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Bemma, Commandant
of the Glubokie Slaughter House

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

In order to clearly comprehend the magnitude of the Jews' enslavement and the abyssmal pit they had fallen into, the extent that they were prey with which every German could do as he pleased, we will dedicate several lines to a specific German officer who was named Bemma, to whom we must ill-repute many Jewish victims.

His exterior demeanor, the way he strutted and his gestures were enough to instill fright in everyone. He was a person of military build, his facial expression beastly, his nose turned upward, blond hair, sharp cunning eyes, and with a piercing look that would devour you up. His gait and his conduct, his casting of quick glances to all sides from under his heavy brows could be compared to a wild animal that is seeking its prey. On top of it all he would constantly twirl and snap his whip, play with his revolver and run, run like he was doped. To his slaves, the Jews, he never spoke softly or peacefully. He would constantly shout, bellow, and revile brutally, in the

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most obscene language and expressions of hate. As he spoke he would point his revolver and make you feel that he is the one and only ruler, the “Fuhrer” with unlimited power, even to the extent of shooting someone to death just for fun. It is understandable then that everyone was stricken with fear at the prospect of meeting this wild creature. Such a breed, such a depraved individual could only be created by the Nazi schools in Germany, who “were liberating mankind of conscience and morality.”

The first “accomplishment” of this officer was the shooting of 35 year old Isaac Gordon - a Jew and a family man, - who worked with him in the slaughterhouse.

On an early morning of a December day in 1941 - Bemma approached Gordon, and, in the presence of many Jewish laborers - drew his revolver, without any provocation, and shot Gordon twice, killing him on the spot. He did this only to satisfy his own pleasure. Looking at the dead man he smiled and told the older son of Eli Blach to say Kaddish for the deceased. With expression of contentment on his face, he went to eat his breakfast

The news of this murder spread like wildfire throughout the city. It made a frightening impression on everyone. In an instance Bemma became infamous... the Entire area knew about this cannibal, who sucks human blood and lusts after fresh mortal victims.

It was no longer a shock to anyone when he tortured Jews at their work place. He beat them, whipped them, and shot them without any provocation or reason.

Galinska, daughter of the postman Martzinkevitsh, a Christian woman from Glubokie, told that she herself saw how the wild German, Bemma, once grabbed the 18 year old boy, Y. Gitelzon, threw him to the ground, kicked him with his boot and stomped him. Gitelzon screamed, pleaded that he would do anything for him if he would only leave him be. He only let him go when the boy fainted from the blows. Badly bruised, Gitelzon was carried home, his arm was broken. He remained lying in bed until the liquidation of the Glubokie Ghetto in August of 1943.

Bemma was the main subject of “terror” for the Jews. His name cast fear in everyone. “Bemma is in the ghetto”, - “Bemma is seizing Jews” - children would cry in horror and run to tell their parents to hide. Neighbors would run to tell that “the serpent was crawling through the Ghetto”,

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and all would flee to hide. Mostly he would come into the Ghetto to “circulate” during the evening hours. The Jews he would come upon, he would chase in his car. Indiscriminately he would snatch anyone he encountered. He would harm men, women, the elderly and children, supposedly for labor, which in reality did not exist at all. He needed this only for his own amusement, some one to play with... He used to demand that the Jews sing, dance, roll, make all sorts of faces and so on. He would force older people to jump from his car as it was moving, and if the weak and elderly refused to jump from the car, it meant a certain death for them. There was always some bodily injury involved in his perverse games - Bemma would beat them on their feet with a stick, or whip them with a thick rubber whip and be overjoyed at his new discovery... The elderly men and women would cry so bitterly that a stone would melt, but this German satrap was not touched by their cries at all. Later on Bemma turned the Jews into a very nice source of income for himself. These Jews who were seized by him for “labor”, he would not release until their relatives would bring him a substantial ransom. And being released from such bloody hands, from such a bandit, was not such a common good fortune which all were privileged to enjoy The murderer Bemma - the educated and cultured German - remained in the memory of all of the survivors of the Glubokie Ghetto, as the most villainous image of a creature in the form of a man!

The Abuse of the Jews from Krulevshchizna

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

Suddenly on an early morning hour at the end of December 1941, the Police ordered the Jews of Krulevshchizna (14 kilometers from Glubokie) “to gather their belongings and in one hour arrive to some peasants' carts and load them on the carts and leave town”. The Krulevshchizna Jews had to bid farewell to their homes, where they had been born, brought up and lived their entire life. Not only they lived in those homes, but also their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Who can tell how many generations had lived there, worked there and created there!

Whereto and why they were being taken they weren't told, and the unexpected “surprise” pounded their minds. They were disturbed,

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not knowing what was happening. These Jews, at that time, did not know yet the horror of the Germans, even though they had already heard “something” about what was being done to Jews in many other cities and towns.

Some thought that they were captured to be shot. They had heard that in some places Jews were deceived in this way only to be murdered. Fortunately In this case, it did not happen. They were just being taken to the Glubokie Ghetto. (Later they were murdered there together with the Jews of Glubokie.)

On the way they were disturbed, tortured and beaten. In Glubokie they with their belongings were taken to the Police barracks. There the Police took away from them their better items, and the remaining ones were shaken and spread out as they searched for hidden gold and other valuables. If they found anything, it was too bad for that person.

