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How did I survive

By Leyzer Meltser

Translated from Russian by M. Porat z”l

Edited by Judy Montel

I, Meltser Dovid-Leyzer was born in Volozhin in 1923. Meltser Shimen Itskhok son of Zvi of Vishnevo was my father; Sore Sheyne nee Rabinovitsh was my mother.

I was studying in the Volozhin Hebrew Tarbut School and in the Polish Primary Povshekhna until 1939. From 1939 until 1941, during the Soviet rule, I completed my studies in the Russian School.

The Germans occupied Volozhin in June 1941. All the Jewish inhabitants were transferred into the Ghetto a month later. 200 Jews were gathered at the town's Sport Stadium and executed by shooting in October 1941. It was the first mass slaughter in Volozhin. The second massacre occurred near the ancient graveyard on May 10, 1942, where 2000 Jews were murdered. The last mass slaughter, the third one took place in the Volozhinka streambed in August 1942.

Our family; my parents, brother and sister and I were driven away from the ghetto by the Germans and their assistants; local Policemen. We were taken into the blacksmith building that was erected during the time of the Soviet rule. The building was located on the Dubinski Street (now Sovietskaya)

The Aktion took place during the second Pogrom, They put us in groups of eighty people each and transferred us group by group to the killing field.

The killings were conducted near the Jewish Graveyard The Jews were executed by shooting.

My father told me:

“Run, my son, perhaps you'll be the sole to survive of our family”.

I put myself on his shoulders, removed some tiles from the roof and ran away.

One other person was able to jump and run away after me, It was Ele Mlot. I spent some days in forest, than returned to the Volozhin Ghetto where I hid in a nook.

I found out that my parents, my sister and brother were executed on May 10, 1942.

I ran back into forest after the third slaughter, then I was able to transfer to the shtetl Krevo, where a ghetto still existed. From Krevo I went to Smorgon and from there they transferred us to Lithuania and imprisoned in the Zhensistoria concentration camp.

They brought a group of us into Vilnius in December 1942, where we were ordered to build a commercial rail station.

Once in the evening, returning from work, I ran away into a nearby forest. I wandered there for some days until I met with Russian Partisans. I joined the Bagration group of the Voroshilov Brigade. I was with the partisans until the liberation of Belarus and Lithuania. After liberation I joined the Red Army. On Victory Day I was in Magdenburgh, Germany.

I was released from the army and returned to Volozhin in December 1945 and went to work. I married Sofiya (Sonia) Milikovski, daughter of Leyzer Itskhok and Hana born Berman from Horodok.

Our marriage took place in Volozhin in 1947. Our daughter Hasia was born in 1950. She was ill and passed away at age 31 to our great sorrow in the year 1981.

Our son Shimon was born in Volozhin on 1954. We made Aliya to Israel, the entire family, my wife, my son Shimon, his wife Polina, his children Asia and Yakov and me where we now live.

Leyzer Melzer (right) with Zhurkevitsh* at the Volozhin Kehila memorial in the ancient graveyard in Volozhin 2001

*Zhurkevitsh told me during my visit in 1998, that as a small boy he witnessed the 1942 May 10th mass slaughter. “I was hidden here near the cemetery fence and looked at the bloody action. Our local youngsters were involved in this job more than the Germans”.


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