Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
Vitvitzki showed up in Glubokie in the fall of 1941, together with the German Civil Administration. He was not a brand new figure in the town. Almost everyone here knew him. He was nick named the Tzirkovetz and this is the reason why:
A circus passed through Glubokie in the summer of 1933. It gave several performances. A performer, who had been part of the circus, remained in Glubokie when the circus left. No one knew, and no one was interested in asking, why this performer remained behind. People surmised that the management of the circus fired him
because of some misdemeanor or whatever .
The Tzirkovetz (one who is part of a circus) was very poor, wore old, ill-fitted and torn clothing. The general impression that he made was that of a drunkard who had no resources to imbibe
He sustained himself by preparing decorations for performances, doing make- up for the performers, or playing in the string orchestra of the firemen. From time to time he would arrange evening dances for the local youth and would appear in the marketplaces for the village peasants as a Fokusnik (trickster or magician). He tried very hard to obtain a position as an official worker.
Understandably it was necessary for him, for his activity, to be near the correspondence, the telephone, the telegraph, and alike. But since he couldn't provide any moral references, he was unable to obtain such a position. He was a guard in a school near Glubokie for a period of time, and he was also active in the Polish youth organization Streletz, and others. His outward appearance did not make any special impression; his height slightly above average, thin, Grey, cunning eyes, pales, gaunt face, with a pointed chin dog like expression, and light hair. He would darken his face and his eyebrows. He spoke softly and he went about with a downcast look. He would tell that he was the son of simple Polish folks, and that he was thrown out of the 6th grade in the Gymnasia (elementary school) because he acted up. He lived on Krakower Street near Shalom Tzentziper, the butcher. He had a room, which wasn't good, and as the landlords used to tell, he lived very inadequately. He would not feed himself properly. His landlords would often help him out. Especially Shepsel, the youngest son,, who would give him a piece of meat, bread and other things. Also the Jewish storekeepers would help support him, because they felt compassion for him. When he would buy a herring in a store for 10-20 groschen, the storekeepers wouldn't take any money from him. Later on, he married a poor Polish girl.
No one could imagine that this poor, dejected, outcast Tzirkovetz could possibly be a German spy. The results of his undercover work became apparent at the end of the summer of 1939. Before the German attack on Poland, numerous fires broke out in Glubokie and the surrounding region, seemingly for reasons that no one could fathom. A huge fire started in the home of Moshe Mirman and Dr. Britanishske on Vilna Street, which spread
to Dubrove, where dozens of buildings were destroyed. A few days later a fire broke out at the home of Chaim Chevlin and Moshe Shulheifer on Zamkove Street. An exceptionally large fire erupted a few days later in the town of Luzshki, 30 kilometers from Glubokie, and at the time almost the entire town was destroyed. It became clear, that all of this was the work of a concealed, devilish hand. In spite of all efforts, it was not possible to uncover the one liable
After the arrival of the German civil-administration to Glubokie, the former poor, melancholy Tzirkovetz, was to be found among them, as an active worker. He who had earlier served the Polish authorities, was now serving the Germans. It became clear that the arsonist, who had caused all of the summer fires in 1939, was none other than the Tzirkovetz who had aimed to create panic among the local population.
In September of 1939, after the arrival of the Red Army,, the above mentioned trickster played in the string orchestra. Later the Soviet authorities found him a suspicious character and arrested him. He sat in prison until there came the exchange of Soviet and German citizens between the Soviet Union and Germany. The Soviet administration at the time at the suggestion of the German commission freed the Tzirkovetz and he left Glubokie. Only after the intervention of the German might did it become clear, that this was riot simply a circus performer, who by chance remained in Glubokie in 1933, and also on the Glubokie horizon he was not to play a usual role
After the arrival of the German Civil Administration in Glubokie at the end of September, 1941, Vitvitzki, the German spy, also arrived. But he was no longer the downcast, pitiful, lonely character, but outfitted in genuine German, sparkling new Fascist uniform. He now looked like a authentic Hitlerite hangman. Those who had formerly helped him, now looked to him as a protector, but in vain! He knew nobody, and concerning help from him to save oneself from death, there was no one to talk to. On the contrary, he would pick on them even more. He would look for their transgressions, and one would have to search for ways how to avert his scrutiny, how to avoid him. Under no circumstances could one recognize
the former quiet, easy-going, poverty-stricken trickster, who had always spoken in a barely discernible vociferation. Removing the mask revealed the actual beast, the bona fide man-eater. He walked erect now, with his head uplifted as if he had suddenly grown tall When he would walk with hasty steps, with his severe, penetrating stare. Walking through the street, he would always swing his rubber whip, with which he would beat Jewish passers-by. A special fear would be evoked when he went near us playing with his revolver In short, he would have nothing to distinguish him form the other nice friends of his (the Nazis).
He actively participated in all of the murders and especially during the mass murders. Of course he was able to carry out these activities better than the others, thanks to his many years of espionage here. The surrounding villages also suffered from him. He would utilize the actions Very skillfully for himself while the Christians were being sent off to forced labor in Germany. For a knot of gold 10 Ruble pieces, he would free them of the obligation. Such knots he would accumulate in the hundreds and thousands, and, in a short while, the poor Tzirkovetz became a solidly rich man. 1t is interesting to note that at the terminal in Glubokie, before the young people were sent off to Germany, in order to quiet the cries as people were parting from their loved ones, Vitvitzki would play the harmonica and perform tricks, working like a true artist But in relation to the troubles that the Jews suffered at his hands, this was nothing. In the local oppressions and blood actions against Jews, Vitvitzki was always first. He knew better than his comrades did what to find where, and how to work at it. Following his instructions the exact spot where the Ghetto was to be located was set in Glubokie. After the slaughters, he would carry out the cutting down of the Ghetto area. Ultimately, this bloody artist played a major role in August of 1943, setting the liquidation of the Glubokie Ghetto
The beast was also very active during the liquidations of the Ghettoes of Dokshitz and other surrounding towns.
