Vikipedia, the Lithuanian language version of Wikipedia offers a history lesson on Nemenčinė. The period of the Holocaust is covered as so:
During the war, the Nazis burned down a Jewish school and a synagogue in 1944 on July 7 , I. Cherniachovski ‘s army occupied Nemenčinė. The local population suffered during the Second World War , later a number of people were deported to Siberia .
The slaughter of the Jews of Nemenčinė is entirely omitted. As if it has no relevance. This is a common occurrence in Lithuania. Original testimony from Survivors explains to us why Lithuanians “neglect” to mention the “minor” details.
- THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE TOWN OF NEMENČINĖ
Eyewitness testimony of Sore Eynbinder, born in Nemenčinė on November 15, 1910. All her life until the war broke out on June 22, 1941 she lived in Nemenčinė. In Nemenčinė Sore graduated from the Polish elementary school. She had no trade. Her father’s name was Sholem-Gedalye Daytsh, and her mother’s name was Golda, born Khakim in Nemenčinė.
Nemenčinė is located eighteen kilometers north of Vilnius, on the right bank of the Vilia (Neris) River. Through the middle of the town passes the Vilnius-Švenčionys highway. After the collapse of Poland in 1939 the town was occupied by the Red Army. That same year Nemenčinė was transferred to Lithuania, along with the entire Vilnius region. Until the war between Nazi Germany and Poland broke out in the year 1939, about a hundred ten Jewish families lived in town, among a larger number of non-Jewish families.
By far the majority of the Jews in town were occupied in trade. A small number worked in artisanry. The electric power plant in town and the water mill belonged to the Jewish businessman Avrom-Dovid Kavarsky. The economic life of the Jews in town until the war broke out in 1939 was not bad. Nemenčinė was a summer resort.
Until the year 1939. The town had a Hebrew elementary school, a Yiddish-Hebrew library, a Jewish community bank, and a free loan society. The town had two study houses. The new study house was completed under the Lithuanians in the year 1940.
After Nemenčinė was assigned to Lithuania the economic life of the town did not change. Nor were there any significant changes in cultural life. After the Red Army entered Lithuania the economic life of the Jews in town worsened, especially after the larger businesses were nationalized.
After Poland collapsed in the year 1939, the Mezritsh yeshiva settled into Nemenčinė, including the counselors and the rabbis. There were over a hundred people, or 110 including women and children. The studies at the yeshiva were continued until the war broke out on June 22, 1941. The head of the yeshiva was Rabbi Panitz. The householders of Nemenčinė materially supported the yeshiva.
The villages around Nemenčinė were primarily occupied by Poles.
The same was true in town. The attitude of the Polish population toward the Jews in town until 1939 was antisemitic. After the collapse of Poland in 1939, until the outbreak of war in 1941, the relations improved. The Poles forgot about the Jews in their great hatred toward the Lithuanians and the Russians.
The attitude of the Lithuanian rulers toward the Jews in town after Nemenčinė was assigned to Lithuania was extremely antisemitic, even worse than before Polish rule.
After Lithuania was occupied by the Red Army (in 1940), both the Lithuanians and the Poles stopped their antisemitic demonstrations in public. The Jews felt like equal citizens. This rise in status, however, called forth concealed fury on the part of the non-Jewish population, who waited impatiently to get rid of the Soviets and settle accounts with the Jews.
The Town Is Bombed Monday; Jews Temporarily Evacuate
When the war broke out very few Jews thought seriously about the terrible danger that was approaching for each and every Jew. There were a few Jews who were happy when war broke out between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. These were the Jews whose businesses had been nationalized during the year of Soviet rule, and who hoped to get everything back after the Germans arrived. Very few Jews evacuated together with the retreating Red Army. Most of those who did were Jews who had held positions under the Soviets, or who had been involved in politics. About twenty Jews from town evacuated to the Soviet Union.
At 8:00 Monday, June 23, 1941 Nemenčinė was bombarded by the German air force. The murderers strafed the civilian population from their airplanes with machine guns. There were dead and wounded. Among them were the Jewish women Rokhel Plotkin and Rokhel Uzhvalk. Both were buried that same day at the Jewish cemetery. Feyge Bratenishky was wounded. She was taken to the Jewish hospital in Vilnius, where she died several days later. The German air pirates dropped a few bombs in the center of town, but these did not explode. After the bombardment the Jews in town left their houses in great panic, and fled to stay with peasant friends in the surrounding villages. There the Jews decided to wait until the front passed by.
The non-Jewish residents of the town didn’t evacuate the town, and began robbing the government storehouses and the private possessions of the Jews. A certain peasant named Karashevitsius was shot by a Red soldier while robbing a government co-operative. The Red militia in town and the political organization evacuated the town on Monday, June 23. When they evacuated the Soviet commanders suggested that the Jews go along with them deeper into the Soviet Union. Only a few accepted the offer.
On Wednesday, June 25, 1941 the German military units had already reached the surrounding villages, where the Jews were. Immediately agitators appeared to rouse the peasants in the countryside against the Jews. They even threatened any peasants who continued to protect Jews. The Jews were forced to return to their homes in town.
On Tuesday evening, June 24, 1941 the German military units entered the town. There was no battle for the town. The town remained intact. Some of the Jewish houses were robbed and their doors torn off the hinges. The townspeople had run the show while the Jews were in the countryside waiting for the front to pass them by. The Jews who returned from the countryside settled back into their homes.
The Lithuanian Administration: Decrees. Arrests and Murder of Jews
Several days after the German army arrived in town the civilian administration was established. The new mayor in town was the Lithuanian townsman who owned several houses, Bronius Tserkauskas. The police chief in town was a Lithuanian, a former secretary of the Red militia under the Soviets. The police force consisted of some of the former “Red militiamen” during the year of Soviet rule who had evidently worked in the secret Lithuanian-Fascist organization. The rest had been employees in Girininkija.
Under the Soviets a Lithuanian military unit of the Red Army had been stationed at the edge of town. When the war broke out they did not evacuate, hiding instead in the surrounding forests. They helped the Germans, shooting the Red soldiers in the back. Some of the Lithuanian “Red soldiers” also became policemen in town.
Anti-Jewish decrees began to be passed in town. A curfew was imposed on the Jews. From 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 the next morning Jews were forbidden to leave their houses. It became difficult for Jews to stand in line for food at the stores. The population would push Jews out of line. Jews had to wear a special insignia-a letter “J” (for Jude), cut from yellow cloth. Later the insignia was changed to two yellow Stars of David, on the front and back. Jews were forbidden to walk on the sidewalk. The Jews in town themselves avoided walking in the street, preferring to walk through the town gardens.
The population of the town was very satisfied with the decrees against their Jewish neighbors.
During the day on Friday, June 27, 1941, Germans arrested the following Jews in their houses: Shloyme Pruzhan, aged forty, a merchant; Arluk, a wigmaker, aged 26; Avrom Nementzinsky, owner of a beer hall, aged 32; Khasye Leybman, aged 30; Reyzl Zhur, aged about 30; Alte Fin. These six were all from town. In addition two Jewish men from Vilnius were arrested the same day. These eight Jews were immediately taken to the town prison. It was said in town at the time that the Pole Alfons Jarmulowsky from town had accused the Jews of being Communists. All of the ones from town were kept for a few days and then freed. The two from Vilnius were kept in prison.
About two weeks later, on July 14, 1941, all of the Jews who had been freed from prison were re-arrested and taken to the police compound in town. From there they were taken to the Antokoli prison in Vilnius. Exactly one week later the three women were released from prison, and they returned to Nemenčine. It was impossible to determine the fate of the three men who had been taken away. The three women who returned talked about the incident.
Alte Fin went to see the town rabbi to ask for a certificate stating that she was not a communist.
