Part 1 of testimony by Malke Gilis was released here:
Alongside her testimony was that of Khane Pelts. This was posted as Part 2: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/what-khane-pelts-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 onto Germans. 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 Khane Pelts and Malke Gilis testified. Lithuania has not punished a single Holocaust perpetrator. Instead, they identify many of them as their national heroes. US President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers.” Bear that in mind as you read the victims words…….
Following is the conclusion of what Khane Pelts and Malke Gilis testified.
Murdered After the Slaughter of the Women and Children
As Malke Gilis relates, many women escaped to peasants in the villages. The peasants kept them for a certain time, and then they themselves brought police who arrested the escaped women. There were dozens of such cases. There was no way to save oneself, no one to turn to. This was at the beginning of the war, when the peasants were certain of a German victory and couldn’t keep themselves away from the Jews’ “treasures,” which they inherited from the dead Jews.
After Christmas 1941, there were 75 women in the Telzh prison who had been captured in the villages and forests. They too were taken to the Rainiai forest and shot. No Germans were seen during the slaughter. Everything was carried out by Lithuanians from Telzh and the surrounding area. Whose command it was to shoot the women of Telzh, Malke does not know.
- In the winter of 1941 three young girls (aged 12, 13 and 14) were found leaning against each other, frozen, around a tree.
- Miss Dr Shapira was found buried thirty centimetres underground. It was said that she had been murdered by a peasant with whom she was hiding. This was in the summer of 1942. Who murdered her, the name of the peasant and the village; Malke does not remember.
- Esther Bloch, Gite Bloch, and Eydele Bloch (aged 16) made their way out of the ghetto and escaped to the peasant Kelbshys. They were discovered there, and all were shot in the Rainiai forest. It is not known who betrayed them. This was in the year 1942.
- Mery Shilomovitz, who had escaped from the pit at Geruliai while the women and children were shot, made her way out of the ghetto. She spent some time with a peasant woman in a village. There she was caught and shot. It is not known who betrayed her and who killed her.
- Five women who had managed to escape the ghetto lay hidden in a village with a church, six or seven kilometers, from Telzh. Among the five were the sisters Bine Borukhovitz, Feyge and Brayne Libovitz. Malke does not know the first or last names of the other two. They hid with a Russian for two years. All five died. Who betrayed them and how they died, Malke Gilis does not know.
- Ruta Gurvitz, a twenty year old student, had married a Jewish engineer in the year 1940. Her husband was one of the first men shot. While she was in the Telzh ghetto she became acquainted with a Lithuanian from Telzh and married him. The two of them left Telzh. She bore a child and lived in a small town with her Lithuanian husband. A day before the Russian army arrived in Telzh she was recognized as a Jewish woman. Her husband shot her with his own hand, and then he shot himself.
- In the summer of 1942 two women came to the peasant Juosas Baltmishkis. They were two sisters named Khaye Tugam and Mashe Libovitz. Mashe’s husband had died with the rest of the men at Rainiai. There was a third sister named Libe together with these two. Libe was married. They escaped the ghetto together. All three sisters hid with Russians, all three with different peasants. Once they were spotted and betrayed. Two wagons carrying Lithuanian police came, and they found Libe at the home of a Russian. They took Libe into the yard and shot her on the spot. The second sister, Mashe, saw the murderers coming from a distance. She managed to hide under a porch. The murderers did not find her. The third sister Khaye did not manage to hide, and climbed under a bed. The Russian peasant threw a sack over her. The murderers searched everywhere. They did not find her. When the murderers had left the village, the Russians no longer wanted to keep the two sisters. Khaye and Mashe came to the peasant with whom Sheva and Malke Gilis were hiding. The two women had a few possessions, and gave them to the peasant Juosas Baltmishkis.
The Survivors: How Malke Gilis Survived
Altogether, 64 women escaped the ghetto and survived. Dr Dovid Kaplan and Dr Blat, together with his family, also managed to hide and survived. Before the Telzh ghetto was liquidated, there were 500 women who had been brought from Geruliai and 220 from the countryside. The 220 women had not been in the ghetto. They had worked for peasants, who had taken them from the Geruliai camp.
On the morning of Sunday, December 22, 1941, no one was allowed to leave the ghetto. Malke Gilis had a pass from the German commandant to go into the city to work. She showed it to the murderers, and promised to be back in the ghetto at 12 o’clock. Fortunately the murderers allowed Malke out of the ghetto, and she did not return there. The Lithuanian girl Stase Baltmishkyte hid Malke in her home. Eight more women came running to Malke from the ghetto; they too hid with the Lithuanian woman. All eight lay hidden under the beds and in an armchair. This was Sunday evening. When the police came looking for Malke, the young Lithuanian woman explained to the police that Malke had gone to the ghetto in the morning and hadn’t returned. The police believed her, and they did not look around.