Besides murders he was like a vampire that would suck out the last bit of juice. Once he came to his former landlords, the Tzentzpriers and demanded that they bring him within two hours, 5000 Rubles and a gold watch. They ran like crazy through the entire city - since the alternative might have meant death - and making
a truly mighty effort, they were only able to raise 3000 Rubles. When they came to him with this sum, he fell upon them like an angry snake, hit them with his whip, yelled, taunted them with words and avenged himself upon them to his heart's desire. After a long period of cries and pleading on the part of the Tzentzipers, he tore the money from them and slid it into his pockets, pushing them out the door so hard that they rolled over several times. this time they were fortunate, they escaped the bullet.
During the contraction of the Ghetto, 17th of Tammuz, 5702 - 2nd of July, 1942, the Tzirkovetz Vitvitzki, stood on the road and took from the Jews their possessions. He turned over to the underworld of the Christian population whatever he didn't like His appetite grew so large, that from Dr Henia Raiak he even took medicines, medical preparations, a medical scale and other such things. His greed knew no bounds!
He was also very involved in persecution-actions against the Partisans. Expeditions into the forest often happened under his direction. There would be searches for the Partisans. It was rarely that they returned from these expeditions without causing damage. Mostly they would bring back many dead, and wounded Germans and policemen. The bandit would constantly praise himself for his ability and heroism. He would often point out the bullet holes in his cap and indicate that it was done by Partisans, and show his friends how bold and self-confident he goes into the thick of battle against the Partisans. It was clear that he had shot up his cap on his on, in order to show how dedicated he was to his work..
With his stage trickery he would draw people into his net. He would dress in civilian dress or Partisans clothing and come into the Ghetto disguised (naturally, until the bird was recognized), and convince young people to join up with the Partisans. The fate of those who were convinced by him could easily be imagined. They would not be denied any troubles or torture. Quick death, in this case was a fortunate ending. The hair stands on its edge when we remind ourselves of how because of this provocateur the young brothers, Chazan, Ginzberg and others were tortured.
This Hitlerite hangman had great skill in catching escapees and discovering those in hiding. It was not difficult for this German
to travel, even all the way to Vilna, to search for the former county Doctor, Dr. Zashtoft. He put him in his car and then murders him along the way. With this number he would constantly boast about how cleverly he had carried this out. After finding out the address of Dr. Zashtoft, he purposely circled the house a few times in order to make it appear as if it happened by chance. Upon meeting him he proposed to him, as an old friend to ride back to Glubokie with him, by promising that he would later give him a ride back to Vilna
He organized Samochovtzes - a Hitlerite youth organization- in Glubokie and the surrounding area, for which he arranged courses, during which he would provoke one part of the populace against the other, so that the Glubokie area was soaked with blood and tears because of this frightening brute.
His fortune grew from day to day Because of it all. He had already accumulated quite a bit in Zalesie, near Glubokie, where he obviously planned to remain forever. However, in December of 1943, Partisans from TZukov-Otriad, Rokosovskes Brigade, interfered with his estate. They let loose the horses, cattle and sheep, and the rest they burned to the ground. It is interesting to note that they left a message, which a Glubokie Jewish Partisan gave after this act, to the manager of the estate for his boss. This is the translation from Polish:
Herr Vitvitzki! - Don't be angry. All this was done by your well-known acquaintance, with whom you served in the Glubokie Fire Department. After the War we will settle all scores. All!What happened to the Tzirkovetz after the Germans were driven out of Glubokie, at the beginning of July 1944, we do not know. We can imagine that this artist walks around somewhere, in disguise, with a false passport in his pocket. Possibly even with a Jewish one, which he confiscated from one of his victims, having been aware that the German downfall is soon approaching. And maybe he put himself into the shoes of that German, who was captured by the Russians and declared that his father had been one of the original communists, and a loyal subject of 'General' Karl Marx! Who is now in Vienna (See the War memoirs of Ilya Ehrenberg!).
Your comrade, Zalman Samuilovitsh Rappaport
Whatever happened to him, this bloody German spy will remain in the memory of the few surviving Jews of Glubokie and the surrounding area, as a symbol of the hateful, freakish reptile, who carried with him death, destruction and annihilation
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
As was already mentioned, after the slaughter in Glubokie and the surrounding the Germans gathered the possessions of the Jewish victims and put it in special storehouses. After the decrease of the Ghetto on the 2nd of July They also took items belonging to the Jews who had been transferred, to these storehouses. the things were sorted there and set up as merchandise houses or as the Germans referred to them Varenhaus.
They opened stores selling linens, footwear, haberdashery, clothing and others on Vilna Street. For a low price, the Germans and their friends purchased good quality apparel for ladies and gentlemen. Stores for porcelain, glass, dishes and a furniture opened. . In the house of Yehoshua Geller (a barber-surgeon), There was to be found the Varenhaus of haberdashery and clothing, with which Henie Raise Lederman dealt. In the house of Shmuel Mote Tzirlin (corner of Vilna and New Kisheleike) was the porcelain store, under the supervision of someone named Gurvitsh (an elderly person, a refugee from Vilejka). In the house of Moshe-Hannah (corner of Vilna and Old Kisheleike) was the furniture store.
There were established special workshops and procedures in order to sort the things first and put them in order, managed by and worked by Jews a large laundry was established, where everything was washed and cleaned of the blood of the victims, because they hadn't managed to remove their clothes before they murdered them. The manager of the laundry was Kulbis, who had been the proprietor of a chemical cleaning establishment in Vilna.
During the sorting and washing some people would recognize the clothing and other things belonging to their relatives. Manye Freydkin recognized the shirt of her recently murdered husband, Shimon. With her own hands she had to wash the blood off her husband's shirt for the Varenhaus. And wailing
and tearing the hair from their heads, the women washed and cleaned and pressed the things that belonged to their dearest, washing off the blood and turning the things over to their murderers. There were incidents when the laborers fell faint during their work, losing consciousness, and they had to be carried off to the Ghetto, in the midst of their work.
There were also workshops where thins were pressed, repaired and restored. In one such workshop Raye, the wife of the teacher, Wolf Michelman, , had to with her own hands, repair the suit of her murdered husband. During the work she fell faint and with great difficulty she was placed on a stretcher and carried home. After they were repaired, the things were displayed in the stores. The Germans bought them and sent them home as gifts for their wives, children and relatives!
