At the end of 1936 we left this shtetl and we moved to Lida where we bought from the butcher, Yakov Kashtshansky, on the Third of May Street, a small place in his courtyard, and there we built a small house to live in. We lived in that house until the outbreak of WWII.
When the Polish-German combat started, and later, when the Russian Army came into Lida, and even after that, when the Germans occupied the city, our little house remained whole, and we lived there until the Germans gave an order that all Jews must leave their residences and go to three sections for Jews.
They gave our family a residence on Yadlave Street, in the last house from the street.
I, my father, my brother Yudel with his wife and two children, worked together for the area Commisar and at the train station, as construction workers, at different jobs.
One brother of mine, Abraham Eliezer, worked as a locksmith for the Germans.
And thus our great misfortune occurred: One fine morning when our father went out at 5:00a.m., we suddenly heard a shot. Our mother quickly ran out the door and she wrung her hands and let out a frightening cry and a bitter scream, Children, your father is lying in the street, shot. In that moment she saw that a gun was pointed at her, ready to shoot. She quickly slammed the door shut.
Father was barely alive and barely crawled into the house using his own strength. We saw that he was shot in the mouth and the bullet had exited from there. We gave him first aid in order to save his life, but within 20 minutes two Germans from the so-called Death-Head-Bullies came in. They stormed into the house and shouted, Where is the man who was shot? They dragged him out and shot him immediately near the door.
Poles stood guard around the section. We saw that the section was encircled, but we didn't know what was happening.
At 6:00 a.m. Germans came into the house with a cry, All Jews must leave, fast or slow, you'll all be shot. Right away they started hitting whomever they came to with their guns. We left the house with empty hands. No one took anything.
As I left the house I saw Jews walking in the streets crying and screaming, Where are they driving us? No one knew the answer. Along the way we saw Jews who had been shot.
They brought us to the Piaskes. There I saw the great destruction. Germans stood and sorted out the people, Left or Straight. Only a few people were ordered to go left. The great majority were ordered to go straight.
Those who were ordered to go straight were assaulted by the Germans and brought down on their knees. Soon Germans with guns in their hands came up and started hitting them with their gun butts and whips. The heartrending screams were terrible and reached all the way to seventh heaven.
The other Jews who were commanded to go left, stood maybe a hundred meters away and witnessed the whole horrible thing that the Germans did to our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and the babies in their hands.
From our family there remained: me, Nachum, my brother Abraham Eliezer and both of my sisters, Chana and Rachel.
Afterwards, the Germans took the poor and embittered remainder, and drove them to Pastavska Street. There they established the ghetto in the apartments of those who were killed. They made a ghetto from all the Jews who were left in one small street and encircled it with barbed wire and a gate.
The Jews had to go to work in groups, alongside the sidewalk.
I began to work again at the Area Commissar as a wall builder.
Everyone was terribly embittered, so much that they didn't want to live, but as long as you are alive, you need things.
I built a kitchen in the gymnasium for the German officers. The German supervisor, Werner, came in with a big dog and said to the dog: Pay the Jew! Those were my wages.
My brother, Abraham Eliezer, worked in the storehouse. Once it became known in the ghetto that a partisan had arrived. Somehow he found the house where we lived. I had a conversation with him. He told me that if we could get weapons, he would take us with him to the partisans.
Since my brother worked in the storehouse, and there were weapons there, he made a key to the gun closet. The next morning they took a sleigh with a horse, laid some straw in the bottom, and my brother drove over to the storehouse, opened the gun closet and took out 5 guns and 2 boxes of ammunition and grenades, and brought them all into the ghetto.
The leader of the Judenrat heard about this from the workshop head, Altman. Since he was against this, he and several of his people encircled the house and advised that the arms be returned as they could, God forbid, bring tragedy to the whole ghetto.
After negotiations, which took the whole night, it was decided that the next morning early, all the weapons would be returned.
