N.B. was one of the most beautiful women in Shavli, born to a highly respected family in our city. Her father was a pediatrician who delivered and took care of many of our town's children. After the Nazi invasion the family was driven, with the rest of the Jewish population to the Ghetto where they shared the bitter fate of all the inmates.
She was assigned and sent by the Ghetto labor office to clean the offices of the headquarters of the German Gestapo in town, one of the most dangerous and frightening jobs available. Daily she was confronted with the brutal sadistic behavior of the Nazi monsters, the beatings, torture and murder. Jews driven to this hell-hole almost never left that place alive. Among the Jewish Ghetto inmates working there was Nathan Katz. Nathan worked there as an electrician and going from place to place carried a large tool box. In it he built a double deck and was able to smuggle some food into the Ghetto.
In 1942 the Ghetto administration organized a small "hospital" on the grounds of the Jewish cemetery to take care of the sick and hungry inmates. Neither the Germans nor the local Lithuanian population were interested in the health problems of the Ghetto. There were a few doctors in the Ghetto but no medicine was provided. In desperation the Ghetto administration contacted some of their Lithuanian colleagues for help. Dr. Jasaitis was the only one to try and help but it was totally insufficient. Since N. was cleaning the Gestapo headquarters, she had access to the local infirmary and the medicine cabinets.
With the help of a Gestapo officer who was captivated by her charms and beauty she was able to take some medicine from the cabinets and transfer it to Nathan Katz who smuggled it into the Ghetto hidden in his tool box. The German officer turned a blind eye to this action and it went on for a long while. Many Ghetto inhabitants were healed by this risky and selfless action but very few knew about it.
She was also, with the help of the German officer, involved in releasing some captured Jews from jail and certain death. Eventually the liaison between the officer and L. was discovered by the Gestapo. He was sent to the Russian battlefront and she was tortured and eventually murdered. Odd that none of the survivors, not even those that were rescued from certain death by her selfless actions, are willing to talk about it.
November 12, 2008
This is an open letter to the young generation of Lithuanians whose knowledge of event in the country prior and during the Second World War is, to say the least minimal due to your grandparents and parent reluctance to reveal their participation in the almost total annihilation of Lithuania's Jewish community.
Their involvement in the atrocities, the mass murder of Jews was voluntary and greater than in any other European country and the true reason for this murderous hatred was incitement and greed. They needed no encouragement from the Nazis to murder Jews, just a free hand and protection from the law. The economic benefits from this are scattered all over the land.
As it is said in the bible: "thou hast killed and inherited"
A great majority of the Lithuanian population hated Jews even before they saw one of them entering the country. This all pervasive and inbred hatred is even worse than the aids virus. At least the aids virus will eventually be conquered but I doubt if hating Jews in Lithuania can be eradicated.
After the First World War a Jewish lawyer successfully presented the case for Lithuanian independence before the League of Nations. Jewish volunteers joined the ranks of the emerging Lithuanian army and fought against the invading Polish and Soviet forces.
They were instrumental in establishing and promoting the almost non existent economic and industrial infrastructure in the land.
In a country where the majority of the population lived in the countryside in small subsistence family farms and existed on what they were able to produce, where illiteracy was the norm, the Jews brought progress and hope for a better life.
For hundreds of years the Polish shlachta and the Russian nobility with the support of the clergy exploited the local population and kept it in practical slavery. The Zubovs, the Tishkevitz, the Radzivils and others not only exploited the helpless local population but suppressed their culture, their political and economic aspirations and their hope for a better future. The poverty in the countryside was appalling.
Jacob Frenkel, the son of the founder and owner of the largest industrial complex in Shiauliai Lithuania quotes his father describing his trips to the countryside in search of tree bark needed for tanning He describes the terrible poverty and squalor, the hovels with thatched roofs, without chimneys, the lack of basic necessities and tools.
This appalling poverty did not descend from heaven and was not caused by the Jews.
It was caused by the entrenched nobilities' greed and exploitation.
Yet murderous hatred never stuck to them.