The women escaped further in various directions. Malke Gilis escaped Telzh, and mixed among the peasants who were coming from church. On Sunday evening it was quite dark and rainy. It was the Sunday before Christmas. Malke left the city. On the way to a village she met up with Sheva Bloch, who had run away from the ghetto the same night. On the way the two women encountered wagons which were bringing Jewish women from the countryside into the ghetto. The women in the wagons moaned and wept. The two women ran further. Then they saw people with flashlights. The women understood that these were police, and hid.
At that moment women who had escaped from the ghetto arrived. The police arrested the women. Malke and Sheva Bloch snuck into a forest. It was dark as the grave that night. The women wandered aimlessly, through mud and puddles. It was bitterly cold by then. Half the night the two women wandered through the forest. In the middle of the night they reached a peasant’s hut at the edge of the forest. They knocked on the door. The peasant came out. He was an elderly peasant, aged 65.
He took the women in and temporarily hid them in a chicken coop. For several hours he dug, preparing a small pit near a pig sty. He placed a bit of straw inside. Then the women lay in the pit. The peasant covered the women with boards and shoveled dirt over them. A pipe carried a bit of stinking air to the women in the pit. For three days and nights the women lay in the pit with nothing to eat or drink, and without seeing any light.
On the morning of Monday December 23, Lithuanian partisans and police came to the peasant’s home, looking for women who had escaped from the ghetto. But they found no one, and went away. Immediately afterward the peasant placed the two women in his house, in a side room, beneath the floor. There was an old storage space for potatoes there, covered with a tap door and covered with dirt. The two women found out that the good peasant they had happened to find was the father of Malke’s acquaintance, Miss Stase Baltmishkyte, who was learning a trade in Telzh, and with whom the eight women who had escaped from the ghetto had temporarily hidden.
After New Year’s came the peasant’s son, a policeman in Telzh who had shot Jews. His father immediately told him about the two Jewish women who were hiding at his home. The policeman Vaclovas Baltmishkis did no harm to the two women.
The two women lay in the small cellar for a full six months. At one point the son proposed to the father that they put an end to the two Jewish women. The father was against it. The two women heard the conversation. The next day his daughter Stase came from the city. She had settled in a Jewish home in Telzh and done everything she could to become an intellectual. As she understood it, that meant she should become a milliner. Malke proposed to her that she take orders in the city and bring them to the country, where Malke would finish them and also teach Stase her trade. Stase liked the idea, and thanks to this the two women remained at the peasant‘s home. Stase kept for herself all the money earned for the work. She did not even give Malke a crust of bread for it.
One time the peasant announced that the women had been spotted, and he would not keep them any longer. He drove the two of them out to a bunker in the forest. The two women declared that they would both rather drown themselves. This was December 26, 1942. From a distance the two women noticed trucks full of Germans coming and surrounding the bunker. The two women remained at the peasant’s.
The peasant’s son often came and spoke about women who had been found in the forest or at peasant’s homes. Once the son came from the city, quite satisfied, bearing a pack of goods. Malke Gilis herself saw a white bedspread in the pack, smeared with much blood. The rest of the goods were also partly covered with blood. Where had he gotten the things? Malke Gilis did not know whether he shot someone when he took these goods.
The old man often treated the women very badly. He tormented Malke for some time with the demand that she convert. Sheva Bloch had already converted in the ghetto, Malke resisted the peasant’s demand. The peasant was a very religious man. More than once he shouted at Malke: “Cursed Jew woman!” Malke saw that the peasant’s demands that she convert grew more and more intense, so she decided to leave the peasant. Yet the peasant was not a bad man, and he did not let Malke leave. He also had material considerations for keeping her. Malke earned good money for the hats, and meanwhile the peasant’s daughter learned a trade, which gave her a chance to become “an intellectual.”
During the action against children in the Shavl ghetto, Mrs Shoshana Kagan (nee Gurvitz) escaped with her daughter Naomi, aged seven. A different peasant brought Shoshana to the peasant Baltmishkis, who agreed to hide and rescue her as well. At the peasant’s home Malke worked on the hats. A second woman worked as a servant. They suffered considerable hunger, cold and fear. More than once the peasant drove them out of the house and even beat them. During the whole time they only received enough food to remain alive, though Malke earned enough money. More than once Germans with Lithuanian police, and later Germans and Ukrainians, came into the house. They looked around and inspected the peasant’s home. The Germans had gotten word that the peasant was hiding Jewish women. But the murderers did not find the women, and all of them remained alive.
