted in frightening voices: "Throw the children into the pits!" They ordered the women to undress and leave their clothes behind. Mothers jumped with their children into the pits, the Lithuanians firing all around. Many were buried alive and some managed to escape amidst all the chaos.
On September 4, 1941 the last women and children of the Yurburg community were taken to the Jewish elementary school. On 7 September they all had to come to Mottel Labayosh' yard, which had been turned into a "labor camp".
All day long groups of Germans and Lithuanians passed along the Jewish homes in order to check noone was left behind. And indeed, not one Jew remained.
When they started to take the last of the flock, everyone understood where they were going, and what awaited them there. The poor women did not remain silent.
They shouted and pleaded with the hangmen, asking why human beings were being put to death. The Lithuanians merely answered by more beatings. The women started to shout to their older children, admonishing them to run, and they themselves attacked the Lithuanian guards with their fists. They bit, hit, shouted and swore. The murderers tightened the circle, shots were fired from all kinds of guns. It was a struggle for life or death between the poor women and the cruel murderers.
In the chaos a few young women managed to escape, and thanks to their testimony we know what happened to the Jewish community of Yurburg in its last moments.
Only 50 men and their families, who worked for the Germans remained in Yurburg for a week and then they were all killed.
At the entrance of the town a sign was then put up, reading: "This place is free of Jews".
In the list of mass graves, published in the book "Mass murders in Lithuania", part 2 - mass graves in Yurburg the following is written:
2. Near the Kalnanai village, 7 km. from Yurburg on the left side of the road to Memel, 300m. from the road - 200 people. Time - August 1941.
3. Barantzinas forest, 5 km. from Yurburg, 2 km. from the road - 500 people. Time - September 1941.
4. Shilinas forest - 1 km. to the west of Yurburg - 200 people. Time - September 1941.
Zvi Levit, the Destruction of Yurburg.
World Trial Report, Mass Murder in Lithuania, part 2.
From the Book of Lithuania - "Lita" 1951, New York
There were two parks in Yurburg. One was called "Tel Aviv" - the other was Lithuanian.
The Jews of Yurburg derived their livelihood from the river. Families like the Levinbergs and the Eizenstatts owned their own steamships or Parachodes, as they were called, and maintained a passenger line from Kovno to Samalnikan. There were also freight ships delivering goods from Memel to Kovno, as well as rafts that would go to Kovno or Memel. The river supplied the main income for the inhabitants of the village, others were merchants, shop owners and craftsmen.
Yurburg was world famous for its old Shul (synagogue), which had been built in 1790. But it wasn't so much the wooden structure that was famous, as was its Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh), with its wood-carving. It was hard to believe how such wonderful birds, animals and flowers could be carved out of wood, climbing from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Anybody, who laid his eyes on that Holy Ark was enchanted by its beauty and the artwork of its wood-carvings, its meticulous finish. The Holy Ark has been photographed hundreds of times, the images sent and sold in the entire world. Tourists visiting Lithuania would come to Yurburg especially, in order to see the great, wonderful antique piece, the Holy Ark of the Shul of Yurburg.
The men of the village were students and educated people, such as Hirshl Fein, Aba Koplan, Kalman Friedländer, Pinhas Shachnovitz, Israel Levinberg, Shmayahu Feinberg, who was vice mayor of the village, Alter Shimanov, Meir Zusa Levitan, Rickler (Apteiker), Reuven Olshvager, Dr. Karlinski, cantor Alperovitz and the butcher Shmuelovitz.
The Rabbis were: Rabbi Jacob Joseph Harif, of blessed memory (later the Rabbi of the Collel of New York), Rabbi Yeheskel Lifshitz, of blessed memory (later Rabbi in Kalish), Rabbi Abraham Diamant of blessed memory, a great scholar in religious as well as in worldly studies, and the Judge Rabbi Reuven Rubinstein.
Jewish institutions in the village were the Hebrew Gymnasium and a Public School. There were also a Volksbank (Popular Bank), institutions for the Hachnassat Orchim (Hosting Guests), Bikur Holim (Visiting the Sick), two libraries and other institutions.
