Leyb Koniuchowsky collected 121 testimonies from Holocaust victims, which were made public in: The Lithuanian Slaughter of its Jews: The Testimonies of 121 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Lithuanian, recorded by Leyb Koniuchowsky, in Displaced Persons’ Camps (1946-48).
The Government of Lithuania has an entire government department dedicated to Holocaust fraud. Read the words of the eyewitnesses and decide for yourself if they are delusional or mendacious, or if the government of Lithuania is lying.
The slaughter of Jews in the Lithuanian town Jubarkas
The eyewitness testimony of Khane Goldman (nee Magidovits), born in Jurbarkas May 5, 1920. Her father’s name was Sholem Magidovitsh. Until the war she lived in Jurbarkas. At the outbreak of the war, on June 22, 1941 she was in Jurbarkas.
Jurbarkas is in Raseiniai County. At that time it was located ten kilometers from the German border. It was ten kilometers from Jurbarkas to Smalininken. The distance to Kaunas was about a hundred kilometers. The town lies on the right bank of the river Nieman. On the left bank there is the village of Shiaudyne. Until the outbreak of the war the town contained some 5,000 residents, among them about 2,000 Jews.
The majority of the Jewish population was occupied in trade and artisanry. Some of the Jews owned large boats.
Jurbarkas contained a Hebrew elementary school, a Yiddish elementary school (in which Yiddish was the language of instruction), a national bank, and a private bank owned by a Jew named Bernshteyn (see the eyewitness testimony of Mering-Bernshteyn about Jurbarkas – L.K.), a study house, a synagogue which had been built a century earlier, many smaller synagogues, a Jewish library and other cultural institutions.
A number of Jewish youth studied at the local Lithuanian gymnasium. The majority of the Jewish youth belonged to Zionist movements. A smaller number belonged to the Communist Party, which had been illegal until the Red Army entered Lithuania in the spring of 1940. Until the outbreak of the war, on June 22, 1941, relations between the Jews and the surrounding Lithuanian population were superficially correct.
Outbreak of the War; The Civilian Administration;
Torment and Oppression of Jews; The “Living Funeral”
On Sunday, June 22, 1941, at six in the morning, German troops were already marching through the streets of Jurbarkas. The residents didn’t even have time to evacuate the town. Khane Goldman, her father and three sisters escaped the town together with the German troops who were engaged in fighting, and hid in a cellar belonging to the Jewish farmer Grinberg, in back of the Jewish cemetery. German troops surrounded Grinberg’s cellar, drove the Jews out and separated the men from the women. After searching to see whether there were any Russians there, they sent the Jews back into town. For a few days in a row German troops marched through the town, robbing the Jews as much as their hearts desired. But they didn’t stay long in the town, and they marched quickly on, chasing after the retreating Red Army. On Sunday morning a number of young people, former members of the Communist Party, managed to escape town and evacuate into the Soviet Union. Among them was the brother of this witness, Hirshl Magidovits.
As soon as the Germans appeared in town, the local Lithuanians began to act against every class and sector among the Jewish population. Lithuanians appeared in the street wearing green armbands, and gave themselves the title “partisans.” The commandant of the town was a German military representative. During the very first days of the war the Lithuanian partisans established a civilian administration in town. They set up the town police, headed by the Lithuanian student Mykas.
His assistant was a man who had been a policeman during President Smetona’s rule, by the name of Kilikevitsius. The Lithuanian gun club, Shiauliai, who had been active in various underground activities during the Soviet period, immediately reorganized. The head of the gun club was the local Lithuanian Shukaitis, the former director of the “Pienine” dairy during Smetonas’ rule. The mayor was a German who had lived in town until the war. The German had been the director of a municipal kitchen during the Soviet period, and he was a devoted Soviet loyalist. His last name was Gefner.
Hundreds of Lithuanians from town and from the surrounding towns and villages volunteered for the partisans and police. Khane remembers the following Lithuanians: two brothers, both gymnasium students, named Vakseliai, the owner of a kiosk, the Lithuanian merchant Tselkis; Budvinskis, who had been a policeman under Smetonas, and others.
