A Moving, Heart-Wrenching Reading of The Last Jew of Vinnitsa’

For years, many of my readers have requested an audio version of my short story “The Last Jew of Vinnitsa”.

Well, here it is.

The story is read by a brillant actor, Dennis Fitzpatrick.

Dennis played the role of my father, Dr. Wolf Laitner, in the award-winning film, “The Stairs”.

“The Stairs” is available for viewing on Google or by searching under my name and the title of the story in the  “Times of Israel.”

I am also proud to say that,  “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa” received over 7,550 shares in TOI.

And that the story was also incorporated into articles in WikiRussia and WikiUK.

And for those of you who want to reread the story or for those of you who have never read the story, here it is:

“The Last Jew in Vinnitsa” by Mort Laitner

I read an article about Amazon pulling advertisements on its UK site selling T-shirts and other chazerai emblazoned with the photograph of “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa”.

I remember that photo.

I think it’s from Ukraine in 1941 during the “Holocaust of Bullets.”

You remember, the one where of a Jewish man kneels and waits to die.

This iconic image haunts me.

For years I have seen a cropped version of this man-on-his-knees photo.

But today I see it in all of its horror.

He kneels on the edge of a mass grave, a man-made ditch on the perimeter of an airfield where “specialist” SS men have arrived by plane.

Their specialty being shooting men, women and children in the back of the head.

He knows a Waffen-SS officer stands behind him aiming a Walther P38.

He knows his death is imminent.

He knows his death will be quick.

He knows that the force of the bullet will push his body into the pit.

He knows his body will land on the corpses of the men, women and children of Vinnitsa.

The image of their lifeless bodies haunts me.

The murder of Jews shot on film and framed by a professional photographer.

Timed for that split second before death.

Yet haters will deny that it ever happened.

Yet the Jew from the town of Vinnitsa remains stoic and silent—not fearing death.

“Am I the last living Jew in Vinnitsa?” he wonders.

His mouth tightly shut—not begging, nor praying.

His tearless eyes focus on the German photographer aiming his Leica.

The Leica captures the Jew’s last second.

As the Jew wonders:

“Who and how many people will see this picture?

What type of person would want to see this photograph?

Will my image make a difference in anyone’s life?”

Waiting for the explosion, the Jew ponders, “Why are these bastards photographing their crimes?”

“Will they sell my photo as a souvenir or gift it to their girlfriends or stick it in their family’s photo album?”

His ears still ring from the volley of cracks and bangs emanating from the Walthers.

But he is almost deaf from screams of children.

The eyes refuse to accept what he has just witnessed.

His nightmare will end in a second.

The camera clicks on a man in his thirties, with a full head of black hair, large ears and an unshaven face.

The Leica captures the Jew’s dark coat, white shirt and sunken cheeks.

The Leica also focuses on the tall, lean Schutzstaffel shooter—wearing a field-grey army uniform consisting of: a soldier cap, high black boots, buckled belt, shirt and pants.

The Nazi keeps his mouth tightly shut.

In the background fifteen members of the Einsatzgruppe D, mobile death squad, watch the SS officer point the gun at the Jew’s head.

Their mouths are tightly shut.

Their emotionless eyes wait for the last Jew in Vinnitsa to meet his fate.

The camera clicks as he falls into the pit.

I reread the article on Amazon pulling ads selling T-shirts emblazoned with the photograph of “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa.”

I’m shocked.

I’m angry.

I sit in disgust on the edge of my seat.

My mouth is tightly shut.

My brain swears that, “The next time someone tells me, “People are tired of all this Holocaust stuff.

It’s time to move on.

Write about something else.”

I’ll picture the kneeling Jew.

His eyes begging me to write his story.

His eyes praying that I find the right words to silence the forget-about-the-past people.

I want to tell him that, “The Nazis tried to eradicated a religious group that writes, photographs, documents, produces movies and builds museums in honor of their loved ones.”

I want to tell him that, “They failed and Israel, a Jewish state, exists.

I want to tell him that, “I know the Jews will never stops reminding the world what happened in the Holocaust.”

I want to tell him that, “As the last Jew from Vinnitsa he deserves no less.”

So I say to the requesters of silence, “Buddy, I’ll never get tired of writing about the Holocaust; the Jewish people won’t get tired of telling this horror story for the next six million years.

So why don’t you just keep your mouth tightly shut.

And go online and buy a T-shirt that’s emblazoned with a map of Israel and the words, “We’re going to tell the story for the next six million years.”


About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort was a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal. He has recently taken on the post of president of the South Florida Writers Association.
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