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[Page 1867]

Khurbn Gorzd
[The Destruction of Gorzd (Gargzdai)] 1

Translated by Tina Lunson

The Nazi hordes tore into the town on the night of 22 June, 1941. They arrived by foot. They promptly set fire to the town and drove the whole population together in the market-place. In the morning the Lithuanians separated them. The Jews – men and women, young and old – were surrounded with machine guns and prepared for shooting. Then a motorcyclist arrived from the direction of Davli {Dovilai} 2 and told them to put off the shooting. Right after that they were all taken to the garden, where they were left without food and without water until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning they assembled the men separately and took them off toward Laugal {Laugaliai}, where the cannibals [mentshnfresser] issued a death sentence on them. The death sentence was carried out right away – the 24th of June 1941 around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The shooting took place in the street, right by the way, not far from the barracks. There were trenches there. The Jews themselves were forced to dig them wider and then they shot them in groups of twenty-five men.

The women and children were conducted to Anelishke {Kalniske}. They were held there for a few months and driven to work in the town.

I recently met a woman who was in Gorzd in a camp for women and who ran away under fire while everyone was being shot. She is a living witness from hell [gehene]. She is Eyne Yami from Vizats {Vezaiciai}.

She was in the women's camp in Anelishke from the first day. The conditions here were horrible. Everyone, young and old, was driven to all kinds of senseless hard labor and not given any food. Children used to rip grass from the earth and chew it.

The women did not believe that the men had been shot, although it was barely a kilometer away from them. Even when the Hitleristic executioners forced them to dance on the grave of their husbands, fathers and brothers, they did not believe it, and said, “Horses are buried here”. This was the general tragic occurrence everywhere. In Vilne {Vilnius} they did not believe that the Germans had shot everyone, even when 30 thousand Jews lay in Ponar {Paneriai Forest}. People could not imagine that women and men, children and elderly, could simply be murdered out.

For a short while everyone was held in Anelishke in inhumane conditions. It was clear to everyone that their days were numbered and, overtaken by a dreadful apathy, they waited for death as a relief from the unbearable suffering.

One late-summer day everyone was once again driven to the Ashmonishke forest {Vezaitines forest}. Here they separated children and the young from the elders.

Yami related this about the slaughter: They forced everyone to dig their grave. When the pit was ready, everyone undressed to nakedness. Before the shooting only the town rabbi managed to call out a few words: “Once again we are being murdered because we are Jews, as already for two thousand years.” Everyone was shot around the rim of the pit.

The mass grave of the women and children is located in the Ashmonishke forest, not far from the road that leads from Gorzd to Kul {Kuliai}.

1 From a letter from a nephew of Khaym Shoys, written after a visit to the town right after liberation.
A larger work about Gorzd has already appeared in volume XIX of the ”YIVO-bleter”. Return
2 Donor's Note: Brackets {} indicate the modern Lithuanian names for places mentioned. Return

See also:
Gorzd book; A memorial to the Jewish community of Gorzd

"Gorzd" - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Lithuania

"Gorzd" - Volume I: Lite (Lithuania)

"Gorzd" - Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918

Gargzdai - KehilaLinks page

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