As the front was approaching the village, Germans made their quarters at the peasant’s home. They were there for some two months. When the Germans left the house on maneuvers, the peasant gave the women food. The sound of Red artillery fire encouraged the peasant to save the five Jewish women. He hoped that things would go well for him “in the Red world to come” as well. A day before the Red. Army arrived the peasant’s son, the policeman, Leyb Koniuchowsky escaped to Germany.
The Long-Awaited Liberation
The five women hid until the Red Army came and put an end to the suffering of all the Jews who were in hiding.
Why did the policeman, the peasant’s son, not betray the Jewish women? Malke explains this with the fact that he respected his old father as well as his sister. In addition, it may be that he himself began to understand the huge crime that he had committed in shooting the Jews. He was afraid of possible punishment or revenge, if the Soviets returned. In keeping the women, the elderly father wanted to have evidence which would clear the family of the awful crime which the son had committed.
The peasant Baltmishkis kept the other two women because they had given him a gold watch, shoes, clothes and other things.
The defeats of the German army at Moscow, and later on other fronts, led the peasant to anticipate the possibility of a reward after the Soviet victory.
In general the truth must be told: the peasant risked a great deal. He was deeply religious and did everything to keep the women alive. More than once he gave the women some bread without his wife’s knowledge.
The women were saved by the peasant Juosas Baltmishkis, and they will be eternally grateful to him. At that time the peasant lived in the village of Germunt, Telzh County, eight kilometers from the city. The good peasant saved five Jewish women, risking his life. He will be eternally remembered for the good.
The Slaughter of Women and Children in the Telzh Ghetto
Khane Pelts relates:
The 500 women and children in the ghetto were allowed out into the street for two hours each day to beg something to eat. The inhabitants regarded the shooting of the Jews as a small operation, like cutting off a growth from the Lithuanian body. There were also those who were sympathetic, but very few. In addition to the food they begged, the women often received some 100 grams of bread a day. The women were not taken to work. A month passed in this fashion. When the work in the fields and villages began and it was time to dig for potatoes, the peasants in the countryside were permitted to take Jewish women from the ghetto as workers. The women went to work eagerly, because they hoped to receive better nourishment. In addition they wanted to be useful, thinking they might be able to save themselves that way. The women worked for the peasants for more than two months. The women from the countryside used to come to visit the ghetto on Sunday, bringing food for their friends from the peasants. The women came from the countryside without any guard. They only had to wear yellow patches.
An order came that before Christmas all of the Jewish women who worked for the peasants had to return to the ghetto “for health examinations.” Everyone knew what was really going on. Many peasants bound the hands and feet of their Jewish women and took them back into the ghetto. Those peasants who were a little bit late brought the bound women directly to the pits near the Rainiai compound. Those women who had remained in the ghetto were already exhausted or sick. Others who had small children could not escape.
Khane Pelts, her sisters Rokhel and Mine; Ida Aranovitz and her sister Rivke; Khave Kagan and her daughter Mine; Leye Pelts; all were permitted by the peasant to escape from his farm, and they avoided death this time. Other women managed to escape from the ghetto. The rest were taken away from the ghetto. This was on Christmas Eve. They were taken across Lake Mastas to the Rainiai compound. Pits had already been dug there. It was quite cold already; it was the winter of 1941. The women were forced to strip completely naked. For hours naked women stood in the cold near the pit waiting for death. One of the women still had a watch which she gave to the murderer Indzilevitz, so that he would not keep her in the cold but shoot her quickly. A friend of his, another murderer named Stulpinas who lives by the lake, related this himself in a boasting manner.
A twelve year old girl named Itele Shveid survived the slaughter; She went to the pit naked with nine other women. The murderers turned their backs for a while, and in just a shirt she escaped from them. Other women ran with her but these were shot as they ran. While she was running from village to village, she found an aunt of hers hidden in a village. The two survived together. Her aunt had not been brought back to the ghetto by the peasant, and was in hiding in the village. She was called Blume. Many girls ran to escape the shootings. But they ran naked and barefoot. The peasants did not want to let them into their houses. Their their arms and legs froze and they were caught and returned to the Telzh prison. When a large number had been assembled, they were taken away to the Rainiai pit and shot.