My brother put the weapons back in the sleigh and took them back to the arms storage closet of the storehouse. We kept just one gun for ourselves. I yearned to organize a group of friends who would join the partisans as fighters.
In 1942 we left the ghetto and joined the partisans. For our departure, we prepared a few weapons. My brother, Abraham Eliezer, brought tubes and barrels of guns, and at night we assembled them. Yankele Platavsky (today in Israel) made the butt ends. That was the way we made weapons. We got ammunition and several grenades, and a group of 20 men left for the partisans.
In the meantime the Germans made a raid and we left this spot and went to Nolibaker Pushtshe. In a certain time afterwards the Germans made another raid which lasted two weeks. We also moved from there and in small groups we came back to the area of Novogroduk. We met again in the Nolibaker Woods.
When the Russians attacked the Minsk area, Belski sent out a group to blow up the railroad tracks. My brother, Abraham Eliezer, was also in the group that had this task. After a successful explosion, they came within ten meters of the base where we were sitting, where they met a group of Germans who were sitting and resting. They were 6 men. They befell the Germans. The Germans ran away, but they managed to capture two Germans. My brother wasn't satisfied as he yearned for revenge. He ran after the Germans and he met a German officer who lay hidden in the grass. The officer drew his revolver and shot my brother. This was two days before the liberation.
Not knowing where my brother remained lying, the next morning I went with another 10 men and began to search. We circled the entire place. After two hours of searching we found him. We took him from there and brought him into the camp of Nolibaker Woods, and there we buried him.
In 1944 we were freed and came back to Lida.
In the large numbers of spilled Jewish blood, the six million Jews murdered, there should also be counted the three dear, blameless dead from my family: my father and my two brothers, of blessed memory.
May their souls be bound up in the bonds of life and may their spilled blood be avenged.
When the Germans came, our entire family, except me and my family, were in Vilna. Mitieh found himself in Ponar. There began the violence and the family found out, all alone, he went through the forests. To where toward Lida. There it was quiet, they said. I and my family were in Ponyevezh (Lithuania) and also went through the forests along the Vilna highway, toward Lida, in August, 1941, the whole family together at the brewery, in our old apartment. Now the question was, what next? In that time in Lida, there were massacres. However, compared to other places, it was "quiet". The Germans needed to run the brewery and they needed specialists workers. They asked us to renew our work. The brewery had to provide beer for army, the nearby sawmill made railroad ties. A plan was made for 42 workers. An SS man from the German regime was sent to run the brewery, Engineer Yoachim. He was a respectable German,as one would say, far from the poisonous Nazi ideologues. He paid the Jewish workers and craftsman. Under his supervision, life in the brewery was normal. During the time when there were murderous rampages, in our area, there was like an oasis for the several Jews that worked there. We remember about Passover in 1942 (a short time before the slaughter). The idea was to try to perform a Seder. Mother still lived and we baked matzo in her kitchen oven. We also got horseradish to make maror. At the Seder, all 42 workers got together in our apartment and Wechsler conducted the Seder. For independence, we covered the windows, no "evil eye should bother us"- Our hearts were bitter. We hoped for better times and the Seder strengthened our hopes. Papirmeister's brewery did not produce beer. Engineer Foreman found that one could manufacture "Melos"?, a product that the Germans wanted. In the meantime, a place was found for Lalke Vilenstein and Krigel with their families. They were all later killed Krigel and his wife were murdered by familiar Christians in Miniata to whom they owed money. The leader of this was a "folk-German" who actually was a Polish Jew. When the Germans found out, he was immediately shot.
