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2 – What Yente Alter witnessed:

(Courtesy of author)
(Courtesy of author)

Part 1 of Yente’s testimony was released here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/1-what-yente-alter-witnessed/

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.

THE SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE LITHUANIAN TOWN OF RIETAVAS

The Slaughter of All the Men at the Vieshvenai Camp

On the evening of Wednesday, July 16, 1941 a truck carrying armed partisans arrived at the compound. Among them were a few Germans. They drove all the men above the age of thirteen into the yard. One German entered the barn where Yente’s family was staying, and gave a speech to the women. He said “You won’t be seeing your husbands anymore. Nothing will be done to women and children. I’m taking on the whole job with pleasure. Today the men will have a wedding with music.”

All of the men were driven away from the compound on foot, to a nearby woods. A short time later shooting was heard. It continued for almost an entire night. The women and children in the barns were strictly forbidden to weep or to talk among themselves. Partisans stood in the barns and saw to this. No one slept that night. The women listened in helpless heartbreak as their near and dear ones were shot.

On Thursday, July 17, 1941, the killers came back looking for men who had hidden in the barns. They found a few young men who had been in hiding, who were able to pass as children. They discovered a few more children hiding in the various barns, and took them off to the woods, where they were shot.

That Wednesday Yente lost her father Shmuel, and a brother named Ben-Tsion, aged 15. Yente relates that Wednesday evening heaps of possessions of the men who had been shot lay in the yard near the barns. Yente and other women saw them through the planks of the barn.

All the next day, Thursday, Yente still saw the possessions lying in heaps; passports and photographs were scattered around the yard. None of the cries of the men who were about to be shot were heard in the barns. The spot where the men were shot is not far from the compound, about 300 or 400 meters in all.

That same Thursday evening, all the women and children were taken from the barns in trucks to the Geruliai compound. Before they were led out of the barns, peasants from nearby villages received permission from the partisans to take women to work for them. Some fifty women rode away to stay with peasants that day.

In the Geruliai Compound-Camp

When they arrived at Geruliai they found the women from Telzh. The latter related that the men of Telzh had been shot that same week, Monday the 14th and Tuesday the 15th of July, 1941. The women moved into barns. There was no fence around the compound. Partisans kept watch. The guard’s command post had been set up in a building in the compound.

The conditions at Geruliai were no better than at Vieshvenai. the women lived in five or six barns. The women did receive a small food ration, however, it was not enough to still their hunger. It was terribly filthy there. The women were not taken to work too often.

Some two hundred women were taken to do agricultural work in surrounding compounds, or for individual peasants. The women eagerly went to work in the village, because they were better fed in the villages, and also had a slight chance of helping their families in the Geruliai camp. An epidemic broke out among the children in Geruliai at that time. Many children died at that time. A committee of women was organized. They tried to care for the women’s needs, and helped a great deal in arranging nutrition in the camp.

Exactly one week after the women and children were taken from the Vieshvenai camp to Geruliai, Jewish women and children were brought from a town called Laukuva. Laukuva is in Tawrik County, some thirty kilometers from Telzh. The men from the town of Laukuva had been taken to a camp in Heidekrug. (For more details, see the testimony about the Heidekrug camp – LK)

For roughly six weeks the women and children stayed at the Geruliai camp. During that time they suffered assorted chicaneries at the hands of the partisans. Sometimes the partisans would enter the barns at night with flashlights looking for women. There were many cases of women who had been raped. Various rumors constantly circulated in the camp, one more tragic than the last. It was often said that graves were already being dug, and the women and children would be shot.

Among the women were a few clandestine men, dressed up as women.

Women and Children Shot at Geruliai

Everyone knew by now that the men from all the nearby towns and from Telzh had been shot. On Friday, August 29, 1941 (the sixth day of the Jewish month of Elul), a rumor circulated in the camp that all the Jews from the camp would be taken to a ghetto in Telzh on Sunday.

On Saturday, August 30, 1941 (the seventh of Elul), the camp committee announced that the commandant of the camp had demanded a “contribution” of 30,000 roubles from the women. The “contribution” had to be collected before 5:00.

