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[Pages 326-328]

Many Collapsed by the Roads

By Yeshayahu (Shayke) Glick

Translated by Judy Grossman

I was on hachshara[1] in the “kibbutz ironi” (urban kibbutz) in Posvel (Pasvalys), the only one from my Hashomer Hatzair group in Dusiat. I remember that it was at Purim. The hachshara members were working at felling trees. The work was too hard for me and I couldn't go on. The others were “considerate” of me, so what did they do? They gave me a bottle and asked me to count the wood chips… From then on I became the treasurer of the hachshara.


Among the members of Hashomer Hatzair in Pasvalys
Shayke Glick
(second row, third from the right)


At that time certificates for immigration to Eretz Yisrael were no longer available, and only a small number of people went on hachshara. From Posvel I went on to an “urban kibbutz” in Shantz (Sanciai) where I remained until 1938. My dream of immigrating to Eretz Yisrael had almost vanished.

When the war broke out, I was in Kovno (Kaunas). At dawn I was shaken by the sound of thunder. A tremendous tremor! They were bombing the airport. In my neighborhood there was a Russian, and on that morning he was nowhere to be seen. I called a communist friend who said to me: “Jews, you must flee!” And he added, “If you can, run away!” Another non-Jew, a member of the police force, promised to check out the situation and report back to me. In the afternoon he came and said to me: “Run!”

My twin brother Honke was living in Shantz at the time. His wife was pregnant. He belonged to the General Zionist movement, and when I told him that I was fleeing to Russia, he said to me: 'To Russia? - Me to there? Under no circumstances!” We kissed each other, said goodbye, and I was certain that we would not see each other again.


Elchanan-Honke Son of Rochl-Leah and Avraham Glick
“As a memento to Asher Chaitowitz from Elchanan-Yehuda Glick.
While looking at this picture may my name be reminded. 20.3.1932”


After the death of our father aunt Rivka (father's sister) raised Honke. She was then married to Bertzick Slovo.

At an early age Honke went to study in a yeshiva in Rokiskis. Then he moved to the Rabbi Belz Yeshiva. Later he studied in a yeshiva in Telsiai.

I succeeded in persuading my brother Aaron, who was a shoemaker and was working in a shoe factory in Kovno at the time, to join me. We got onto a cart and set out in the direction of the train station in the old city of Kovno. The streets were thronging with people running back and forth. At the train station I met Dora Levitt from my shtetl. “Where will you go?” she asked. I said to her: “Dora, come to Russia with us.” But she said: “I won't leave my mother.” I never saw her again.

A freight train arrived, and without asking too many questions we boarded. I had only one thing on my mind: to flee! When we got to Abel (Obeliai), my brother Aaron insisted on getting off and continuing to Dusiat, as he had a wife and four children there! That's how I can see him in my mind's eye, walking along the railway tracks, with a sack over his shoulder, walking and moving further away, until he disappeared... When I returned to Dusiat after the war, they showed me a wooden gravestone, and told me that my brother Aaron was also buried there.

Adina Rashman: Leleikas, the Lithuanian non-Jew, who was a shoemaker, a close friend of our family. He is the one who murdered our brother!

The Roads were Teeming with Refugees…

We continued on our way, when suddenly there was a train collision! They said at the time that the Lithuanian engineer absolutely refused to cross the border, and simply ran amok… On the way – there was bombing, in Radvilishok (Radviliskis) and in Dvinsk (Daugavpils). The bombing there was terrible! Children were torn from their parents...

We changed trains and arrived at Rezhitsa (Rezekne), near the Russian-Latvian border. Most of us, the refugees, turned east towards the Latvian border, with the intention of fleeing to Russia. However, disappointment awaited us there. Russian border police guarded the border crossing, and they allowed only the few who had the proper permits to cross the border. Jews were not allowed to cross the border because we were suspected of spying…

In the meantime, the Germans were bombing! Groups of refugees gathered together there, and with no way to proceed, many tried to find refuge in the nearby forests and villages. The roads were filled with refugees, the Germans rained down fire from above, and armed Lithuanians ambushed us on the roads and shot at us. Many were killed, and their corpses were scattered along the sides of the roads.

In Rezhitsa, we stayed overnight in the home of an old couple and their daughter. In the middle of the night the daughter woke us, shouting at us to flee! It was dark outside, and masses of people were walking in all directions. Afterwards we learned that because of the darkness people lost their way and returned to Dvinsk...

I was with those who were marching towards the border. Night passed, and in the morning we reached a village, and were directed to the school. However, rumors abounded, there was a lot of panic, and we continued walking. I, like many others, also fainted. People supported me and stood me on my feet. I recovered and continued walking. There were also cases of women giving birth at the side of the roads… I remember that that was where we heard the rumor of five thousand people being injured from the bombing in Zilupe!