On the 8th of May, the "Action" began in the Lida ghetto, Engineer Yoachim did not let the S. D. people to remove the Jews from here. He declared that the work was need by the military and that without the workers, everything would be at a standstill. In time Yoachim was sent to the front and in his place came Hanenberg along with his girlfriend Merkel, a sadistic person. In 1943, Yoachim came to the brewery for beer for his soldiers. He warned the brewery people that a new "Action" was coming and to go into the forests. There were stories in the ghetto that they were to watch the brewery for a red lantern. However, there was no clear information. To run to the woods, one would realize that it was not so simple. The fateful hour came all at once, Sept. 16th, 1943, SS men came to the brewery from Slonim, with an accusation that they found that the brewery beer was poisoned. The first thing was they came to me, my brother Mitieh and the chemist. The first question was where did we hide the gold and silver that we had. We said that we did not have any gold or silver to hide. Immediately there was a separation of the local workers: Jews separate and Christians separate. The order was not to shoot on the spot. Thereupon was a Jew wounded with a bullet from Latvian soldiers who came into the brewery shooting. He was Chaim Azhekhovsky. He received a bullet in his foot. Mrs. Azhekhovsky (Perhaps his mother???) who had a small shop, took her 3 year old son, ran across the little stream and ran into the woods. She was successful in being saved with the parents of the child and son Jospeh and wife and son Khone. After the war, they went to America.
We know of two who were saved: They were Chaim Poupko and his wife Hinke, who hid out in an attic of a building near a park near Poupko's courtyard. Chaim jumped out of an attic window into the park and became stuck in mud. He waited until nightfall, went into the woods and came to commander Bielsky's camp. He later went back to the brewery area with a gun (which had been buried and he knew where it was). His wife came soon after not knowing that her husband was already there. Besides them The Pietluk family, whose parents came from Dubraniye, to a known Christian. After them came their 13 year old daughter who had hidden out separately. After two days hidden at the Christian, they hid in the woods and came upon Bielsky's camp. There they found their 16 year old son. He had also hidden out with the Dubraniye Christian and alone he went into the woods. In ghetto no one knew anything. They said that it was a local thing at the brewery. The "Blockfuhrer" Hanenberg said that they are sending everyone somewhere else to work,"I swear by God and the Fuhrer". In the meantime they sorted the people, men to the state prison. Women to the "Technicial organization of German Troops". In the morning, they brought us together with the others from the ghetto. Our group from the brewery were put into a separate train wagon which travelled in an unknown direction in the evening of that day, 17th of September. And from the ghetto, more than 3000 people were sent in the same direction in the morning. We had no more illusions about what awaited us. The outlook was to remain alive-by jumping from the wagon of the train. This is not an easy thing to do and not everyone capable of doing it. 12 of us jumped and were saved. My brother Mitieh jumped along with his little son. When his wife jumped after him, she noticed that her daughter who was to jump, was not with her. It happened at the last moment, she became frightened and remained on the train. Stolovitzky, his wife, with a son and daughter. A Warsaw hairdresser with his wife, and a partisan who had come with us through the woods and ghetto (who was shot by the Russians) my wife, our daughter and I. This was near the Mosti station. Naturally, we could not jumped all at once and we separated. We all knew what direction we wanted to run to. In 8 days, we all met in Bielitzeh. Chaim Azhekhovsky also wanted to jump. But because of his wounded foot, he could not do it.
Mrs. Poupko tells: On the way, we met an SS-man. You can imagine our fright. To our great surprise, he did not detain us and he calmed us. "Others do this". He said. But he warned us. If you can, run away. Bad times are coming. He told us about the transports to the west. He also gave us 3 loaves of bread and let us go. In a short time, we came upon Commander Bielsky's camp. First, we knew that from the first transport Mrs. Karchmer jumped and was saved (after the war, she went to London where she met her husband, Mark Karchmer. He had come a few years earlier after long wandering). Both Peace be onto them.
Mrs. Poupko Tells: A peculiar episode occured during our wandering after the war, Coming to Germany, in Bad Deichnhof, we knew that here was the family of engineer Yoachim, the onetime SS-man of the brewery. It was found out that he was in an American jail as a war criminal. After we had consulted with Jewish institutions, we gave an evidence statement at the American military regime about Yoachim's relationship with us. Other evidence statements came from other people of Lida (e.g., Stolovitzky, and shortly thereafter, he was freed).