Very few blamed the foreign or local nobility for their misfortune. If there were any expressions of hatred against them they were always able to divert that hatred by blaming the Jews for all misfortunes, for their bottomless poverty.
It was their basic policy to keep the population illiterate, to squeeze the most out of them, to maintain their own high standards of living.
The Catholic clergy was their main tool in spreading hatred for the Jews, spreading libelous stories against the Jews the God killers, children kidnappers, blood users for baking matzo and so on.
It was easy to implant that hatred into a backward, unhappy and suffering population.
Vytautas the Great did not invite the Jews into the country out of love. He realized that with the help of Jewish craftsmen, merchants and know-how and international ties he would be able to bring progress and development to his backward domain.
The results of the industrial revolution in Western Europe reached Lithuania mainly through the contacts, initiative and industriousness of the Jews. They founded the leather industry: (Frenkel, Nurok, Chorinzitsky, Rogalin), soap manufacturing (Zuvale, Koruna) , industrial shoe production (Batas) furniture and chocolate manufacturing, linen processing and many others. They were active in import and export of goods and much foreign currency reached Lithuania sent by Jewish expatriates to support their needy families and there were many of them.
In spite of the discrimination and periodic attacks against the Jews by the incited local population over the years they never rioted, never burnt down houses, never beat up people on the streets. They were loyal, law abiding citizens who contributed their ability and industriousness for the betterment of life in the country.
Didn't you ever wonder who built and lived in the home you claim as your own, the strange engraving on the silverware you use at the diner table, the furniture tainted with Jewish blood?
Sixty-seven years have passed and suddenly the two Jewish Nobel Prize winners born in Lithuania are being honored, Jewish cultural and religious objects have become national treasures, the Vilna Gaon is being revered, Jewish mass murder sites are being preserved to attract Jewish tourists (money)
Jews over the years were viciously accused of corruption and unethical practices. Look at Lithuania now, practically without Jews. It has the worst corruption record in all of Europe, mass alcoholism and crime.
The Jews never reached this level of economic and ethical corruption.
This is the true story of Lithuanian Jewry that your grandparents and parents will do their best to hide from you..
This true account of the annihilation of the Jewish community in Lithuania during the Holocaust is available in print and on the internet.
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel ppublishes a magazine called "Gachelet" that can be found in all the major libraries in the States as well as on our internet site's English section: www.Lithuanianjews.org.il
October 15, 2008
Hate and interests
Killing and disinheriting a quarter of a million innocent Jewish citizens does not apparently satisfy the murderous scum that has raised its ugly head again in "democratic humanistic" Lithuania.
During the week-end of August 10-11th the premises of the Panevezys and the main offices of the Vilnius Jewish community were defaced with anti-Jewish slogans and Nazi Symbols. Many such attacks happen all over the country but receive no publicity.
There are many attempts by the Lithuanian government to justify the mass murder of Jews and the expropriation of their property by claiming that Jews were also involved in killing "innocent" Lithuanians. An analogy as if big bad wolf accuses little red riding hood of attacking him.
The recent attempt to accuse former Jewish partisans, escapees from the killing fields of Lithuania, of genocide is a crude attempt to justify mass murder of innocent Jews by local cutthroats.
The conscious judicial protection given to Lithuanian mass murderers whose horrifying deeds are known to every single surviving Lithuanian of that catastrophic era and the silence of most of the witnesses smells of moral corruption. Not one of the known mass killers ever stood trial for murder of innocent helpless Jewish men women and children yet a Lithuanian, a Soviet collaborator was sentenced recently and deprived of freedom for eight years. At least he received a "trial"; Jews were not granted that privilege.
Neither the Lithuanian justice structure nor the police are guided by the principals of universal law, fair play and justice.
Mindaugas Murza and his ilk are marching all over Lithuania in Nazi uniforms and insignias and spreading hate like in the "good old days". It became so wide spread that the American born president, the honorable Valdas Adamkus, wrote a scathing article in the press accusing the local hooligans of causing damage to the image of Lithuania in the World.
