Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
In addition to the inclusive extermination plans of the Germans, a supplementary concept developed. The clear distinction that was made between the useful Jews, and the useless Jews. For the useless Jews, such as the weak, sick, elderly, cripples and in general, those unable to perform arduous physical labor, the Germans set up the so-called Second Ghetto. For the second Ghetto zone, they divided the street from the old Kisheleike (Legyonove) and the small streets: Nave, Glere, Mostove and others. And to that area they began transferring the useless Jews. Germans also utilized The transfer action for their thieving purposes. Parents who did not want to part from their children in the second Ghetto, or children who didn't want to part from their parents, would buy their way out of the second Ghetto with money, jewels, clothing, etc. The truth is that the Jews, in general, just didn't know the real reason for setting up a second Ghetto. It was explained in divers ways. There were rumors spread that the useless Jews in the second Ghetto would not receive any bread, and that for them a special regimen would be established.
The were also contrary rumors that the inhabitants of the second Ghetto, such as the sick, weak, etc. would definitely be treated better in their designated area. There also spread a terrible rumor that the second Ghetto was established with the useless Jewish element in order to provide the Germans, when they desire it, a definite portion of Jewish blood
This was discussed in whispers and certainly with great fear, but nobody wanted to really believe it. In actuality, the very fact of the second Ghetto created a terrific commotion among the Jewish population, and they viewed it
with great suspicion, and the robbers used this to their advantage.
The previous inhabitants of the old Kisheleike gave their last bit of treasure for permission to move into the first Ghetto, and the elderly, and weak did all in their power to buy their way so that they wouldn't fall into the second Ghetto.
In this tragedy those who were able to get out of old Kisheleike, and also those whose lot had been to remain, but somehow got out, felt lucky. Those who had to remain there considered themselves most unfortunate. And there remained there, not only the designated useless, but also those who did not have the means to buy their way out. There remained some carpenters, tailors and other skilled workers, even though they belonged in the category of useful Jews. There were there, among others, healthy and young, the carpenter, Shulman, the tailor, Ettingoff and others who happened to reside there from the start.
The bafflement among the Jews about the particular event was a unique one. This establishment of two distinct types of Jews; two categories, this separation of Jew from Jew, Shook everyone to their very core. They could clearly see that the Jew had become a very cheap article, and weighed by the Germans and their helpers as a silly toy in their hands, with which they can do anything they please. The Jews of Glubokie, like all Jews everywhere else under the German occupation, were absolutely helpless. At the time they couldn't think of anything constrictive. In their mind there was no way out of the bitter, uncertain situation.
There was no salvation from this misfortune.
There were still no established Partisan groups in that area at the time. On top of it all no one had even heard of Glubokie in the resistance movement.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
..the voice of the daughter of Zion groans woe unto me for my soul is weary of the murderers. (Jeremiah 4:31)
the faces of elders were not honored.(Lamentations 5:12)
The elders have ceased from the gate (Lamentations 5:14)
After the departure of the S. D. from Glubokie (see the section before; THE S.D), the Judenrat energetically began to transfer Jews from the First Ghetto to the Second. For the most part, the elderly, weak, cripples and even whole families of healthy and young people were transferred. The old folks who happened to be related to the Jewish Police and the Judenrat were not transferred, and also a few who
were able to bribe their way out. On the contrary direction, a few of those who inhabited the streets of the Second Ghetto, were permitted to go to the First Ghetto Why this transfer of people assumed such an energetic and urgently speedy character, no one knew for sure! At first it was thought that this was merely another ruse to pressure Jews to give up their money, jewels etc.
For a bribe, they did permit a select few to remain in the First Ghetto. The inhabitants of that Ghetto, whose houses were to be found there, such as M. Shulheifer, A. Cohen, the Faigelson sisters (who were dentists), Y. Shulevitsh convinced the local wealthy Jews, that they should not be taken away. They should remain where they were, where they had always lived. As an example, they declared that to the Germans there was no difference between the First and the Second Ghettos. As one could seen by the fact that when the slaughter of the 110 Jews occurred, in April of 1942, they murdered more Jews who resided in the First Ghetto area, than they had from the Second.
The action of transferring Jews grew from hour to hour. Old folks, women and men were separated from their families. Even the critically ill were not spared. The mother of those who are writing these lines was lying ill, and the police, ignoring all of our efforts, our pleas cries and screams, they took her together with the bed on which she was lying, to the Second Ghetto. The policemen David Freeman (who was nicknamed David the Righteous), Arke Shaindlin (Arke Liebe Toibes) and Yungelson (a son of Fishl Pines; it seems it was Zalman) brought with them a peasants cart. I, and my wife, Dr. Helena Raiak, of blessed memory, strongly struggled with the Jewish policemen, and did not want them to take our mother, who was so sick. They pushed us, beat us and in the end the physical prowess was to their advantage and they overcame us, tearing our ill mother from our hands and throwing her and her bed up onto the cart and rode away. It is most difficult to express in words our frame of mind as we followed the wagon in which they were taking our mother to the Second Ghetto. The policemen themselves whipped the horse, hurrying him along. On the way, in exactly the same fashion, they loaded onto the cart another old, weak lady (it seems that it was the mother of the lawyer, Frucht).
The transfer into the Second Ghetto looked something like this: There goes one, two or more old folks, surrounded by Jewish policemen. With a trembling, almost tearful voice, one of them tries to ask: Where are we being taken? - Go where You're told!
comes the brutal answer of the policeman. If someone had the chutzpah to refuse to go, he was pushed, hit or prodded, or the policemen would grab him under the arms from both sides and forcefully pulled him.
Even a more terrifying sight were the carts on which they transported the weak ones who couldn't move under their own power. 4 or 5 old men and old women were in each peasants' wagon, half lying and half sitting, their heads bent down, some crying and others quiet and gazing, with their eyes popping, benumbed, in one direction as if they recognized nothing and felt nothing. One policeman drives the horse, a second one walks alongside and a third behind the cart. The criminals were securely guarded. Following the cart are other members of the household, wringing their hands, talking among themselves and crying and pleading. It looked just like a funeral procession, and certainly not less sad and tragic, because they are accompanying the living living, like calves in the slaughterhouse
The entire Second Ghetto was filled with crying, with wailing, with groaning and with sighing. The elderly continually asked where and why they were being taken. For what transgressions were they being separated from their children, from the remainder of their families. How will they, alone, be able to live and subsist on their own, and so on. The young relatives tried again to move worlds because they were deeply concerned about the fate of their elderly parents, who would be without protection and care (about murder, no one seriously thought, since they did not want to believe that such a thing could happen).