On three occasions my father of blessed memory faced death in Lida, and was miraculously saved.
The first instance occurred at the end of the First World War, at the time of the war between the Poles and the Bolsheviks. The Poles overpowered Lida with tremendous force and the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw. As reward for their victory, the Polish soldiers were given a leave of two days where they could do what they wanted. It is understood that they took full advantage of their time off. They plundered Jewish homes, plundered anything that came to their hands, and murdered thirty nine Jews.
That very morning my father of blessed memory had gone out to bring home a pail of water from the well that stood aside the old age home. Next to the pump lay a Polish soldier who had been killed. As my father took the pail of water to return home, an officer with a number of soldiers suddenly appeared. With their bayonets attached to their assault rifles, they asked him who had killed this soldier. My father replied that he did not know. The officer began to curse at him and scream:
Dog's blood! Give me a pencil and paper!
I do not have one -responded my father, bewildered.
Put down the bucket, bring me paper and a pencil, and I won't shoot you!
- the officer continued to scream.
My father set down the bucket, ran to the old age home, and brought paper and a pencil.
You can get out of here Zhid (Jew)! screamed the officer. My father returned home pale as plaster. I have returned from certain death he stated, and told us what had transpired at the well. While he was still telling the story, we heard several shots. We understood that the officer and soldiers had entered the neighbor's house in order to loot.
The Jew (who lived there) resisted. They took him out next to the pump and killed him. This was the grandfather of Aryeh Zivlodovsky. That Shabbat, my father blessed Birchat HaGomel (the prayer of thanks prayed when one's life is spared).
The second instance transpired one day in the winter. It was the time of day that my father of blessed memory was leaving the store on the way to the study hall to pray. On the way a (covered) winter carriage pulled up alongside him. A Polish officer leaped out, grabbed my father, and forced him into the carriage. The officer told the wagon driver to continue forward, so that he (the officer) could spend some time together with the Zhid. The officer was drunk, he unsheathed his sword, and proceeded to wave it in front of my father's face. The officer commanded my father to sing Polish songs along with him. Upon seeing how distressed my father was, the officer began to re-assure him saying: Do not fear, Zhid, we will continue on a little, sing a little, and then we will see -all the while clenching on to my father with both hands. My father of blessed memory understood that his situation was dire. The officer was drunk, it was difficult to rely on him, specifically when he was directing the wagon towards the outskirts of town, and Jewish blood was always ownerless.
As the wagon passed by the Lando Hotel, my father, with incredible swiftness, freed himself from the grip of the drunken officer, jumped from the wagon directly into the hotel, removed his coat, and sat down along-side a table amongst all the other folk who were sitting and calmly chatting. The hotel patrons were shocked by this sudden outburst, but they were even more shocked by the outburst of the drunken soldier with a sword in his hand, screaming at the top of his lungs: Where is the Zhid that ran away from me?!
The Polish officers who were at the hotel held back this officer. They removed the sword from his hand, and through the urging of the owner of the hotel, did not hand over to him the Zhid who had run away.
The third instance occurred at the time that the Poznachkim entered Lida. These Polish soldiers did not tolerate the elderly at all, and particularly those who were Jewish. The Jews of Lida dreaded their atrocities.
My Father of blessed memory needed to attend to a pressing matter in Vilna. Even though train travel at that time was of the utmost danger, as atrocities against Jews were a daily occurrence, still this did not deter him, and he travelled to Vilna. Our family greatly feared for his safety. Two days of intense waiting passed. In the middle of the third night my father returned home. Upon seeing him, I, as a young child, wanted to laugh- for he looked completely different. In place of his beard remained only a few strands of hair here and there. In place of his old hat was a new hat, and his face was covered with black and blue marks- signs of the beating that he had received.