Not the almost total extermination of the defenseless Lithuanian Jewish community and the continued virulent attacks by the Murzas of the country trouble the leadership of Lithuania but the impression it makes on the World. He addressed his demand to the local institutions of justice to take measures to stop the hateful provocations and pass stricter laws punishable by jail sentences.
Lithuania today is still permeated by virulent anti-Semitism in spite of the fact that there are practically no Jews left there.
It is the new generation of Jews that should take notice of it.
August 14th, 2008
A Picture from our Painful Past
This is the man that every survivor of the Shavli Ghetto should remember. This is Ziegel, the superintendent of the Frenkel leather factory in Shavli during the Nazi occupation. A mean, violent sadist, he enjoyed torturing the hopeless and hungry Jewish workers and never missed an opportunity to cause them pain and suffering.
An attempted break out of the Traku Ghetto occurred on 8 June 1944. Ziegel pursued the escapees with a drawn revolver shooting at any Jew outside the factory compound and killed three young Jewish men, one of them whom I still remember. His last name was Malk, the son of the town's butcher.
In 1947 Ziegel was caught in Bavaria and sentenced to six years in prison: two years for each murdered Jewish youngster!
May 25, 2008
Since its inception the new Lithuanian government has made every effort, used every trick, any manipulation to justify the denial of dual citizenship to people born and raised in Lithuania who emigrated or fled the country after the Second World War. The Lithuanian Seimas spent countless hours of debate looking for ways to untie this Gordian Knot, to appear fair and yet refuse to grant the request for dual citizenship to many expatriates scattered all over the world. Lithuanian judiciary organs have spent much time and energy to weigh the possibilities and consequences of this problem without coming to a conclusion.
Conditions and obstacles were artificially put in the way of the claimants: one had to be born in the country, one could not become a citizen of another country, ones who fled their homeland to escape the wrath of the advancing Soviet army and others that chose to leave the grave-yard of their people and "move to their homeland" (Israel). It is now and was abundantly clear from the beginning that this shameless subterfuge was directed specifically against the Jews, people who were born in Lithuania and have for many centuries contributed so much to the social, cultural and economic well being of the country.
Appeals by ethnic Lithuanians scattered all over the world for return of their property were rejected because it would become a precedent and grant the Jews equal rights. This legal maneuvering has only one purpose: how to separate the demands of the ethnic Lithuanians from the legitimate claims of the Jews? Ethnic Lithuanians who left or fled the country after the war still had families there who could look after their claims. The few surviving Jews had no such advantages. The few who laid claim to assets accumulated by their families over the pre war years were rejected.
This is the dilemma facing the Lithuanian legal system: how can one grant the claim of one and reject the claim of another?
There were even appeals by ethnic Lithuanians to the European high court of justice in Strasburg, (the nephew of former president of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona) and others demanding the return of their family's property) and were rejected outright. The true reason for denying this legal right of ownership present in all democratic legal systems was never mentioned until recently.
In an article by Egle Digryte on May 5th 2008 she writes that the leaders of the national alliance proposed to grant dual citizenship to former exiles, ethnic Lithuanians, Lithuanian emigrants to the United States and their children only. This should prevent present citizens of Israel and Poland from reclaiming property that belonged to them before the war. What's mine is mine and what's yours is also mine.
This is the true reason for the annihilation of the Jewish community, men women and children during the horror years of 1941-1945, and now the cat is out of the bag.
May 22, 2008
Intolerance and hate nurtured over many generations in Lithuania presented itself in its ugliest form again this year on the 11th of March in Vilnius. A crowd of about 200 skinheads carrying national flags adorned with Nazi symbols and slogans marched the streets of Vilnius, singing nationalist songs, shouting anti-Semitic slogans and calling for the murder of the Jews. The local police stood by as if they were totally indifferent to the disgusting spectacle. Neither the police officers sitting in their squad cars and taking pictures, nor the people walking by raised their voices to protest the revolting expression of hate. All this was happening while the Lithuanian foreign minister was in Israel promoting Israeli tourism to attract Jewish investment in its failing local economy.
Much of the progress, cultural economic and industrial development in Lithuania over the past hundreds of years was initiated by Jews in spite of restrictions and discriminating laws. The Jews were the best thing that ever happened to that country but were never appreciated. It only caused jealousy and hate.