Finally they were all thrown into the Ghetto, where they suffered together with the Glubokie Jews. At first they considered themselves fortunate, they escaped from the murderers' hands with their lives. Soon they realized that the vast majority of them had no place to sleep. It was so crowded in the Ghetto that taking in new people even with the greatest strain, was impossible. There wasn't enough room to insert a button. Days on end they would run around with the members of the Judenrat looking for a place under some roof. Families had to be divided up, splintered - the husband in one place, the wife in another, one child separated from his sibling and so forth. To settle a family all together in one place was absolutely unattainable. At the time these Jews accepted all of this lovingly. They had expected much worse, and therefore they were pleased. This was an unusual occurrence that in the enslavement of Ghetto life, in the deep darkness of existence there appeared a ray of joy. However, their optimistic spirit did not last for long. The Germans would not permit the “joy” to endure among the Jews in the Ghetto of Glubokie. Bloody episodes began to follow one another. The sword dangled right over the Jewish heads!

The Murder of Forty Souls

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

On an early morning, during the last days of December of 1941, rumors spread throughout the Ghetto that during the night the Police removed from the ghetto 40 people and

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murdered them. The reason for this was, supposedly, their “evil behavior”. They displayed insobriety, had charges brought against them in the past, and so forth. And since Jews mattered not to the Germans anyway, they were condemned without any of the legal processes of investigation, indictment or trial. Here also, as in all other murders, the small, innocent children were the victims of the “transgressions” of their parents and grandparents - for the “crimes” of sons and grandsons...

It happened in this way:

At 4:00 A. M. the Police arrived, with great commotion they broke down doors, woke the people, dragged them from their beds and ordered them to take along their little children, even the suckling infants, and go. Where and what, they weren't told. The mothers who wanted to take something along for their small children to eat or drink, were not permitted by the Police to do so. They weren't even allowed to dress themselves properly. They were taken to the Police Station, and an hour later the commandant read a decree issued by the German civil authority, “those who had been arrested, as a “useless” element, are sentenced to death.” At first these unfortunates could not orient themselves, they couldn't comprehend what was taking place here. What was wanted of them? Why do they deserve to be shot?! Soon, however, they understood their situation. They began pleading, crying, screaming, but there was no one with whom to speak or to argue. Their questions were answered with blows. They were beaten with whips, with sticks and with the butts of guns. Only then did the familiar scenes begin, such as the tearing of one's clothing banging their heads against the walls, tearing out their hair, throwing themselves to the floor and crawling on all fours, etc. Also the little children, imitating their parents, and not knowing what was occurring burst out crying and screaming. They were allowed to continue this way for a long time. They were later taken to the barracks, where they were murdered. A certain woman and her children lay themselves down in the middle of the road on the snow and screamed that they would not move from that spot. They were beaten senseless and the others were told to carry them on their shoulders into the forest. The small children were thrown into the pit while still alive. Afterwards the Police came to the homes of the murdered, took their possessions and forced the neighbors to tell them where they could find the better possessions of those who were killed, such as gold, silver, etc.

The effect in the city of the first mass murder is not easy

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to imagine, but earth-shattering events followed one after the other, and each one was more dreadful than the preceding one.

The Great Exodus from the Vilna Ghetto

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

During the winter months of 1941-2 rumors were spread that in Vilna, Jews are being murdered by the thousands and tens of thousands. Consequently, a portion of the Vilna Jews, seeing that they have nothing to lose anyway, started fleeing from the Vilna ghetto to the forests and small towns (shtetls), wherever they could. A few of the Vilna Jews arrived also in Glubokie. They conveyed terrifying details of the tortures and persecution which the Jews in Vilna had to endure, and spoke of the mass murders. They told us that this actions were mainly being carried out by the Lithuanians and the Lithuanian Police The policemen were going through the Ghetto, into the houses seeking Jews who were in hiding, dragging them out and murdering them. Only those who were needed by the Germans for forced labor, or for some other useful purpose were left alive. Also, they told us about people who are in hiding in the ghetto. Those hiding places had not been discovered yet, were spared for the meantime.

At the beginning the Lithuanians would discover the hiding places of the Jews in a refined way. When then entered a Jewish dwelling place and found no one at home, the Lithuanians would remain sitting quietly listening intently for every movement and sound. The Jews, hiding behind the false wall or in some other place, hearing that all was quiet in the house, would think that no one was there, and would begin to talk softly among themselves. This was enough for the murderers to discover their hiding places. The Lithuanians would often sit all night in the Jewish homes, silently, motionless, in order to trap the Jews in their nets.

Quite often, small children with their crying, sneezing or coughing. The sounds would give away the hiding place of the Jews. They would be discovered by the Lithuanians and could not save themselves. There were tragedies whereby children were strangled to death to keep them from crying. In some cases this was done by their mothers with their own hands.

The Vilna refugees fled to us to save themselves. This notion was but an illusion. They met their deaths here only a bit later.

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Hitler's hangmen did not do any less butchering here than they did in Vilna. The refugees were all alone. They had already lost their families in Vilna. Men had fled after losing their wives and children, and sons and daughters ran after they had seen their parents shot. They also brought from Vilna to us, the granddaughter of Rabbi Katz, after her parents were murdered in Vilna. (Rabbi Hillel Zalmanovitsh and his wife, the daughter and son-in-law of Rabbi Katz.. At about that time Jews also fled from Sventzian, which was in Lithuania.They told us that also there the Lithuanians raged against the Jews was strong. Soon after the Germans entered, (the Sventzian refugees relatedto us), 100 Jews were seized. Saying that they were being taken for forced labor, they were in reality taken outside the city and there they were shot. this event was repeated on a daily basis where were ever Jews were held.

Three months after occupying Sventzian, the Germans gathered all of the Jews from both the old and the new city, from Haidotzishek, Tzaiatzishek, Ignaline, Padbradz and others. Altogether, about 8,000 souls were taken to Poligon, 15 kilometers from the city, where they established for them a camp. On the way they bullied and jeered these exiles: The elderly, women and small children dragged along with the bundles on their shoulders, and if someone would even pause momentarily, the Police would hit them over the head, tear the bundle from them and sneak away.