We were held up in Sebez until we were allowed to cross the border. I recall that in the evening we reached a forest swarming with giant mosquitoes that bit us until we bled! …

“Despite the many obstacles (bombings by Luftwaffe airplanes, arrests and acts of murder on the part of the Lithuanian gangs and the fascists), the flight eastwards took in about 25,000 Lithuanian Jews, most of them young, of military age, from all the classes and political streams of the Jewish communities, and very few older people, women and children... Only about 15,000 of the Jews were able to bypass the difficulties raised by the Soviet border guards, and reach the interior of the Soviet Union. The others who remained alive were forced to return to their places of residence.”[2]

We reached a kolkhoz, were divided among the houses, and slept on the floor. In the middle of the night, we heard shouts that the Germans were approaching, and immediately ran away from there too. On the way I got into a military truck and we reached the railway station. We found a multitude of people there, Jews and Russians, and the atmosphere was tense. After several hours of waiting, the train arrived, and filled up with the masses of people. The bombing continued, and many got off the train and didn't return.

Two more days went by and we arrived in Ivanovo, a city of the textile industry. The refugees were organized in the school, and we received food. In the morning I was sent to work in the canvas factory. I worked at one loom, and within a few days I could control eight looms. We met several friends there, among them Dovidke Zack from my shtetl, and Isserke from Birzh (Birzai), and together we planned to set out towards Persia (Iran), and from there to Eretz Yisrael

We reached Gorki, wandered through the streets, and were immediately identified as refugees. A Jew invited us to his home, and when we told him that we intended to continue on to Central Asia, to the tropical countries, he gave us a road map from the time of the czars, and pointed to the Kuybyshev-Chkalov road, through the desert of Kazakhstan to Tashkent…

“Although the living conditions, the food, and the work in the cities and the kolkhozes in which the refugees lived were extremely poor, they made an effort to adjust to this situation. However, with the approach of the fall and winter, because of the light clothing with which they had left their homes in the summer, many of them were forced to abandon the cities where they were living and the kolkhozes where they were working, and to wander in the direction of Central Asia, where the warm climate might relieve their suffering. Some of them also considered this region an opening from which they could move to Afghanistan or Persia (Iran), and from there to Eretz Yisrael. Very few succeeded in doing so. Many of the refugees knocked at the doors of the recruiting offices in order to go to the front. 'You will be drafted when the time comes, and meanwhile the work on the home front is important for the war effort,' was the laconic answer they received in the summer and autumn of 1941.”[3]

In Tashkent we saw the results of the war. The city was full of refugees. Thousands were lying in the park, and in my mind I pictured the “Rivers of Babylon”… I was still with Dovidke Zack and Isserke. I remember that we managed to get hold of some sausage and rolls, but there was no place to sleep…

What to do and where to go? There were rumors that refugees had succeeded in reaching China. But how? How do you cross the deserts safely? And to Ashkhabad? G-d forbid! The security was very strict there, and we were warned that it was dangerous! …

Meanwhile, in Tashkent they decided to register the refugees. Everyone was asked where he was going, and they suggested that we go to a kolkhoz. Dovidke took them up on their offer, but I decided to continue wandering…

I reached Bukhara. Like many others, I slept in the train station outside the city, under the stars... It was impossible to remain there without registering. Only those who had work were registered, and only those who were registered could get work.

Dawn had not yet arrived, and there was already a long queue for registration. I also stood in line. Eventually, with my poor Russian I succeeded in convincing the Russian clerk to give me a “chit”, after telling her that I was a tailor and had a job in a cooperative. Thanks to this piece of paper, I was able to get a job in the cooperative - and a meal. There I was given a work permit, and in the registration office they stamped my Lithuanian passport “Legally Registered”. Before that I had already met the two Gordon brothers from Shantz, who made room for me to sleep in their house. Now, thanks to my stamped passport, I could also legally register in the “Tenants' Registration Book”, which was administered by law in every house…

I volunteered for the Lithuanian Division, and after a while was ordered to go to the office of the city officer in Tashkent, and was drafted. I managed to go for training; I dug bunkers when I suddenly came down with malaria. I did not recover from the sickness for a long time, and was hospitalized on and off. I remember well the day when, lying in the hospital, I heard the singing of the marchers. The Lithuanian Division had set out for the front…

“In the battles, in addition to the regular battle cry (in Russian): 'Comrades, for the motherland, for Stalin – forward!' it shouted (in Yiddish): 'Brider, far unzere tates un mames!' (Brethren, for our fathers and mothers)”[4]