The street scenes of Jews being dragged into the Second Ghetto, by Jewish Police at the order of the Germans, took about 2 weeks, from the 20th of May until the early days of June, 1942. During these 2 weeks it was joyful in the Ghetto streets. The Police, actually our own Jewish Police, to our great shame and even greater tragedy, treated these old men and old women in a most rude way.
The action of transporting the useless Jews to the Second Ghetto ended. All of old Kisheleike (Legyonove) and the nearby streets such as: Gluche, Mostove, Nave and others, were filled with crying and sighing of the embittered Jews. The old men, as well as well as some old women, continuously recite the Psalms, and pray with great pleading and tears that God, Blessed be He, should rescue them from their great trouble. Several times during the night the Jewish Police patrol the Second Ghetto, to make sure that no one had, God forbid, deserted back to the First Ghetto to their
own family, to their children, and to make sure that the children had not stolen their ill father of ill mother. If the Police, even during the night, found out that someone old was missing, they quickly ran to the First Ghetto, to the family, looking for the deserter and in the middle of the night, with great violence, screaming and beatings they would return him to the Second Ghetto.
At times someone of the immediate family members wanted to remain overnight in the Second Ghetto, near the bed of his sick father or mother in order to be of help the old, weak person. The Police, under no circumstances would permit it (by day it was possible). A special bitterness was aroused by the fact that certain parents of policeman as well as of the Judenrat, were allowed to remain with them. Amongst them were Zalman Gordon and his wife - the parents of the policeman Chaim-Ber Gordon, and others. They remained at home This also roused many suspicions and all sorts of ironic comments.
The embittered, despondent Jews turned to the Jewish Elder, Gershon Lederman. They request that he reveal the secret of; why certain families had been torn asunder?
He declared that the German Civil Administration is carrying this out in order to save on the distribution of products to the non-productive (those who performed no labor). The truth, the dark reality, though, was, as we shall later see, was entirely different. This truth was already known to Lederman at the time.
Meanwhile they began, quickly and energetically, to draw up lists of the Jews who were in the First Ghetto. They listed all laborers, their wives and children. Laborers, naturally, meant Jews who were useful to the Germans; Jews, whom the German recognized that they have a right to live, who have a right to walk the earth and breathe the air for now. To be among these people who are listed as 'usefulwas of course something that everyone wanted. the Rabbi, the teacher, the beadle of the synagogue, the lawyer, the accountant, the doctor, the secular teacher, the Yeshiva Bachur, the student - all looked for ways to be registered as tailors, shoemakers, furriers, sack makers, weavers, mechanics, locksmiths, joiners, chimney-sweeps and blacksmiths. All wanted to be useful to their terrible oppressor, the German, and be registered as laborers, in order to be assigned to work which (they were under the illusion) would guarantee their lives
At the time we were still naive and we trusted the promises of the Germans, that a Jew, a laborer would be privileged and would be assured of life. Therefore it is no wonder that everyone
was exceptionally tense; everyone searched for all sorts of ways to obtain for himself this type of work permit. In the shoemakers' workshops there sat, mixed in among the real shoemakers, Rabbis, teachers, Yeshivah boys (Rabbi Lipa Landau, R' Kasriel Schneiderman and others).
They used shoemakers' thread, hammered nails, lifted the hammers In the streets, lawyers, teachers and accountants dug pits, cleaned toilets, sawed wood and so forth. At the same time, the Germans used the situation for material gain. They squeezed the marrow out of the bones of the Jews for these little pieces of paper (work permits). They issued the permits to those with whom they were able to reach an acceptable price Not all were able to be so fortunate, not all had the opportunity to come up with the required sum, because from many, everything had already been taken away. And actually those who were unable to purchase the permits, went around as if they were already condemned and looked with great envy upon the fortunate ones, who were supposedly assured of living
We place the words fortunate ones, who were supposedly assured of living .. in quotation marks, since it later turned out that those who were saved from the slaughter were indeed those, who did not have these life-assuring documents. How come this whole procedure with lists, with the privilege of labor, with permits, with all of the commotion surrounding it? It was all a German ploy, a hateful deception to squeeze from the Jews everything that still remained in their possession, and later to trap them in a terrible way in their net. This was the generally acceptable German system, to first win the confidence of the unfortunates, despondent Glubokie Jews, and later to exterminate them unexpectedly and without any opposition since they were not suspecting a ploy ..
At that time no one could imagine that a government, a regime, a cultivated European regime, would have the ability to commit such lowly acts of deceit and falsehood, a deceit concluding with a savage act of such magnitude which has never even occurred among the unrefined ancient peoples.
The Germans strove for a means to deceive the Jews of Glubokie, thinking that, since they had already fooled the Jews in the surrounding shtetls the action against the Jews of Glubokie might not be crowned with suitable success. On the one hand they had a secret agreement with the Judenrat, that they will satisfy themselves with that portion of Jewish blood, namely, the killing of only the 600-700 elderly who were in the Second Ghetto. On the
other hand, in order to calm the tumult of the Jews, so they won't notice what was happening, they gave out to a portion of the Jews in the First Ghetto, work permits. All was done in order to seize the entire population in their hands in a period of two weeks. Unfortunately they were indeed able to achieve their goal, just as they had planned it (see following chapter). When the well known hangman, Kapfenval, on the 11th of June, came into the Judenrat for some things, such as money and jewelry, someone close to the Judenrat, who knew about the agreement, told him that there are upsetting rumors being spread about a slaughter of Jews. The murderer categorically denied these, and as an official of the civil authority he assured, on his word of honor, that such a thing would not occur in Glubokie. Such rumors, he argued, are spread for various reasons by the local Poles, who will be severely punished for such provocation
For the next two weeks, entire days we would find ourselves in the Second Ghetto by our mother's side. Sometimes, all of us together, with my wife, Dr. Raiack, and with our child, Aaron-Yitzhakl (both of whom later perished tragically), who didn't want to part from his grandmother. Sometimes we would alternate. We made an effort not to leave our mother alone, at least during the day, even for a moment, (at night we weren't permitted to stay with her), attempting to occupy her so that she wouldn't think of the dreadful circumstance. We carried food to her and strove to provide her with the best of everything. She was a very clever and prudent woman, a woman of valor in the full sense of that expression, and she understood everything. She evaluated the true situation, and for the most part kept quiet. But this silence said a great deal She was very concerned about us, her children - always inquiring: Do we have enough to eat, and requesting of us not to worry about the possessions that were stolen from us- but only to live and be healthy
We shouldn't concern ourselves about her, and so on. On the 18th of June, a day before the great tragedy, the Judenrat sold wood. It was another trick to divert the attention of the Jews from that which was being prepared for the old Jews, and make them feel that they won't be touched. She sent us away so that we could provide ourselves with wood. We had to obey her, even though agreeing made us quite nervous. The German bandits, members of the S. D. were in the neighborhood, and we didn't know how their visit to Glubokie would end up.