The Poligon camp was dense and surrounded with barbed wire, heavily guarded by armed Lithuanians, so that it was impossible to rescue anyone from there. No food was given to them, and there was also no water to drink. The 8,000 Jews who were there were tortured for 12 days. Afterwards they took them all out, supposedly for forced labor, and shot them. This took place on the 9th of October, 1941. A few amongst them saved themselves. Among those was the family of Nachum Zinger of Glubokie. Of all the Jews in Sventzian, the Lithuanians left only 15 necessary skilled laborers: shoemakers, tailors, mechanics, etc. More precise details about the martyrdom of the Jews of Sventzian is to be found in the yizkor book “The Destruction of Sventzian”.

In Glubokie they still thought at the time, that mass murders on such a broad scale were taking place only in Vilna because of the Lithuanians, who were known to be such great anti-Semites. Here in White Russia, where the anti-Semitism was “milder”, people thought that it wouldn't go so far.

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Mass Murders in the
Surrounding Shtetls and villages

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

In January of 1942, or a bit later, rumors began to spread that in the surrounding villages, such as Prazarak, Pliste, Yad, Germanavitsh, Halvitsh, the hamlet of Shipi (where Jews lived) and other places, the Jews are being slaughtered in mass murders. Rarely, someone would succeed in saving themselves.

it was clear that the situation of the Jews in White Russia was no better than the situation of the Jews in Lithuania, Were the White Russians no better than the Lithuanians? here also theGermans were able to find enough local anti-Semites who would actively help the Germans in their discriminatory policies towards Jews. The few refugees who escaped from those villages, would relate the horrible details about what the Germans, together with their helpers, did to the Jews. They did not only shoot them, but they tortured them with awful tortures. They would cut off hands, feet, fingers, poke out eyes, pull teeth, etc. The victims would bleed profusely, and they would struggle for a long time before the welcomed death would come. Other refugees were so disturbed, and in such a beaten physical condition, that with their mute, wandering looks they would constantly look about them not knowing where they were and what they were doing here. They just simply couldn't remember what had happened to them. They were chased and shot at. Many fell on the way, and as if by a miracle, they weren't hit by the bullets. Among those who fled there were some that crawled out of the pits, where they had been lying among the corpses, saved because they had played dead. Before the pits were covered over, they manage in some way to crawl out. The children, in most cases, were tossed into the pits alive, and the earth that covered them would move for a long while until they suffocated!

There are no words to describe the German bestiality. It is a disgrace for all of humanity, for the image of God, when we recall that something like this could have taken place during a period of advanced civilization, in the 20th century, in the heart of cultured Europe!

The Murder of One Hundred and Ten Jews

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

The Glubokie Jews didn't bemoan the fate of the Jews of the provinces for a long period of time. Soon a fresh

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shock; a mass murder on a greater scale. It happened on the 25th of March in 1942, (7th of Nissan, 5702). During one of those beautiful early spring days. The Police broke into Ghetto homes, whole families were dragged from their beds and chased into the street. At the outset the Jews couldn't orient themselves to the situation, and were unable to figure out what was happening. They were under the impression that during the night, a demand for some unexpected essential labor arose, some chore had to be done at once. But when they were forced to leave ( by cars) together with their children, in the direction of the barracks, they understood to what kind of “labor” they were being driven to!

Terrible heartrending scenes took place on the way there. The grumbling, crying and screams filled the air. The victims tore off their clothing (in most cases, underclothes, because they hadn't gotten the chance to get dressed), tore their hair from their heads and embraced each other. They tried to protect parents, children, husbands, wives. The cries were mixed with the brutal shouts and jeers of the policemen, who beat the Jews mercilessly and drove them like cattle, hurrying them along, so that they wouldn't have to spend too much time with them...

On Lomzsher and Kishelike Streets, other Jews trembling with terror, were looking on through the cracks of doors and windows, as they were driving their relatives, their brothers, sisters, parents, children and other Jews, towards the barracks to their slaughter. They saw how the Police beat them, clubbed them with sticks on the heads of women and little children. They stood paralyzed, numbed, not knowing what to do, how to rescue them, how to tear them from the clutches of the wild beast. They knew that if they crawled out of their homes, they themselves would fall into the jaws of the beast. With their glances from the cracks of their doors and attics, they were bidding farewell to their friends... In barely an hour the policemen were already riding on several sleds away from the barracks. They were transporting the possessions that they had just torn from those murdered. They were sitting around drinking... Right after the tragedy that occurred, they began playing music in the market-place. Even the Christians, who still had some human feelings, this massacre of the Jews made a terrifying impression. The sounds of the music did not have any less of an effect than had the cries and pleas of the victims. They could see as it happened, so it seems, how death spread its wings

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and flew unhindered through the air. The bandits immediately arranged orgies, noisy feasts, in honor of the “victory” over the 110 souls of Glubokie' Jews.