(The Jews in town were still that naive – LK)
The Jew Leyb Juker, a retail merchant and a pauper, had nothing to eat after the Germans arrived. Every day he would come to the area of the Jewish cemetery, where a German military kitchen stood. The Germans fed him several times. Once, after he ate, a German shot him. He was buried at the Jewish cemetery. This happened at the end of the first week of the war, on June 26, 1941.
Lithuanian police and partisans took the town rabbi, Rabbi Gedalye Snapir, the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Panitz, and several other rabbis and yeshiva students out of their houses. Everyone was taken to the compound of the Jewish businessman Fayve Nirke. There the partisans and police had their mess hall. The bandits shaved the beards of the rabbis and yeshiva students. Some of them simply had their facial hair torn out. Germans stood by meanwhile, photographing everything.
Every morning Lithuanian police would knock on the Jewish homes and drive all of the able-bodied men and women into the square in front of the police station. From there groups of Jews were taken to do various tasks.
Jews worked at the highway, repairing the damaged sections; paving the streets; chopping wood and bringing water for the police, partisans and Germans.
A group of men and women worked at the station in Bezdan. When they worked they were guarded by Lithuanian police, partisans and civilian townspeople, who supervised the Jews’ work as if they were experienced foremen. At work the Jews were bullied, mocked and often beaten by the supervisors with sticks and boards.
A certain rabbi from the yeshiva was placed by SS men on the mud guard of a truck, which was driven quickly through the streets.
The townspeople were overjoyed watching this. The rabbi held on, trying not to fall off. He held his head low. After the rabbi was tormented and mocked in this fashion, they let him go.
The Jews did not receive any pay for their work. They had to obtain their own food. The Jews exchanged all their possessions for a little food.
Reports of Slaughter of Jews in Nearby Towns
At the end of the month of July terrible news began coming to Nemenčinė about mass slaughters of Jews in the towns of Joniškis and Inturkiai. The Jews in town did not believe these reports. In the month of August and at the beginning of September the rumors increased. The Jews of Nemenčinė hired peasants to go find out details about the terrible news. When the peasants returned they corroborated the awful information.
A Jew who had coincidentally survived the slaughter of Jews in the town of Inturkiai fled to Nemenčinė. He told everything in precise detail, but the Jews didn’t entirely believe him either. Later Jewish survivors came from Molėtai, and they too corroborated the terrible news. The Jews of Nemenčinė didn’t know what to do. The majority found reasons why the Jews had been shot in the Lithuanian towns. Thus, for example, the Jews of Nemenčinė believed that the Jews of Molėtai had been shot because most of the young people had leftist sympathies. They found similar explanations for other towns as well.
But the Jews of Nemenčinė didn’t live calmly any more. Everyone thought about his fate and that of his dear ones. A large number of the Jews began looking for work, and tried to be productive and useful for the Germans and their Lithuanian and Polish followers.
When agricultural work was begun, many Jews tried to go work for peasants in the countryside. Wealthy peasants would get permission from the town administration to take a number of Jewish workers to their farms. Of course, every Jew from town tried to go work in the country, because the working conditions were more humane, and there were more opportunities to be fed well and to obtain food for close friends and family in town.
When Jewish workers were sent, the administration would record the first and last names and address of the peasant, so that it would be possible to bring the Jews back at a moment’s notice.
The rumors about total slaughter of the Jews in all the Lithuanian towns increased.
Sore’s husband had joined the Polish military, and she hadn’t heard from him. Sore sensed that she and her child were in grave danger, just like all the Jews in town. Later she received news that he had been captured by the Germans. Sore’s brother had been working the whole time with a group of Jewish men in a mill three kilometers from town. Every day after work Nokhem-Ber and the other ten Jews came to town to sleep. Sore’s other brother Avrom worked in a compound three kilometers from town. Other Jews were working there. Every evening the Jews returned from the compound to spend the night in town.
Every Jew tried to work as far from town as possible. The terrible news from the entire area tormented the town’s Jews. The panic among the Jews continued to rise. Locked up in their own four walls, the town’s Jews mourned over their suffering and pain, and over the terrible news from everywhere around them.
At that time the constant robberies of Jewish possessions increased, not only on the part of the Germans, Lithuanian police and partisans. The civilian townspeople also went to Jewish houses asking for objects, clothing, and money for a drink, constantly threatening the Jews that they would bring Germans and policemen if their demands weren’t met. Terrified and full of apathy toward everything around them, toward their tragic life, the Jews handed over everything the local Christians demanded from them or “nicely” asked them for.
A band of thieves consisting of local residents was formed in town. They used various threats to extort from the Jews everything they wanted. One Jewish thief, an underworld figure, must be mentioned here, because he took part in many robberies together with the Christian bandits. The name of the Jew is Yisroel Trakinsky.
Sore knew that her husband Meir was alive and was a prisoner of the Germans. All the responsibility for little Golde, their five-year-old daughter, lay on her shoulders. Sore’s two brothers Nokhem-Ber and Avrom, along with her father Sholem-Gedalye, convinced her to go to the country with her daughter. They decided that if a ghetto was set up in town, Sore and her daughter would come back. But if the Jews were taken to be shot, it would be easier for the brothers and father to run away and try to survive. Sore went to the village of Kukutishkis, three kilometers from town, to a Polish peasant she knew named Jan Dubicky. A few days later Sore’s father came as well. Before Sore left town she sent her daughter Golde to the village of Pawlukanz, twelve kilometers from town, to the peasant Micke Tigurewitz.
Sholem-Gedalye and his daughter Sore were in the village for exactly one week, from September 11 until September 18. On Thursday, September 18 Dubicky was in town. The townsman Rutkowsky, an antisemite who had been the Seniunas of Nemenčinė before the Germans arrived, warned Dubicky not to keep the Jew Sholem-Gedalye at his house. When Dubicky returned from town he told Sholem-Gedalye about this.
That very day Sholem-Gedalye returned to town. He resolved several days in a row to show himself to Rutkowsky and convince him that he was in town. This was a few days before Rosh Hashanah, 1941. Sholem-Gedalye decided to stay among the Jews in town for Rosh Hashanah.
During the first weeks of the war the Jews in town chose several community activists to form a committee. The committee’s responsibility was to serve as an intermediary between the Jews in town and the Lithuanian administration. The committee included the well-known Jews Mikhl Kensky, a merchant; Mendl Fayn, a lumber merchant; and Avrom-Dovid Kovarsky. The committee tried to distribute the burden of work on all of the able-bodied Jews. They had to see to it that the workers appeared for their jobs on time, along with other responsibilities. The committee did not do much good for the hopeless Jews in town.
On Friday, September 19 the committee went to see the mayor, Bronius Tserkauskas to find out about the further fate of the Jews in town. They told him all of the tragic news about the slaughter of the Jews in the nearby Lithuanian towns.
Tserkauskas assured the committee that the Jews of Nemenčinė did not face any danger. The members of the committee informed all the Jews in town about this conversation.
Everyone began to prepare for Rosh Hashanah. After the “good news” Sholem-Gedalye decided to stay in town for Rosh Hashanah. That same Friday evening Lithuanian police went to all the Jewish houses with a German and demanded fountain pens. They carefully looked at all the Jews, and they went away without saying anything. Sore decided to return to town that same Friday. She didn’t want to stay in the country by herself any longer. The woman she was staying with was in town one day after that and she saw and spoke to the town’s Jews. The peasant woman convinced Sore that no one was as afraid as she was. Sore understood that the peasant woman didn’t want to keep her any longer. Sore convinced the peasant Dubicky to go to her brother Nokhem Ber and announce to him that she was returning to town. The peasant returned and announced that her brother was refusing to take responsibility for Sore’s life if she returned to Nemenčinė.