Suffice to see the present situation in the country with the highest crime rate in Europe, the highest alcoholism rate, the worst corruption in government circles and there are almost no Jews to blame.
Can you take a glimpse beyond the screen of murderous hate, xenophobia and intolerance and see the true picture of yourselves? Are you capable of appreciating and judging your murderous past in it's true light? Do you really expect us to forgive and forget when the graves of our innocent families, friends and ancestors are still being desecrated almost daily, when murder in the name of expropriation of property is government policy?
Murder, robbery and hate were not one of the Ten Commandments!
March 20, 2008
His name was Liolke Matis, a young man of approximately my age. He wore heavy glasses and I never saw him without a book under his arms. He was the son of a high school teacher and had a little sister. I used to meet him evenings on Vilnius Street the usual meeting place (promenade) of our town. He was extremely well read. I enjoyed strolling with him and discussing current events, the pace of change and the fluid situation in the World. Those were the times of Hitler's rise to power, the Spanish civil war, the Soviet attack on Finland and the situation of the Jews in all this turmoil. He always claimed that the individual has the right and duty to refuse unreasonable requests and should stand up against bullying. Compromise, he claimed makes things worse in the long run.
We always argued about the possibilities of an individual standing up against the power of the authorities. I always enjoyed the stimulating conversations and was looking forward to our next meeting.
During the Soviet occupation of 1940-1941 I was in my last year of high school and very busy preparing for the matriculation exams. I assume that he was also. Fear and uncertainty, the main characteristics of the Soviet regime, made discussing politics extremely dangerous. One never knew whom to trust. That year we almost never saw each other.
June 22nd was the beginning of the annihilation of our Jewish community, and it began with what the Lithuanians call now the uprising. By June 26th the Nazi juggernaut entered town and the Lithuanian "freedom fighters" unleashed their murderous attack against their Jewish neighbors. Jews were hunted, arrested, beaten and disposed off.
During that two week period Jews were rounded up and marched to work to do the dirtiest, most degrading and backbreaking work available. Rabbis were forced to clean latrines and to eat pork while the local population cheered and encouraged the armed torturers.
Among one of the columns of Jews driven to "Gubernia", a suburb of our town, was my friend Liolke Matis. He never returned to his family. He was taken to the army barracks in the area and told to empty the latrines with his bare hands. He refused! He was kicked and beaten terribly but still refused. The human monsters finally beat him to death, shot him and left his body for all to see.
His Father, mother and sister perished in the hell of what was Europe during the last war.
February 20, 2008
News from the Association, March 2008
GACHELET March 2008 has been posted to friends. The editor, Mrs. Rachel Levin, has once again presented us with an outstanding issue!
Save the date - PURIM PARTY - at the Association, 19.3.2008 at 18:30
News from the Association, February 2008
The below article was picked up from the website http://galileanword.blogspot.com/2007/06/torah-dedicated-aboard-uss-harry-s.html
Do follow the link to read the entire story.
NORFOLK, Va. (June 24, 2007) - USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Commanding Officer, Capt. Herman Shelanski, left, and Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, bow their heads in prayer at the commencement of the Torah dedication ceremony in the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier's hangar bay. The holy Jewish Torah in the background, one of the few scrolls from Lithuania to survive the Holocaust, was presented to Truman by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and will be on loan to Truman and displayed for 41 years, or the duration of the ship's life. The smaller Torah in the foreground, known as the Truman Torah, was presented to President Harry S. Truman by Israel's first President, Chaim Weizmann in gratitude for America's diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel in 1948. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson (RELEASED)
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel has in the last two years received two large pictures; one depicting the Apellplatz in Dachau and the other the Death March. They are on display in our large meeting room. Both were painted and donated by Mr. Sam Pruchno, a Shavler survivor of Dachau.
Mr. Sam Pruchno, a retired industrialist from Detroit started this hobby after retirement and produced two impressive pieces of art. We are very grateful for this magnanimous gesture. Kol Hakavod !!! Continue the good work!