This massacre was an occasion that the local Police found the opportune moment to avenge themselves on Jews with whom they still had “old scores” to settle. In this way, for example, Kolye, a former shoemaker, who had become a policeman, revenged himself on the family of N. Reichl (who had been a leather merchant), with whom during the times of peace, he could obtain no credit. The same thing also happened with the families of Shaike Shapiro, Zalman Gitelzon, Eli Kurkudiansky, Zalman Shparber (from-whose family a son and daughter survived), Lazar Gitelzon, Dr. Moshe Chaves{* whom they searched for a long time and couldn't find, and instead of him, they took his father, Israel Chaves and his wife, and others. Esther-Shayne, the wife of Lazar Gitelzon, who was a god-fearing, intelligent woman, even during that dark time she did not cease to teach her children. She was optimistic and believed in a bright tomorrow, and in a quick end to our troubles. Tuesday, the 6th of Nissan, March 24th, she sat with the writer of these lines, in the house where we were dealing with and “debating” about the coming Passover; how to organize it in such circumstances. Where do we get Matza and the other necessities? Our mother, may she rest in peace, was lying ill from the events, and pessimism reigned. there was no inclination to concern ourselves too much with Passover. We felt that at least with the food we would somehow manage. If only we would remain alive! ...But Mrs. Gitelzon assured us that she takes upon herself the burden of providing Matza of high quality. On the morrow, the 7th of Nissan, quite early in the morning, Esther-Shayne Gitelzon was no longer among the living. She, her husband and three sons were among the 110 murdered victims. For a long while The Ghetto could not regain a presence of mind in regard to the bestial murders. The Jews didn't know what to do. They couldn't make peace with the thought, that innocent people could be murdered, without any “reason”. Many, due to the aggravation of having lost relatives, became ill. There was no lack of attacks of rage and hysteria among the women and other such ailments. As it was later related in the city, the 110 Jewish souls had fallen victim because of a... love affair. A certain German Lieutenant Shultz,

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had fallen head over heels in love with the Jewish maiden, Gite Gordon, who worked in the Gendarmerie. This German Lieutenant, the burning patriot, and “pupil” of Nazism, could not resist the charms of the Jewish maiden, and Gordon had a strong influence on him. Thanks-to her, the teacher Fisher, Pupko, Kasher and others were saved. (Later they were all exterminated in the mass murders.)

The infatuation of a German with a Jewish girl was in open opposition to Hitler's theory of racism and discredited the local German administration. When nothing, no reprimands or threats of punishment, could dissuade the Lieutenant, the Gordon girl had occupied a more important place in his heart than Hitler's teachings, the civil administration decided to carry out “Operation Without Pain” on behalf of the Germans. In other words: when the infatuated Lieutenant wasn't in the city, the Police “innocently and courteously” called out Gite Gordon, not telling her what or when is taking place, and shot her.

When Shultz returned and learned what had happened, he was beside himself. He quite simply went crazy, but he couldn't tell anybody, and couldn't complain to anyone. Everything had been done “legally” for his own good, removing the blot from his name...

Being helpless, and not having anyone on whom to vent his anger, there appeared the wild beast in this Hitlerite. In order to calm his impure blood, this lover of a Jewish girl took part in the murder of the 110 Jews. As a result of the tragic love affair, there perished the innocents: Drisviatskes, Koenigsbergs, Hidekels, Gitelzons, Reichles and others, together with their wives and infant children, who cried and did not know why this was happening. And not only the small minds of the little children could not understand the “wherefore”, but also the adults, the practical, educated, cultured people, could find no answer to the queries of the small children. The “clever, cultured” Germans had however, indeed found a reason. The German Minister of Justice declared that some Jews had been engaged in “speculation”, which meant that they had disobeyed the law and bought food products for themselves and their children, from Christians (in actuality nobody was caught in this

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“offense”) and for this they received proper punishment.

Concerning reactions and protests against such trepidation, in those dark times and circumstances there was nothing that could be even discussed. The only option was to listen to the wild German cynicism and remain quiet...

There soon came fresh shock, new frightening episodes, horors which will be related in later on chapters. The sighs and cries in the Ghetto constantly grew. The result was that Jews fell into even deeper apathy, which bordered on complete resignation, and all things were treated alike. The situation became even more complicated there was no way out. There was no reaction to anything...This resignation was perhaps the greatest disaster!...

The Ghetto Space allowance Decreases

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

Since the number of Jews was constantly decreasing, the German administration was concerned with the problem that maybe the remaining Jews had too much room in the Ghetto. They therefore decided to reduce the Ghetto-area. A few days after the slaughter of the 110 Jewish souls there came a decree from the Germans to reduce the Ghetto-area. From the Ghetto boundaries they cut off the ends of Lomzsher and new Kishelike Streets, and also cut away the entire old Kishelike Street. In these areas the biggest and nicest houses were located.

the Jews had to leave their homes in those areas of the Ghetto in thirty minutes. They were allowed to remain in the meantime on the street, if they couldn't find a roof to put over their heads. In the Ghetto it had been overcrowded anyway due to the “new refugees” about 800 souls, who also hadn't found places for themselves. But there was nothing to be overly concerned about, since this was a matter of life and death, no matter what kind of life it was, places had to be found...

They began throwing things out of the homes and the things began hitting the street with an impact. They threw things through doors and windows, broke them, tore them, and ruined everything. Underfoot one felt broken dishes, and glass utensils, also pieces of broken furniture. Bedding came apart and the air became filled with feathers. The streets and courtyards were spread with pages from torn books,

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and religious books, Bibles, Talmuds, and others. We, the writers of these lines, had a rich library (also an important collection of medical literature), our own as well as those from the schools, which we kept in the Ghetto. A portion of the library had been given to us in October of 1941, when we had moved into the Ghetto. Now, on the eve of the Passover, 1942, almost all of the books, hundreds of them, roamed the streets, torn and flicked. Also there were photographs scattered all over, as well as pictures and pages of manuscripts in Hebrew, Yiddish, etc. Mothers were wandering about with their crying little children, who trembled from fear and the cold. The mothers tried to calm them. The children were influenced by the nervousness of the adults. The sick were carried in their beds into the street. There they remained unattended. On top of it all, that Passover was a specially cold one with biting cold weather.