On Thursday afternoon we bought a meter of firewood from Reuven Ratnitzky, and barely were able to smuggle it from the railroad station to our home in the Ghetto, on Peretz Street. Our mother was very pleased with this, because to obtain firewood in the Ghetto was a very complicated thing. Also it partially pleased us. We hadn't yet evaluated correctly the true predicament.
In the same house with Motte Shulheifer, there lived Zalman Veitzkin and his wife (the parents of David Veitzkin) and a few other women who had been brought from somewhere else. Z. Veitzkin was confused, he did not understand what people would say to him. The women would always question us, the so called knowledgeable, clever ones about the purpose of keeping the elderly separated from the young people. Not paying attention to the fact that we ourselves were desperate enough, we had to calm them, telling them that it means nothing And, in truth, we really couldn't imagine the imminence of the tragedy. We didn't want to believe the version, that they had separated the elderly, in order for them to serve as a sacrifice for the young.
The argument of Motte Shulheifer was an interesting one. He was a religious Jew, a man well versed in Torah learning. I want to have, -he would argue,- a Din Torah (religious court case) with the Judenrat. Namely: - for example; Jewish law states that if a mother is having great difficulty during labor, while giving birth, and her life is threatened, it is permissible in order to save her, to kill the baby. But this is only if the baby has not been exposed to the air of the world. But if the baby's head had already been exposed, then it is considered a living human and it cannot be sacrificed in order to save the mother. (Later my wife told me that the same rule also holds in modern medicine_) According to this we must ask what right the Judenrat has to set up the parents as a sacrifice for their children? But, in truth though, the same Jews, who argued in this way, did not believe that it was really going to turn so . With this sort of questions they only wanted to expose the Judenrat's secrets, to know what was actually true. On Thursday, the 3rd of Tammuz, a public fast was called. We fasted, recited Psalms, and the Selichos (Penitential prayers). In the evening we parted from our mother, as we did every day, not having even the slightest inkling that this parting was the last one and that we would never see her again She kissed our child very passionately at the time of parting, her grandchild, her beloved Yatzhakl. But none of us even thought that this would be the last time, even though the situation in general was very oppressive
We went home. Soon it was curfew time and we were to be off
the streets. It was a rainy evening, quite cold. The stillness of the night was broken from time to time by the screams, shouts and cries of those who had run away from the Second Ghetto, and whom the Police had caught and with force brought back in the middle of the night.
And indeed, there were more such incidents on that night than at any other time. (Later, it turned out, that a few had been forewarned about what was going to happen, and they ran from the Second Ghetto, without any regard for the consequences). The work of dragging the elderly back into the Second Ghetto was not an easy job for the Jewish Police and the Judenrat. Among those who had been placed in the Second Ghetto, by the Judenrat, were to be found quite a few who were swift on their feet, both men and women, and the Jewish Police had to wrangle and fight with them. It very much upset the street when Sarah Kraut, who had run away from Vilna Street, would not under any circumstances, allow herself to be taken back, and she even beat up a few policemen. Alas, they beat her up good, and threw her into the Second Ghetto, to be devoured on the morrow, together with everyone else by the German beast. A like incident occurred that night with Motte Shulheifer, who had also fled the Second Ghetto, and hid by David Muncaz in Schron together with many others. The Jewish Police discovered him at night and dragged him back into the Second Ghetto. There were other such incidents, which we cannot concretely remember.
This, of course, threw a great scare into everyone, and even though we still didn't know the horrible truth, nervousness grew from hour to hour. This June night dragged, and we began to sense that something terrible is awaiting us on this June early morning. Unfortunately we were not deceiving ourselves
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
The sun rose, the acacia tree blossomed and the slaughterer slaughtered…
(From The City of Slaughter by Chaim Nachman Bialik
And the accursed day of trouble, the terrible bloody day arrived. It was the eve of the Shabbat, the 4th day of Tammuz (19th of June 1942). Before dawn the Jewish policeman, Abba Sragavitsh, banged on our window and told us not to attempt to leave our home until we received a very specific order. Today, he told us, Jews would not go out to labor.
The Police informed everyone in all of the houses in the same way, in the entire Ghetto - No one is to step out of the door of his home! That was a strict order. Meanwhile we discovered that the Second Ghetto had been encircled since midnight by armed Germans and non-Jewish Police. That which we didn't want to believe, had occurred. The terrible news opened everyone's eyes, and it became clear to all what the intent had been by the transferring the old and the weak so speedily two weeks before, into the Second Ghetto. Everyone already absorbed that the unfortunate parents and relatives were turned over to the bloodthirsty beast, the German S. D, members - for liquidation. But all felt helpless, nothing could be done to save them now..
Almost everyone had a portion in the Second Ghetto: Parents, a grandfather, a grandmother, a sister, a brother and other relatives. Some, in great desperation, ignoring the strict edict not to leave their homes, ran to the Second Ghetto to save, in some way their relatives. They didn't know that the German Angel of Death hovers over them no less than over the 600-700 Jews of the Second Ghetto, that he won't be content with just the few Jews, which the Judenrat agreed to give him They let them - those who had 'run there to save their parents and relatives - into the Second Ghetto, but the way back they didn't find. they were no longer to be seen amongst the living . Molye Zinger had run to the second ghetto to save his parents, former Vilna forest merchants, and he remained there. Also I, Zvi Raiack, in great confusion and disappointment, wanted to run from Peretz Street into the Second Ghetto on old Kisheleike to our mother. However they didn't let me, because it was clear that I would be going to a certain death. All of us, together with a larger group - the entire family of Eli Gordon, Libe Chodosh and the children and others - went up into the attic of Eli Gordon's bakery, in order to hide. From there they did not let me go, - arguing with me, that I will perish and not help my mother. Naturally they were right. Even I understood that, but I was being carried along against my will I felt better when I broke out into a spasmodic crying and I was left exhausted What was happening in the city we didn't know. We all heard from the attic how the Germans were shouting something at the peasants. It could have been that they weren't letting the village folk into the city, or something else.