Nokhem-Ber came to his house after work that Friday. The second brother, Avrom, also came back to town from the compound. Suddenly he heard machine-gun fire at the edge of town, near the Vilia River. Avom sensed the whole time that nothing good was in store for the town’s Jews. When he heard shooting, he decided that same evening to sleep at the compound.
That Friday evening German military units gathered at the bank of the river and shot until late in the evening. Until that Friday nothing like this had happened in town. The Jews stayed in their houses in terror, thinking about the shooting at the edge of town.
Jews Herded Into the Study House. and Forced to Surrender Valuables
On Saturday morning, September 20, 1941, police from town along with others who arrived from different towns began knocking on the doors and windows of the Jewish houses, announcing that everyone had to prepare to move into the Vilnius ghetto. They permitted the Jews to pack up everything they found necessary, and gather at the study house with their packages. At 7:00 a.m. all the Jews were in the study house. When they left the houses screams and weeping of women and children could be heard. The police allowed people to go into the study house, but it was impossible to go back out. After they arrived at the study house, a heavy guard was posted outside. The Jews began to understand that they had been caught in the trap, but it was too late.
A German accompanied by several Lithuanian policemen entered the study house. The German told the Jews that everyone was being taken to the Vilnius ghetto, where they would have a communal kitchen.
He demanded that everyone hand over their money, gold, silver, watches, rings and other valuables. The German said that the assembled valuables would be used solely to finance the communal kitchen in the Vilnius ghetto. He threatened to shoot anyone who didn’t hand over the valuables. The depressed and outraged Jews handed over their money, gold, silver and so forth or destroyed it and hid it. Some of the Jews tore up their paper money. The Jews had to place all their money and valuables on a small table the German brought into the study house.
It was clear to the Jews by then that the situation was very serious. The panic in the study house was great. Mothers kissed and wept over their children, whom they couldn’t save. It was impossible to leave the study house and try to escape, because a heavy guard consisting of Lithuanian police and partisans was posted all around.
In the middle of the night on Friday, police and partisans brought in peasants from the nearby villages around the town as well as residents of the town itself. Every peasant had to bring a shovel. All of the peasants and townspeople who were taken out of their homes were led out along the highway leading to Vilnius. There the peasants dug a long pit. The Jews, of course, didn’t know anything about this.
At 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 20, one day before Rosh Hashanah, Lithuanian police, partisans and a few Germans began driving all the Jews out of the study house. The murderers continued to promise the Jews that they were being taken to the Vilnius ghetto, and they permitted the Jews to bring packages of food along.
When they left the synagogue the Germans and Lithuanians searched every Jew for money, gold, silver and other valuables. They murderously beat more than one Jew while they did this. Thus, for example, they beat the Jew Yeshayohu Perevoskin, who was considered to be the strongest Jew in Nemenčinė. They beat him so badly that he couldn’t stand up. Then they beat almost all of the younger, healthier men. After the torture as the Jews left the study house, all the Jews, men, women and children, were lined up in rows and taken out of town under heavy guard along the highway leading to Vilnius. The elderly, the sick and small children were taken in a few wagons.
When they had gone three kilometers from town, the Jews were ordered to turn right off the highway into the forest. The order made it clear to the Jews that they were being taken to be shot. There was a terrible panic. Screaming and weeping of women and children was heard.
The Jews began throwing their packages away. Many of them began running into the forest in various directions. The Lithuanian police and partisans began shooting after the Jewish escapees. The moans of the dying and wounded could be heard. About 50 men and women, however, managed to escape and hide in the forest.
The rest of the Jews were taken into a valley, closer to the pit. There they were all ordered to lie down on their bellies without moving or speaking to one another. Anyone who didn’t obey the command was threatened with being shot on the spot.
Outraged and furious, the Germans and Lithuanians gathered the Jews in groups of ten and took them to the pit, located not far away. At the pit they shot every group with automatic rifles. The Jews in the valley heard the screams and weeping of those taken away to the pit, and waited to be taken from the valley to the pit by the murderers and shot.
They began shooting at fifteen minutes past 1:00, and they finished around 3:00. Peasants who had been brought from nearby villages covered over the pit containing the murdered Jews.
When the Lithuanian partisans and police returned to the town they celebrated and got drunk all Saturday afternoon.
The packages belonging to the murdered Jews were brought back to town in wagons and taken to the town community center. All of the clothing and furniture was taken away from all the Jewish houses, and this too was taken to the community center. The better clothing and furniture was distributed by the murderers amongst themselves. They sold the rest at auction. The leaders of the police and partisans settled into the better Jewish houses. Peasants from the villages and Lithuanians from the interior settled into some of the Jewish houses. The old Jewish houses were torn up by townspeople for lumber. Some of the peasants took the better boards home to the country. The old study house was bought by a peasant named Sinkiewicz from the village of Raguni.
As soon as the Jews left their houses on Saturday morning and went to the study house, all of the Jewish houses had been sealed. The townspeople broke open the doors and windows and stole the better items when the Jews were still in the study house.
On Saturday, September 20, two days before Rosh Hashanah 1941, three or four kilometers from Nemenčinė along the highway toward Vilnius, a few hundred meters on the right side of the highway in the forest in a small, empty area called Kobilka, about six hundred Jews were shot, men, women and children. Everyone was buried that day in a single mass grave.
Among the murdered Jews were the yeshiva students and the heads of the yeshiva and the rabbis, all of whom had come from Mezritsh to Nemenčinė in 1939. The town rabbi, Rabbi Gedalye Snapir, had fled Nemenčinė for Radun, where he was killed. His wife Khane died together with everyone from Nemenčinė in Kobilka. The dental technician Moyshe Feldshteyn and his wife, the dentist Esther, were killed at Kobilka. The Jewish pharmacist Shmuel Bernshteyn and his daughter Taybe, aged 17, also died there.
Survivors from the Pit Relate
On Saturday morning, when the police knocked on Sholem-Gedalye’s door, Sore’s brother Nokhem-Ber was also at home. He asked the police to let him pack some things. The police allowed him to do this. The father and son fled the house through the back door. Nokhem-Ber escaped from town. Sholem-Gedalye lost hope of escaping, and went to join the rest of the Jews at the study house.
The pharmacist’s wife, Mrs Esther Bernshteyn, escaped from the pit and became separated from her husband and daughter. She hid in the countryside and survived. After the war she told Sore that when the Jews were taken from town Sholem-Gedalye had been very cold. He was utterly hopeless and apathetic. He didn’t have the strength to walk. The police and partisans constantly hurried him and beat him with their rifle butts. They did the same to other elderly, weak Jews.
The Jews who had survived the slaughter at the pit reported that the old, weak woman Mrs Keyle-Yente Andeman couldn’t walk any longer. The policeman let her sit on the wagon. But she refused to ride on the Sabbath. She was beaten.
Rokhel Kheyn, born Margolis, had given birth two weeks earlier. She rode to her death in a wagon, together with her new-born child.
When the young girl Miriam Kremer saw the pit in the distance she fainted. Her parents brought her to, and carried her to the pit in their arms.
While the Jews were being brought along the highway Mrs Miriam Tzornobrotzky pushed her seven-year-old daughter into the grain field. The police didn’t notice this. Miriam, her husband Hirshl and a young daughter named Khayele died in Kobilka. Dvoyrele returned alone to the town of Nemenčinė. Peasant friends took pity on her and took her to the White Russian town of Bistrewitz, where she died with the Jews of that town.
After the Jews were taken out of the study house into the courtyard, the Jew Khone Pruzhan managed to hide in a woodshed. Khayem-Ele Perevoskin hid in the room where corpses were kept overnight at the synagogue courtyard. He went into a coffin and covered himself over. After the Jews were taken away from the courtyard the police looked for Jews hiding in the corpse room. They didn’t look in the coffin. Blume Taub, born Glub, and her two and a half year old son Yankele, managed to escape from the courtyard to the Vilia River.
