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[Col. 1590]

Vidz

(Vidzy, Belarus)

55°24'/26°38'

Translation by Anita Frishman Gabbay

A shtetl of about 450 families, 230 of which were Jewish. More than fifty percent were shopkeepers. There were at least 120 Jewish shops. The rest of the Jews were small merchants and workers. Life was difficult. Market day was every Tuesday. Other shopkeepers arrived from surrounding shtetlach and sold their goods at cheaper prices.

Two Christian cooperatives opened, and the Jews eventually became their clients. These cooperatives sold for cheap credit and had their own bank. They were backed by the town and the state. They also paid almost no taxes. Many of the Jewish stores were liquidated

[Col. 1591]

and they were ruined. They lost everything, but still had to pay taxes. What were the remaining 60 merchants in our shtetl that remained to do? So they begin processing, they buy flax and grains, and then sell to the small shops, but their profits are small, putting more duress on the townspeople.

The peasants don't feel the need to work any longer, as the flax industry changes. The cooperatives buy the raw material and send it for processing to Poznan. This ruined the flax trade for the Jewish flax merchants, eventually the entire industry was in Christian hands. Jews can no longer compete. The Jewish processors who are self financed, cannot sit by and watch their livelihood go into the hands of the rich cooperative who by any measures is taking over this trade and is controlling it with their own central committee. The cooperative is very successful, as it is linked directly with the flax–central of the region. Also the seed merchants are faced with a similar competition.

[Col. 1592]

A cooperative from Braslav comes to our shtetl on market days and buys the entire crop. As they own their own ale–factory(brewery), they can afford to pay higher prices and this puts our industry at risk. All of these things put our livelihood at risk, these trades that were for so many years in Jewish hands.

The handworkers suffered in the same manner. Larger cities were providing merchandise, therefore our handworkers lived in poverty.

Something interesting happened in our shtetl. Some wealthy family came to collect money to provide for such a family, who had many children, and couldn't afford to buy wood for the winter months. We later found out that this was the well known tailor's family, who couldn't afford to buy bread for his family.

In Vidz there were also many Jewish transports (waggoneers) that brought the merchandise from the railroad station in Dukst to Vidz, a distance of 27 kilometers. Now, lesser amounts of merchandise were brought and we lost our profits.

YEKAPO 1931 register, Pinchas of Lita


The Beginning of the Problems

by Shlomo Ichiltchik

Translation by Anita Frishman Gabbay

A week of worrying and fright in our shtetl Vidz passed before the German army arrived in 1941. We endured the sinister actions of the Poles, White–Russians, Lithuanians and Russians. In June 1941 they rounded up 200 Jews from Vidz and took them to the Maroger Lake, 2 kilometers from Vidz, on the way to Dukst and there they slaughtered them.

In this manner, small groups were taken away, on the pretext that they were going to take them to work, and there they were murdered. This terror continued until November 1941. When the German regime arrived, at first they did not feel the need for a large ghetto in Vidz, just to rearrange the people, from:

Braslav, Ofsa, and Glubokie. In Vidz, about 200 “useful” Jews remained, and in the spring of 1942, the Germans enlarged the Vidz Ghetto with 2000 people: they were brought from Droisk, Duvina, Kazian, Ofsa and others. The healthy ones were selected and sent to different work camps: like Dukst, Podbrodz, Ingalina, New Sventzian and others. At the end of 1942 the Vidz ghetto was liquidated and they were all sent to Sventzian. Only 50 Jews remained (in Vidz). Before the liquidation of the Vidz ghetto a group of young people organized themselves: Zelman Zilber, Noach Swirski, Leah Swirski, Yitzhak Ginsberg, Hiena Kuritzki and others.

[Col. 1593]

With courage and revenge! They left for the Kazian forests, where they joined the Partisans and started their fight against the Christians, who were helping the Germans, burnt their home and warehouses, tore down telephone communications and attacked German garrisons.

In 1942 I was sent to Glubokie, with other Jews, to work in a spinning mill. I lived there for some time and from there escaped to Vidz. Staying in Vidz for a short while, I was sent to work in New Sventzian. I worked on the railroad in New Sventzian.

 

The Liquidation

I found out from a Jewish policeman that came to liquidate the Sventzian ghetto, that Vilna and Kovno was next on the list. Wagons were being prepared for transport, I then decided not to get into the wagon, to remain on foot. With me was Zvi Beliak from Braslav. We then crept into a small unseen corner of a wagon and remained there until we arrived in Vilna, not seen. We met in Vilna a railroad worker who told us that they were taking everyone to Ponar, instead of Kovno. Now we had to make a plan to escape, but we were seen by a Jewish policeman, and brought in a wagon where we met Gens and Dessler.

Gens sat awkwardly, his hands behind his bent head. Seeing me with Zvi Beliak, he started screaming at us: How did you get here? And I answered: Don't scream, we know everything that is happening here…you sent some of our friends in the police wagon into the Vilna Ghetto”. Six of our friends were detained, which Zvi and myself rescued from New Sventzian by tearing off the tarps from the wagons, they were: the brothers Asher and Shlomo Feigl from Vidz, Barke Ulman from Braslav, Israel Wolfson from Svenzian, Motke from Duvine, and Israel Solitan from Vidz.

[Col. 1594]

Gens, realized that he was being fooled by the Germans. Instead of sending the Jews to Kovno, they were being sent to Ponar. He decided to save the 6 Jews. Gens did us a favor. He sent us into the Vilna Ghetto.

 

In the Vilna Ghetto

We all meet up again, and we decided to join the Partisan organization. The Vilna Partisan Organization had their own set of rules, they must take action! We requested that they admit us and undertake an active role in the fight in the nearby forests against the Germans. We started to organize quietly amongst ourselves: our first endeavour was: to obtain guns. We used our own money and bought a revolver. Later we made contact with a young man from Vilna, who had contact(connections) with the Lithuanian policemen. Zvi left the ghetto with this friend to buy guns. Coming back they encountered a German agent. Frightened of being arrested, Zvi took out his revolver and was about to shoot, but the revolver jammed. Zvi was arrested alive and brought to the Gestapo. The other one managed to escape.

Zvi was tortured in a horrible manner, but did not give up any of his friends. Later we found out, the Germans were besides themselves. (from no information)

The Jewish police were constantly watching our every move, although we still decided to go to the forests and rearm ourselves. Two Sventianers came to Vilna from the forest: Yitzhak Rudnitski and Itzike Gertman, who brought us a map of the area and introduced us to the Partisaners. At the right moment, Moishe Shutan also arrived at the Vilna Ghetto. Ruven Miadzialski from Sventzian, who was to go with us to the forest, remained behind to see his friend Moishe Shutan. We decided not to wait and left. Leib Falant led the way, a brigadier from a New Vileika group, and after some time we arrived at the Kazianer forests.

 

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