A curious figure in the village was Leibele Israel-Broches, a Jew who would sit in the study house, the Beth Midrash, all day long and study. His wife earned the means for their livelihood. He would be the first to enter the Beth Midrash in the morning, and the last one to leave at night. He would wait until all the poor people that were around received some food from some housewife someplace, especially Friday nights, when there would be many visitors in the village, so that God forbid they would not remain hungry. He would see to it that the visitors were sent to the patrons. And when a visitor, sent by Leibele Israel-Broches, would come to a patron, he was happily welcomed. It was not a small thing, when Leibele Israel-Broches sent somebody.
His brother Welfke, too, had made it his job to take care of poor people on Shabat. Welfke, who was an old single man, would collect Challot (challas) , fish, meat on Friday and bring them to the homes of the poor for Shabbat.
One of the distinguished anonymous donors was Israel Levinberg. Levinberg would help out patrons, who failed in their businesses, but it all took place away form the eye of the public.
On June 2, 1941, when the Germans attacked Russia, the Jews of Yurburg were immediately involved, as their village was situated right on the German border. The Lithuanian murderers soon demonstrated their murders and robberies. The first victim was Reuben Alshvanger.
On June 28, 1941, the Germans issued a decree, ordering all Jews to assemble in front of the municipal book-store. Anybody disobeying that order and staying home, it said, will be shot. When all the Jews had assembled, the men were forced to carry a bust of Stalin, and the women were had to carry pictures and images of other members of the Soviet leadership. Like this they were marched to the town square. There they were photographed, and Friedman was ordered to read out loud derogatory statements about Jews. Stalin's bust and the pictures were burned, and the Jews were forced to dance around the fire.
It didn't take long. Only a few days later all important patrons of the village, 320 men, together with Rabbi Reuben Rubinstein, were called together. They were taken to the Jewish cemetery and ordered to dig out graves. Everybody was devastated and cried, but Rabbi Rubinstein comforted them: "Jews, let us be proud and brave. After all, we will be buried amongst our brethren, in Kever Israel." When the graves were ready, they were ordered to undress completely, and then were driven into the graves.
They tortured Shimon badly. He was forced to tear down the stones from the bridge, and suffered other tortures. As he was already losing his strength, they laid him down on the Purification (Tahara) board (which the Jews used to purify their dead) and threw him into the Niemen river.
Around September 1941 the women and children were driven into the Jewish public school. For three days they left them there, hungry and suffering. Then they drove them to prepared graves in the forests of Samalnikan.
The annihilation lasted a mere two days. The Christians from the village of Pashvente said that the earth around the graves moved for three days, because the Jews had been buried alive.
The murderers also burnt down the old Shul with its Aron Kodesh, the Holy Ark.
Thus Jewish life of many centuries was erased, and a piece of past Jewish continuity was torn out by its roots.
[Pages 411 - 414]
(Ulm Trial, Tilsit)
(See decision to bring the suspect to trial dated 29.1.1958, page 14, item 19, and
page 24, pages 4148 and 4158).
One day in July/August 1941 - again it is impossible to determine the exact day - at least 100 (among them a few old men, one rabbi and the others merely women and children) were shot to death in an exposed place in the forest, at a distance from the Schalleningken - Georgenburg road about 30-80 kms. from the German border and about 9 kms. from the Lithuanian town Georgenburg. The execution was carried out at the general order of the accused Bohme, issued to those under his command in the framework of the Stahlecker order.
The accused Carsten, commander of the border patrol at the border town of Schmalleningken (at a scope of 4:1) had already arrested the Jews earlier by means of the Lithuanian Ordnungspolizei, by virtue of a general power of attorney on behalf of the accused Bohme in the framework of a "cleansing order". While the Jewish men were already shot on July 3, 1941, the Jewish women and children were held under arrest together with some old people by Lithuanian assistant policemen, among them the Lithuanian assistant policeman Urbanas.