The same was for the store that sold dishes and porcelain. The merchandise was first removed from Jewish homes, and afterwards brought from the surrounding towns, such as Dokshitz, Parafianov, Mir, Luzshki, Plissa, Ziavki, Germanovitsh, Brasluv, lialuvitsh, Druya, Pohost, Sharkovshtzizna, Prazaraki and others. From these towns there were brought whole wagons loaded with crates of utensils and dishes, packed in the pages of holy books. The wagons with these things were covered with bloody torn clothing ,Often with torn taleisim and bloody prayer shawls .. When the merchandise would diminish in the stores, the Germans would order the Judenrat to provide certain articles. During the months of August and September of 1943, almost every day orders would come to the Judenrat for suits, underwear, socks, shoes, pajamas, children's clothing, and even toys. A situation was created In the Ghetto that not a single perfect item could be left to be seen, because such items had to be sent to the Varenhaus.
They would consider themselves lucky if they could save themselves by providing some substitute item when it was impossible to fulfill a demand for some article, when it wasn't possible to provide some item or another. substitute item were gold, jewelry, etc.
Selling the Jewish possessions involved a procedure as follows:
The buyers - Germans or police, also officials of German
establishments - used to come to the Varenhaus with orders from the Justice-minister. one of the Jewish salespeople, Mashe Bagin, Chaya-Rachel Rabinowitz or someone else would permit the buyer to choose what he liked, and it was lucky when the buyer, after finding and getting what he wanted, delicately wrapped, did not berate the one who gave him the merchandise. It became a thing of amazement if a German, in a rare moment, would greet the salespeople when he entered the store. This would be talked about for a long while. A decent German!
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
When the Jews of Glubokie realized what a dismal destitute they had fallen into, they began to search for ways in which to save themselves from coming annihilation. Since it was impossible to flee Glubokie, and there was nowhere to flee at that time, the Judenrat began to establish all kinds of undertakings and workshops, where Jews would be able to work and to be useful. The Germans gave their assurance; Jews who work and prove their usefulness with the work, will not be harmed. At the beginning of 1942 Glubokie became, thanks to the Jews, a truly industrialized factory-city:
Furthermore, shoe polish was made in the Ghetto. the teacher Rivke Sragavitsh the daughter of Abraham-Shlomo Rabinowitz and others worked there. They also made combs and twine. Gloves were sewn. There was also a vulcanizing workshop.
As was mentioned, Glubokie became a factory city, where no industry was omitted.
Entire plantations were established in the Jewish gardens,. All sorts of hops were planted as well as other growing things. Someone named Katz, from the town of New-Svientzian supervised this. About 40 Jews worked the plantations. Later they were bit by bit eased out of this work, and Poles and White Russians replaced them. The Germans exploited the talents of Moshe Mirman, and therefore let his wife continue to work there. Also Leib Krivitzky, Sharke Sragavitsh, Tzilye Mirman and others worked there.
Jews also worked in the headquarters, beside this, in the Justice Ministry, in the Gendarmerie, in the magistrates building, the community center, Police headquarters, and for the Germans in their homes. They also worked on the roads, on the railroad, as street cleaners, at the market, in the gardens, and so on. Every day Jews were sent to the nearby railroad stations around Glubokie. In general, the Germans supported themselves with Jewish labor, and sucked the lifeblood from them right up to the end, and afterwards annihilated them. A special office was set up at 19 Vilna Street - in the house of Meir Gitelson, which was outside the Ghetto. In order to carry on the various enterprises and industries in Glubokie, there which was actually run by the Judenrat. Officially though this Office was called the Office of the Regime's Kommisarat.
This Office took care of the Jewish workers, and made sure that they would get to work on time; controlled production, and distribution. This Office took care mostly of the orders of various items for German officials and personalities. Those who regularly
ordered were the Justice-Commissioner, Hochman, the representative of the commerce department, Heberling, Chief of the Glubokie Gendarmerie Kern. The one in charge of Jewish Affairs Hebel, the adjutant of the Gendarmes Hait, Vitvitzki (former spy), Goldberg, Heinliat, Vildt, Shpeer, Tzimer, Becker, Kapenvald, Zemf, Schultz, the Burgomeister, Naumov, Germans from the Labor Department and others. Also, there were often German guests from other cities, who would come here with empty valises and leave loaded with all the best, provided by Jews.
The Germans would send for the Jewish Elder Constantly, or would themselves, order various things in the Office. Steadily footwear, clothing, linens, produce (butter, honey, hog fat, sausage, meat and so forth) would be packed there, and these were sent to provided addresses in various places in Germany. Heberling would send footwear and suits of clothing to various places in Germany. He would send these items also to a friend of his in Warsaw, a German who was a senior official in the administration there. The Jews had to provide all of the things requested in the required time, in order to be able to fulfill all demands. In the Office it was always lively, there ran around the Jewish Police, who were members of the Judenrat and other Jews to all Jewish the Jewish homes, and would bring to the office clothing, footwear, household utensils, food etc. In the courtyard of the Office there was a warehouse for leather, run by Alter Cohen, a warehouse for linen, furs and other things, run by Yaakov Almer. To the warehouses the peasants would bring from their villages their produce and grain, where it was packed on wagons and entire wagon loads of leather, linen, furs and grain were every week sent off to Germany. There was also a separate warehouse for sewing machines, stocking machines, hat making machines, which were taken away from the murdered Jews of Glubokie and the surrounding area.
There was also a metal warehouse. There they stored samovars, pots, primus stoves, trays, meat grinders, baking pans, mortars, hinges of doors, ladles, candlesticks and others. The Jews packed onto the wagons these items also, and they were taken to Germany.