From what he told us it was difficult to fathom how he was still alive. In the coach in which my father was travelling, the soldiers began harassing a woman from Lida. My father of blessed memory protected her. The soldiers then attacked him. They struck him with murderous blows, cut off his beard with a knife, opened the (back) door of the coach and threw him outside of it. Miraculously he grabbed onto the railing of the coach (in those days the passageway in between connecting coaches of a train was outdoors, and had a step and a railing between them). He ran into the next coach via the step. As the train was going at full speed, his hat flew off at this point. The soldiers shot after him, miraculously he was not hit. That Shabbat he once again blessed Birchat HaGomel.
However his merit did not continue to stand for him, and no miracle occurred for him when the murderous Nazis entered Lida. As my brother Mordechai, the sole survivor of our family (he was a partisan), wrote me- my father of blessed memory was among the first sacrifices in Lida. The murderers imprisoned him, tormented him, and took him out to be killed in the courtyard of the prison, along with a number of other men.
My oldest sister Breina along with her entire family also perished, as well as my sister Sarah and her children. May God avenge their blood.
Translated by Philip G. Frey This depiction of the last road of the remnants of Lida's Jewish ghetto is built upon facts, which the author heard from Mrs Bella Goldfisher (Stolovitski) and her brother Michael. The appraisal of the persons mentioned here and their internal experiences, as they are written, belong, naturally, to the author.
A long chain of freightcars stretched on one of the sidetracks of Lida's train station, full with Jewish children, women and men. From the surrounding area amidst the green-yellow colors of the fields and the gaudy autumn-colors of the trees, the little gentile houses looked out. Around the nearest of them the town's inhabitants had assembled themselves and with curiosity and open joy on their faces looked-on at that which was happening on the loading-platform.
They, the Poles and White-Russians from Slobodka and other parts of Lida, had in the past already given a helping--hand to the Germans. Their enemy, the German, has, it appears, become their benefactor: He fulfills the deepest wish of their heart---to be rid of their Jewish neighbors. From time to time a hand rises from their midst in greeting---amongst the uniformed German assistant-police, shines the face of a brother, a son or a father, who guards and beats the tearful women with little children in their arms and the men, petrified by pain, when they do not hurry to enter the cars, waiting for their near-ones in the more distant rows.
It is already the third day that the cars are being loaded and dispatched from the same loading-place. Surrounding, there is a thick cordon of Gestapo-people with machine-weapons and Polish, White-Russian, Lithuanian assistant-police and Vlosov's Russian police. There does not exist the smallest glimmer of hope for anyone to tear himself out of this ring of steel. Amidst the watchmen also stand out a small number, of the uniforms of the death-people, a majority of whom are Bulgarians and Yugoslavs. Many of them are acquainted with many of the last Jews of Lida who are squeezed into the cars, those remaining after the slaughter of May 8, 1942, when more than 6000 Jews from the three Lida ghettos were murdered. The 3000 selected to live, were deemed by the area-commissar Hanveg and his assistants Werner and Windish as usable Jews for the German war-effort. Just work fruitfully for us did he make a speech to them the morning after the slaughter in the one remaining Postovsk ghetto, and I give you my word of honor that in the city such shall not be repeated.
Now they see the so-called death-people as the Jews are being brought together from all the work-camps of the Lida ghetto into the railroad-cars.
Alongside the guarding cordon stand the canine-specialists of the Gestapo with several tens of large police-wolf-dogs, ready to tear into every Jewish child, woman or man. Among a group of Gestapo-officers alongside the cars strides the area-commissar Hanweg and his assistants. It is already two days, from the 17th of September 1943, that he is acutely occupied with the liquidation of his Jews. To deliver them all without exception in a calm and orderly fashion into the hands of the transport-command of the Gestapo---is his assignment. All the lies and calming arguments indeed serve toward that goal: Indeed you are needed people, you are industrious Jews, you have developed the economy of my area. Your workshops in the ghetto and the beer-brewery, the tannery and other of your undertakings in different points in Lida are, as you know, exemplary; You have faithfully served our German war-effort. We need to have you in a place that is nearer, nearer to our lines. Everything is prepared for you there, better houses, nicer places. I will visit you there, you will thank me for this, when I will visit you there and together we will ridicule the dark thoughts, which criminal elements spread among you.