Many women escaped to the Shavl ghetto and died there. Nevertheless some 60 women survived in hiding by peasants with whom they were acquainted, and whom they paid with gold, money and other things. Others kept the women figuring that it would spare them from hiring servants, and they exploited the women with hard work. Many peasants saved young women on condition that the women lived with them. They made the women “wives” of entire groups of men. Others converted and were rescued by Christian believers. Many became prostitutes in the villages, and so forth.
How Did Khane Pelts Save Her Life and Survive Until the Liberation?
Khane Pelts and her friends did not return to the ghetto, but escaped from the peasant for whom they had worked all summer. They went to a different peasant named Arlauskas in the village of Burnu. They gave him right away three women’s and three men’s watches, diamonds and other valuables. He promised to hide the unfortunate woman until the end of the war. He kept them no more than a week in an attic until he drove them out. The women were still terrified, exhausted and desperate. Only one week earlier their sisters and mothers had been slaughtered. There were no more Jews left. They wept, pleading with the peasant to keep them a while longer and let them gather their strength. The peasant would not agree to this. The women were left with no financial means. They could not believe that this peasant, who had brought them food in the ghetto, would treat them this way. He had done this in order to win the trust of the unfortunate women, and that was why the eight women gave him everything that they had. They asked him to return to them at least part of what he had taken from them, because they had no way left to pay another peasant who might take them in, hide them and feed them. But the peasant threatened that if they did not go away and stop asking for their valuables, he would bring them into the hands of his Lithuanian friends to shoot them. He ordered two prisoners who worked for him to throw the women out. At night all of the women left with no prospects, aimlessly, into a strange and hostile world, among unknown forests, pastures and fields. Their feet burned with cold, wind and strangeness. They went into a forest, not far from the Geruliai compound. In the forest it was dark and cold. They all clung to each other, warming each other’s bodies. Early the next day all eight went to the home of a peasant they did not know. They were all there for several days. Khane and her two sisters Mine and Rokhel went into the village Arindaytsh. The rest went to Laukuva. In the village of Arindaytsh they wandered until a peasant whom they did not know took them in and kept them for several days. The master for whom the eight women had worked during the summer, Ivashkevitsius, came there with a friend of his from near Krozhiai. But for the time being the peasant from near Korzhiai could take only one woman. The older sister Mine went to his place. He promised to come and take Khane and Rokhel a week later. Meanwhile they stayed with the peasant for three days.
Every day he threatened to hand them over to the police. He demanded money from them. The two sisters still had a ring. They surrendered it, but he demanded more. They pleaded with him that they had nothing left. He took the two of them to a “cousin” of his near Luknik. There he left them in a forest to wait. He himself went off and hid. A while later he came out of the forest and said that his “cousin” had ordered them to go in. The girls asked the peasant to go with them but he refused. He drove them out of the wagon, and drove away himself. The two girls stood alone in the great cold. It was four a.m. They walked on another half kilometer and knocked on the door of a small house. The peasant, whom they did not know, gave the two girls a friendly greeting. They warmed themselves up, ate their fill and began relating the plan to hand them over to a certain “cousin.” The peasant explained that the “cousin” was a famous Jew-killer. He added that this man would have shot the girls in his own house, without even taking them away to Telzh. They could not stay with this peasant, because a neighbor had spotted them.
From there they went off to the village of Yanapole in Varniai County. Thus they wandered aimlessly, spending a day here, a night there, under constant threat of being caught and shot.
The peasant who was keeping the older sister, Stradomskis from the village of Uzhkalnai, came to take the two sisters, as had been planned. But the man with whom he had left them declared that the two had been captured in his house, and they had certainly all been already shot. In the winter of 1941, after long wandering through the fields and villages, they managed to find a hiding place with the priest Shapukas in the town of Pavandeny. They were there in the church for a few weeks. The two sisters found out from him about their sister Mine, who was still with the peasant Stradomskis in the village of Uzhkalnai. The peasant Stradomskis took one more of the sisters, Rokhel and Khane went to a monastery which the priest had recommended. Eight or nine women were hiding in the monastery. The monastery was in the village of Koliainai. Rokhele stayed with the peasant Stradomskis for a few weeks, and then went on to a brother of the Koliainai priest. While she was there, a boy from Kelm named Yakov Zak found out about her. From that day on Rokhele, her sisters and the rest of the women in hiding were defended by armed Jewish boys. (See the testimony about the slaughter of the Jews in Kelm by Yakov Zak — L.K.) Yakov Zak found them in the spring of 1942. This is the conclusion of Khane Pelts’ testimony.