The women on the committee went through all the barns, and collected the required sum. Esther Bloch collected the money in the barn where Yente and her family were staying. The money which was collected was handed to the camp commandant on time. After five o’clock that same Saturday, all of the Jews, women, children, old and sick, were driven out of the barns and lined up in rows near the camp command post.

One of the partisan leaders (Jodeikis) gave a speech to the women. He explained that the younger women would be taken to the Telzh ghetto on foot. The women with small children, the sick and the elderly would be brought into the Telzh ghetto in wagons a little later. Not all of the women believed the murderer’s words. They were particularly suspicious because the murderer promised them that a special kindergarten would be arranged in the ghetto. After his speech he let everyone go back into the barns to pack their things.

Peasants from town and from nearby villages arrived in the yard with wagons. Everyone took their bundles out to the yard near the barns and waited.

The partisans then ordered everyone to line up in rows near the command post. The murderers commanded all the women up to the age of thirty to step out of line, and lined them up separately. The rest of the women and children were ordered to kneel immediately. At that moment no one knew what was about to happen, or which group of women’s lives were in danger. The younger among the women under thirty, a total of 500, were chosen. These 500 women were taken to the TeIzh ghetto on foot by partisans.

In order to confuse and terrify the women, the partisans constantly shot into the air. After the five hundred women had been taken from Geruliai, shots were heard in the camp. Later the women in the ghetto found out that all of the women and children in the Geruliai camp had been shot and buried in pits near the camp command post. While the women were in Geruliai, a new cemetery was created for children who had died in epidemics. Pits were already prepared near the new children’s cemetery. But nobody had known about that before in the camp.

That day (the seventh day of Elul), on the morning of Saturday, August 30, 1941, the partisans shot all the women and children in the camp at Geruliai. Yente lost her mother Beyle and four brothers, Yerakhmiel-Vulf, Khatse-Mikhke, Itsik-Hilel and Ayzikl, ranging in age from five to fourteen.

In the Telzh Ghetto

The five hundred women managed with difficulty to settle into an area that was assigned to them. The huts were low, old and small. The lanes were constantly filled with mud. The crowding was terrible. It was never possible to clean out the dwellings on account of the mud. Everyone slept on the ground, without bedding. There was so little food that it was impossible ever to eat one’s fill. There was no wood to heat the houses. In order to cook, the women used to tear up the wooden fences.

A barbed wire fence surrounded the area, and partisans kept constant watch. The partisans allowed each woman to go out into the market to buy something to eat once per week.

The women from Telzh had things which they had brought from Geruliai. They traded these things with the peasants for food. The situation of the women who had been brought from surrounding towns was tragic. They had neither possessions nor money left. Yente was 17 years old at that time. She clung tight to other women from Rietavas.

While the Jewish women were still in Geruliai, peasants from the villages had the right to take women to work. While the slaughter of the women was being readied, the commandant of the Geruliai camp had ordered all the women to be brought from the villages. The partisans had recorded the addresses where the women were working, before the women were released to the peasants.

The partisan who received the order to announce to the peasants that on that Friday, August 29, 1941 (the sixth day of Elul), they had to bring in the women, intentionally burned the list. Only a few women were brought to Geruliai on Saturday, August 30, 1941 (the seventh day of Elul). The rest continued working for the peasants.

The partisan who burned the list and saved dozens of women from death had a Jewish wife by the name of Fridman. Yente does not remember the partisan’s last name. After the 500 women were brought into the ghetto, an order was issued that all converts had to leave Telzh and enter the Telzh ghetto. A similar order was issued throughout Telzh county.

Elderly converts from Telzh and from the surrounding towns came to the ghetto then. Among them were elderly men who left families behind at home. Among the younger women were three sisters named Fridman. All three had Lithuanian husbands. One of the three was the partisan from Telzh who had burned the list of names of women, who had been sent from Geruliai to work for peasants.

Conditions in the ghetto grew worse from day to day. Women sought every means possible to get away from the ghetto and work for peasants in the countryside. For six weeks ten women worked in various villages digging potatoes for peasants. The women received better food for working. The women who were working did their best to be useful and to please the peasants. All ten women were young girls from Rietavas. Yente Gershovitz was one of them.