All of the Jewish survivors from the synagogue yard hid throughout the war with peasants in the countryside. They all survived.
A cousin of Sore’s, named Aron Khakim, aged 17, and Daniel Nementzinsky, a glazier, were killed trying to escape from town before the Jews went into the study house. Aron Khakim was shot near the Neris River, on the priest’s pasture, not far from town. He lay un-buried for so long that birds picked out his eyes and tore the flesh off his face. The gravedigger from the Polish cemetery buried Aron in the pasture.
Aron’s father Dovid and his sister Khaye-Sore escaped from next to the pit, and after wandering through fields, forests and villages, they survived until the liberation and were still alive after the war.
Several months before the Jews were slaughtered some of the Jewish men and women in town began working at nobleman’s estates near the town. The members of the family were able to visit their families in town every evening after work. The unmarried ones generally slept at the compound, and seldom returned to visit their loved ones in town.
On Friday evening, September 19, Jews came to town as usual. On Saturday morning, September 20, they were not permitted to go to work, and together with all the Jews in town they went to the study house.
Some of the Jews learned in the countryside on Saturday morning what was happening in town, and escaped from the compounds to hide in the surrounding villages.
The police in town knew exactly which noblemen had Jews working for them, because before Jews were allowed out of town to work, the noblemen had to state exactly their address. On Saturday morning partisans and police went to the compounds to take the Jewish workers, but they didn’t find any of the Jews there. Thus, for example, the police at the Partzewe compound wanted to pick up a group of Jews, but they had all run away already.
At the Red Compound, five kilometers from town, there was a beer brewery belonging to the Jew Nidzon and his partner, the Polish lawyer Partzewsky. A Jewish supervisor named Zibel worked at the brewery. On the morning of Saturday, the 20th police came to the compound and arrested the Jewish foreman Zibel, his wife, their two children and two Jewish boys named Mane Bayrak and Beynish Leyfer. The two boys worked at the Skale compound, one kilometer from the Red Compound. The murderers placed the Jewish foreman and his family into a wagon. They tied the two boys up to the harness next to the horse. The boys had to hold on to the horse, which the partisans constantly whipped to make it run faster. The Jews were brought to join the rest of the town’s Jews. All six Jews were shot together with everyone from Nemenčinė.
The Hunt for Survivors; Survivors Arrested and Shot
After the Jews of Nemenčinė were shot, and after their goods had been distributed the police, partisans and Germans began a steady hunt for Jews who had escaped and were hiding in the forests and fields, or with peasants in the villages. Sore Eynbinder remembers the following cases:
- On Sunday, the day after the slaughter of the Jews of Nemenčinė, the Jew Lipe Rudashevsky continued hiding in a storeroom at his own home, along with his two sons Leybe, aged 18 and Avrom, aged 14, and a nephew named Leybe Rudashevsky, aged 15. The hidden Jews didn’t have any idea what had happened in town. Avrom left the storeroom and was spotted by a policeman, who arrested the young boy and beat him. Avrom apparently told the policeman where the other Jews were hiding. All of the hidden Jews were arrested.
That same Sunday the police caught Mrs Khane Gdud and her son Motele. The mother and children lay hidden in the forest, not far from the mass grave. All of the six Jews who were caught were shot on Tuesday morning, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, near the mass grave at Kobila. They were buried there as well.
- On the second Friday after the slaughter, September 2, 1941, Pinkhes Glukh and his wife Dvoyre and son Yankl, aged one year, along with Dvoyre’s father Zaltzberg, were caught in the swamps near the village of Milani. Before the Jews were taken out of their houses into the study house, all of these people had fled the town and hidden. All of the Jews who were caught were taken to prison in Vilnius, where they all died. Details about their death are unavailable. The surviving Jews said at the time that a peasant had betrayed them. At the same time the young man Yankele Beknshteyn was caught together with Pinkhes Glukh. He too died in the Vilnius prison.
- Yankele’s brother Moyshe Beknshteyn, aged 22, and Binyomin Zlatkovits, escaped from town when the Jews were being taken to the study house. They also hid in the swamps. Police caught them. The two Jews put up an active resistance, and did not allow themselves to be taken alive. Peasants from nearby villages helped to murder the two heroic Jews. The father, Pinkhos Beknshteyn and his daughter Khasye lay in the mud, not far away, and saw everything. The father and daughter survived. After the war they buried the two murdered boys at the Jewish cemetery in Nemenčinė. Moyshe and Binyomin were killed during the second week after the Jews of Nemenčinė were slaughtered.
- In the fall of 1941, in a village, police and partisans caught Mrs Blume Taub and her son Yankele, along with the baker Aron Leybman, at the home of a peasant. Aron tried to escape through the window, and was shot on the spot.
A Jew named Avrom Kravtshuk, a tailor, was caught in the same village that same day, along with his daughter Esther. Blume and her son and Avrom and his daughter were taken to prison in Vilnius. From the prison they were taken to the Vilnius ghetto. Avrom Kravtshuk died in the Vilnius ghetto. Esther Kravtshuk and Blume and her little boy escaped from the Vilnius ghetto and hid with peasants in the countryside. All three survived.
- Miriam Rudashevsky, born Nementzinsky, gave her two children Khaye-Sore, aged eighteen or nineteen and Yankl-Moyshe, aged six, to a peasant in the village of Gritzuni, thirteen or fourteen kilometers from town. On Friday evening, September 19, when the Germans began shooting at the edge of town, Miriam escaped from town and hid with the peasant Franszischek Rusecky in the village of Gritzuni, across from the peasant where her children were hiding.
In a village called Paschnanagali at the home of the peasant Juzef Woitkewitz Miriam hid her valuables, immediately after the Germans arrived in town. At the beginning of winter in 1942 Miriam and her host Rusecky went to take some of the valuables. The peasant (Woitkewitz) asked them to come back another time. On February 2 two Germans came from Nemenčinė to Rusecky’s house to take Miriam.
They found her on the oven in Rusecky’s house. A peasant brought Miriam and the Germans to the police in Nemenčinė. From there she was taken to Vilnius. She was not heard of again. It was said at the time that the peasant with whom she had hidden her valuables had betrayed, so that he could inherit her goods.
When Miriam was taken from Rusecky’s house the two children were hiding at the neighbor’s. Both of them survived.
- In the winter of 1941-42 police from Pabershe caught the Jew from Nemenčinė Yisroel Trakinsky at the home of a peasant. He was taken to Pabershe. There are no details about his subsequent fate.
- Avrom Bayrak and his two children, twins named Beyle and Yankl, escaped from the pit when the Jews of Nemenčinė were slaughtered. In a forest six kilometers from the town of Nemenčinė police and partisans caught them and took them to Nemenčinė. From there the father and children were taken to prison in Vilnius, and later released and brought to the Vilnius ghetto. All three died. Avrom Bayrak’s wife and their son Mane, who had been brought from the countryside bound in the harness of a wagon, were killed together with all the Jews of Nemenčinė. Avrom and his two children were caught in the spring of 1942 in the forest near the village of Prudalishki.
- Berl Zhur escaped from town. He was caught at the home of a peasant in a village and brought to Nemenčinė. From Nemenčinė he was taken to the Vilnius ghetto. Berl survived.
- In the fall of 1943 Lithuanian police in the village of Podkschizhkys caught a husband and wife at the home of a peasant woman named Marcinkewitzowa. The woman was from Nemenčinė. Her name was Rokhel Andeman. The husband was from the town of Koltinan. They were hiding in a barn. When the police came to look for them, they started running away. Both were shot in the field while running. They were buried there.