We also heard the shouts and cries of Jewish women, who were pleading with the murderers, but we couldn't understand exactly what and on what occasion. We were lying and trembling. The small children - our Aaron-Yitzhakl and Edye Chodosh's child - who were with us, also understood the situation. They lay still and didn't utter a sound.
A few hours later, exactly what time it was we don't remember, but it was still during the early morning hours, the Jewish Police issued a second edict: All Jews, together with their entire families, wives and children, must immediately gather in the Sports Plaza. They must be there in order to regulate the handing out of labor permits, and to see if it actually matches up with the members of each family, etc. Only permits that had been checked and properly stamped on the spot will be valid. Those permits, which do not have the official stamp of the Germans on the spot, will be null and void. - And after the inspection, the Judenrat and Jewish Police assured everyone that they would be permitted to return peacefully to their homes with certificates as useful Jews, who cannot be touched..
Almost all who had such life permits, appeared with their wives and children on the Plaza. In one moment the street became black with Jews, with Jewish children, whom the parents were escorting by the hands and carrying in their arms. They were even moving sprightly, they believed For the moment they had even forgotten the tragedy of the Second Ghetto. Everyone endeavored to take to the Plaza all of their children, sisters, brothers, who did not have permits. To show that they belonged to the family of one who was privileged by being a member in a family of one who was useful, and should be registered on his permit and be saved
How terribly pitiful and tragic was the situation, at that moment, of those who did not receive the-certificates at the time! How unfortunate they felt at the time and with what great envy they looked upon those with their. papers. Those who went clear and free with their families to the Plaza, where they will have the papers stamped as useful and be assured that no harm will befall them! The others began to hide in various places, in pits, ditches, in the attics, in the cellars - into the thickets they came, into the trees they climbed. They thought that since they didn't have certificates they were useless
and that the German would certainly kills them. The true fate, on the other hand, of the Jews of Glubokie, was different.
On the Sports Plaza there gathered, from the First Ghetto, thousands of souls, the young, the healthy, the skilled - the flower of Jewish Glubokie. The intelligentsia came - doctors, teachers, dentists, accountants, religious teachers, former merchants, etc. All with their wives and children, with relations, whom they thought they could possibly save. Even Rabbi Katz and his wife, together with his daughter, Shprintze and grandchild came, at the suggestion of the Jewish elder, Gershon Lederman, to the Plaza. (His daughter, Devorah, was not at home at the time and didn't come.) According to what we were told, Rabbi Katz had been hidden, but Lederman convinced him to be the first to go and seeing him, the mass of people would not be afraid and would follow his example. (Rabbi Katz, in spite of his advanced age, was not in the Second Ghetto.)
Before the assembled could orient themselves, at the blink of an eyelash, the Plaza was thickly surrounded by armed S. D., Gendarmes, Police and other evil doers. All streets were shut off with a stringent guard, so that no one, who had not yet arrived at the Plaza, could possibly enter it. One Jacob Almer, who noticed from afar what was taking place on the Plaza, took the opportunity to sneak into a courtyard and hide himself. The Germans did not allow others, who had already oriented themselves to the situation and wanted to withdraw, out of the street. The orientation came too late. The great tragedy became unavoidable. The victim had sprung into the mouth of the wild beast
In order to calm the terribly upset Jews, who were on the Plaza, the liaison person for Jewish Affairs in the Justice Ministry, Hebelish, came out and made a speech. , Declaring that the Jews have nothing to fear, that nothing bad would happen to them. They will simply be sent for labor to other cities such as Smolensk, Warsaw, Borisov and others, and because of this they had begun a selection of Jews. They were sorted and lined up, partly on the right and partly on the left. It meant that a portion of the Jews were to remain in Glubokie, and that the greater portion will be sent out to labor in other cities. And so, as a result of this, the largest portion, during the selection, was sent to the left.
According to the way the Germans treated those Jews who were sent to the left, it was obvious that their fate was already sealed. They were immediately ordered to kneel with their heads down. For the slightest movement, for lifting the eyes to look to the side to see what was happening, they were severely beaten. The Germans beat the Jews over the head with clubs, sticks, bricks that had been torn from the cemetery fence near the Sports Plaza, and so forth. And from the kneeling Jews with the lowered heads there already immediately began to pour out streams of blood. Also the Jews who stood on the right could not avoid blows and violence, but not quite so severe as those received by the Jews on the left.
After separating the Jews, the Germans suddenly realized that too many are to be found on the right. too few had been left to send for labor in different cities. They immediately began to choose another 500 persons from among those who were at hand, and those who were seized were driven to the left. The ones who weren't fast enough in going to the left, they already understood what was taking place, , with bestiality Germans murdered them on the spot. In this way, with a brick torn from the cemetery fence, they beat the teacher, Zalman Kravietz and Shlomo Verachavsky over the heads until their brains were exposed. In front of everyone, undergoing terrible suffering, they expired. Some Jews were brought from the city where they had been caught hiding. Among the latter were the dentist, Yash, from Yatkove Street. With an open skull they dragged him through the Plaza and his brains spurted onto the ground. This was observed by the thousands of unfortunates who were in the Plaza, who felt that the same fate would soon befall them.
During the time of the selection, terrifying and heartrending scenes took place. They split families, tore husbands from their wives, children from their parents, brothers from sisters. Many of those who were granted life by the German Angel of Death, those on the right, refused the gift and went by themselves to the left, choosing to die together with their own relatives, rather than remain alone in sadness and suffering with the terrifying visions in their souls. This happened to Yoshke Mirlin and his daughter, to Tzertl Zeldin and her parents, to Dora Gitelzon and her parents, to Roza Kraut and her daughter, Lisa, and others. By themselves they chose their fate and went to the left.
After completing the selection, the Germans and the Police began to lead the Jews.
