Grant Arthur Gochin

1 – What Yente Alter witnessed:

(Courtesy of author)
(Courtesy of author)

Eighty percent (80%) of Jews in Lithuania had been murdered (almost entirely by Lithuanians not Nazis) prior to the formulation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish People” by the Nazis.

Lithuania has an entire government department dedicated to falsifying the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania, exonerating Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrators, and shifting all blame elsewhere. Those opposing Lithuanian government fraud are identified as “Russian agents” and are subjected to Soviet style, government intimidation.

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).

Lithuania customarily identifies testimony inconvenient to them as “unreliable” and dismisses it from consideration. Truly “unreliable” data is manufactured to falsify the historical record.

Following is what Yente Alter testified. Lithuania has not punished a single Holocaust perpetrator. Instead, they identify many of them as their national heroes.


Testimony of:

Yente Alter (nee Gershovitz), born December 24, 1924 in the town of Upinas. Her father’s name was Shmuel Gershovitz, her mother’s name was Beyle, Education: primary school. Since 1934 she had lived in Rietevas, until the outbreak of the war.

The Jewish Population; Their Economic and Cultural Life

Rietavas is in Telzh County, forty kilometers from Telzh. The Jura River flows through the town. Until the outbreak of the war some 200 Jewish families lived in Rietavas. Most of the Jews in town were occupied in commerce and artisanry. A few Jewish families were occupied in agriculture. The economic situation, on the average, was not bad.

The larger enterprises and businessmen in town were the following:

  1. A mill and sawmill belonging to the Jewish businessman Borukh Rosenheym and his partner.
  2. A small leather factory belonging to the Jewish businessman Dovid Fridman. He also had a leather store.

Rietavas contained a Hebrew elementary school, headed by the teacher Perl Levinson from Telzh; a Hebrew-Yiddish library; and a heder. There was a large old synagogue and a study house. Some of the young people studied in the Telzh yeshiva and in the Hebrew gymnasium, Yavne. The majority of the Jewish youth were organized in the Zionist movement.

The relations between the Lithuanian population and the Jews in town were satisfactory. In 1939 it happened more than once that antisemitic groups spread leaflets calling for people not to buy from Jews, to avoid their company and so forth. The leaflets were spread by members of the “Verslas” society. The antisemitic agitation had its effect. The main leader of the antisemitic agitation in Rietavas was the veterinary doctor of the town. After the Red Army arrived in Rietavas in the summer of 1940, the antisemites superficially stopped their poisonous agitation against Jews.

In Rietevas there were large barracks where Red Army soldiers were quartered. On Saturday, a day before the war broke out; the army left the town on maneuvers. The Jews in town sensed that something was going to happen in the immediate future. The Red Army soldiers confidentially told their Jewish acquaintances that a war was bound to break out soon. Rietavas lies not far from where the German border was at that time.

The Outbreak of War between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union

On Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, people found out that there was war between Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union. The commanders of the Red Army hurriedly evacuated their families. Some of the Jewish and Lithuanian Communists and Communist Youth left with them.

Wounded Red Army soldiers immediately began to be brought to Rietavas from Gargzhdai. The Jews escaped from town into the villages, bringing along some of their better possessions. Some ten young people evacuated to the Soviet Union. The majority of the Jews in town did not believe there would be a quick advance by the German army, and decided to wait in the villages until the Red Army drove the Germans from Lithuania, when they would return to town.

While escaping from Rietavas to the villages, the civilian population was strafed by the German army. Several Jews were killed by the bombardments. Among them Yente remembers:

  1. Dovid London, in his thirties, a merchant.
  2. Efroyim Ripkin, about 35, a merchant.
  3. Ben-Tsion Milshteyn, a former yeshiva student.

At 12:00 on Monday, June 23, 1941, the Jews in the villages saw the town of Rietavas in flame on all sides. On that day, after a great battle including street fighting, the Germans entered the town.

On Tuesday, June 24, 1941 an order was given for all the Jews to leave the villages and return to town. Lithuanians were strictly forbidden to hide Jews. The peasants in the villages simply drove the Jews off of their farms. On Tuesday the Jews returned to town. A few Jews still remained in the countryside. Lithuanian partisans went from village to village forcing the Jews to ride back into town, so that by Wednesday, June 25, 1941, there were virtually no Jews left in the villages. Some of the Lithuanians, who had fought with weapons, helping the German army against the Red Army, gave themselves the name of “Partisans.” The entire town was burned down. Only a few houses near the edge of town still stood. All of the Jews settled into the few remaining houses. The civilian power in town lay in the hands of partisans.

Torture, Humiliation, Looting and Murder of the Jewish Population

On Wednesday, June 25, 1941 the leader of the partisans announced to the Jews from town who had returned, that whoever wanted to could move and live in the countryside. He added that everyone would only have to come to town to work each day. The Jews happily packed up their things and rode to the country. But they were turned back to town by Germans. All the Jews were gathered into a barn belonging to a Lithuanian farmer named Steponkas.