A daughter of theirs named Taybele was arrested. The police brought Taybele and the peasant woman to town. The peasant woman insisted that she had found the girl abandoned, and that she wasn’t a Jewish child. The peasant woman got the girl back. After the war Taybele continued living with the peasant woman.
- On Saturday morning, September 20, 1941, before the Jews of Nemenčinė were herded into the study house, the Jew Khatzkl Nementzinsky ran away from town together with his wife and their daughter. One child named Leyzerl, a year old, was left behind when they ran away, and he died with all the Jews of Nemenčinė.
In the fall of 1943 Khatkl and his wife and child were hiding in a potato pit in the middle of a field in the village of Snegi (17 or 18 kilometers from town). Right-wing Poles came to the village, and passed near the pit. Khatzkl was very afraid, and began running across the field. The Poles shot him in the field and buried him there. Khatzkl’s wife and child stayed in the potato pit without being spotted. Later both were killed by right-wing Poles together with a group of Jews in the village of Bilduni, not far from the former Lithuanian-Polish border.
- The Jew Avrom Glukh from Nemenčinė hid in a village not far from the spot where his sister Blume Taub’s son was hiding with a peasant in a village. One time Avrom came to see how his nephew was doing. Avrom spent the night at the peasant’s barn. This was at a settlement in the village of Wigelini, eight kilometers from Nemenčinė.
Some time earlier the same peasant had hidden Khatzkl and his wife and child for about nine months. Peasant neighbors found out about this, and apparently betrayed the peasant. Khatzkl was forced to leave the place with his family. Blume Taub kept her son there.
The very evening that Avrom Glub slept in the barn, police came to the peasant to look for Jews. Avrom hid in straw in the barn. The police came to the barn and didn’t find Avrom. After they left Avrom began to move in the barn, apparently too soon. The police hadn’t left the barn yet, and they spotted the place where Avrom lay hiding. Avrom started running away from the barn. The police shot at him, and he was buried in the field. His sister Blume Taub exhumed her murdered brother after the war and buried him at the Jewish cemetery in Nemenčinė. Blume’s son survived.
- The young Yisroel Yanishky, aged 18, escaped from Nemenčinė before the Jews were herded into the study house on Saturday, September 20, 1941. He hid with peasants in the countryside until the end of 1943. Right-wing Polish nationalists found him at the home of the peasant, and shot him and buried him there.
- In the village of Gritzuni, at the home of the peasant Zhukowsky, two Jews; one from the town of Dubnow, the other a tinsmith from Švenčionys, were in hiding. In the winter of 1943 right-wing Poles caught the two Jews, took them to another village nearby and shot both of them there. The right-wing Poles forced a peasant to take the corpses of the two Jews to the police in Nemenčinė. The two Jews were buried at the Jewish cemetery. It was said at the time that a neighbor of the peasant Zhukowsky had betrayed the two Jews to the Poles.
- Two brothers named Kutiel and Elye Kensky escaped from Nemenčinė while the Jews were being taken to the study house. The two hid for a long time with a peasant friend in a village. Of course, they paid the peasant well for everything. Neighbors began to speak about the two hidden Jews. The two brothers were forced to leave the spot and settled at a neighbor’s house. A woman named Esther Gordon came to join the two brothers in hiding. The first peasant bitterly resented his neighbor’s hiding the two brothers and Esther, and receiving a lot of money in exchange. He betrayed his neighbor to the town police (the neighbor Ragowsky was the traitor).
On December 31, 1943 Lithuanian police headed by the infamous murderer Raila came to the peasant in the village of Raguni, five kilometers from town, and arrested all three Jews. All three were taken in the direction of Nemenčinė in a peasant wagon.
The peasant who drove the Jews later reported that the two brothers offered Raila a large sum of money if he would let them live. The murderer took the money and told the Jews to run into the forest. As they “escaped” all three Jews were shot, and they were buried in the forest near the village of Gaji.
After the war the older brother Yankl Kensky exhumed them and buried them at the cemetery in Nemenčinė.
- Khatzkl Nementzinsky’s wife Rokhel and her child Khayele left the potato pit after Khatzkl was shot and hid in another village. Not far from the village, in the Schuzani forest, a large group of Jews from Nemenčinė were hiding. Among them were the two brothers Hirshl and Berl Leyfer, and their sister Rivke. Their other sister Dvoyre hid the whole time with a peasant named Bilewitz in a village five kilometers from the town of Nemenčinė near the village of Pokrowli. In the winter of 1944 Dvoyre came to the forest to visit her brothers and sister. Accompanied by a boy named Peysekhl Levinson, aged 11 or 12, Dvoyrele went to the village to get food. She and the boy were arrested by a group of nationalist Poles. At the same time these same nationalist Poles caught Rokhel Nementzinsky and her daughter Khayele in a village. The two women and the children were shot by the Poles in a forest near the village of Bilduni. This was in the winter of 1944.
- Mendl Fayn escaped from the pit at Kobilka on Saturday, September 20, 1941. For a long time he hid with peasants in White Russia. He was wounded when he escaped from the pit. In the spring Mendl Fayn and his niece Khaye Purzhan lay hiding in a forest near a peasant farm. The peasant brought them food in the forest. There Mendl and his niece prepared a bunker where they could hide in case of a roundup. Mendl had hidden his better possessions with the peasant. The peasant kept them for a short time. The peasant decided to inherit Mendl’s goods. When Mendl and his niece Khaye lay in the pit, the peasant threw in a hand grenade. They both died in the spring of 1943. The peasant covered the bunker containing the two corpses with dirt.
- Near the village of Posadniki, in a bunker in the forest, ten or twelve men and women from the town of Pabershe lay in hiding. This was in the winter of 1943. The hidden Jews used to leave the forest at night for the surrounding villages to try to get food from peasants. The peasants wanted to get rid of the Jewish “beggars,” and told the Vilnius Gestapo about them. Gestapo men wearing Red Army uniforms came to the area. They surrounded the bunker containing the hidden Jews and threw in hand grenades. All of the Jews in the bunker were killed. They were buried in the bunker.
- The Jew from Nemenčinė Moyshe Andeman and his son Mikhl survived near the pit at Kobilka. In the winter of 1944 they hid in a village ten kilometers from town at the home of a peasant. They were attacked by Polish nationalists. Mikhl managed to escape. His father Moyshe was shot running away. Mikhl later hid and survived.
In the town of Dubinkiai Mikhl had relatives, and he went there to see how they had been killed. On the way he was shot by right wing Poles. The Red Army had already been informed about the bandits in the forest. Mikhl was shot after the liberation, the day before Yom Kippur 1944.
- The Nemenčinė Jews Shmuel Bratinishky and Fayve Nementzinsky escaped from town on Saturday morning, September 20, before the Jews were herded into the study house. Together with the Jew Shloyme Levinson, they hid until the spring of 1943. In the spring of 1943 all three hid in a pit not far from Nemenčinė. Lithuanian police found out about them and shot all three on the spot.
Most of the surviving Jews of Nemenčinė, Pabershe and Gedraitziai hid in the region of the Susan forest. There two sisters from the town of Gedraitziai survived. Their names were Frume and Taybele Vaynshteyn. Their aunt Bashe Katz was with them as well. A number of the surviving Jews from Nemenčinė went to White Russia. Many of them died in the ghettos and countryside there. Sore doesn’t know any details about their death.
Sore and Her Brothers Struggle for Life
When the Jews of Nemenčinė were shot at Kobilka, Sore hid in the village of Kukitiszki at the home of the peasant Dubicky. Sore heard about the shooting of the Jews at Kobilka. The village of Kukitiszki is located about three kilometers from Kobilka. Sore also saw peasants from the village bringing home the packages the Jews had discarded when they ran away from the pit. The peasants carrying the Jews’ packages were happy with what they had inherited. Sore’s brother Nokhem-Ber escaped from town on Saturday morning while the Jews were being taken to the study house. He came to his other brother Avrom at the compound to warn him not to go to town. Avrom had left the compound by then.
