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Grant Arthur Gochin

The slaughter of the Jews of Tzveretzius

Vidzy-Belarus-to-Adutiskis-Google-Maps
Vidzy-Belarus-to-Adutiskis-Google-Maps

Note: I find no record of Tzveretzius on Google Maps. From the description of neighboring villages, I have marked the approximate area where it must have been.

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)

I have published many testimonies in Times of Israel. Various points of clarification have been requested by readers. For explanation:

  1. When the term “partisan” is used by a surviving Jew, it refers to a Lithuanian.
  2. “Inherited” means the items were plundered from persecuted Jews.

 

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS OF TZVERETZIUS

The testimony of Shmuel Reykhl, born in Tveretzius on March 28, 1894. He lived in Tveretzius for his entire life until the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union. He had an elementary school education. He was a merchant by trade. His father’s name was Avrom ­Tzvi, and his mother was Reyze-Gitl Zorokhovitz.

Tveretzius is a small town in Švenčionys County, on the stream that formed the boundary between Lithuania and White Russia in 1941. The river was called the Disenke. The town is located twelve kilometers from the White Russian town of Vidz. It is twenty kilometers from Adutiškis, and fourteen kilometers from Kazan.

When the war broke out there were two Jewish families in town: the family of Khone Epshteyn and that of Shmuel Reykhl. Both families were traders.

After the Germans arrived in town a Lithuanian police force was established. The Jews continued living in their homes. They had to wear two yellow patches. The Lithuanian police often forced the men of both families to do various kinds of manual labor. They were not allowed to leave town. In general the two families lived relatively much more normally than Jew in the larger towns did. They were isolated and cut off from the Jews in the surrounding towns.

Some time later terrible news began to reach the two Jewish families concerning the slaughter of the Jews in surrounding Lithuanian towns. The town’s mayor assured the two Jewish families that he would protect them from any trouble. The two Jewish families lived in deadly terror among a hundred Lithuanian families.

On Friday, September 26 Shmuel went to see the mayor Bilinys to find out what the situation of the two families was. Shmuel brought him a “gift” and asked him to tell Shmuel what was in store for the Jews. Bilinys told Shmuel that the two families could continue living in town for another month. Shmuel noticed something doubtful in his response, however.

That night, Friday, September 26, at 1:00 a.m., police knocked on the door. Shmuel’s mother saw the armed Lithuanians outside and shouted out: “Children, get up! It’s not good! Death has come for us!” Outside the moon shone brightly. Shmuel jumped out through the window into the yard and began to run. A group of policeman chased after him and shot at him. Shmuel went into the forest near town.

A Jewish family named Reykhl from a village called Petzurke, two kilometers from Tveretzius, was brought to Tveretzius that night. The seven or eight members of this family had lived at their own mill in the village for generations, until that Friday night.

That Saturday, along with the two Jewish families from Tveretzius, they were brought to Maleganai. They were taken to the town of Tzeikiniai along with the Jews of Maleganai. The Jews of Tzeikiniai had already been forced out of their houses and placed on wagons, and they were being guarded as they waited for the transport from Maleganai.

A large group of armed police and partisans took the Jews of Tzeikiniai, Maleganai and Tveretzius to the compound near Švenčionys. (Concerning their later fate, see the collective testimonies of Dr Taraseysky and Yankl Levin.)

Shmuel’s brother Binyomin escaped from the wagon on the way to the town of Maleganai. The two surviving brothers struggled bitterly to survive. Twenty months later they met each other. Both of them hid together with peasant friends in the countryside.

More than once they risked falling into the hands of Lithuanian police and partisans. They miraculously escaped and survived. One of the many peasants who helped Shmuel and his brother and supported them for the last thirteen months was a very good Lithuanian peasant, a wealthy man with a family of eighteen and workers who weren’t members of the family. The peasant was named Jonas Matkevitzius and he lived in the town of Pakalnishkis, four kilometers from the town of Tveretzius. Shmuel and his brother had known him well before the war, and they used to do business with him.

Only he and his wife knew about the two hidden Jews. They hid in the attic of a horse barn. The two brothers were liberated on June 6, 1944 by the Red Army.

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