For a while I was in Balakhna, where the reserve of the Lithuanian Division was quartered. We drilled, did cleaning jobs, and I was the “arms-bearer” for an officer. I was weak, and at the recommendation of a Jewish doctor from Shavli (Siauliai), I was examined by a medical committee, with the possibility of being discharged from the army. After being given a temporary discharge, I decided to return to Bukhara, and recall looking back during the entire journey, for fear that they had changed their minds and were pursuing me…

I went by train, and in the desert had another attack of malaria. In some out of the way place, they removed me from the train on a stretcher, with other patients, and a doctor passed by and looked us over. He refused to hospitalize me. One of the nurses angrily told the doctor that he was not giving due respect to my uniform, and thanks to her, I was hospitalized and received a bed in a corner that was full of sick Kazakhs. An old Kazakh woman tended me there devotedly. I remember her standing beside me when I woke up and asking me: “Aman?” and my answering, “Aman” (Moslem). If I had remained on the train, I would probably have died there. When I was released from the hospital, the nurse offered me a place to stay in her home. She was truly dedicated. I decided to return to Bukhara. I remember that the military coat I was wearing gave me the right not to stand in line… I should mention that freezing weather began in the fall, people were weak and hundreds were dying…

In Bukhara I went back to work in the textile cooperative. When my temporary discharge was no longer valid, I returned to the army.

“In addition to the active recruitment of thousands of Jewish refugees in Kazakhstan, in Kirghiz, in Siberia and in other places, to the campaign of acquiring an air squadron for the Soviet army in the name of 'Soviet Lithuania', the Jews also indirectly assisted the war effort by their excellence in the economic sector in their places of residence. Like all the other 'zapadniki' (westerners), many Lithuanian Jews were also drafted at the beginning of the war for compulsory military service in labor camps and the labor corps. Indeed some of them were transferred to the Lithuanian Division at the time it was formed, however they continued sending the Lithuanian Jews who were declared unfit for the Lithuanian Division for political or social reasons (of distinguished bourgeois origins, and the like) to labor camps and the labor corps.[5]

Upon Liberation…

I reached Vilna (Vilnius) immediately after it was liberated, and served there as a soldier in the guards. I remember already being in the synagogue there on Yom Kippur (September, 1944). After my discharge from the army, I went to Dusiat. We left Vilna, and in Abel, rented a sleigh and crossed the lake. The Lithuanian “white” partisans shot at us, but we continued on. We already knew that the Jews of the shtetls had been annihilated, but we hoped that perhaps someone would be able to tell us what had happened.

A month went by and once again I traveled to Dusiat. It was a Wednesday, market day, but it was not the “market day” of bygone days. I didn't find any Jews, I didn't find any life, and the street was alien. On my way to the market, on the street I met the son of Markelis, a local who had become a communist, and had married a woman from a shtetl in the area. Once upon a time, our school had been located in their house in the shtetl, and that's how I knew him. This non-Jew recognized me and called: “Abramukas” (son of Abraham. The Jews called me Rochel-Leah's). He told me that during the war he had been with the communists who worked in the underground with the partisans, and he told me what happened to Elke Barron (“Alterukas”, the son of Alter, as he called him).

I stayed in a house that used to belong to the Charit family, now occupied by a Lithuanian who had played with us when we were children. We had even “fought” each other. A Lithuanian family that was living in the rabbi's house invited us both to dinner. “That's the rabbi who taught me Mishna and Gemara[6] at night,” I said to myself, and choked on my tears. That night I learned details of the extermination…

I drank too much, and apparently did not guard my tongue, because the next morning they urged me to leave, lest something happen to me because of the harsh things I had said.

I returned to Vilna. I now recall the cultural evenings that the Soviets had rushed to organize. The poet Peretz Markish took part in one of them, a “literary evening”. He gave a speech, and as was customary, he praised the Soviet Union and its leaders. As he was leaving the hall, we surrounded him, a group of young Zionists, and asked him what would be with the Jewish people. I remember his answer in Russian: “The Jewish people will gain what it never had”, and the sound of his voice now comes back to me…

That was the first time I heard the Song of the Partisans. It was sung by Benjamin Axelrod from Vilna. He told us about the Vilna ghetto and the atrocities of the war.


  1. Training for life in Eretz Yisrael – frequently held on a farm, but sometimes also in cities – where the members of the movement lived together communally. Return
  2. [20] Levin, Dov. Fighting Back: Lithuanian Jewry's Armed Resistance to the Nazis, 1941-1945, in Yahadut Lita, Vol. 4, p. 32. Return
  3. [21] Ibid, p. 33. Return
  4. [23] Ibid, p. 35 Return
  5. [22] Ibid, p. 35. Return
  6. The two components of the Talmud, the Jewish exegesis of the Bible. Return

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