Nokhem-Ber left to hide in a nearby forest. All day he lay in the forest. On Saturday evening he came to his sister Sore, to the home of the peasant Dubicky. In the woodland belonging to the peasant there was an old bunker from the previous war. Nokhem-Ber hid there. That same night the other brother Avrom and another young man, a student named Velvl Gdud, joined him. On Monday, September 22 Sore came down from the peasant’s attic and moved into the bunker with her brothers. The peasant Jan Dubitzky brought food to the four Jews in the bunker.
When they had been there for a week a neighboring peasant noticed the four Jews in the bunker. He went to them and advised them to place a fallen tree over the entrance. But the Jews didn’t want to stay there any longer. They peasant tried to reassure them, and convinced them to stay in the bunker. The Jews pretended to decide to go to White Russia. They asked the peasant to show them the way. Sore went back to Dubicky’s attic by herself. The three boys and the peasant went five kilometers in the direction of White Russia. The peasant went away.
The Jews immediately returned to the peasant Dubicky and hid in his attic together with their sister. They were there for four weeks. They couldn’t stay there any longer, because a partisan who had shed a good deal of Jewish blood lived nearby.
Velvl Gdud went to join his father, who was hiding with a peasant in another village. Sore and her two brothers went closer to the town of Nemenčinė. At the edge of town lived a peasant friend of theirs named Filipowitz and his family. The good Pole took all three Jews in and set up a hiding place for them inside the double wall of a cattle stall. The crowding in the hiding place was terrible. The awful cold weather of the winter of 1941 began. It was always dark there. The Jews felt as though they had been buried alive. The peasant brought them food on time, but not much. There were days when the three Jews suffered considerable hunger.
Before leaving town Sore sent her little daughter Goldele with Filipowitz to a peasant named Michal Figurewitz in the village of Pawlukanz. Golde was there until November 1. The peasant Figurewitz couldn’t keep her because peasants found out whose child she was, and envied the money and objects he received for hiding Golde, and told a policeman about her. Figurewitz brought Golde to the peasant Filipowitz. From there he took her to a peasant in a village near Švenčionys. The peasant Filipowitz received money and goods to bring to the other peasant. Evidently Filipowitz didn’t hand over everything that was supposed to pay for Golde’s upkeep, and the peasant only kept Golde for three days. Of course he didn’t return what he had been given. The last name of the peasant was Kwiatkowsky, from the village of Jencsuizsky, five kilometers from Švenčionys.
Sore took in a Polish girl whom she paid to take care of Goldele, whose hair was dyed blond. Golde stayed there until December 14, 1941. Neighbors began to be interested in Golde. It was impossible to keep her openly at Filipovitz’s. It was also impossible to bring her inside the hiding place in the double wall because it was so cold.
Sore sent her child with Filipovitz to the White Russian town of Postav, where Meir Eynbinder’s parents, Golde’s grandfather Yeshua and grandmother Dvoyre, lived. There had been no slaughters of Jews in White Russia yet. On November 21, 1942 the Jews in the Postav ghetto were slaughtered. Yeshua Eynbinder and his wife Dvoyre, along with Goldele, died that day. Goldele was exactly five years old at the time.
Sore’s husband Meir had been called up to the Polish army when the war broke out between Poland and Germany, and he fell prisoner to the Germans. While at the home of the peasant Filipovitz Sore received letters addressed to the family of the peasant Filipovitz. The correspondence with her husband continued until shortly before the liberation. This correspondence with a Jewish prisoner of war in Germany was extraordinary, and even legendary at the time.
The peasant Filipovitz received a substantial sum of money from his hidden Jews for food. He obtained enough food for a long time, and didn’t want to keep the Jews any longer. The helpless Jews couldn’t even ask for a portion of the money they had handed over, because they were in his hands. Before they left him the peasant extorted the last hundred rubles the Jews had.
From there all three went to the peasant Michal Figurewitz in the village of Pawlukanz, where Sore’s daughter Goldele had been just after they fled Nemenčinė. The peasant was truly a good person, and he warmly received the three desperate Jews.
From December 25, 1941 until April 19, 1942 all three Jews lay hiding in his house behind the oven. Until August 1 they hid in a potato pit in the field, and then in the attic of a barn. The three Jews stayed with the peasant for a total of nine months.
As soon as the Germans entered Nemenčinė, the Daytsh family had given their better things to the shoemaker and glazier in town Alekander Semaszko, a very religious man, for safekeeping. Throughout the time Sore and her brothers were in hiding, he sent them money and objects punctually. The three Jews generously rewarded the peasant Figurewitz for his goodness and the risk he had taken in hiding them.
Concerning Sore’s and her brothers’ subsequent bitter struggle for life, see the testimony of Sore’s brother Avrom Daytsh.
- THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE TOWN OF NEMENČINĖ
Eyewitness testimony of Yekusiel Gordon, born in the town of Nemenčinė on May 15, 1900. He lived his entire life in Nemenčinė, and he was there when war broke out between Nazi Germany the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. He graduated from Hebrew elementary school in Nemenčinė in 1914. He was a merchant by trade. His father’s name was Dovid-Elye. His mother was Sheyne, born Nemedzhansky.
Yekusiel escaped from his house when the Jews were ordered to go to the study house on Saturday, September 20, 1941. He also suggested that his brother-in-law and sister not go to the study house. They refused, however, because they believed that the Jews were being taken to a ghetto. Yekusiel hid in a cellar. Everyone in the house had already gone to the study house yard. His sister Bashe sent a boy named Khayeml Leybman from there to summon her brother to the study house. Yekusiel refused to go.
A while later his sister personally came to the house and convinced her brother that it would be better not to be separated from all the Jews, and to go to a ghetto. Yekusiel did what his sister wanted this time, took along a package and went to the study house yard. Partisans stood around the town and inside the town as well with weapons in their hands, making sure no one escaped. Yekusiel sensed that he had fallen into a trap. Yekusiel’s sister helped him escape the study house yard.
Yekusiel met armed partisans wherever he went. He managed to make his way to the municipal community center, which had not been finished. There Yekusiel climbed into the attic. When the Jews were taken from town in the direction of the Vilnius highway, Yekusiel saw everything. The Jews were herded in a single column under a heavy guard of Lithuanian partisans and police. There were several Germans present, along with two Poles in civilian clothes. One of them was Kondratowitz from the town of Nemenčinė, and the other Walentinowitz from the village of Wolikiszki. The two Poles were armed.
A half hour after the Jews were taken out of town, Yekusiel heard rifle and machine-gun shots from the direction of the Vilnius highway. While lying in the attic Yekusiel heard Poles from town happily saying that “the filth had been cleaned out of town.”
At night Yekusiel left the attic and went to the village of Kelnobridzi, ten kilometers from town, where he found the peasant Kazimerz Wrublewsky, where Yekusiel’s family had hidden their valuables right after the Germans arrived in town. The peasant received Yekusiel warmly, and kept him in his barn for seven weeks. Outside it began to grow very cold, and Yekusiel had to leave. He arrived at the village of Rakshani, 16 kilometers from Nemenčinė, where he knocked on the door of a peasant woman named Poznokowa. The peasant woman knew Yekusiel., but she didn’t let him in. Yekusiel stayed for several days at the home of the peasant Stanislaw Zindul in the same village.