As soon as all the Jews from town and those who had been brought from the villages were taken to the compound, the Germans and partisans lined up all the Jews, men, women and children, in rows. They themselves lined up in a row facing the terrified Jews, aiming their rifles, as if they were getting ready to shoot the Jews on the spot.

The panic among the Jews was great. Several of them began saying Psalms and final confession.

They took men out of the row, beat them and drove them around the yard with pieces of wood they had torn from the fence. The men had to undress until they were half-naked, and the partisans and Germans poured cold water on them. This went on for several hours.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 24, 1941 all the Jews slept in the barn on the bare earth. The barn was full of cattle dung. Everyone lay down to sleep on this refuse.

All day long on Thursday, June 26, 1941 the men continued to be tormented in various murderous ways. The town rabbi Shmuel Fundler and Shmuel Gershovitz had half their beards shaved off by the Germans, who chased them around the yard together with the rest of the men. The torture of the men became a daily program for the German murderers and their loyal assistants, the Lithuanian partisans.

The men not only had to run around the yard for hours. They were forced to run, fall down, and get back up, and also to sing religious and Soviet songs. They were beaten with boards, beams, pieces of wood, and stones. This continued for exactly a week, until the middle of July 1941. From there all the Jews were driven to a second place, in a house belonging to the Lithuanian Rosozovsky. The crowding was terrible. Hunger tormented everyone. The Lithuanian partisans stood watch around the house, making sure that the Jews did not leave. No one was allowed in to see the Jews. The Jews in the house were fed spoiled bread which the Red Army had left behind.

The men and women who were able-bodied were taken every day to do various tasks. The main job was clearing the ruins away from the streets and cleaning Lithuanians’ outhouses. Lithuanian townspeople asked the partisans to bring Jewish women to their houses to wash laundry and floors. Partisans stood on guard while the work was done.

One night one of the brothers Remeikis, who were partisans, came to the house and took away four Jews: 1) the butcher, Moyshe Katsj 2) the wigmaker Heshl Garber’ 3) Nokhke Shmole and 4) Felix Radiskansky. The Lithuanian murderers took all four away nearby the Lithuanian cemetery and shot them.

It was said then that the murderer, who was also a butcher, had a grudge against these four Jews. A Lithuanian peasant woman from town, a servant of Nokhke Shmolkes, told about their death the next day.

There were looting’s virtually every day. Any Lithuanian who wanted to, looted openly and freely. During the work the partisans tormented, bullied and mocked the Jews and their religion. They had a weakness for teasing, mocking and tormenting religious Jews. Once at work in the courtyard and park of the Polish Count Oginsky, Rabbi Shmuel Fundler was forced to get into harness instead of a horse. The rabbi could not withstand this, and suffered a heart attack. He lay dead on the spot. This was July 2 or 3 1941.

Nor were the Jews left in peace at night. The partisans came into the house very often and took Jews out to clean outhouses in the middle of the night. They would also simply wake and terrify the hungry women, men and children. The Jews were kept in the house for about a week.

On Wednesday of the third week of the war the partisans ordered the Jews to prepare to move to Telzh. The elderly and sick were placed into wagons. The younger and stronger were forced to go on foot. The Jews placed the last of their possessions in the wagons. Before they left the house the partisans ordered the Jews to surrender their money, gold, silver and other valuables. They threatened to shoot anyone who tried to hide anything. All the Jews surrendered virtually everything which still remained after the various looting’s.

On the way the partisans beat and drove the Jews, who were already thin and exhausted. At every place along the way where the grave of a fallen German was found, the partisans forced the Jews to stop and kneel in front of the grave.

Yente adds that she suspects that the Lithuanian partisans would have done away with them along the way through various tortures, were it not for the several German guards, who in many cases behaved better toward the unfortunate Jews than did the Lithuanian partisans.

The Jews walked for two days. They walked at night as well. The way took a long time because it was terribly hot, and many of the women did not want to put their small children into the wagons; the children walked as well. The Jews arrived in Telzh during the night on Thursday, and slept outside, in a side street. The Germans did not return.

In the Vieshvenai Compound

On Friday of the third week of the war the partisans from Telzh arrived with the Jews from Rietavas at the Rainiai compound. Jews from Telzh had been herded together in that compound. In the Rainai compound the Jews from Rietavas were held a few hours, and then taken away to the Vieshvenai compound, four or five kilometers from the Rainiai compound. In Vieshvenai Jewish men, women and children from the following towns in Telzh County were herded together:

  1.  Varniai
  2. Tverai
  3. Nevarenai
  4. Zarenai

Partisans stood on guard around the Vieshvenai compound. All of the Jews who had been herded together were forced into barns. The Jews were forbidden to leave the compound and go to peasants in the nearby villages. The Jews from the towns listed above were packed into five barns. The Jews “arranged themselves” on the ground, and slept on the bare earth. The small children wept and asked their weeping mothers for food. The noise and confusion was always great. The Jews in the barns went hungry for several days and nights. Hungry and desperate, people lay down to sleep at night, with no hope for a better tomorrow.