The prisoners were led along on a 9 kms. march at night, at the command of the accused Carsten by his Gestapo officers and Lithuanian assistant policemen, to the site of the killing. There were women with little babies among them. Before the start of the march the women were told they were about to join their husbands and that they should take all their valuables along with them. At the site of the killing there was a 5m by 6m.(16 ft by 20 ft.) hole. The victims were forced to hand over the valuables and undress, i.e. - the men to keep on their underpants only and the women their skirts and underpants.
After that the rabbi prayed with his flock and then they were shot, in the early morning hours, by the Lithuanian assistant policemen, who were drunk, at the command of the accused Carsten.
There are no further details as to how the killing was carried out. The accused
Carsten reported the killing and the number of people killed to the Gestapo in Tilsit and from there to the main department of defense of the Reich and Dr. Stahlecker.
There was no particular mention of this incident of killing in the report of the head of security police and security service (SD) submitted in the Russian region.
Next day the accused Carsten traveled together with his close friend, the customs officer Oselies, who appears as witness, from Schmalleningken to Georgenburg. On the way he stopped near this forest clearing and went on foot with witness Oselies to the mass grave. Here he gave him a description of the killing of the day before.
Later on the accused Carsten brought chlorine plaster [lime], which was thrown over the mass grave, as the odor of decay started to be evident.
2) Evaluation of the testimonies:
The accused Carsten denied he had taken part in this killing. In any case, he admitted there was a possibility that he had received the order to kill Jewish women and children, but he claimed he had not carried out this order. He even received information from Lithuanians about two instances of killing Jewish women and children, and reported this to the police department at Tilsit. Furthermore, he claimed, he did not know the place of the killing, although he hid behind the mass graves when he went hunting. It was true he had brought chlorine plaster [lime], but this was only for the graves in the Jewish cemetery.
The jury did not believe Carsten's claim that he had not taken part in the killing. During all these court sessions the accused Carsten did not create a trusting impression.
Carsten was mainly proven guilty by witness Oselies. He delivered a believeable testimony to the effect that already some time before the trip in question with the accused Carsten, the Lithuanian assistant policeman Urbanas who was in charge of guarding the Jewish women and children, together with other assistant policemen, had told him that he earned a lot of money for this, as the Jewish women always offered him money to prolong their lives. A short while later, in July or August 1941, one morning he traveled with the accused Carsten beyond the border. About 3 kms. from the border the accused Carsten stopped in the forest and went on foot with him to a clearing in the woods, about 80 meters from the road.
Here he showed him a mass grave, and said that the day before Jewish women and children had been shot here by the Lithuanians, as well as a few Jewish old men and a rabbi. The Lithuanians had been drunk. The women had been ordered to undress, leaving on their bras and panties and the men their underpants. The rabbi had still managed to speak to the people and pray.
The witness Oselies gave an accurate and clear description of all this, and he added that he was so shocked by the accused Carsten's story that he was speechless and merely looked at him in silence. According to the accused Carsten's overall behavior and on the basis of his detailed description of the killing delivered in a matter of fact way and without any signs of emotion, he was convinced that the accused Carsten had taken part in the killing of the Jewish women and children by the Lithuanians. The jury considers this fact to be proven.
Witness Oselies added that shortly after this trip policeman Urbanas also told him about this incident of killing. According to his story the victims were forced to walk to the site of the killing, about 9 kms. Among them were women who had just given birth. Witness Stanat also testified against the accused Carsten. He served as Evangelian priest in Georgenburg from 1934 - July 3, 1941. He rendered trustworthy testimony according to which during his visit to Georgenburg between the end of 1941 and early 1942 the Mayor, Hoffner, and the Evangelian priest who served in Georgenburg at the time told him that the accused Carsten had played a decisive role in the killing of the Jewish men, women and children. He had ordered the Lithuanians be given rifles and bullets. Before they were brought to the site of the killing the Jewish women were advised to bring along all their valuables as they would be joining their husbands.