There was also a warehouse for feathers. The entire summer and fall of 1942, they gathered the bedclothes from all of the towns around and also from Glubokie itself. It belonged to the families of Jews who perished. The heavy quilts and the cushions were opened and the Jews cleaned the feathers, sorted and entire wagons full were sent to bloody Germany. Our blood still freezes in our veins when we remind ourselves that still even today,
the evil, unclean creatures sleep on the quilts and cushions of our mothers, fathers, wives, sisters and little children. Who got anything back from them even after the war and after the surrender? In the Office at number 19 Vilna Street, worked: Moshe Shulheifer, Michael Azshinsky (bookeeper), Nathan Gelvan, Sonia Gurvitsh of Vileike, Salye Natanson and Sonia Bagin. Later on - Ire Botvinick of Dokshitz and others.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
After the slaughters of April, May and June, 1942, in the towns of Dokshitz, Dolhinov, Sharkovshtzizna, Bruslav, Germanavitsh, Druya, Miory, Luzki, Haluvitsh, Pliste, Ziavki Prazarak, Yadi, Pohost and others in the Glubokie area, and the huge slaughter of 2,500 Jews in Glubokie, the situation among the remaining Jews was one of such despair such despondency, that it cannot be described in words. The Jews were tortured and not permitted even to mourn their great tragedy. They were driven to labor as they had before. The remaining Jews of the surrounding towns who escaped the killers wandered, hungry and naked in the woods, in the mud, in the standing grain fields and hid themselves from death, which threatened them from all sides. In many cases the merciless angel of death appeared in their hiding places.
Partisans began to appear in various places. They would partially hinder the Germans from freely carrying out their plans. For the murderers it did not pay to have Jews wandering in the woods, in the bushes and in the mud. In July 1942 an order was issued by the German authorities that all of the survivors of the annihilated towns should gather in the Glubokie Ghetto. They were assured that no one would be killed. Permits were given to the members of the Judenrat to freely ride around in the places where these Jews were hiding and tell them about the German amnesty, and to gather them into the Glubokie Ghetto. (Officially it was forbidden for Jews to even go out of the Ghetto into the city.)
The Jewish Elder,
Gershon Lederman, undertook this task vigorously. He organized a few energetic people, gave them permits, and with the blessing of the Judenrat sent them out to the fields, woods, mud swamps, bushes etc. They were sent to the environs of the annihilated towns to seek out the wanderers, the refugees, and to gather them here into the Ghetto. The unfortunate, orphaned, broken Jews reacted in various ways. Those, who were completely broken, grabbed at this opportunity like a drowning man would grasp the sharp edge of a knife to save himself. They were immediately brought into the Glubokie Ghetto. Some fought with themselves and didn't know what to do. Good sense, which still served some of them, told them that this was a new German ploy, a deceit to fool them into a new trap, in the Glubokie Ghetto. In order to have them all together and then dispose of them. But for some, the situation in the forest; hunger, weariness and the fear of death at the hands of the peasants, put them into such a bind, that they imagined they had nothing to lose. After a short period of deliberation, they let themselves be persuaded, and against their better judgement, went back to the Ghetto. After saving themselves from the slaughter, they again placed themselves inside the German box The first ones who showed themselves in the Glubokie Ghetto, from the forests, were many of the Jews of Szarkowszczyzna. Because, as is known, the Police and civilian Christians of that town, searched for the Jews in the fields and woods, and killed them when they were found. And if they could hide from the Germans, from the local bandits, who knew all of the highways and byways, all of the caves and hiding places, it was impossible to hide. Therefore these Jews immediately responded the call of the Judenrat. In a similar situation were the Jews of Dokshitz, and they also capitulated immediately. Later there also came Jews from the other destroyed towns such as: Miary, Druya, Holuvitsh, Disna, Plisse Ziavki, Braslaw, Prazarak and others.
Men and women, mostly young would come into the Ghetto each day. They were barely able to drag themselves along from the fields around Germanavitsh, Luzshki, Hadutziski, Varapayeva, Parafianov, Dolhinov, Droisk, Braslaw, Zahatye, Bildiyugi, Shipi, Skuntshiki, Parplishtze, Svientzyan, Padbradz and others. Only a few of those in hiding, those who were physically strong, would not be
influenced by the Judenrat appeals to give themselves up, and chose instead the dangerous life in the field, rather than give in again to the German.
The echoes, though, about the safety for Jews in the Glubokie Ghetto, kept on spreading, and to there would stray refugees from the German sword from far away places: Dvinsk, Kovno, Bialistok, Grodno, Brisk, Baranovitsh and others. All of the Jews who arrived were in tatters, with growths of beard, and blackened with dirt. Most of them had swollen feet, hands and faces bitten by flies, bees, etc. There were also some that had been seriously wounded, because in running through gunfire during the slaughters, they were hit by bullets and in the forests they bandaged themselves with rags, and held out
We would always encounter in the Ghetto, those who limped, those who leaned on branches cut in the forest, with bandaged heads, faces, hands and feet. Swollen people, or better yet, shadows, who did not have the strength to tell what had happened to them, and who couldn't even mourn their most near and dear ones whom they had lost during the slaughters.
Here were cases where family members lost each other, running from the slaughter in their communities, thinking that the others had already perished by German bullets, and suddenly they would meet again. It is impossible to describe such a meeting. Not all were capable of enduring the joy, just as many couldn't endure the tragedy in its completeness because of the inhuman experiences. They also brought suckling babies into the Ghetto, who had been found hidden under bushes, because the parents had been murdered. No one knew whose children they were.
In August of 1942, the Germans transferred the Jews of Kazian and Nei-Pohost into the Glubokie Ghetto. They were brought in on peasant's carts together with their possessions., Jews, refugees from 42 Jewish communities gathered into the Glubokie Ghetto - all told, several thousand people.
Those, who were lucky and hurried into shops, stalls, attics and a variety of dwelling places, were privileged Those who arrived later did not have a roof over their heads. A large number were homeless on the street. Those who had been brought from Kazian and Nie-Pohost remained with their bedding lying in gardens no way could they find a place for themselves..
The Judenrat did not know how to solve the housing problem of the refugees. On the one hand they had to
try dealing with the authorities to persuade them to enlarge the boundaries of the Ghetto. But on the other hand they were afraid to talk to the Germans about the overcrowded conditions in the Ghetto. So that it would not seem to them as if there were too many Jews in the Ghetto, which might lead to a new series of murders, to a new slaughter. But there was no alternative. The overcrowding in the Ghetto was unbearable and Lederman went to the officials and convinced them (for a very nice bribe, understandably) to extend the Ghetto area. Those sections that had previously been cut off were now attached to the Ghetto: Dubrove, Palne and also one side of Vilna Street near Dubrove. The Christians, who had already settled themselves in those houses, had to (what a pity) move again. The sick and the wounded were placed in the Ghetto hospital and the healthy ones (Jews) were driven to work. During their labor the Germans, as we have already told, took revenge on the Jews. Their wild vexations are difficult to understand by a sane mind.