Women, men and children walked from the Plaza, in-groups to the barracks in a wood, about a kilometer from the Plaza. There in the woods, there had already been prepared some long, deep pits for the Jewish victims. On this short journey some ran. The convoy around them was so thick that there was no way in which one could save himself, but they preferred dying on the way, rather than in the woods at the pits. And that's how it turned out. The Germans immediately opened fire on those who ran, and the way into the woods was strewn with dead and wounded in a matter of a few minutes. Some had fled to the nearby Lake Berezvetsher and were shot there, or drowned themselves in the lake. On the third day after the slaughter the body of young Zelda Gordon, who was a student in our school, the daughter of Yoel Gordon (also known as Yoel Cantor) was floating on the overrun of the lake.
Ending with one group, they brought a second, then a third, a fourth, etc. Till they brought everyone from the Plaza to the barracks where they murdered them. The unfortunate victims who were left for last, were envious of those who had already been murdered earlier, and did not have to live through the dreadful moments of waiting for certain death Inside the wood itself, the Germans, before killing the Jews, tortured them in various ways. Firstly, they ordered them to undress completely, and the murderers, right before their very eyes, divided up their better possessions, their clothes, underwear, footwear and other things. The young maidens were forced to dance naked before the open pits. And only after the Germans had satiated themselves with all of this, did the drive the victims into the pits ordering them to lie with their faces down in the earth. They then opened fire and sprayed them with their bullets. The wounded and small children were not murdered by shooting, but were buried alive. Neighboring Christians later told that the earth of the barely covered pits shook for a long while and from under the earth, for a long while there spurted blood
The 70 year old Rabbi Katz, before being murdered by the Germans, was lain in the pit between two young girls, the 24 year old Dora Gitelzon, and a refugee from Vilna, in order to cause him some extra suffering. The Germans photographed all of this, in order to show the blood-thirsty German officialdom
their diligence in spilling blood and torturing Jews.
Because of all of this my loins filled with terror, cramps seized me, my hearing became distorted, the sight of my eyes blurred, my heart went astray, a quaking hit me.
To this day it is difficult to recall what the Jews went through in those moments before they came to their deaths To accurately describe the scenes, and convey it fitly with words, it seems that there is no such virtuoso in the entire world who has language skills to do it.
All hands weaken and all the hearts of men dissolve
The hearts simply succumb.
The few Jews who had been sent to the right during the selection, the Germans left alone and they walked, orphaned and shattered, back the Ghetto to bewail and mourn their tragedyfor the rest of their days
The Epilog of this bloody Friday ended with the Jews of the second ghetto
They had held the victims of the Second Ghetto, naked under the sky for the entire cold and rainy night of June 18th and day of June 19th (4th of Tammuz) in Moshe Chana's garden..
At 5 P.M. , after the Germans finished with the young and the strong, only then took the oldto Barok and murder them.
The action against the old and the weak of the Second Ghetto took place on the 18th of June at midnight. The Polish encircled old Kisheleike and the surrounding smaller streets. The elderly men and women, and the ill were dragged naked and sleepy from their beds, they drove them in such state into Moshe Chana's garden. The night was chilly and drizzly. Naked, the unfortunates from the Second Ghetto stood shivering in the cold and became drenched to their bones. In the afternoon the Polish started mocking them and making amusement of them in the characteristic German manner during such massacre events. Crying, sighing or screaming was totally prohibited. For any of such conduct the old were severely beaten.
Some could not hold out, Their hearts burst and they remained lying in their spot even before they were shot. This was the fate of the wife of Yitzhak Verch (a coachman from Varshever Street) and others. Shimon Vitanus, the son-in-law of Hirshl Paliak began to recite the memorial prayer, Lord Filled With Mercy for himself and for all who stood in the garden (for the meanwhile still living corpses ). The listeners broke into spasmodic crying, which cut through the air and carried far beyond the boundaries of the Second Ghetto, combining with the cries of the
inhabitants of the First Ghetto, who had returned fortunate from the Sports Plaza. The Police quieted them by beating them with the butts of their guns and sticks. The elderly tore the hair from their heads, fell to the ground, rolled in the dirt, banged themselves against the ground, etc. Those who stood paralyzed with fear did not look any better. Their eyes were open but unseeing, their blank stares in only one direction, not speaking and not answering any inquiries made to them. These were the living dead in the full sense of the word. Stones could have melted
Because the stone of the wall will cry out and hands of wood will answer This didn't disturb nor had any significance affect on the Germans and their local helpers.
After this night of depravity and pitch blackness and after this disheartening day, at 5:00 in the evening, they took all of the elderly and weak from Moshe Chana's garden into the above mentioned Barok Woods. They were driven through the new Kisheleike and there, in the houses, through the cracks, there peeked out those who a few hours earlier had returned in peace from the bloody Sports Plaza, where they were taking their parents, brothers and sisters, naked and bloody, to the Barok . The sick, the crippled, who couldn't make it on their own, were being carried on peasants' carts, thrown one on top another along the way like logs of wood. 'They had to watch as their parents were being beaten in order to make them keep up along the way. Hearts burst, seeing it all, and to react was impossible. This was, perhaps, a lot more difficult than death itself.
As it was told, the mother of Benjamin Zack, who had been the Director of the Folks-Bank, went crazy along the way, and the Germans shot her on the spot and threw her body into a wagon that was loaded with the living.
In the woods the Germans first ordered everyone to sing and dance. Afterwards the healthy ones had to carry the weaker ones the elderly to the pits, and lay them out. The carriers themselves had to lie on top of them , and the Germans murdered them :..
Among the martyrs in the Second Ghetto, there perished our dearly beloved, remarkable mother, who had suffered so much during her lifetime. Having been left a young widow, she, with her own toil and strain managed to give to us, the writers of these lines, not only excellent Jewish education, but also a superior worldly (secular) one. Learning which under the regime of the Czar, was extremely difficult to obtain for Jews (we were born at the turn of the century when the area was part of the Russian empire).
Who could believe, such a god-fearing matriarch,
a righteous woman of her generation, who during her lifetime, never harmed a fly on the wall. She should be torn away from us in such a cruel, horrible fashion and perish at the hand of murderers. When she was already ill in the Ghetto and thought, that she would no longer get up from her sick bed..