Witness Obremski, a former adjutant in the Tilsit police battalion, rendered trustworthy testimony which he had heard from the men in his police unit, that Jewish women and children from Georgenburg were shot by the Lithuanian police at the order of the Gestapo. In his opinion the Gestapo were present at the killing by the Lithuanians, also because the Lithuanian police at that time did not have any weapons of its own. Obremski also testified about an incident that happened to him himself. He said he was traveling to Georgenburg with his commander when he saw a confused Jewish woman with a little child run out of the woods and flee along the road.
They stopped the police car to ask the woman what she was doing. However, the Jewish woman continued to run. In addition, a Gestapo man was seen coming out of the forest, and that is why they let the matter rest.
A short while later a drunken Lithuanian policeman came out of the woods. They asked him what was going on and he answered Jewish women and children had just been shot. Later on they heard in Georgenburg that the Lithuanian police had received alcohol from the Gestapo and had then shot Jewish women and children; many of the Jewish women were pregnant.
In spite of the accused Carsten' denial, the jury is convinced that he gave the order - by virtue of the general order of the accused Bohme - to let the Lithuanians - who had earlier gotten drunk- shoot the Jewish women and children, and that the murder had taken place under his command.
According to the testimony of witness Oselies that little children and even babies had been killed and that the mass grave took up an area of 5 x 6 m. [ 16 ft by 20 ft] the jury determined that at least 100 people had been shot.
The accused Bohme denied he had taken part in this killing of Jewish women and children. He claimed he could not remember this incident. True, he had repeatedly been told that Jewish women and children had been shot by Lithuanians, but his share in this affair was limited to receiving the information and passing the facts about the number of casualties on to the main defense department of the Reich (RSHA) and Dr. Stahlecker.
However, the jury did not believe the accused Bohme's claim that this had been carried out without his participation and knowledge. The jury was convinced that this killing too was only carried out at the general order he had issued to his Gestapo troops. Here we must rely on previous statements and findings submitted in the verdict.
It is impossible to prove that the accused Hersmann took part in the killing. In the decision to put the accused on trial he had been accused of the same number of crimes as the accused Bohme.
This following section was not in the Yizkor Book, but is included
here because it is a direct translation from German into English
and slso includes the sentences.
On the third of July in the morning Boehme, Hersmann and their Gestapo and SD-assistants, of a strength of 30 to 40, came to Jurburg; there, the accused Carsten, and the Gestapo-members from Smaleninken subordinated to him, were already there, among them Kriminalassistent Schlegel and Hof. From the Tilsit Gestapo there were, among others, Kommmisar Gerke (witness) and Krumbach (witness) and from the SD the motorist Ju. (witness) and Pap. (witness).
In the courtyard of the building of the Lithuanian "order service", the accused Carsten reported to the accused Boehme about his preparations. He also informed about the number of arrested and about the reasons for the arrests, based on the list of names written in German language. Beside a few communists, the prisoners were male Jews. Among the arrested communists were two women, among them a telephonist.
Now, between the accused Boehme and Carten began a severe dispute, because the accused Boehme complained that the preparations were not sufficient (...copy is not readable, UB)....
Because of that, small groups of Gestapo and SD members, among them witnesses Krumbach and Gerke, were formed and ordered, together with Lithuanian police assistants, to remove the Jewish men from their homes where they had been held in detention. Through this action, at least 60 additional Jewish men were arrested. Three women with their children followed them.
During the arrest, the Lithuanian doctor turned to the accused Carsten, and asked that the Jewish doctor be freed. He explained that the Jewish doctor was a surgeon and the citizens needed him urgently. The accused Carsten told him he should address himself to the accused Boehme. After very urgently conveying his request to Boehme, the Lithuanian doctor was beaten by Boehme. His case fell to the ground, and he had to go without result.
The accused Hersmann in the meantime was looking for the execution commando of the police battalion, because it had not been at place in spite of the agreement with the adjutant of the battalion. After finally having reached the adjutant, the adjutant told him that the commander had not allowed the execution of those arrested by members of his battalion. The accused Boehme and Hersmann were very angry about that because of the additional arrests, that the number of arrested had increased to 300.
The prisoners were marched by foot through the town to the Jewish cemetery. There, they were forced to turn over all of their valuable things and also to remove their top clothing.