Since the best houses of the cut-down Ghetto were now going to be occupied by Police and German officials, they stood over the Jews and drove them on to evacuate their homes quickly. They cruelly beat the Jews, threatened to shoot them if anyone remained even a minute after the allowed time in their homes. The Jews ran from the houses and left them as they were with everything in them for the murderers. And then they were outside! On Lomzsher Street, one of the policemen wanted to take over Slidzevskes house, where our family was located. This particular house was the nicest one in the Ghetto. The policeman did not permit the things to be taken from the house. He jeered and harassed and in this way he showed off his “Police authority”. He related how he walked around wide awake, and slept very little because every morning at 4:00 A. M. he already finds himself in the barracks. He was reciting his pedigree, one of the most diligent participants in the early morning actions... While relating this, he used a kerchief to clean his bloody boots, that had not yet dried after the morning's action...

Telling us about his “heroism”, he was able to cast upon us an even greater fear, which was already quite substantial. He let us know that in the coming days they are preparing an even greater blood action, but he is willing to let us know about it a few hours before it will take place, so that we'll have time to hide ourselves. For this information, understandably, he must be well rewarded... Under the threat of being shot,

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he told us that this must remain a strict secret, no one should be made aware of it. We were very reserved in our reaction to this. We knew that the local Police would use this in order to extract large ransoms from Jews, and that when the danger was really great, they never helped. On the contrary, most of the time their redeemers would trap them in their nets even faster. Also in this case it was clear to us that he is attempting to squeeze as much as he can from us.

On the eve of the Passover, together with others, we threw a portion of our things out of the door and the windows, onto the street. We also took our sick mother outside. All day we ran around searching for a place under a roof for her and 7 year old Aharon-Yitzhakl,. The Judenrat was helpless. All attempts to bribe the Police, so that they would be less brutal, were of no avail. The murderers did their thing, even though they were satiated with goodies. Some Jews from the houses that had been cut away from the Ghetto, became so depressed that they were unable to rescue from among their possessions even those things that they would be able to save. They thought that anyway it was no use... It was clear to all that the lessening of the Ghetto area was not being done because there weren't enough apartments in the city for the Christian population. In the city there stood houses that were empty, and no one needed the Ghetto apartments. The magistrate was selling Jewish houses for 100-150 guilders in order to get rid of them. Village peasants jumped on the wild bargains and every day there were carried out of the city, on tens of carts, the materials that had been taken from dismantled Jewish houses. It was clear that the reduction of the Ghetto area was done solely to crowd the Jews into a narrower box.

During the dismantling of Chaim-Meir Freidkins estate (The Centralke) there were many casualties. The roof fell in on the workers and in the wreckage, Chodosh, Haberman and others were found dead. Also many wounded were dragged out. When the injured were brought to the city hospital (which was near the site of the catastrophe), they were denied first-aid, with the excuse - “They are Jews”!... Only late in the evening, on the first night of Passover, were we able to squeeze ourselves into the apartment of Zalman the miller. This was in the court of Shimon Lekach on Vilne Street. Several families lived there

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and the crowded conditions were indescribable. There, the “Seder” was conducted. We also participated by standing (it was impossible to sit). The eyes were dimmed, the head dizzy. In place of wine - tears. No symbol of bitter herb was necessary.

But at the same time we considered ourselves fortunate, that we had succeeded in arranging a place for our sick mother, who had suffered so much during the day. We ourselves had to be satisfied with a bare floor, but fortunately there was a roof over our heads. We had nothing to eat. The wife of Zalman the miller gave us a bit of potato.

Right after Passover, I, Zvi Rajak, became sick. I was walking around with a high fever, and large rashes over my entire body. I had no place to lie down. No one could know anything about it. The Germans would not tolerate any sick Jews. Finally, On the Judenrat's “horse” they took me to the Ghetto Hospital. There were many sick Jews in the hospital – Jews who shortly before were quite well. In about 10 days I was “cured”. I returned “home” and again slept on the floor. I was very weak and could not fully recover. On top of it all, that spring was a very cold one.

In the midst of all this there came the rumor, that in the distant shtetl, Dalhinov, on the eve of Passover, there was a pogrom against the Jews. 1,000 souls were burned alive. This news only aggravated our own anguish. We have forgotten what normal life is. We only anticipated the worse. The hopes for anything good disappeared from almost everyone's thoughts. Unfortunately, our intuition did not deceive us, as we will see in the following chapters.

The “Black Students”

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

For a long time we had already heard of them, but we could not imagine what an accursed breed they were. We knew that there was a German organization, which was called the S. D. (Security Forces) or as we called them here, the “Black Students”, who carry with them destruction and liquidation, death and elimination.

Until May of 1942 they hadn't shown up in Glubokie. On an early morning of the aforementioned May, there spread as fast as lightening, throughout the city, the rumor

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that they had arrived here. It is impossible to convey the terror which fell upon the Jews. People gathered in groups to discuss and consider how they could save their lives. No one had any concrete thoughts about what to do. A few attempted to deal secretly with Christians, to be rescued by them, or hidden by them, if not the adults, at least the little children. Unfortunately there were to be found very few among them who wanted to help Jews in their tragedy. Quickly people began to “build” hiding places in attics, in cellars, under the floors, in the gardens, in pits, etc. They made “fake” rooms in the walls, disguised staircases in pits through closets, ovens and cupboards. They made deep holes in cellars - worse than graves - and carrying out the work was very complicated, not only because of the exhaustion and strain. Time was short. The angel of death was already sitting in the city, waving his sword. Also the work could only be done at night, because, during the day, everyone had to be at forced labor for the Germans. In addition to all of this, the work had to be done secretly, hidden from all human eyes. The will to save oneself from death was in itself considered a great offense. There was no place at all to dispose of the earth and sand which was dug out of the pits and cellars. It couldn't be dumped on the street - this would be noticed and raise suspicions... There was no way out. They remained dependent on their own luck.