From there Yekusiel went to the peasant Andruzsancowa, a widow with three daughters and a son-in-law who was a tailor. The peasant woman warmly received Yekusiel. Yekusiel gave her a lady’s coat and a pair of pajamas. The peasant woman kept Yekusiel for one month in exchange. A day before New Year’s the peasant woman told Yekusiel that she had kept him in exchange for the things he’d given her, and she couldn’t keep him any longer. She knew that Yekusiel had more goods at the home of a friend. Yekusiel left for one night to his peasant friend and brought back a fur, a lady’s coat and six packages of chrome. He arranged for her to keep him for two months in exchange. Yekusiel hid behind the oven in the other half of the room where the tailor lived and worked.
After a week the tailor came with a bootlegger and made homemade liquor. After they made the liquor the tailor and the bootlegger drank two liters of liquor. Both of them became very drunk.
The peasant woman had taken in someone else’s cow to keep over the winter. She didn’t take her son-in-law’s cow. The whole time the daughter and her husband, the tailor, had been very angry at her mother. When the tailor got drunk, he grabbed his scissors and decided to murder his mother-in-law and her children. There was a terrible commotion in the house. His wife tried to calm her husband, but he beat her badly. The mother and the daughter left the house barefoot. The drunken bootlegger tried to take the peasant woman’s side. The tailor hurt him as well. There was a commotion in the house. From the nearby houses neighbors ran up. Yekusiel sensed that the situation was growing very dangerous for him, and he left the oven. Yekusiel begged the tailor with tears in his eyes to stop making such a commotion, and save his life. But the tailor didn’t want to hear it, and he kept looking for his mother-in-law and her daughters. Peasants meanwhile spotted Yekusiel. The bootlegger saw Yekusiel as well.
It was impossible to stay there any longer. The tailor fell asleep. A peasant who came from another village placed him in a sled and took the tailor away to work for him.
After the night had passed the peasant woman told Yekusiel that it was impossible for him to stay there any longer, because neighbors had seen him. Yekusiel asked her to figure what he owed her for one week, and to give him back his things. The peasant woman wouldn’t hear of it. She explained to Yekusiel that she hadn’t gotten much from him the first month, and that other Jews who were in hiding had given their peasants kilos of gold. With great difficulty Yekusiel got the fur back.
Yekusiel didn’t find a place to stay with peasants again for some time. A day here, a night there, he wandered through the fields, forests and villages.
At the beginning of spring 1943 he found a place at the home of Maginsky in the village of Ligaluvke. He was kept there for several months in exchange for his work. Then he wandered again.
In the fall of 1943 Yekusiel met other Jewish survivors from Nemenčinė. Together they set up a bunker in the Susani forest. There were fourteen men and women in the bunker. They bought food from peasants with money. The bunker was well-disguised. The Jews stayed in the bunker until February 1944.
In that region there were Red partisans who knew about the bunker. Once there was a big search throughout the forest, and fourteen men came to hide in the bunker. They ate up everything the Jews had. The Red partisans stayed there for a week, and then went away. It was no longer possible for the Jews to stay there. All fourteen Jews dug a new, large bunker in a different part of the same forest. There they all settled in. The bunker was eighteen meters long by four meters wide. The ground there was wet. Every day they had to empty out 300 buckets of water from the bunker.
The Jews got food from nearby peasants. The bunker was well disguised, and nobody knew where it was, except for a few peasants who brought the Jews food in exchange for money. Other Jews from Nemenčinė, along with one from Dubingiai and one from Pabershe, came to the bunker as well. There were a total of 24 Jews there, men, women and three children. All the Jews hid in the bunker until the liberation in the spring of 1944.
After reading over the testimony of Sore Eynbinder-Daytsh concerning the slaughter of the Jews of Nemenčinė, Yekusiel Gordon finds it necessary to state that everything was accurately reported by Sore, and he corroborates everything.
Yekusiel finds, however, that it is important to add details which were not provided by Sore Eynbinder.
These facts are:
- The first day of the war, when the Jews were hiding in the countryside, Lithuanian partisans spread leaflets with a sharply anti Semitic message. In these leaflets the partisans warned the peasants not to protect Jews, not to hide their goods and so forth. They threatened to shoot peasants who didn’t carry out their orders.
- Yekusiel Gordon does not know about the case of the Jew Yisroel Trakinsky, who was said to have stolen goods from Jewish houses together with a band of Poles.
- When the Jews were being taken from the study house, Yekusiel lay in hiding in the community center attic. None of the goods belonging to the Jews who were murdered were brought to the community center on Saturday, September 20. Yekusiel thinks this might have happened a few days later.
- Concerning Cases 2 and 3 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony, it must be added that all of the Jews were caught in a single place that same day. Moyshe Beknshteyn and Binyomin Zlatkovitz died while resisting. The rest of those who were caught were taken to Vilnius.
- Case 4 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony happened in the village of Balinci, 12 kilometers from Nemenčinė, at the home of the peasant Wansowitz.
- Yisroel Trakinsky (Case 6 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony) was arrested in the village of Bazani, twelve kilometers from Nemenčinė, at the home of the peasant Wezbicky, in April 1942.
- Berl Zhur was caught in the village of Uninizsky at the home of the peasant Marcinkewitz. In that case there was no betrayal.
- Case 10 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony is imprecise. The facts transpired as follows: Mrs Rokhl Nementzinsky and her daughter Khayele hid at the home of the peasant Francsizsek Ajewsky. The husband Khatzkl Nementzinsky had no place to stay, and went to a Polish friend of his named Karl Juchnewitz, in a settlement near the village of Sneg. Khatzkl was in the house there for several days. Polish Fascists appeared in the region at that time. The peasant advised Khatzkl to leave him for a few days. Khatzkl left the house and hid in the peasant’s bath house in the field. That day right-wing Poles came to the peasant Jochnewitz. The right-wing Poles spotted Khatzkl in the bath house, arrested him and took him into the barn. They went into the peasant’s house themselves. Khatzkl began to run, and he was shot by the right-wing Poles.
- The young man Yisroel Yanishky was caught by Polish Fascists in the village of Raksani, sixteen kilometers from Nemenčinė, at the home of the peasant Petr Posniak on February 13, 1942.
- Case 16 in Sore Eynbiner’s testimony took place as follows: Mendl Fayn hid with a niece of his named Khaye Pruzhan at the home of a peasant named Petr Zhukowsky in the village of Barani. Zhukowsky’s brother-in-law Komar from the village of Zhukantzi murdered Mendl and his niece in the bunker. The Christian who buried the two of them later reported that they hadn’t been shot, but murdered with an axe.
- Moyshe Andeman (case 18 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony) and his son Mikhl were attacked by Polish Fascists. Mikhl ran away. Moyshe Andeman tried to run away and was shot. This took place in the village of Tatarantzi, at the home of the peasant Tomazsewsky, ten kilometers from Nemenčinė.
In Nemenčinė Yekusiel had two brothers named Shmuel and Tevye with their wives and children, a sister named Bashe and a brother-in-law named Gershon Kalmanovitz and their child Berele (aged 4).
Shmuel’s wife was Beyle, born Glukh, and their two children were Yekusiel (aged 16) and Moyshe (aged 8). Tevye’s wife was Zlate, born Leybman, and they had one child, aged four weeks. All of Yekusiel Gordon’s close relatives were shot on Saturday, September 20, 1941 in the forest near Kobilka.
- THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS IN THE TOWN OF NEMENČINĖ:
Reported by Avrom Daytz, born July 21, 1914 in Nemenčinė. He graduated from the elementary school in the town of Nemenčinė.
After reading over the testimony of Sore Eynbinder-Daytsh and of Yekusiel Gordon, Avrom Daytz finds that both reports are precise and reflect accurately the entire tragedy concerning the death of the Jews of Nemenčinė.
Avrom finds it necessary to add several facts, which are absent in both testimonies.
The facts are as follows:
- The Jew Leyb Juker was shot near the Jewish cemetery on June 26, 1941.
- The order to put on two yellow starts was given on July 8, 1941.