So he tries to convince the Jews in the cars and the groups, which are brought from the city to the loading-platform.
It was difficult to calm the Jews of the first transport that was loaded and was quickly sent off the very same day, the 17th of September, in the appointed direction. After the Postovsk ghetto was encircled by the newly-arrived special detachment of police liquidation-groups, the Jews were led off in columns of 200 men, into the cars. Six such groups emptied the ghetto. The area-commissioner knew, that deceiving and calming the Postovsk ghetto would be of the most difficult. They were, according to his informants, in tight contact with the partisans. This said ghetto had actually begun to empty itself of people, who escaped to the Jewish partisan-detachments of the heroic brothers
Bielski. If not for the last police-raid in the surrounding forests on Jewish and Russian partisans, where he and his police participated together with the military squads, the ghetto would have been even more shrunken. In calming these very Jews of the Postovsk ghetto the last chairman of the Judenrat (the Jewish Council), Dr Gru, came to the assistance of the area-commissar. The said Jew did not possess the pride and devotion of the murdered members of Lida's Judenrat,- Lichtman, Benjamin Tzederovitch the lawyer, Kotak, Lavitch and others. He went freely from one loaded car to the next and tried to convince the crying women and despairing men, that there is no reason not to believe the German, that they are no longer transferring the ghetto to another work place. If the Germans wanted to liquidate them, they would have been able to do it in the same way as they did on the 8th of May, 1942.1
A heartrending lamentation from the mothers, embraced by the dear little hands of their dear little children, accompanies his words. There they sit squeezed-together in the car, each family with its nearest-ones. Elders comfort the youngers. A pair of older Jews whispers verses of Tehilim (Psalms). They know one another, had grown-up together, they went to Kheder (traditional religious school) and to schools. They prayed together in the study houses. They danced at partnered Simchas (joyous occasions); together they bore the spiritual heritage of generations. There they sit---to be erased from the book of life on their journey to death---the Katzenellenbogens, the Boyarksis, the Trotskies, Luries, Levinsons, the Kalmanovitches, The Tsigelnitskies, Manskies, Epsteins and and and a long list! In every martyr's mind the unanswered question drills---Eli Eli Lama Azavtani (Hebrew= My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? [Psalm22: 2))
A weighty calm rules in the nearest car. Here it is a bit less crowded, here are found the Jewish militia of the ghetto with their families. They with the illusion of the privileged, with sundered souls, they most strongly believed in outlasting the German. A mixture of people from all strata of the Jewish population of Lida bound up in one thought To preserve one's life. Indeed they have once already vanquished death, May 8th, 1942. They also know however, more than others do, that in other ghettos the German liquidated the entire militia without exception. They, the compliant, do not find within themselves even a spark of resistance. People must believe the assurances of the area-commissar and calm the families. There he sits at the car's little window, their commander, Lazer Stolitski. He does not call out to anyone, remains silent. Through his thoughts fleet the tens of partisans, whom he helped to leave the ghetto and to go away into the woods to fight the Germans. How strongly he wanted to go along with them. But he knew down deep, the he had to remain in place, in order to make it possible that others might rescue themselves. As a militarily educated officer and the son of one of the finest Jewish families in Lida, he knew his duty: to remain in the ghetto as militia-commander. To liquor-up, when necessary, the German and Polish police, who guarded the ghetto from outside, in order to make possible the entering and exiting of the Jewish partisans into the forest and from the forest. He never had any illusions about the Germans. But---One must stand fast and proceed, in order that the criminal element within the ghetto-militia will not be able to lift up its head.