She used to often console us by saying I have already lived my life . a person must dance the dance
She said that therefor we should not be upset about her well being for no reason . Except, it never occurred to her or neither to us that the last dance would be such a terrible one
Some times later we were informed that the reporters on the German radio announced the day after the slaughter; The German S. D. uncovered a large resistance cell containing 3,000 men, headed by a seventy years old Rabbi. The cell was liquidated on the spot Such stories also appeared in the German newspapers a few days later.
A few days later the Germans entered the First Ghetto and tore open all the locked doors of the homes of the fallen victims. People who had left their homes that Friday with clear thought of returning. The Germans gathered all the items they could find and took it to the second ghetto. There they put it in orderly fashion and mixed it with items they found and confiscated from their victims in the second ghetto.
Then they divided all the items amongst themselves. Some items were left for the authorities. Later on they announced in near by towns and villages that a public sale of furniture that once belonged to the Jews will occur the next day. The Majority of the local population, to their great shame, utilized the golden opportunity They came in droves and masses to buy the Jewish wealth. More about it later.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
The Ghetto looks like a cemetery. Everything is barren, asphyxiated; the homes look like mausoleums, and it is horrifying to stare upon them. The greatest portion of the buildings stand with closed shutters and locks on the doors, which the householders had put in the morning before leaving for the Plaza. The music that was played all day in the city, on Kostiushki Plaza, proclaimed the triumphant victory
of the Germans over the Glubokie Jews, had finally stopped. It is peculiarly quiet, composed. The Jews are no longer crying, no more wailing is heard, the screams are as if they remained suspended in the air, torn asunder by the murderous hands right in the middle. The few Jews who did not go to the Plaza in the morning, still lay hidden in their holes. They are trembling and afraid to come out of their hiding places. The remnant that had returned from the Plaza gathered in the corners of their empty houses and constrict their restrained sobbing and moaning. The lonely, orphaned children, parents, men, women, brothers, sisters only now begin to retrace what had befallen upon them. The scenes of horror of the past day, as well as the last days and weeks, begin to reawake their memory.
It is Friday night
There is no sign of the Shabbat, no sign of the holiness. There are prevailing signs of death, of killings, of stoning, of burning, of terror, of unending fear and desperation At night we didn't sleep. Several men attempted to go out on the street, in the stillness of the Tammuz (Hebrew month that usually falls in late June and July) summer night, they listen to what is taking place outside the Ghetto, and interpret each sound, each whisper. They commented about that which the frightened ear had grasped, or what they thought they heard They wait for the murderers of their relatives and dear ones, to soon come and take their souls. Life for the vast majority, had now become so cheap, that the additional news of any burden, Germans being close and surrounding the Ghetto, no longer made any impression whatsoever upon them.
If anyone under the burden of suffering and sorrow became sleepy, he saw in his dream how his relatives plead, in the hands of the murderers, that someone should save them. How those drowning in the Berezvetsher Lake stretch out their hands for help; how those stuck in the pits under the earth go through convulsions, and wrestle with death.
On the morrow, after the bloody day and the muffled deathly night, the streets in the Ghetto were empty. Only the doctors could be seen running around to the sick and the wounded. A few wounded from the slaughter remained, they had somehow managed to sneak out of the bloody Sports Plaza.
During the evening they crawled into the Ghetto. Some of the critically wounded were carried by hand during the night,
from gardens arid fields into the Ghetto. Among the latter were Chashe Becker from Varapayeva and Feige Plavin, a daughter of the miller, Zalman Plavin, who were carried into the Ghetto by Tsilye Zinger.
At about 11:00 A. M. a few Polish policemen came into the Ghetto. They assembled about 50 Jews and took them for labor - the clearing of the corpses from the roads, the fields, the gardens, and carried them to the Barok for burial.
During Friday eve the Jews slowly began to reappear on the streets of the Ghetto. They began to tell many tales about yesterday's slaughter. They told how Israel Ichiltsik had bribed a German to save his sister from the death Plaza, and promised him a watch for this. The German had taken Ichiltsik's sister from the Plaza, but a second German took her from him and brought her back, where she was murdered. 'This did not keep the first German from coming to demand the watch from Ichiltsik. Ichiltsik, now fearing for his own life, gave him a watch made by the firm of Tsima. The thief took the watch, and soon thereafter returned demanding a second watch from Ichiltsik, for himself, saying that he had given the watch to his friend, whose name was Tsima, as was engraved on the watch. Ichilitsik had to give the German a second watch, because, otherwise, he would have been taken to the Barok
They also told how Shimon Hirshl Polyak ( born in 1864 per Yad Vashem testimony by Ester Vachstman of Belarus. His cousin, Binyamin Shneir [son of Gershon] of Ramat Hacovesh gives the date of 1888), who had been in the Second Ghetto, got into a conversation with a German guard. He convinced him to let him go for a set amount of gold, which Polyak had hidden away in his home in the First Ghetto, where his children had remained. The German took Polyak to his home to get the gold. Shimon Hirshl Polyak had forgotten where he had put the gold, and when he looked for it he couldn't find it. No one was in the house at the time. All had gone to the Plaza. One son hadn't gone to the Plaza, he was hidden in the attic and he heard how his father was searching for the gold. He heard how his father was calling all of the children by name, thinking that they were lying somewhere in the house hidden away, and could tell him where the gold was hidden so that he could buy his life with it. Polyak's son was lying in the attic and was afraid to reveal himself. Polyak didn't find the gold, and the German took him back to Moshe Chana's garden, from where he was taken to be murdered in the Barok.
Recounting the various
murders, they told about the bloody deeds of the Folk-German woman, Ida Aditska from Psuye, who took very active part in the Killing action in Glubokie. On her own she searched for hidden Jews in the city, and brought them to the Sports Plaza. Thanks to her, Gershon Mirman and Lea nee Drutzs' son ( Yosef or Faybush) and daughter Henia, among others, were killed. She found them hiding. When Mirman's daughter tore herself out of Aditska's hands, and ran into the Judenrat to hide, this German woman ran in and threatened that if the girl did not give herself up, she would kill 50 Jews in her place. She found the Mirman girl (Henia from yad vashem report by her cousin, Yizhak Mirman of Kibbutz Shfaim) and dragged her to the Plaza.