In the summer and fall of 1942 there was no hunger in the Ghetto as far as nourishment is concerned.. The Germans themselves made all kinds of combined businesses and would secretly provide products: potatoes and flour and for them they would be paid in cash. The same applied to shoes and other items. The refugees though, as was mentioned, had arrived completely naked and did not have the wherewithal to buy anything. The Judenrat opened for them a soup kitchen in the hospital. Also the Glubokie Jews fed the refugees on a daily basis, and very often for a number of weeks.
In this time of trouble and calamities each one searched for hope and the promise of redemption. Redemption, at that time, meant a victory of the Red Army over our oppressors - the Germans.
In the Ghetto, when the sounds of planes were heard, moods would become very lively. Jews wouldn't sleep entire nights in order to listen to the hum of motors in the air. What a great joy it was for the Jews, when, in July, 1943, a month before the extermination of all the Jews, when a large Soviet squadron of planes bombed the German garrison in Berezvetsh, 2 kilometers from the city. Unfortunately, the bombing did not damage the Germans. The bombs fell in a field on soft ground and did not explode. After the attack the Germans ordered the Jews to remove those bombs that had been buried and hadn't exploded. The heroes themselves, fled from that dangerous place, fearing an explosion.
After assembling all of the Jews from the fields and forests in the Ghetto, they began to bring
at the end of the summer of 1942, boards, barbed wire and posts in order to enclose the Ghetto. This put even more pressure upon the already choking Jews. Since they were already imprisoned and except for the forced labor couldn't leave the Ghetto anyway, this upset everyone. This was a favor to the Jews in the words of the official, Hebel. It did not calm anyone, even though he assured the Jews that it was meant for the various Germans and policemen who previously were able to enter the Ghetto at will. Now they would no longer have free access to the Ghetto. The Jews knew it was a lie but there was nothing that could be done about it anyway. The Jews themselves had to carry out the work. With their own hands they had to build the box for themselves.
For a full two months the Jews worked on it, and in November 1942 a high, thick fence, topped by several rolls of barbed wire encircled the entire Ghetto. The Ghetto now consisted of the north side of Vilna Street, the east half of Dubrove, the east half of Palne, Nei-Legianav (Kisheleike), Druyer, (Lomzsher) Street and the south side of Bialistaker (lower) Street. You could enter and leave the Ghetto by only one gate, which was set up at the boundary of Nei-Kisheleike and Vilna Streets. a policeman stood on guard at the gate day and night he was attached to the German auxiliary Police. When the Jews returned from their labor at night, the policeman, to make sure that they weren't carrying any products into the Ghetto searched them. If they would find a bit of milk in a bottle, a couple of eggs, a piece of cheese, or even some green vegetable, that person's fate was already sealed. He was no longer allowed into the Ghetto. He was taken to the Police where he was shot.
The Germans also desecrated the Jewish Cemetery. They forced the Jews to break down the fence with their own hands, to cut down all of the trees, to tear up and break the tombstones. With these tombstones the Germans built a theatre in Glubokie. Velvel Leibl, the son of Maznik from Senkevitsh Street would often tell, with great bitterness about this desecration of the cemetery He was a religious Jew, together with other Jews, he was forced to carry the destruction of the cemetery .
A portion of the youth escaped into the forest to tie up with Partisan groups, but these were only individuals. A mass exodus could not even be talked about. Larger groups could not even exit the Ghetto. The Germans and the Police hovered on all sides, and if one managed to escape from the Hell,
his relatives were killed. Here for example is such an incident: In December., 1942, someone named Motke Berchan (who worked in the Vagenbau at 75 Vilna Street) heard (in the Judenrat), that the family of Eli Gordon (Becker) is in danger of being killed, because their son, Hirshke Gordon, fled to the forest. Berchan told this secret to Gordon and his wife; they, and their two younger daughters and a small son, Mishal, stole out of the Ghetto, without anything, naked, barely with their souls, in the middle of' the night and disappeared. Immediately the Gordon's older daughter was arrested (Hinde), together with her husband, Shabbtai Catkin, (from Kisheleike) and were shot, leaving two infants without care. The impression that this made on the Ghetto is easy to imagine If someone were merely suspected of harboring the thought of fleeing the Ghetto, he was immediately placed in the basement of the Judenrat, which was in the house of Yaakov Olmer. (This was done for protection) In the winter of 1942-43 the situation became such that everyone in the Ghetto found himself under the supervision of the Judenrat. The Jewish Police and Jews in general, looked out for each other, to see to it that no one should flee the Ghetto. It had been proven that all are responsible for each other, and that the community is responsible for the individual. In the big, long dark fall and winter nights, the Jews, according to the orders of the Judenrat, would patrol the entire perimeter of the Ghetto (from the inside, naturally)
They carefully watched that under the cover of might, no one should steal himself out of the Ghetto and flee into the woods.
There were cases when the night-watch would catch someone who was fleeing the Ghetto, and on the morrow he was taken to the Judenrat where he was installed in the cellar together with his entire family, and the watch was reinforced in general. In this way, the Judenrat once caught, on the Jewish cemetery, a group of 30 people. They had already managed to escape from the Ghetto, and they were planning to stealthily flee into the forest. Among them, according to the report, there was Chana Shnell (a seamstress, who was one of the managers of the women's seamstress workshop), Chaim-Leib Shulheifer (pharmacist), Marusye Levin (a daughter-in-law of Yisrael Chaves) and tier brother-in-law, Moshe Chaves (a doctor), Gildin (a pharmacist from Luzshki) and others. The Jewish Police kept the entire group under careful watch and brought them back to the Ghetto. The Judenrat did not make a big deal out of this, because they feared that the Germans might find out about it.