When the potato harvest was over, the ten girls came back to the ghetto. They brought back food from the peasants’ places. Yente was in the ghetto for exactly a week. It was already cold outside; the mud in the ghetto was deep. The conditions were dreadful.

A peasant from a town called Nevarenai took Yente to do agricultural and domestic work. At first the peasant treated her well. Later the mistress of the house demanded too much work and gave Yente too little to eat. Then Yente went to a second peasant, one kilometer from town.

Three girls who had been taken from the Telzh ghetto worked for the priest in that town. All three were also from Rietavas. The three girls had in fact let the peasant know about Yente. The peasant had no children, and took Yente as a worker.

When she had been with him a few days, the peasant rode off to sell produce at the market in Telzh. Yente wanted very much to know what was happening in the ghetto, and rode with the peasant. When they arrived in Telzh, Yente immediately went to the ghetto to see how her acquaintances were doing.

Yente discovered a mood of dreadful panic in the ghetto. All of the women were saying that preparations were being made for the slaughter of the women in the ghetto. An order had already been issued that all the peasants must bring the Jewish women from the villages “for health examinations.” The partisans promised meanwhile that immediately after New Year’s the women would be able to return to the villages.

None of the women believed the assurances of the partisans. The partisans threatened to punish peasants who did not bring the women in on time. Most of the women were brought to the ghetto by the peasants.

There were many cases of peasants bringing women to Telzh by force, bound hand and feet.

One hundred and twenty women from the ghetto were working in the Degatziu compound. Some of them returned to the ghetto. Fifty or sixty women remained in the compound. The economic director of the compound was a very good man, and he sympathized with the Jewish women. His name was Levgaudas.

Yente and her girlfriend Peshe Kerl, from Rietavas, understood that the lives of the women in the ghetto were in danger, and decided to escape. Many women escaped through the ghetto fence at that point. Yente arrived in the ghetto on December 21, 1941. It was a Saturday. On Sunday, December 22 Yente and her girlfriend left the ghetto. That same day they arrived in Degaitziu. All the fifty women were still there. They knew everything that was going on in the ghetto, and could not decide what to do.

On Monday morning Levgaudas made a special trip into Telzh to find out what was happening with the Jewish women in the ghetto. When he came back, his eyes were full of tears. He related that he had been able to ascertain that the women in the ghetto were to be shot, and that all the peasants were to bring the Jewish women to the ghetto. He advised all of the women in the compound to escape and hide. He explained that he was not afraid, and would know how to answer to the partisans for his actions.

All the women escaped from the compound in groups, and hid in the nearby forest for the time being. The women were in the forest for exactly two full days. It was already winter; the famous cold winter of 1941. There was deep snow on the ground, and it was already quite cold. The young girls sat in the brush huddled together, frozen, hungry. They were surrounded by an alien world, a murderous world, which sought to kill the remnant of the young women who had escaped from the Telzh ghetto.

Partisans set off in search of Jews who had escaped and survived, as if they were going hunting. Every glance cast by a stranger meant death to the women in hiding.

After their escape from the Degaitziu compound into the forest, the women knew that all the women in the Telzh ghetto had been taken to the Rainiai forest and shot together with the children. Christians told the women in the forest about this. All the women in the Telzh ghetto were shot on Monday, December 23rd and Tuesday, December 24th, 1941. Of the five hundred women in the Telzh ghetto, some four hundred were shot then.

How Did Yente Alter (Gershovitz) Survive?

Yente and Peshe went away to a spot near the Latvian border, three kilometers from the town of Lackauve, eleven kilometers from the town of Pikeliai, and not far from Mazheikiai. Their goal was to escape from the bloody soil of Lithuania and reach Latvia. On the way they were assured that all of the Jews in Latvia were alive, and they would be able to survive more easily there. Peasants suggested this idea to the two girls.

For two full days the two girlfriends wandered across various villages, fields and forests, until they arrived at the home of a peasant named Petras Mickus in the village of Judeikiu. The two girls stopped at the peasant’s home to warm themselves, get something to eat and find out how they should proceed.