They also told about how several Jews still remained in the Second Ghetto. They had were hidden under beds, on ovens or somewhere else. It turned out that the Police had not searched the Second Ghetto vigorously, because, as is well known, the Germans did not think too much about the Second Ghetto. They had set up the Second Ghetto in order to easily and without any difficulties liquidate the strong and healthy elements among the Jews. From the Second Ghetto there survived the old Meir Bagin, Yosef Mindel (the vintner), Moshe Fishers, the teacher's mother, Moshe Shmuel Shulman (the Rebele).
They told about how Shmuel Gordon, the Dvilavitsher (the black hen), fled from the Ghetto. The Germans caught him on Wilner Street, threw him down, tied a thick rope attached to a stick around his neck and dragged him through the Barok until he perished.
In the evening a few went into the Second Ghetto to take pillows and other things that remained from their deceased parents and relatives. The Police detained them with the things. Among them were Abba Feigelson (a tailor), and Shulevitsh (a dentist). Everyone thought that they would surely be shot. But contrary to all expectations, they were set free.
Among the Glubokie Jews who escaped the slaughter were a group of fishermen, who on that particular day had gone to the lake to catch fish for the Germans. Quite a while earlier they had organized themselves in such a fashion, so that they would find themselves in the city much less, and enjoy themselves on the lake These were Mulye Salavaitshik, Shalom Yungelman, Arke Levitan and his son, Avremke and others.
21st of June (6th of Tammuz) there came a decree that all of those who remained alive were to go out to labor because life must go on All those who remained alive in the Ghetto recited the Kaddish. Prayer quorums (minyanim) were organized in several houses. All rushed to participate in a minyan.
All wanted to say a Kaddish. We had a minyan in our house. We said Kaddish for our mother. On Sunday we sat Shiva (the seven days of mourning). Yosef Baudin came to console us. He was once a teacher in our school. He taught Jewish religious subjects, and he told us that on Friday he watched our mother as she was taken on a wagon together with many other Jews. She was sitting like a statue without any expression or feeling We also listened as if we were statues; the sources of our tears had been all dried up, but we were not allay
As was previously mentioned, a few days later the German civil administration began to gather the possessions of the Jews in one place. They brought loaded wagons with furniture, bedding, china, and all sorts of pots and pans. They took the Jewish precious china for Passover and all sorts of things Everything was gathered on old Kisheleike, on the area of the Second Ghetto. The furniture was thrown together on the street.
After the liquidation the old Kisheleike and side streets ( the former Second Ghetto) was cut off from the Ghetto area. It was forbidden for Jews to go there. On Thursday the 18th of June, in the morning, I had prayed at my mother's place in the Ghetto. I left my Tephillin there, with the thought that the next morning, I would come early to be with her again I wasn't allowed into the Ghetto anymore. Some of the city Christians thought how to use something of all this misfortune that befalls on their neighbors for themselves. They knew that such miracles only occur once in a lifetime and not even that, because not their fathers, nor their grandfathers, or even their great or great, great grandfathers couldn't tell of anything like it. They knew how to take advantage of the situation. They arrived and really took advantage. They helped themselves to all of the goodies. Understandably, the best things, such as jewelry, good clothing, underwear and valuable things in general, the Germans did not give to the local Christians. These they kept for themselves. For their killings they acted as if they deserve the best of their victims possessions. But after what the Germans, the Police, their friends and acquaintances had satiated themselves, there still remained
quite enough to satisfy almost everyone. Besides Glubokie owned possessions, they steadily brought fresh furniture, new items and other things from the nearby Jewish shtetls, from villages where the Jews of that dark period, were killed. Whole days they would bring loaded wagons to Gluboke.They were filled with all kinds of Jewish possessions. In the wagons there were mixed in Talesim with pots, bedding, clothes and so forth. There were scattered Tephillin with the small talesim splattered with blood; torn books, talmuds, chumashim, Bibles and other valuable books which were found in the homes of enlightened Jews in the small villages. (The writer of these lines had unpacked glass items which were wrapped in pages of the Talmud, Bibles, Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed and others. Some of these pages there were spotted with blood stains and we could imagine that the murderers must have killed the Jews, when they were sitting and learning a page of the Talmud. All of this they brought here in special boxes and they even turned them over to the Jews, to take care of - to put them in order and repair them, etc. Furniture was thrown on the street and it was all guarded by a policeman.
The Germans announced a general sale of everything. There were plenty of takers. They bizzed like bees around flowers. The Christians gathered from neighboring villages and towns and the sale went ahead full blast.
Everything was dirt cheap, so that everyone could buy. A bureau was 3-5 mark (the money had no backing and was therefore worthless). 1 Mark for a good chair, 2 mark for a table and one could bargain. If a Christian pleaded about his poor circumstances, he didn't pay at all. Peasants took from the city to their homes wagons heavily loaded with bureaus, beds, tables, desks, buffets, etc as if it were from a regular market. It was all taken from old Kisheleike, from the former Second Ghetto. Very few Christians refused to procure and enjoy the bloodied Jewish possessions.
When all had already satiated themselves with everything without end, the Germans lowered the prices and they gave everything away to any who wanted and would just carry it off. As was mentioned, the furniture lay in the street, and in the rain became so soaked that there were no longer any takers, even for free. Later, the Jews had to clean up the Plaza and the streets and remove the rotting and broken furniture. From the clothing and soft goods, the Germans, with
the help of Jewish hands and labor, established the so-called German Warehouse in Glubokie.
They ordered the Jews to bring to headquarters the bedding, the filling and feathers. The location was in the storerooms of Meir Gitelzon on Wilner Street. There, the Jews cleaned the feathers, sorted them, selected the clean from the soiled, packed them up, and they were shipped to Germany, to the addresses provided by the Germans. In the long summer days, from early morn until evening, the girls and women sat immersed in the fillings and feathers, and worked on them. They were simply choked by the work. There were many cases of fainting during this work. They were sorting their own bedding for the use of the murderers of their relatives, for the bloodiest enemies of all humanity. But they wanted to live, and not working and not giving in, meant, at the time, the end of life
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
During the days after the slaughter of the 19th of June (4th of Tammuz) approximately two thousand Jews remained in the Glubokie Ghetto.. The mood among the survivors is easy to imagine, but they couldn't complain or bemoan their fate. They were contiguously and harshly driven to labor, labor filled with sadness and suffering. And anyone who came late, even if illness couldn't appear at work, was brutally beaten, Mottke Bagin once didn't come to work. Not able to find a doctor at the time, which could confirm his illness, the Jewish Police ( at the order of the Germans) came to him and beat him so badly in his ill condition that he had to lie in bed for a full month afterwards. For three days the Ghetto doctors had to apply compresses and change his bandages on his wounds.