Jews looked out for each other, to make sure that no one left the Ghetto and head for the woods. In March, 1943
they came to Shulevitsh's house, where the knitting establishment was located, a peasant, and asked that Deborah Ruderman be called out. She was the mother of the Partisan, Yenkl Ruderman. Immediately the Jewish Police Commissar, Yude Blant, found out about it and came running quickly and tore from the hand of Mrs. Ruderman a slip of paper which the peasant had. Managed to give her from her son in the forest. Before she had a chance to read it. He wanted to seize and turn over the messenger, the peasant, to the German Gendarmes, but he mounted his horse and fled. And Deborah was deposited in the cellar of the Judenrat. The contents of the note, which her son had sent from the forest, remained a secret. It's possible that this note could have prevented the later death of Mrs. Ruderman herself, and maybe also of others.
With each passing day the Jews in the Ghetto, became more and more broken. The theme of everyone's conversation was the same: destruction, shooting, when and where they would be annihilated The more religious Jews would pray during their free time, recite Psalms, and study. Some would fast every Monday and Thursday (Shalom Weinstein and others). They could see that the tragedy was coming, as a punishment from Heaven for sins Some on the other hand drove out every thought of despair and turned to drink. It's all the same they argued. We will be killed! There were also to be found naive Jews, who wanted to believe the Germans, that the Jews of Glubokie are an exception, are useful and therefore no evil would befall upon them.
They choked off' the evil thoughts about the eventual genocide within themselves, and believed in a miracle. Maybe from somewhere the Red Army will break through, or some powerful partisan group would free them. It is impossible to convey the mood of the Jews, their frame of mind in the sealed off Ghetto, cut off from the entire world, where they sat and waited for death. He, who himself tasted the German Hell, can only grasp it. but he who had the great privilege not to gaze upon the German beast, cannot, under any circumstances, understand it. Because the sufferings endured by those unfortunates in the Ghetto, were beyond human reason, and people in a healthy, normal environment cannot envision it at all.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
It was the spring of 1942, some groups of young people from Glubokie by now began to look for ways to gather arms and flee to the forest. They devoted themselves to the task, being extremely secretive and cautious, even prepared for casualties' to achieve it. For instance, a Hadutzishker (Reuven Yachelson) managed to get employed in the Gendarmerie. He was able to steal arms from there. He became attached to a Partisan group Mastitel (takers of revenge), to whom he sent the arms. He worked all summer and fall transferring arms to the resistance until a gendarme noticed him and shot him.
The task that Yaakov Friedman took in the matter of acquiring arms, was not any less vital. He would ride through the villages dress in a policeman clothes, and obtain arms there, in various ways, arms which he also sent to the above-mentioned Partisan group. He worked like this until the fall of 1942, when he himself joined up with the resistance group. He later distinguished himself in the battle against the Germans, until the arrival of the Red Army.
The son-in-law of Moshe Berkan deserves much credit for providing the Partisans with arms. He would buy guns, grenades, revolvers and transferred them to the Partisans in the forest. Eventually he paid for this with his life. The Police found out about it and came to the Ghetto to arrest him. He was not easily arrested. He seized a policeman's gun, removed the firing pin, and fled to the forest. But since they wanted to kill his wife, child and relatives in place of him, he couldn't save himself and let them die. He gave himself up to the murderers, to prevent this. After horrible tortures, they killed him.
Klianer of Lutshaier street also worked intensively for the resistance. During the entire period of the summer and autumn of 1942 he also gathered arms,, until he fled from the Ghetto into the forest. Even as he was fleeing, he grabbed the gun from a German who was standing guard, knocked him unconscious, and swiftly disappeared.
In spite of militant and heroic stance, the youth, often did not have the fortuity to oppose the wild German beast They would mostly seek ways in which to hinder the savage murderers in
their diabolical plan, and revenge the innocent blood that was spilled. Bamke Genichovitsh, the young man from Plisse, sought revenge for the murder of his father in this way. He constantly lie in ambush for the German Kapenberg, who killed his father in the town of Plisse. Kapenberg was alerted to the fact that the son of his victim is hiding somewhere in the forest and wants to take revenge on him. He watched out for him however, young Genichovitsh was much more refined than the German bandit, and searching for him ceaselessly he once encountered him on the road from Plisse to Glubokie, where he killed him on the spot.
The same Bamke Genichovitsh, also took revenge on the folks-German woman, Ida Aditzka, who was responsible for many Jewish victims. She was also very active in the expeditions against the Partisans. She participated in the slaughter of Jews in Psuye, Prozarok, Plisse, Glubokie and others. She killed dozens of Jewish children. (see the section The destruction of the Second Ghetto in Glubokie) She had also murdered Rutshakavsky, the former chairman of Selsovet. Once, when this German woman was found in Koshtziol, Genichovitsh and some of his comrades dressed in German clothes and went cautiously into Koshtziol. There they made her acquaintance, and invited her to go for a walk. She became quite intrigued with the young cavaliers and went walking with them into a wood. This was all that they wanted. There, they tied her to a tree, recited to her all of her misdeeds, and then killed her.
The youth began to search for ways to escape to the forest and make contact with the Partisans as soon as it became known in Glubokie that there were Partisans in the forest. Partisans who attack German units, and interfere with their devilish deeds, kill Germans on the roads, cut lines of communication, and alike. Ignoring the arduous and dangerous conditions, which were associated with the resistance, several groups manage to flee to the forest. To do this they had to have boundless courage and heroism, because there were pitfalls at every step of the way.
Local Police and the Germans constantly patrolled the Ghetto. Whoever tried to leave could easily fall into the hands of the German Gestapo. Besides this, according to
the rumors from the Judenrat, secret agents were planted in the Ghetto. They reported everything concerning what was going on in the Ghetto to the Germans. Besides which, when the Germans would find out about some that fled, many innocents who stayed behind might pay with their lives. Outside of the Ghetto, Jews who would be met by civilian peasants, might be killed by them, or turned over to the Germans.
Many such incidents took place. After all, those who fled did not know where to go, where to look for the Partisans, and many times instead of coming to them, it was easy to fall into the trap of the German beast. (You couldn't ask anybody, because you didn't know whom to trust. The peasants themselves did not hesitate at times, to inflict troubles on the Jews and even kill them.)