In just those terrible moments of despair, we attempted to console ourselves, and calm ourselves. We wanted to hope, “believe” in the promises of the German civil administration that the visit of the S. D. to Glubokie will pass without any bloodshed, because “the Jews of Glubokie are exceptional”. They are “necessary Jews” as they would often put it. The Jews will get away with only material losses. Therefore the Minister of Justice suggests that the Judenrat should, as fast as possible, assemble a greater amount of gold, jewelry, clothing, footwear, and just plain money, so that it can be given over, and the S. D. will leave the place more quickly.

Everyone was recruited... they ran from house to house.. They gathered together and everybody pulled out from his hiding place whatsoever he possessed. The exceptions

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were only those, who had previously turned over their fortunes to Christians for safekeeping, and now they couldn't take it back.

They brought and carried everything, valises filled with things, briefcases filled with money, and with incredible patience, waited for the fortunate moment when the German bandits will finally leave the city. They were, or wanted to be, naive and believing that their calm was justified.

From the attics, and through crevices in cellars, and from cupboards, with baited breath they watched. The hangmen, loaded down with Jewish wealth and goods, left the city. The Jews breathed more freely... This time the murderers left, leaving behind almost no victims. I say “almost” because there actually were 20 victims. (In those circumstances this was considered a small matter)

At the time they murdered the family Melamed-Koenigsberg (David Melamed's daughter, Rivke, her husband and children, Leib Krivitzky, the Birzsh girl (Gershon Isaiah Igeses' grandaughter), Sarah Fronovitsh and others... When the panic at the coming of the S. D. had taken place, the aforementioned had fled the Ghetto to hide. They had hidden themselves in unfinished buildings, stalls, sheds, ditches, etc. Local Christians noticed them and informed the Police, who came and murdered them on the spot. These tragic murders made no impression in the Ghetto. The psyche of the Jews had already accustomed itself to such events, and they just didn't react to anything so “insignificant”. It left no lasting impression because the lives of all hung by a thread.

As was mentioned after the S. D. left, the Jews were able to breathe more freely. They did not understand and could not imagine, that the “good fortune” of the S. D leaving at the time, was really a tragedy. The disoriented minds of the Jews did not understand that the Germans sensing the nervousness and unease of Glubokie's Jews, had left momentarily to carry out their devilish designs inthe surrounding villages. No one thought, that their leaving was intentional, in order to rid the Jews of their dark thoughts, so that later they could carry out their extermination plans more easily. They wanted the Jews to be completely calm, so that they won't look for ways in which to save themselves.

As it later became clear, that the S. D., before leaving Glubokie,

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left a secret plan with the civil administration, a plan about how to prepare the blood action against the Jews. They only left, in order to return in three weeks, and carry out the slaughter with greater success and ease than would have been possible earlier.

Step by step the Germans succeeded in drugging the Jews of Glubokie and making them numb. Later, with much greater success, they were able to trap the Jews in their nets.

As it later appeared, the S. D., before they left Glubokie, made had a secret agreement with the Judenrat, whom they deceived. Glubokie was truly “privileged”, they told the Judenrat, but without the shedding of some Jewish blood, they could not proceed. The privilege that Glubokie enjoys, is that they will be satisfied with “only six hundred” s owls (the elderly and the weak), who are to be found in the second Ghetto. More than this number, the mothers and the fathers, they will not murder...

The Judenrat, for understandable reasons, kept this massage from the S. D. a deep dark secret. Therefore they were able to carry out the terms of the “agreement” to the letter. They prepared the second Ghetto for the slaughter.

How the Germans kept their promise to the Judenrat, that they will satisfy themselves with just that portion of Jewish blood, from only the “unfortunate Jews”, we will see later on.

The condition and situation, into which the Jews of Glubokie had fallen, we can see from the fact that the representative body of the Jews had “agreed” to the murder of more than 600 people, thinking that with this gesture they would save the remaining thousands of Jews.

The Extermination of the
Jews of Surrounding Shtetls

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

After these events, after the Jews had “released” themselves a bit from the dark nightmare, regular news of terrifying mass murders on a much larger scale began to arrive. Reports came from the surrounding villages and shtetls that the Germans were murdering all of the Jews. They were “sweeping the Jews clean with an exterminating broom”, and no survivor or remnant remained.

Those were bloody days, which had their epilogue in Glubokie, where the Jews, according to the assurances of the Germans, “were in a special privileged and safe situation”.

The month of June, 1942, the bloody month, will forever remain infamous in the memory of the few Jewish survivors of Glubokie and the surrounding area. In

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that gloomy month, the Germans and their local helpers obliterated from the face of the earth; hundreds of communities, entire Jewish shtetls. In a matter of a few days the Jews of Braslaw, Mir, Disna, Luzshky, Szarkowszczyzna, Druya, Flisa, Dokshitz, Ziavky, Parapianov, Padsvilie and others, were annihilated. It is worthwhile emphasizing a few points.

In Szarkowszczyzna, for example, for the time of the summer of 1942, over 50% of the Jews were saved. This was thanks to the Judenrat, which during the entire time stood on guard, and with special alertness watched and spied out the deeds and intentions of the Germans and the local Police. That particular Judenrat must be mentioned favorably, it was just about the only one in that area that evaluated the situation accurately. They did not deceive either themselves or the population, doing all in its power to rescue when and where it was only possible. They did just the opposite of what was done by other Judenrats, and did not calm the Jews with promises that all would be well, or filled their heads with empty assurances to ease their pain. They didn't tell Jews that they were the Germans' “darlings” who would allow them to live. On the contrary, - they kept on warning that the situation is serious and the Germans will kill them; that a slaughter of Sharakovshtzina Jews is imminent, and so forth. Therefore everyone must be on his guard. The Germans, with all of their assurances are out to deceive, and no one can depend on them. One must be ready to flee at a moment's notice, since that moment might arrive unexpectedly.