And perhaps there was a bit of an advantage in all of this horror. The struggle and the fear of the German Devil, the worries about the hunger pangs, did not permit the luxury of thinking or meditating. The persecutions were, perhaps, at that moment in time a consolation. the Jews couldn't correctly evaluate the situation. Like a hurricane at about 12 noon, 2nd of July (17 of Tammuz) there tore into a part of the ghetto the destructive angels, who brought with them new fears of death. The Polish policemen unexpectedly
banged on the windows of the homes on Wilner Street, Peretz Street and a part of Dubrove St. and announced that the area of these streets will be cut off from the Ghetto according to a decree. Because of that the inhabitants of the houses there must, in 15 minutes, move themselves into the remaining area of the Ghetto. Each one may take with him only those things, which he can carry in his arms. They won't be allowed to go back a second time
We saw that the streets were black with Germans, Police as we looked through the windows. Vlosovtses (Military groups formed by the Germans and composed of those Russian Fascists who had fled Soviet Russia) were also there. A Russian Fascist General named Vlosov had organized them. This reminded us of the slaughter that had taken place 13 days earlier and we were all certain that this was but a maneuver to entrap the remaining Jews. Just as they had used the certificates on June 19th in order to kill the Jews with ease. Now they want to assemble all of us again in one place and enclose us in a tight ring. There was nothing to be done, we had nowhere to go. There was no time to even think. But still we began to gather up things in our hands. We did not think about what would be more worthwhile to take. Some grabbed food items - potatoes, flour, bread; others took clothes. We dressed ourselves in warm clothing, ignoring the fact that it was a hot day; underclothes, bed linens, cooking utensils, tools and so forth .. And we ran. There were also those who took nothing, being certain that they were being led to their deaths and that they wouldn't need anything In general, almost everything was left behind and ran in panic and deathly fear Cooked food was left the ovens, bread, which was being baked. In the home of the writers of these lines milk was boiling for the child and we were very much afraid that this would be noticed, since milk was forbidden for Jews. We were afraid to pour it out, and we were in great despair,, not knowing what to do with it. We couldn't drink it, because we simply couldn't swallow We poured it out into the oven, which was still warm, and it dried quickly. Out in the street there was panic. People rushed and ran. No one knew what the next moment would bring, and each one wanted to take yet more things But how much can a person take in his arms? On top o it all in such circumstances? Those few who remained in the Second Ghetto area came running to help carry things. It was useful. On the contrary, a few Jews came from the tannery, to their great shame, they refused to help us
in this critical moment. (I don't want to mention their names, since they are no longer to be found among the living, they later perished.)
There wasn't even anyone left alive from many of the houses, their inhabitants had left on the 19th of June and never returned. a few homes still hung locks and their shutters stood closed since that bloody Friday. The Germans had not managed yet to remove the remaining things belonging to those they had killed. Among those houses still shut were the homes of the dentist Katzovitsh (the daughter-in-law of Moshe Katzovitsh), the dentist, Yash, the watchmakers, Shutav, Chidekel, Zalkind, Mirman, Sverdlin and others.
You had to go through a narrow path to pass through the new homes of the second part of the Ghetto. which It crossed from Peretz Street to Dobrave, behind the houses of Vilna Street. 'through other streets or alleyways it was forbidden to go. On that narrow Street, there stood a German commission with Vitvitzken (Tzirkavetz) at the head, and let those who had been chased out, through. They would first check what everyone was carrying, and the better things, such as carpets, linens, clothes, clocks, etc., they took away. During the evacuation some people were slow and were therefore able to take with them some of their better things, now they were naked and without anything. It was actually better predicament for those who had only taken rags. They passed through peacefully. Also we had to move ourselves from Viebninske (Peretz) Street into the permitted area of the Ghetto, and on the way, they took from us a good carpet and a few pairs of shoes. I tried to get the carpet back by claiming that I had nothing to cover myself with. As an answer I was beaten by a Polish policeman. Suddenly shooting was heard. at the check point. Yerachmiel Mazovetzky, the son-in-law of Yerachmiel Alperovitsh, dragged a bed. The bed caught the eye of a policeman, and he told him to leave it. Mazovetzky did not hear the command, so the policeman drew his gun and fired into the air. The Jews panicked and started to run like an arrow shot from a bow, and threw away everything that they were holding in their hands. At the time it seemed as if the Germans were firing at the Jews. They didn't even think of anything. They were satisfied That they had gotten away only with fright. Dr.Helena Rayak, (wife of M. Rayak), a pediatrician, when going into the Ghetto, managed to smuggle in
a children's scale, among other medical appliances. Now Vitvitzki came to us to pick through our things, and he forbade her to take the children's scale, and also some other medical things, which she had. We were all almost indifferent to everything. He also forbade our taking the Sabbath candelabra. (Vitvitzki knew us quite well from before the war. He used to make decorations for our school when there were special evening activities for the children.)
The following sights greeted our eyes in that part of the Ghetto where they deposited us,: Men, women and children, darkened and dirtied, dressed in rags with torn shoes, or partly barefoot, one shoe on and one off, wandering through the streets, the yards and the gardens with nowhere to go. Everyone was loaded with piles of whole things (in other words: Rags) - dishes, footwear, torn clothes and linens, flicked bedding without matresses, broken beds and benches, bread, spilled potatoes, broken carriages, thermos bottles, valises, etc. A few of the more agile Jews managed in some way to scamper into stalls, attics, and other accommodations. Many simply remained under the open sky. Shmuel Leib Kurenitz took us in, he had a small cottage at the end of Bialastotzke St., on the very boundary of the Ghetto.
Jews fasted, it was the 17th of Tammuz., and in spite of everything there was a Minyan for the afternoon service. The portion Vayechal, for the fast day, was read. Also I was there and I was honored with the Maftir, which was difficult for me to read, not so much physically as emotionally. (I was drained)
My heart was clamped by the words:
Because my salvation is near, and my righteousness to be revealed. He Who chose Israel as his nation
And so forth Jews sensed that I was crying and they cried out loud with me .
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