And even so, ignoring all of this, in the summer of 1942, a group of young people, disguised and armed, left the Ghetto and joined up with the Partisans. The first pioneer Partisans of Glubokie were: Avner Feigelman - called Alyasha (before the war he was a flax gatherer for Lederman). He went with an organized group on the morrow after the slaughter of the 2500 Jews, into the forest. 'They were among the first group of young men, who fell upon the bloody enemy with their full impact and fought heroically. In this group there was also Itshke Blatt (son of Leibel Blatt of Gomzsher Street), who became a commander in the Partisan Brigade of Tshapayev. Blatt distinguished himself with his sharp sense, boldness, determination and fleetness. He would cast fear on the peasants in those woods, and they ceased their ill treatment of Jews. Blatt was called the lion of the forest In this first group there was also Barke Shapiro (son of Yashke Shapiro of Senkevitsh Street), a girl from Disne, named Chasia and others.
In September of 1942 an armed group of 17 men left the ghetto, among whom there were Ber Katzavitsh and Iza (Moshe Katzavitsh's grandsons), Zalye Milchman (the teacher Milchman's son), Yachelman, Michael Feigel, Yenki Ruderman, Yerachmiel Milkin, David Glezer and others. This group, while still in the Ghetto, was in contact with the Partisan Brigade, Mastitel, and sent them arms. In September they joined them. They were in the forest near the village of Univyer, in the Miadler region. From this village a certain Stefan Samasianek,
actively helped in the organization of the Partisans in the region.
The situation in the Ghetto became very strained after this group of 17 Jews left. The Germans and the Police now guarded even more diligently. It was declared that the families would be personally responsible for those who fled to the forest, which meant that for the sins of the children the parents would be held responsible and pay with their life. This frightened the youth very much, but their activities did not cease. They prepared arms and did not stop organizing an escape. Another group of 18 Jews left two months later; among whom were to be found: Yisrael Shparber, Moshe Feigel and Sonye, Hirshl Gordon, Shimon Soloveitshik, Hirsh Israelev and both sons of the Jewish elder, Yerucham and Motke Lederman. In the Ghetto there arose panic. They speculated that this would be costly, and that there would be a bloodbath. Unfortunately they were right. A few days after the 18 had gone, the Gendarmes and Police encircled the homes of the families of Sane Milkin and Feige Feigelson drove every one out, took them to the Police where they underwent terrible turtures the entire night, and in the morning they were all shot. Fourteen people in the two families died for that transgression, which their children had perpetrated by going into the forest. The fear that seized everyone cannot be measured. Everyone waited to be taken away People trembled at their own shadow. They tried to avoid their own homes, and would not sleep during the nights.
Because Lederman's sons had gone into the forest the unease increased. If the Jewish Elder's sons flee, then maybe not only their family would suffer, but possibly the entire Ghetto. This could cause a slaughter on a large scale, or the entire Ghetto might be destroyed in one fell swoop! This is how everyone interpreted the situation. These were the comments, and everyone went about depressed. All searched for a place to hide, where to bury oneself. But there was no place where one could save his soul. Whosoever had the smallest safe hiding place outside of the Ghetto, left his home for the night.
Lederman, The Jewish Elder, went to the Minister, Hochman, and told him everything about his great tragedy, asking him to help return his straying sons from the Partisans.
The Minister was so loveable and he involved himself in Lederman's bitter situation. He gave him a permit to ride through the fields in the area and look for his sons. Lederman immediately sent two Jews, Eli Gordon and Mulye Soloveitshik (incidentally, their sons were already in the forest also) to the Miadler region to look for and bring back his sons. Lederman made this matter into one of principle, a serious matter, one in which everybody in the Ghetto must be interested - the fate of everyone, he announced, will hang on whether or not his sons would be brought home. In the Ghetto, Lederman's sons became a matter of life and death. All awaited the messengers impatiently, to see what they would bring. And in about two weeks there was suddenly spread the news that they had returned in peace and brought with them Lederman's two sons. With them there also came Hirshele Israelev - a quilter. The Ghetto breathed more freely, but in spite of it the calm did not last, because everyone waited to see how the authorities would react to the Ledermans in particular and to the public - will there be victims, how many and who will they be?
Fortunately for that time, the Commissar Grod was on leave and his replacement was a bit more humane, so Lederman found him to be a bit softer in accepting bribes and other formalities in order rehabilitate the bad deed committed by Lederman's sons. He was ordered that they be beaten, and with this their punishment was complete.
For their punishment, the substitute for Grod, the person in charge of Jewish Affairs, Hebel ( a frightening devourer of Jews), Chief of the Gendarmarie, Kern, and other high ranking military and administrative officials, gathered in the Ghetto. All the Ghetto Jews were ordered to the Judenrat, and before this gathering, the culprits Lederman's two sons and H. Israelev were beaten. This was only for show because Lederman's sans had been told earlier to put on heavier trousers, and then they were beaten lightly. The Jewish policeman, Michael Shapiro, carried out this function. Then Grod's representative made a speech and said that, thanks to the fact that Lederman himself had reported the incident involving his children, and had carried out activities to bring them back, their lives had been spared. He added that for every Jew who allows himself to escape to the forest,
first of all his family would be killed and afterwards the entire Ghetto would suffer. This announcement worked. The Jews strictly guarded each other. The patrols of the Jews themselves was strengthened in the Ghetto by the Judenrat and twice each night the patrols circling the Ghetto boundary were changed. Jews circled the perimeter on the inside of the fence the entire night and watched to see that no one should sneak out of the Ghetto in the darkness of the night. There was a guard of Germans on the outside, beside the guarding of the Jews on the inside, so that the Ghetto was sealed hermetically, and to be able to get out was practically impossible.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
Moshe A as was mentioned previously, was the manager of a confectionery factory, which also made marmalade and certain drinks for the Germans. He proved and was recognized by the Germans to be an excellent tradesman. They even allowed him to live outside of the ghetto, in the city for a greater length of time..