One week after the war broke out, Lithuanian partisans selected Jewish men and forced them to go the synagogue and study house. They forced the Jewish men to carry out of the synagogue the plank on which corpses are taken to be buried. Then they forced a young man from Jurbarkas, the wigmaker Yitskhok Kopelevitsh, to lie down on the plank with a Torah scroll in his arms. Several men bore the plank, on which Yitskhok Kopelevitsh lay with the Torah scroll. The rest of the Jewish men followed, guarded by armed Lithuanians. After marching down the main street, the “funeral” was led to the banks of the Nieman. All the participants in this “living funeral” were forced to enter the water.
The partisans forced the Jews to throw the “living corpse” and the Torah scroll deep into the river and drown them. Yitskhok Kopelevitsh swam out of the river. The murderers then forced the Jewish men to “drown” each other. The men had to pretend to “drown” each other – forcing each other’s heads under water. Khane’s younger brother Velfke, aged thirteen, was present at this execution. He had to “drown” a certain tall, healthy Jew named Tetke Levnzon. Levnzon “escaped” from little Velfke and made his way to the shore. In the evening, when Velfke returned to his home in town, he wept bitterly and told his father and sister about everything.
Mockery and Insults Against the Jewish Religion;
Bonfires Fueled with Torah Scrolls and Jewish Holy Items
On that same day the bandits forced all the Jewish men to bring their prayer shawls and holy books from home to the synagogue yard. Groups of bandits went through all the Jewish houses, tore down the mezuzahs with their bayonets, and forced the Jews to carry their prayer shawls and books to the designated spot. More than one Jew was beaten that day.
The Jews were forced to bring all of the Torah scrolls and other holy books out of the synagogue into the yard. The Jews had to unroll the Torah scrolls, and the murderers danced and jumped up and down on them. It was late in the evening, and the murderers let the Jewish men return home. Their moral depression at such religious mockery and insult threw all of the Jews in town, even the non-observant, into despair. The religious Jews shut themselves up in their houses that night, and each one of them wept and bore his complaints to God.
At six a.m. on the day after the “living funeral,” the Lithuanian armed murderers took all the Jewish men from town to continue tearing down the walls of the synagogue. Jewish coachmen were forced to transport the lumber from the demolished walls and deliver it to the poorer Lithuanian workers and peasants. The Torah scrolls, holy books and prayer shawls remained heaped together in the synagogue yard.
On the third day after the “living funeral,” a Sabbath (the second Sabbath after the outbreak of the war), the murderers forced the Jewish men to take the Torah scrolls, books and prayers shawls to a pasture on the banks of the Nieman, known as the “Zharde.” The Jews had to pile everything up into a heap and burn it. There were Lithuanians from town at this “performance.” They applauded and enjoyed themselves. At the same time, other Jews were forced to work diligently, tearing down the walls of the synagogue and study house.
While they were tearing down the slaughterhouse next to the synagogue, feathers from the slaughtered poultry were blown around by the wind. That Sabbath evening the partisans took all the women out of the houses and forced them to clean up the feathers, rubble and dirt in the streets. While this work was being done, the Lithuanian degenerates bullied the Jewish women.
The partisans forced Mrs Berzaner to get into a wheel barrow, and a twelve-year-old girl named Shimkhke Portnoy was forced to wheel her to the river (several hundred meters). The Lithuanian bandits murderously beat Mrs Berzaner. The woman spotted a German officer and ran up to him. She threw herself to her knees and begged him to shoot her. The officer declared that he couldn’t do that, because authority over the Jews had been placed in the hands of the Lithuanians.
After work that Sabbath, all of the Jewish women were lined up and taken to the Nieman to bathe. The murderers forced the Jewish women to bathe in their clothes. At the same time civilian residents of the town, Lithuanian men and women, gathered together and stood at the bank of the river, armed with buckets of stones, sticks and brooms. They threw stones at the Jewish women in the river, forcing them to submerge themselves in the water with their clothes on.
Germans stood by taking pictures. Khane Goldman was among the women in the river. After this “bath” the murderers let the women go home.
After work each day, the men were forced to “bathe” in the river- with their clothes on. Being permitted to “bathe” was a sort of payment, recompense to the Jewish men for the day of hard labor. The Jews were afraid of nothing so much as being forced to “bathe” in the river.
Over the course of four or five days the synagogue and study house were torn down, and the rubble cleared just as if nothing had ever stood there. The only remnant of the study house was the brick walls.