During those days, when the S. D. was in Glubokie and the surrounding area, the Sharkavshtziner Judenrat intensified its spying on the German Police and Gendarmarie. Here we must mention with praise, the Jewish Elder, Hirsh Berman, who with an extraordinary intense inquisition, and keen observation, noticed the preparations being made by the murderers. On the eve of the bloody day during an “intimate-friendly” conversation with the Oberwachsmeister, Hite, he understood the real reasons why Hite came from Glubokie to Szarkowszczyzna. Hite told Berman that he had come there to carry out “maneuvers”, which will take place on the day after tomorrow, in the morning, and he is informing him that the Jews have nothing to fear, since no harm will befall upon them.

This was already a sufficient signal, and the Judenrat quickly informed everyone to be ready... That night no one slept.

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From the attics and other hiding places, they kept a constant watch to see what was taking place on the street. When in the morning they noticed that the Gendarmes and Police had risen earlier than usual and are dressed more elaborately, running to and from the Gendarmerie well armed while conversing secretly and so on, the Judenrat pronounce the situation to be terrible and ordered all Jews to flee forthwith.

The murderers were late. When they surrounded the Ghetto, almost two-thirds of the Jews were already beyond the town. Thirty minutes later the S. D. arrived on their motor vehicles, they found only the elderly, the sick and children in the Ghetto. The Jews had fooled them this time...

For the infuriated, German beast there remained too small a portion of Jewish blood. They were incensed at Jewish “Chutzpah”. The “charlatan like” psyche in them flamed more shrewdly. They were jumping out of their skins. To be so humiliated! Can it be? The Jews have outwitted them, fooled them! Their action in Szarkowszczyzna failed. Too small a dose of Jewish blood had remained for them to swallow!

They still did not consider that they had lost out completely. They had vehicles, they were armed and are strong enough so that they will find a way to avenge themselves on the gloomy and dejected Jews of the small town.

After murdering the old men, old women and children they found on the spot, murders which naturally did not take too long for these German creatures to carry out, they sat themselves in their vehicles and chased the fleeing Jews.

Unfortunately they caught quite a few, and the “criminals” were severely punished. One death wasn't enough for them. They devised such tortures and torments for the escaped victims, that only the Germans are capable of devising. And how advanced German wisdom was in murder and killing was already well known. They poked out the eyes of the unfortunates with red hot rods, skinned them alive, broke the fingers, pulled out the teeth (especially if they were gold teeth), cut out tongues and more!

On that day they exterminated about 700 Sharkavshtziner Jews, a sum of those who had been left in the town together with those captured on the roads.

This success - it must be told - was in a large measure due to the help that the Germans received from the local peasants, who were able to catch the fleeing Jews on the

[Page 107]

road, and give them into the murderous hands of the Germans. Especially diligent in this were the local policemen. But it didn't end with only the 700 victims. The Police did not tire. For days and weeks on end they continued searching for the hidden and fleeing Jews. They were lying in the bushes, in the woods, in corn planted by the roadsides, and from these places lurked for the Jewish refugees. a peasant would find a watch, a ring, earrings, or some money on a murdered Jew. The murderers had a special appetite for a Jew with gold teeth.

The Jews knew that they were being hunted and that they are lurking for them. They would lie in the corn and under bushes, not moving from that spot. They were even afraid to breathe deeply; they didn't eat or drink and lay in the rain and cold (June of 1942 was, to Jewish misfortune, a wet and cold one).

How far the local Police would go, can be seen from this fact: 5 weeks after the slaughter, a Sharkovshtziner Jew, Leib Chazan, unable to withstand the suffering of his children, who were prostrate from hunger, defied all dangers and crawled out from the corn, and went to find a bowl of water. When he kneeled in the mud to fill a broken utensil with water, there sprang out from behind a bush, a policeman who demanded money from him, promising him that he will let him live... Afterwards, when Chazan gave him part of his money, the policeman shot him and critically wounded him. With his waning strength, Chazan took out the rest of the money and quickly tore it to shreds, so that the murderer will not benefit from it. The policeman immediately shot Chazan a second time and ended his life.

This was all witnessed by Chazan's wife and children, who were hiding nearby. They couldn't even assuage their terrible pain by crying out, by moaning. They had to choke back their tears, because sobbing, crying , or any other sound would give away their hiding place. Although at that moment they had protected themselves, the cruel hand would later also seize them.

As was mentioned, many of the local Christians were the best detectors of those Jews who were in hiding. The peasants were especially well acquainted with

[Page 108]

the highways and byways and forests and fields in theis region. Some would themselves kill the captured Jews in various ways: by axes, shovels, crow-bars, pick and other such implements. Others turned them to the Police or Germans. In this way the peasants would receive recognition from the occupation forces, and they would also be materially rewarded with a few kilos of salt, matches, soap, etc.

In this way, for example, Makar, from the village of Palilyek, captured Zerach Krapivnik and murdered him. He also killed Motke Budov; the family of Lazar Radaskovitsh he drove into the river and drowned them there. An inhabitant of the hamlet of Bedi came upon three Jewish refugees. He fooled them into going with him, promising to protect them, and afterwards turned them over to the Germans.

David Vashtai fooled the family of D. Pildas, into coming with him, promising to conceal them, and later turned them over. He had also fooled a little boy, Estrin, the same way, and murdered him with an axe.