It was very dirty. Most of the Jews no longer had any clothes to change into. The lice were unbearable. The lice tormented the barely living Jews in the barns, consuming their last bit of strength.

The Jews in the Vieshvenai compound had a committee. The committee attempted to ease the sea of suffering and need experienced by the Jews. They also arranged the work details which went to Telzh. In all, the partisans took a few dozen young men to work.

Once, on the third day after the Jews from Rietavas were brought to the Vieshvenai compound, Monday of the third week of the war, the partisans took ten men and five women away from Vieshvenai to work in Telzh. Yente voluntarily went to work, hoping to get something to eat in the city for her hungry family. The Jews were marched off on foot some seven or eight kilometers to work.

When they had been brought to Telzh, the group of men and women were forced to remove weeds, including some with thorns, from a potato field. The partisans would not let them rest; they constantly drove the Jews to work faster. They worked until four o’clock, when a breathless partisan arrived and quietly passed a secret message to those who were supervising the work. Immediately work was stopped, and the Jews were hurriedly taken back to the Vieshvenai compound.

As they were passing the Rainiai compound, the Jews heard shooting coming from the nearby forest. They paid no attention to the shooting. When they had gone further past the Rainiai compound, a truck emerged from the forest. On it were armed partisans, who were drunk and happy.

They all pointed their rifles at the Jews and broke out laughing. The truck carrying the partisans drove off in the direction of the Vieshvenai compound. The troops leading the Jews obviously knew quite well what the partisans on the truck had accomplished at the Rainiai forest. One of them asked the other: “You understand?” The second answered: “Yes, I understand!” Yet the Jews still did not understand what it was that the guards were referring to.

Yente’s Older Brother Shot;

The Demon’s Dance at the Vieshvenai Camp

When they had been returned to the Vieshvenai compound, Yente and the rest of the Jews did not understand why there were no Jews to be seen at the compound. Nor were there any children. Dead stillness reigned in the barns. The group of Jews who had been brought back were driven into the barns. Yentes brother Yerakhmiel-Vulf, then thirteen years old, greeted her with the terrible news that their oldest brother Yakov-Ber had been shot. Their parents lay deep in thought and sorrow. A heavy, leaden deathly stillness covered their faces. Yente realized that her parents had been dreadfully affected by the tragic fate of her brother. All the Jews lay as if dazed by the terrible hours they had just lived through.

All of the men had been murderously beaten. Yente found out that while she and her group had been working in Telzh, all of the men had been driven out of the barns. They had all been herded into the compound, forced to run, fall and get back up again. All of the fences around the yard had been broken up. The Lithuanian scoundrels had beaten the men with boards, pickets and poles on their heads, sides and wherever the blows happened to land. The partisans forced the men to dance and sing, promising the Jews: “This is the wedding without music. A few days from now will come the wedding with music.”

The men called the inquisition “the Devil’s Dance.” It was carried out by the partisans who had slaughtered the Jews of Telzh at the Rainiai compound a few hours earlier. The Jews who returned on foot had actually seen them driving away from the Rainiai forest in a truck, in the direction of the Vieshvenai compound. While Yente was on the way from the Rainiai compound to Vieshvenai, her brother Yakov-Ber was shot while the “Devil’s Dance” was going on.

While the men were driven into the yard and being beaten, they trampled each other in order to avoid blows. The doctor from the town of Tver, whose last name was Traub, and the Jew from Telzh Itzikson, lay dead in the courtyard from the blows. One of them had suffered a heart attack. It is hard to imagine the confusion and panic among the deathly terrified men. While he ran, Yente’s father Shmuel had seen his son Yakov-Ber lying on the ground. He thought that he had fainted and fallen. As he ran past he shouted to his son: “Stand up my child, they’ll murder you!” Yakov-Ber answered in a weak voice: “I cannot get up any more, I’m done for.” It turned out that for no reason at all one of the partisans had indicated that Yankev-Ber was a Communist. He had been shot in the head. An elderly Jew brought Yakov Ber’s cap into the barn, soaked in blood.

The “Devil’s Dance” took place Monday, July 14, 1941, during the fourth week of the war.

To be continued…………….

About the Author
Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo. He is the Emeritus Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations, and Emeritus Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty five years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. He is Chief of the Village of Babade in Togo, an honor granted for his philanthropic work. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Personal site:
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