The peasant talked the two girls out of going into Latvia. He insisted that all of the Jews in Latvia had been slaughtered as well, and the only place there was a ghetto was in Libave. He advised them to stay where they were and find protection from village peasants. He decided to keep the two girls for several days. The two girls stayed with the good peasant for two weeks.

The village of Judeikiu is not far from Mazheikiai, in the Zhydikiai district. There were two other brothers named Mickus in the same village. All three brothers hid the two girls from New Year 1942 until Passover. The two girls spent a certain amount of time with each of the brothers, frequently shifting places so that none of the surrounding peasants would have a chance to grow suspicious. But they spent most of the time with the first brother, Petras Mickus. They spent most of the time in the house, because it was extremely cold in the barn.

While they were in hiding, the girls tried to be helpful to their rescuers. They knitted socks, plucked feathers, patched old clothes, peeled potatoes, and so forth. Of course, they also suffered a certain amount of hunger.

By Passover 1942 the three brothers Mickus no longer wanted to keep the two women. Fourteen kilometers from the village of Judeikiu and twenty kilometers from Mazheikiai, in a village near the Lusu forest, a peasant named Andrijauskos took the two girls into his home. The peasant was a close relative of the brothers Mickus. The situation of the two girls was good at this peasant’s home.

The peasant set up a hiding place for the girls. He did not feed them badly. The two girls were there until after Shevuoth of 1942, and then they returned to Petras Mickus. The two girls wandered from one peasant to another. All that time the two girls received news of the Shavl ghetto. When they had been with Petras Mickus for six weeks, the two once again returned to the peasant Andrijauskos. The peasant’s wife no longer wanted to keep the girls, and sought a way to rid herself of them.

During the day the girls hid in the forest, near the peasant’s farm. They received very little food. Nothing was brought to them during the day. At night the girls came to the farm and lay in the barn to sleep. The peasant woman or her husband brought them supper in the barn. They were there for two or three weeks.

While they were with Andrijauskas the girls found out that two Jewish girls who had escaped from Telzh had been caught in a nearby town. On account of this Andrijauskos and his family became frightened, and they decided not to keep Yente and her girlfriend any longer.

In a nearby village lived a partisan who very often came to visit the peasant Andrijauskos. The partisan was in love with the peasant’s wife.

One night in July 1942, when the two girls came from the forest, the peasant woman refused to let them into the barn for the first time ever, instead politely inviting them into the house for dinner. While they sat eating supper at the table, a partisan suddenly came in. It was the peasant woman’s lover. The partisan searched the two girls for weapons, and did them no harm. It was clear that the peasant woman had told her lover about the Jewish girls, and asked him to take them to the Shavl ghetto. The girls were terrified of the ghetto, and begged not to be taken there. The partisan promised to take them away to do agricultural work in a compound.

At 2:00 a.m. the partisan lead the girls out of the house and took them in the direction of Mazheikiai. When they reached the Ruzgu compound near Mazheikiai, he took them into the headquarters of the partisans of Mazheikiai County. The leader of the partisans, an infamous Jew murderer, received the two girls politely, and wrote a report that didn’t reflect badly on the girls.

The girls were brought from the compound into the prison at Mazheikiai and held there for two full days. From Mazheikiai they were brought to the Viekshniai prison. They spent one night there. While they were in prison they were visited by a peasant woman who told them that a Jewish girl from Reitavas who had escaped from the Telzh ghetto had hidden with her. They girl stayed at the peasant woman’s home until Passover, 1942. A certain “Communist” had found out about this and told the authorities. The girl had been shot before Passover. The girl’s name was Hadasa Mogilevsky, aged 20. The peasant woman was acquainted with the prison guard and came to visit the two Jewish girls who had been arrested.

From Viekshniai the two girls were brought to the town of Akmene  to Papile and then to Shavl prison. The two girls spent two days in the Shavl prison. The council of elders in Shavl found out about them. Before the girls were let out of prison, they were taken to the German security police, given five lashes, and then released into the Shavl ghetto.

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: https://www.grantgochin.com/
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