In the midst of so much cruelty, we must mention the goodness of the brothers Stankevitsh, Marian and Adolf, from Barsutshine, who aided Jews in their time of trouble. They helped them hide from the German murderers, fed them, and showed them where to hide and flee.

With great praise, someone named Statzevitsh, must be mentioned. He lived in that neighborhood, and simply sacrificed himself in order to rescue Jews. Knowing that at Statzevitsh they could find a refuge, Jews came to him from all over. He hid them wherever he was able to- in the shops, in the barns, in the attics and even with his acquaintances, which he was able to trust. He would feed not only those who turned to him, but he would also carry food into the forest into the corn fields, any place he knew where they were hiding. Many Jews, thanks to him, were saved at the time.

This most generous man, savior of Jews, Statzevitsh, became too popular in the region as a protector of Jews, and that wasn't good. As was mentioned, the vast majority of peasants in the region, helped the Germans in their extermination of Jews. And because of this, the local well-known peasants, decided to get Statzevitsh out of the way. These “good neighbors” found out that seven Jews are hidden in Statzevitsh's bath, and two more in his attic. They traveled to Szarkowszczyzna and told the Police

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there. The Police, accompanied by the Gendarmes, immediately came to the scene of the “crime”, and set fire to the bath-house on all sides. The seven hidden Jews were burned alive, it was so horrible, no one was able to identify their bones. They also went to Statzevitsh's house, looking for Jews. Statzevitsh, whose name must truly be engraved in the memoirs of our bloody pages with golden letters, displayed an extraordinary moral character and self-sacrifice. Instead of fleeing from the murderers, to save himself, he occupied himself with saving those Jews whom he had hidden. He speedily let them out of the windows, and he himself, unfortunately, was captured by the bandits. They led him away to Glubokie, where he was shot.

These were rare oases in the huge empty desert. If there had been such luminous figures as Statzevitsh in a greater number, the German beast would not be able to so thoroughly carry out his devilish acts of eradicating the Jews. The Jewish tragedy would have been much smaller.

The Sharkavshtziner Ghetto numbered about 1,200 Jews.

Something especially bizarre occurred in Disna, a city on the west bank of the Dvine River. During the extermination action, the Jews themselves, set fire to the Ghetto, in order to keep the enemy from enjoying the Jewish loot that he would have gotten. The Judenrat, seeing that the Ghetto was suddenly surrounded by German Gendarmes and Police, immediately poured gasoline and set fire to several houses. Quickly the entire Ghetto was in flames. The Germans opened fire from all sides, with guns, flame-throwers, grenades, etc.

It was impossible to save oneself, because they were thickly surrounded, and it wasn't long before the entire area was spread with the dead and the badly wounded. Jewish blood flowed in the streets, like water after a heavy rain. The air was filled with groaning and the cries of the wounded. Smoke and fumes from burning bodies spread, not only over the Ghetto, but also throughout the entire city. The tongues of fire licked the beams of the old Jewish houses and cottages, and caught the bodies which quickly turned to ashes. And the Germans were beaming with pride as they observed their great victory, their accomplishment...

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In the Disna ( Dzisna) Ghetto there were about 3,000 Jews. Just a few survived.

In Braslaw ( Braslau) the S. D., as usual, arrived in their motor vehicle very early in the morning and with the help of Police and Gendarmes took over the Ghetto and carried out their bloody work. In the course of a couple of hours they murdered nearly 3,000 souls, leaving alive only a few scores, mostly skilled workers. Some were able to hide in cellars, in pits and in other underground places. The majority never came out alive of their hide outs. The Police did not let up searching for those who had hidden themselves.

Here there must also be mentioned the beautiful humanitarian deeds performed by the former governor under the Polish regime, of the local Natshalnik Region, named Kiselevski. Wanting to save the hiding Jews, he personally went to the Justice Commissioner and requested that the Police guards around the Jewish homes are removed, and the hidden Jews not killed. He justified his request by stating that all of the work in the uniform factories had come to a halt since there is no labor force with which to continue it. The Commissioner of Justice agreed and promised to honor his request forthwith. This pleader for Jews went home, feeling completely certain that no harm would befall the remaining Jews of Braslaw. But as soon as Kiselevs left the Justice Ministry, The Commissioner phoned the Gendarmes in Braslaw, that they should carry out the slaughter of the Jews till not one remained alive. By the time Kiselevski got back to Braslaw, the 300 remaining Jews had already been murdered.

During these dark days, these fearful days, the S. D. carried out a slaughter of the Jews of Mir, where very few survived. Among the survivors there was Lipe Landau, of blessed memory, a man of great knowledge and deep intelligence. He managed to actually escape from a pit, where he, together with his wife and children, and all of the Jews of Mir, had been thrown to be killed. In Mir, at that time, there were about 2,000 Jews murdered by the German murderers and their local helpers.

During this same period the following Jewish communities were liquidated: Pliste ( Plisa), Luzshki (Luzki), New-Pohast ( Novy Pahost), Prazarak (Prazaroki), Ziavki, Halubits and others. In Druja about 2,000 Jews were killed. The murderers carried out their extermination

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work in the towns very quickly, at the rate of two towns a day. Very few Jews managed to save themselves in the above mentioned communities. The bloody work was carried out in this way: The S. D. would arrive in a town, carry out the slaughter during a couple of hours and leave. The local Police would then complete the unfinished work. The local White-Russians and Poles, in their black “Police-crow” uniforms, would diligently search for the hidden Jews over a period of days and weeks and then murder them where ever they were found . They searched for the unfortunate hidden Jews in the houses, in the attics, ditches, the surrounding fields and woods, and other such places. Those who distinguished themselves in catching Jews, the Germans rewarded handsomely with gifts.


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