At 6:00 a.m. each morning every able-bodied man and woman had to come to the compound of the Jew Mote Levyash. The men were sent to do various tasks. Some of the women already knew exactly what their job would be each day. The rest of the women were taken to Mr. Levyash’s house. There the women stayed all day under the supervision of the Jew Fridman, who was responsible for seeing to it that the women didn’t leave the house. Whenever there was any sort of work to be done, as many women as were needed were taken away. The rest were locked up in the house until the evening, when all of the able-bodied women and men were allowed to go home.
During Smetona’s times, Fridman had been the owner of a guest house called “Versal.” He was also a former member of the Shiaulys gun club. It was said that before the war he had served in Smetona’s secret police. And clearly, he was well-acquainted with all of the high officials when the Germans arrived in town. The Jews received neither food nor pay in exchange for their labor.
The Shooting of 550 Jewish Men
On the third Thursday after the beginning of the war (July 10 or 11, 1941), the Jewish men came to work as they did every day. They all arrived punctually at the home of the Jew Mote Levyash. After roll call, the men went away to their work sites. Suddenly the Jewish men heard an announcement stating that they could all go home, because there would be no work that day. All of the men went home. Some of the women had gone to work. Some of them remained confined in Mr. Levyash’s home as they were every day. At noon, groups of armed Lithuanians appeared in the streets. They went from house to house, driving the Jewish men out into the street and lining them up in rows. Before they left the houses, the bandits announced that all of the men were to go to work, and anyone who possessed a spade or a shovel should bring it along. The men were taken away from town under heavy guard. Several Germans were present as the men were being taken from the houses.
It was impossible to find out that day where the men had been taken. In the evening the women returned from work and from Levyash’s house, but they.did not find the men. Khane and her two sisters, Zelde and Zise, returned home in the evening, and their father Sholem and brother Velvl were missing. The women did not know exactly where the men had been taken. The weeping of the women could be heard far from their homes, but they did not lose hope. The women did not want to let themselves think that their husbands and fathers had been shot, although they already suspected that was what had happened.
The next day the able-bodied women once again went to work. That day rumors circulated, saying that the men had been taken away to work.
The Lithuanians in town began asserting to the women that their men had been shot at the Jewish cemetery. But the Jewish women did not believe this. Several Lithuanians brought evidence from the cemetery – photographs and the like. One of the Lithuanians brought a photograph of Mrs Vilonsky, which had been in the pocket of her son-in-law Kusl Levin, who had been taken away with the men.
Mrs Dobe Lam went to the Jewish cemetery. Her husband and son-in-law were also among the men taken from town. Mrs Lam related that she had found no evidence whatsoever at the cemetery. People said that the grave had been carefully disguised with grass by the murderers.
Various contradictory rumors began to circulate. Several of the Lithuanians asserted that the men had been taken to work on the Aleksot Bridge in Kaunas. And others still insisted that the men had been shot. The unfortunate mothers and wives hoped that the men were still alive. They couldn’t even think about such sadistic murders.
The Lithuanian murderers themselves later began to boast that the Jewish men had been taken to the Jewish cemetery. There they had been forced to dig a pit. Then they were forced to strike each other on the head with shovels until they died. They forced fathers to kill their sons with shovels, and vice versa. But at that time, it was still unknown exactly what had happened at the pits.
That “bloody Thursday” the Lithuanian murderers, along with a few Germans, took a total of over five hundred men out of their homes. In Jurbarkas at the time the total was understood to be exactly 550 Jewish men. Among the Jewish men who were taken away were the popular Jewish doctors from Jurbarkas: Dr. Karlinsky, Dr. Gershovitsh (an optometrist from Ponevezh), and Dr. Raykhman. Also, there were the Jewish pharmacist Beregovsky, the town dentist Shimonov and the dentist Kopelov, the lawyer Segal, the town cantor, the slaughterer Artshik Salamovitz, the rabbinical judge, Mr. Levyash (a merchant), the father of this witness and her brother Velvl, the textile merchant Hirsh Purve and his brother-in-law Mendl Furman along with Mendl’s sixteen-year-old son Moyshe, Ruven Nayvidl (an iron merchant), Khayim Rudansky and his father-in-law Levenberg (owner of a steam ship), and Karbelnik (owner of boats).
