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[Page 342]

A Letter from Leyb Shoys

How Gorzd Jews were killed

Vilna, 5 February, 1945

Dear Isaac and Zissel and dear sisters-in -law!

I want to write to you today about my tragic experience when I saw the destruction of Gorzd.

The destruction of the Gorzd Jewish population was as follows. On the night of 22nd June at 5 past 3 the Nazis invaded Gorzd.It was only the army. No tanks were in the batallion. They immediately burnt the buildings and they forced the population to gather in the market square.The next morning they divided the Lithuanians separately. They encircled the Jews, loaded their guns and were ready to shoot. A messenger came from the direction of Davil and asked them to delay the shooting.They immediately herded the Jews and took them towards the garden without food or water until Tuesday morning. They then took the men to Logallen where the death sentence was carried out. It was 24 June 1941 about 1 o'clock-lunch time.It was carried out near David Wolfowitz's house. Near the turn which takes you to Pelkis Street. The Jews were divided into lots of 25 and then shot. You can see a mound covered in snow.Amongst the hundreds of martyrs lies our Father. My tears seeped through the snow and wet the earth. Years will go by and this mound will always press our hearts and call to us and we will mourn.

They sent the women and children to Onerlishke and kept them a couple of months and made slaves of them to work in the shtettle. Nobody knows exactly when they were shot, but I know that in the ghetto of Kovna, in November, a letter was brought by a Litvak and the Gorzde Lithuanians say they were shot in Autumn. The children were cut with bayonets when they were still alive, and the women were shot. All were burried in a mass grave, the mass grave is in a little forest, not far from the road that goes to Koel. There our Mother and Freda met their terrible death.

Wandering amonsgt the destruction of the shtetle, you can see the staircase of our house, the cement bricks where we used to jump about as children. There I used to meet our Mother and Father when I used to come home on holiday. There I said goodbye to you, Zissel, when you left for South Africa. There is mothing left except our Father's mass grave not far away, and the grave of our Mother and sister, Fredila towards the little forest. At the back of the house, you can see our well, and I can still see part of the stable, which our Grandfather built from cement.

I imagine our Grandfather coming in from the garden, and our Grandmother sitting on the veranda waiting for him. Our mother stands cooking at the stove, and tears are running down her face thinking of her children in Africa. Our father sits at the window and reads a book, and from the veranda you can hear Fredilas laughter – a dream – a terrible dream. here is the reality, destruction and graves.

I will end now, as this letter has cost me alot of 'gesund'.

Devorah, Ruth and I send you our very best wishes, and lots of health.

Your Leyba

This letter was written by Leyb Shoys who was a director in Elta (Lithuanian Telegraphic Agency) in Vilna to his brother Isaac Strauss in Johannesburg. The letter describes the destruction of the Lithuanian Shtettle Gorzd.

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