From time to time his gaze travels over his people and their families, as also over the others in the car. Here his gaze rests on the two barefoot pretty young girls. Indeed he knows everything about them. One of them, Libka Pupko, is indeed a one-time neighbor of his. He remembers her from hear earliest childhood years, grown now, like a gazelle. Her black hair and big eyes, blue as the skies, make an unforgettable impression on everyone. He remembers that shortly after the slaughter, she was led out of the ghetto together with her old father Shmuel, and mother Kayleh and brother Yerachmiel into the forest together with others, with the help of the heroic partisan sent by Bielski, Laybke Katsap (Laybke Ashekhovski). He, the commander, of the Jewish militia, had to take all measures afterward, the that said mass-exiting from the ghetto into the forest, should not be disclosed to the Germans. The other, is also a beauty, with an enchanting personality. He attempts to recall her name. It's Betke Arliuk. He knows from his people, that these two said partisan-women smuggled themselves in together with Lyuba Manat, from the Bielski detachment in the forest, into the ghetto two days before, in order to have shoes made, and to shop for certain items of clothing, which had been worn-out in the forest. Exhausted after the massive German raid on the partisans, when they had to hide themselves in the swamps of the Nalibok Pushtshe (Polish=virgin forest, jungle) they decided to go to the ghetto for several days to go marketing for clothes and to rest for a bit. The partisans in the forest knew that Lazer Stolitski would do them no harm. Communication
between the Jewish partisans in the forest and the Postovsk ghetto was lively. Both lovely young women sit huddled-together, feeling themselves foreign and separate in the said car, but dominated by a common thought with all the others: Is this our final journey? Soon the train will depart from the ramp. A while back they bolted the heavy door. Will there be a possibility to jump? Their eyes direct themselves to the two small windows near the car's roof. Will the little windows serve as a path to save themselves? And there in the forest, amongst Bielski's partisans the return of both of them is awaited. Their thoughts stubbornly carry them home into the forest. Do you remember, Betke, how mother pleaded with us not to go into the ghetto, and he, brother Yerachmiel, argued with them against leaving their partisan camp even for a few days. She recalls, Betke does, how she calmed him, now is the best time to go to the ghetto, because the Germans are still exhausted after the great raid and the battles with the partisans. And for the immediate time they will leave the ghetto in peace. Would she see him again, Yerachmiel, Liebke's brother? Both girls talk about living free in the forest. They remember the lovely summer-nights, when they spoke with faith that the Germans would suffer a defeat. We will come out of the forests. No longer is it possible to go and to live amidst the Goyim (gentiles) in Lida. For us there s but one alternative---Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel)! They loved to talk in their tight circle about their sister Bashke in Eretz Yisroel. Betke would sit back then in the circle of family, cuddled-up to Yerachmiel and loved to listen as they all spoke with pride and longing about the said sister. She believed, there in the forest, that on one lovely morning she would travel together with Liebke, Yerachmiel and their parents to Eretz Yisroel. And now she is traveling with Liebke. Yes, a shiver went through her flesh. The train shook them out of their thoughts. Ever stronger do the wheels strike the rails .
Author's note (bottom of page 315):
1 Several of our Lida natives remark, that they had known Dr. Gru to be a very warm and courageous Jew. For them it was difficult to be in agreement with the said evaluation of his personality. Even if the information about his exerting himself to calm the death-bound Jew of Lida is correct, he is, though, not the only one who in the last moment grasped at a straw. And also, was it so clear at that moment, as it is at this time, that this is their last road. Had they not at a certain earlier time brought over remnants of the ghettos of the surrounding towns? Dr. Gru's argument (apparently inspired by the good area-commissar) could have appeared to be logical, in some measure, at that moment.
His understanding might have been incorrect, there can be no doubt about his good intent, can we, the survivors, be his judge?
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