Rumors circulated at the time that the 550 men had been seen dressed in the clothes of Red Army prisoners, doing various jobs around Raseiniai. The morning after the 550 men were taken away, men who had been hiding reported for work. Later, just like every other morning, the rest of the men and women had to report to roll call at the compound of the murdered Mr Levyash.
The Torture of “Rehearsal” and Processions
One Saturday after work had been completed, the Lithuanian bandits did not let the Jewish men and women go home. Instead they took them all to Mr. Levyash‘s courtyard. There it was announced to the Jews that the next morning, 8:00 a.m. Sunday, all the men and women who were not working had to appear for roll call.
Immediately after the “action” against the men, Khane’s mother Fayge-Mirl and Khane’s sister Yehudis, together with Yehudis‘ husband Hirshl Zelik and her two boys Gershon-Yudele (aged two and a half) and Tsodekl (aged one and a half) arrived in Jurbarkas from Kaunas. Khane and her mother decided not to report for roll call, which seemed very suspicious to them. No one could imagine why precisely the men and women who were unable to work were needed on a Sunday morning.
Fridman suggested to the policeman Budvinsky that instead of the elderly women, those younger women who would voluntarily appear for roll call should be taken. The policeman agreed.
On Sunday morning, all the young women appeared, along with all the men of every age. In the courtyard, the Lithuanian policemen lined up the men and the women separately. In rows of four, they took the Jews to the bank of the river Nieman (Zharde). While they went through the streets of the town, the murderers forced the Jews to sing. The men began to weep and say the prayer for the dead. The women could not sing along, and the police beat them and forced them to sing a song called “Around the Fire.” When they arrived at the meadow, the bandits arranged a “rehearsal.” The women had to dance with the men in a circle. The women convinced the Lithuanians to let them dance separately, and to let the men dance separately. The women danced in a circle, and the men danced around them in a second circle. After this successful “rehearsal” the Jews were lined up and herded onto the deep sand at the edge of the Nieman. From there the Jews were driven to Mr Levyash‘s compound and told that precisely at noon there would be a roll call, at which everyone had to be present. Everyone was allowed to go home.
During the “rehearsal,” the Lithuanian bandits told the Jews that they were getting them ready for a parade at noon. Precisely at noon the younger women and all of the men were present for roll call at the courtyard of the camp compound belonging to Mr Levyash. The men and women were lined up in rows of four.
Four men Alter Shtern, Notl Mendelovitsh, Velve Portnoy and one other were given a slab made out of boards. First the four men bearing the slab, and then all the men and women were led to the kiosk of the Lithuanian merchant Tselkis, where they were forced to carry out pictures of the Soviet leaders; Stalin, Lenin, Molotov and others. These were distributed among the Jewish women. From the kiosk, the four men bearing the slab carried out a bust of Stalin. All the women and men in line had to hold the pictures out in front of themselves, and march forward behind the slab carrying the bust of Stalin. While the “procession” marched through town, it was surrounded by peasants from the countryside as well as townspeople, who were just getting out of church at that time. In honor of Sunday, the Lithuanian murderers had prepared this show for the churchgoers. The “procession” was driven out onto the meadow. The slab, with four feet attached to it, was set down, and every man or woman had to place the picture he or she had been carrying under the slab. The women were forced to get into a circle around Stalin’s bust, and the men in a second circle around the women.
The four men were forced to set fire to the pictures under the slab. When the fire began to grow, the bandits commanded the women and men to begin to dance, and forced them to sing Soviet songs. When the fire settled down, they forced the Jews to throw stones at the bust of Stalin. Then the Jews were forced to kneel and kiss the Lithuanian ground, and swear loyalty to Lithuania and the Lithuanians. After they kneeled down, the Jews once again had to dance and sing.
The Lithuanians who had just gotten out of church stood nearby, dressed in their best clothes. A fire of joy and satisfaction flickered on their faces. There were also several Germans present; they photographed everything and even shook their shoulders. After the “performance” the Jews were once again lined up and taken back through town singing to the Levyashes’ compound. Then the Jews were released. They all went away “satisfied,” since no one had been beaten and they were all going home alive to their dear ones, to their old mothers whose places the young women had taken. Khane Goldman and her two sisters, Zelde and Zise, were also present the entire time, during the “rehearsal” and then during the “performance.”
To be continued…..