The accused Boehme had been driving, together with the accused Carsten, to execution site on the Jewish cemetery and had meanwhile ordered the digging of an additional mass grave by the Jewish prisoners, since the already excavated grave was not sufficient because of the additional people arrested. With the help of the accused Carten, he ordered the necessary additional equipment.
After the prisoners arrived at the cemetery, the accused Carsten tried successfully to convince Boehme to release his two former agents who were arrested in the additional action as well.
The arrested Jews were then forced to dig the second mass grave. During that time two Jews were beating each other with spades in the presence of the Gestapo member Wiechert, probably as a result of his order.
Then, the victims were led by the Gestapo and SD-members from the nearby assembly site to the execution site, partially urged on by loud shouting and beatings with sticks. The outcries of the victims filled the air. They had to stand in front of the holes, facing their own graves. Some were ordered to kneel. They were shot in the neck. In the same time, they received a push, so that they fell into their graves. Since the victims were constantly led to the execution site, the next ones had to witness the murder of their fellow sufferers. Inhabitants from two neighboring farmhouses watched the killings, which was observed by Carstens. He directed the attention of the accused Boehme to this and the ordered accused Carsten to prohibit the inhabitants from watching. The accused Carsten followed the order.
During the execution, several incidents occurred, which were also observed by officers of the police battalion, who had come to this place after finishing their exercise, driven by curiosity. A Jewish customs agent who had fought in World War I and had been awarded the Iron Cross, Class A, for excellent fighting, attacked Boehme and hit him. A deadly shot stopped him.
One or two prisoners attacked Kriminalkommissar Krumbach and were shot. When several Jews tried to escape, the accused Boehme and Hersmann each shot one escapee. At these turbulent episodes a SD-man was inadvertent shot in his leg. In his place, the SD-motorist Pap. (witness) came to replace him, and he killed three prisoners by shots into their necks. The police battalion reported about these incidents and the bad organization to higher authorities. This had the consequence that the accused Boehme and Hersmann had to accept the responsibility for these actions to the RSHA. However this brought no disgrace to them .
In this action, 322 Jews were killed, among them were 5 women and some children who did not want to be separated from their parents.
The accused Boehme and Hersmann reported, as they did in every instance, the number of those executed and the place of the execution to the leader of the Einsatzgruppe A, Dr. Stahlecker, and to the RSHA, which reported itself in the Incidents Report SSSR Nr. 19 of 11.July 1941 (source 9i, page 1): "Together with SD-district Tilsit, the Gestapo Tilsit carried out another "Grossaktionen" (larger actions). In Georgenburg (Yurburg), 322 persons, among them 5 women, were shot on July 3rd."
After finishing the execution, a joint meal was held, a so called "Sakuska," which had been ordered by the accused Carsten by order of the accused Boehme. This meal was paid by the witness Gerke by order of the accused Boehme, with the money that was taken from the Jews before their execution.
Directly after he came back to Georgenburg, the accused Carsten told his good friend Os. (witness) on the same evening, without any emotions about that execution. He introduced the discussion with the words: "This morning we have bumped off the Jews of Georgenburg."
After the killings of all the Jewish women and children, a sign was posted at the entrance of Georgenburg with the inscription: "This Place is without Jews. ("Judenrein").
Sentences from Schwurgericht (Jury) Ulm August 29, 1958:
Boehme: Crime of a joint of offense of accesory to the murder in 3907 cases: penitentiary 15 years, loss of citizen's honor rights 10 years.
Hersmann: crime of a joint of offense of accesory to the murder in 1656 cases, in account of the sentence of jury court of Traunstein (Bavaria) of 21. Sept. 1950 which was 8 years penitentiary and 5 years loss of citizen's honor rights, which are substracted, to a total punishment of 15 years penitentiary, loss of citizen's honor rights 10 years.
Carsten: crime of a joint of offense of accesory to the murder in 423 cases: penitentiary 4 years, loss of citizen's honor rights 3 years.
Blessed are the Last Ones.....
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
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.
Jurbarkas, Lithuania Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2013 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 Sep 2005 by LA