Suddenly, in February of 1943, the Germans arrested him. Everyone in the Ghetto was very disturbed by the news of his arrest. It became known later the reason for his arrest. It was because he, at the advice of someone named Gebeshn (the son of the Sharkavshtziner, Dr. A. Galitzianer), with the help of a German Officer, Kardiel, attempted to falsify a document, stating that his mother was not Jewish and therefore he was not a born Jew. He thought that in this way he could save himself, as an Aryan. The Germans found out about this, and they immediately arrested him and the German, Kardiel, they turned over to the court in Minsk. Local Germans, friends of Kardiel, made an effort to keep the matter a local one, and they were successful. This change of venues also benefited Abramovitsh. His family, like all Jews in such predicaments, waited for Abramovitsh to be freed. But to tear oneself from the German claws was something that seldom happened and so it was in this case also. The Germans promised to free him for a large sum of gold. When Mrs. Abramovitsh and his other relatives finally assembled the sum that had been demanded, the Germans still did not release him, using the excuse that the clearing of Kardiel
(the clearing of Abramovitz depended on it) still had to be confirmed in Rega. (This, of course, was but an excuse.)
The end of the matter was that the Germans dragged out the release of Abramovitz from day to day. in that way it dragged on until the 20th of August, 1943, until the day of the destruction of the entire Ghetto of Glubokie, together with all other Jews, and with the rest of his family (wife, children and parents), Abramovitsh also was killed.
Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan
In the disheartening Ghetto nightmare, the Jews constantly tried to figure out and predict what was taking place around them. What the Jewish elder, Gershon Lederman is up to? Each time when he would bring gifts, First to the German High Command and then to the chief of the Gendarmerie, and then to ail the other bloodsuckers, (this would occur on a daily basis) the Jews would impatiently await his return. They awaited the news he would bring for the Ghetto, whether or not there was some new decree. They would simply look into his eyes and from them they would attempt to fathom the truth, because he would not always want to divulge the evil, in order to not create panic among the Jews.
At the end of February 1943, Lederman, as a result of such a visit, did not return home to the Ghetto. Evening came, night fell . The family and relatives waited with great impatience and Lederman did not show up. The entire Ghetto didn't know yet about this, but those who did know became very despondent: They exchanged secrets; they that something isn't right. No one was permitted to go out of the Ghetto. It is already late at night and Lederman hasn't returned.
In the morning of the next day three Germans, dressed in civilian clothing, came into the Ghetto. Inquiring as to the whereabouts of Lederman's home. The Policeman, Michael Shapiro took them there, and they took away Lederman's wife, Henie Raize, his three children: Yerucham, Motke and Rivke. The Germans calmed the Ledermans, They said that they were taking them to their husband and father and they would all be set free together in a short while. The small daughter, Rivke, they freed on the way, and she returned to the Ghetto. His wife and two sons the Germans took to the park on Senkevitsh Street. The young men
immediately understood what was taking place, that the Germans are deceiving them, so they tore themselves away and began to run. The Germans shot at them and the oldest was slightly wounded. Escaping the Germans, the I,edermans came running back into the Ghetto. From Yerucham there flowed a slight stream of blood the entire way. He did not enter by way of the gate, but jumped over the high fence at an out of the way side. In the Ghetto itself they disappeared, and no one knew where they were.
From early morn the entire Ghetto, was already on wheels. Everyone knew that Lederman was arrested, and that his family had also been taken away. Everyone became frightened. This was a Shabbat morning before Purim and the older Jews fled from their prayers and hid. They thought that, after Lederman demise, there would quickly follow the end of the entire Ghetto. Lederman, who according to everyone's reasoning was untouchable, had been arrested! The only Jew, who would meet face to face with the Germans and who would bring with him, into the Ghetto, at least some comfort by telling-in the name of the Germans, that the Glubokie Jews are privileged. They will not be killed. Now he was taken away. And now the last pillar fell the only support was gone . What can there be now? The fear was indescribable. People ran about as if fleeing a fire, disturbed, not knowing what to do with themselves, with their little children, whom their mothers led by their hands or clasped in their arms. They ran about as if drugged.
A member of the Judenrat who often accompanied Lederman; Zalman Rubashkin (when the latter would bring to the Germans packages of Jewish belongings and goods - Rubashkin used to help him carry), girded his courage and went to German headquarters to find out what had happened to the Jewish Elder, G. Lederman. He found out, that the S. D. from Vilejka arrested Lederman for the sins of his sons, who had earlier run to the Partisans but had in fact, already been rehabilitated (see above). Rubashkin was assured that the arrest of Lederman had nothing whatsoever to do with the Ghetto and that the Jews can be completely calm. Even if Lederman will not be released so quickly, in a few days a new Jewish Elder will be appointed in the Glubokie Ghetto. This information had a somewhat calming effect. The Germans kept their word this time. A few days later
Zalman Rubashkin was appointed Jewish Elder in place of Lederman. He also carried out as Lederman had, the function of bringing on a daily basis, gifts to German headquarters. Rubashkin would also be awaited impatiently, when he would return from the Germans. They would await for him hoping for some good news, to be consoled, to be given assurance Regretfully, Rubashkin could not bring them any good news, even though he always tried to create an optimistic attitude The deeds of the Germans in the Ghetto, the daily tragic reality did not permit, even for a short while, to forget the true situation, in which the Jews found themselves.
Lederman Gershon (Chanoch): Gershon Lederman was born in 1907 to Khava and Meir. He was a merchant and married to Chila. Prior to WWII he lived in Glebokie, Poland. Gershon died in 1943 in the Shoah. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted on 02/08/1956 by his nephew; Lebenbaum Avraham
Leiderman Gene/ Chila: Gene Leiderman nee Khvas was born in Glubokie, Poland to Ishrol and Sose. She was married to Gershon. Prior to WWII she lived in Glubokie, Poland. During the war was in Glubokie, Poland. Gene died in 1943 in Glubokie, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by her sister-in-law Khvas Roza
Leiderman Yerukhem: Yrukhem Leiderman was born in Glubokie, Poland in 1923 to Gershn and Chila/ Gene Khvas. Prior to WWII he lived in Glubokie, Poland. During the war was in Glubokie, Poland. Yrukhem died in 1943 in Glubokie, Poland at the age of 20. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by Khvas Roza
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