- On Friday, July 11, 1941 Germans rode in from the nearby town of Pabershe. With the help of Lithuanians from Nemenčinė, they forced the secretary of the Jewish community, Khayem Barov, to open the study house. Yeshiva students were brought in and forced to take out all of the Torah scrolls and holy books, place them in a heap and burn them. The murderers forced the yeshiva boys to dance around the pyre.
- The eight Jews who were arrested on Friday, June 27, 1941 were kept in the town prison for several days. The townspeople were freed, and two refugees from Poland were taken to Vilnius. On July 14 all of the Jews who had been released were rearrested and taken to prison in Vilnius.
- Avrom Daytz confirms that Yisroel Trakinsky joined a band of robbers and helped to rob the possessions of the Jews.
- At the end of the month of August police and partisans went through all the Jewish homes, recording all the furniture and other items. The Jews were warned not to sell anything that had been registered, and that they would be held accountable.
- When the Jews were taken from the study house into the courtyard on September 20, 1941 they had to leave in family groups. At the door every family was checked, and after they were searched and their last possessions were taken, they were soundly beaten and released into the yard. If anyone in the family was missing, the partisans demanded that they be told where the hidden one was, meanwhile murderously beating the entire family.
Avrom’s father was murderously beaten as well for refusing to say where his two sons and his daughter were. Avrom was told about this by Jews who escaped from Kobilka.
- On September 20, 1941, before the Jews were herded into the study house, Mrs Bratinishky hid a small child of hers with a peasant friend of hers named Shtseglikowa, while she herself hid in another place. The peasant woman took the little child’s clothes off, dressed him in rags and personally took him to the rest of the interned Jews at the study house.
The next day, Sunday, after the Jews were shot, the mother came to the peasant woman to get her child. Police caught her in town and took her to the prison, where Lipe Rudashevsky and his two sons, his nephew, and Mrs Khane Gdud and her son Motele were already interned.
On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Tuesday, September 23, 1941, the group of Jews were taken from prison and shot at Kobilka at 7:00 a.m.
- Case 4 in Sore Eynbinder’s testimony happened as follows: Avrom Kravtshuk and Khyene Gordon from Nemenčinė escaped after the Vilnius ghetto was liquidated and hid in a village five kilometers from town in a peasant’s bath house. The partisan Walentinavitsius shot both of them there. The same partisan murdered with a stone a boy named Moyshe Beknshteyn in the swamps near the village of Milani (Cases 2 and in Sore’s testimony).
- When the town’s Jews were herded into the study house, Mrs Dvoyre Nudson hid among the potatoes in the garden near her house. The Polish neighbor Petz Schulc told the partisans about her, and she was arrested.
- Miss Burshteyn, Fayve the Gravestone Cutter’s grandchild, hid at the home of a peasant in a village ten kilometers from Nemenčinė. A neighbor begrudged the peasant for hiding a Jew, and betrayed him to the police, who arrested her and took her to Vilnius, where she died.
- After the Jews were taken to the study house all of the houses were sealed. On Thursday, September 25, the fifth day after the Jews were shot, the furniture and clothing was assembled at the community center in town. Of course, Yekusiel Gordon, who escaped from there at night on Saturday, June 20, could not have seen this. Avrom’s sister Sore correctly reported about the bringing of the items into the community center, and Y Gordon appropriately noted that the items had apparently been assembled several days after he escaped from the community center (see Case 3 of the testimony).
Avrom Daytz remembers the following murderers who tortured, robbed and took active part in the slaughter of the Jews of Nemenčinė:
- Raila, a policeman from the Lithuanian interior under Smetona.
- Stanislaw Rutkowsky, a carpenter from the town of Nemenčinė.
- Woitkewitz, a carpenter from the village of Milani.
- Marian Zhelazowsky, a former Polish officer.
- Sokolowsky, formerly employed as a forest watchman before the
- Balukewitz, a construction worker in town.
- Jasvurewitz, a dog catcher.
Avrom does not remember the first or last names of the Lithuanian murderers, because more than forty of them were from the surrounding Lithuanian villages, or from the Lithuanian interior. The newly-arrived Lithuanians ran the civilian administration throughout the German occupation, and took active part in the slaughter of the town’s Jews.
The Poles deeply detested the new Lithuanian bosses, and in many cases they helped the Jews out against the Lithuanians and Germans. The Poles took more active part in helping to annihilate the remaining Jews who were in hiding when the Polish Fascists began to rage through the countryside. The murderers finished slaughtering the few hidden Jews.
It was very hard to hide from them because the Polish peasants considered the Polish Fascists to be their flesh and blood, and they didn’t only support them, but also gave them information about the Red Partisans and the Jews. (A former Polish officer named Szidlowsky was the leader of the Polish Fascists in the Susani region.)
From December 25, 1941 until April 19, 1942 Avrom and his brother Nokhem-Ber and sister Sore Eynbinder were at the home of the peasant Michal Figurewitz in the village of Pawlukanz. (See the end of Sore Eynbinder’s testimony.) From there all three went away, and hid for ten days in the swamps.
After surviving a bitter struggle against hunger, cold, filth and terror, they managed to obtain a hiding place at the home of the peasant Jan Mikulewitz at a settlement near the village of Gritzuzi, where they stayed for four months in the attic of a barn.
They were there until January 8, 1943. Neighbors nearby found out about the hidden Jews, and they had to leave the spot. They went to another peasant named Francischek Gursky, in the same village. They were at that peasant’s place for a couple of weeks until neighbors found out, and all three Jews had to leave that spot as well. They returned to the peasant Figurewitz, where they stayed until the spring of 1943.
For one month they were with the peasant Eduard Lukowsky. Through the area wandered Red Army soldiers who had escaped imprisonment, but hadn’t yet gotten in contact with the Red Partisans. The Lithuanian partisans found out about them and began carrying out roundups in the region. The Jews had to leave the area, and they went to a peasant friend of theirs in the village of Gritzuni, and then in the village of Pawlukane. For three months, until a few weeks before the liberation, the three Jews were with the peasant Romanowsky in the village of Gritzuni. They lay hidden at the peasant’s house behind the oven. During the raids, or when they were threatened with a danger of being caught, they hid in a bunker that had been prepared in the peasant’s pig stall. Despite all the precautions the brothers and their sister took, they were spotted by close neighbors and had to leave the spot.
For the last period, a little less than a month, the three Jews were with a very good, poor Polish peasant named Jan Mikulewitz. Avrom, his brother Nokhem-Ber and their sister Sore stayed with the peasant until the liberation on July 7, 1944.
Throughout the time, at every peasant home, the two brothers and Sore tried not to cause their rescuers too much trouble in exchange for saving them. They suffered a good deal of hunger, and a good deal of cold and deadly terror. They paid all of the peasants generously with objects, money, gold coins and valuables which the wonderfully good Polish townsman, the shoemaker and glazier Aleksander Semaszko, used to provide them with after getting a note from them. Peasants gradually realized that the peasant Semaszko had a Jewish “treasure.” Semaszko used to come to visit them, and affectionately talk to the hidden Jews, whom he encouraged and comforted, helping them to be strong and hold out until the liberation. With fiery eyes full of joy Semaszko would talk about the happy moment when the hidden Jews would be released, and when they would be equal to everyone. Semaszko didn’t live to see that happy moment.
Shortly before the liberation the organist from the village of Susani moved in to Semaszko’s house. The organist apparently had found out that Semaszko was hiding Jewish wealth. In the month of April 1944, the good Pole was found dead in his house. Neighbors stated that he had been found poisoned, and the suspicion fell on the organist, who had moved into Semaszko’s house. The organist inherited the goods of the hidden Jews.
 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 Lithuania, recorded by Leyb Koniuchowsky, in Displaced Persons’ Camps (1946-48)