Following the Traces Left by Fascist Killers
Not long ago in the "Pergales" ("Victory") movie theatre, as I was watching a film, Stars, I heard a lady next to me whisper into her husband’s ear while wiping away her tears: "It’s hard to fancy the pain the Jewish people had to go through ..." The spectators were leaving the theatre silently as if trying to take away the last impression with them. It was obvious they were moved by the torment and pain that the Jewish people had to go through during the years of fascist atrocities. Yes, that was a very fair and well done film! However, I must say that only a small part of the sufferings of Jews during the years of fascist occupation were depicted in it. Take, let’s say, my life as an example. . .
The bombarded Kelme is on fire. We had heard earlier that Hitler could hardly bear the sight of Jews. We could not, however, know that Jews would be murdered. I was only fourteen at that time. Thus, it was only natural for me to think Why should I be murdered? What wrong have I done?
Following the advice given by some Lithuanians we knew, we escaped from Kelme. We found ourselves at my mother’s relatives in Saukenai. We thought it would be a safe place to hide away from the monstrosities of the war. But this appeared to be a very naive and childish way of thinking. The next morning witnessed the repressions taken against the Jewish people in Saukenai as well. We were all taken to a former Jewish Shul where a man named Koloksa was sitting at the door with his gang, taking away all the valuable possessions we had. Having taken all the things from us, they drove us out to the Sukiskes manor house. While walking, we were administered a strap and ordered to sing. None of us opened their mouths for a song. We were locked up in a barn after reaching the manor. We were given neither bread nor water for two days. The men wearing white bands would approach the door teasing us: "Don’t worry, you’ll be much lighter so we’ll need less
The children were separated from their parents. They were told they were being taken to a bath... Mother, my dearest mother! My dearest father! I haven’t seen you since then... How big was your fault for those people in white bands to shoot you alongside with other people of our kindred at the white cross between Kurtuvenai and Saukenai?
I understood later the meaning of the terrible rattling I heard in the distance when we were walking together with Frida Niselevich. That was the rattling of the machine guns that took away not only our parents but also parents of hundreds of other children. Having learned about the death of her parents, Frida went mad. She would run around villages screaming "The sky is on fire, on fire ..."
That was the truth: the sky was on fire with all the gods; the ground was on fire soaked with the blood of our parents. I couldn’t understand one thing though: where all the Gods we were told about had vanished allowing the fascists to commit such crimes on earth?
The Jewish God was silent. So was the Catholic God on the white cross between Kurtuvenai and Saukenai. The blood was soaking the ground wet ...
Before the children shooting act, we were told by some people from Saukenai that tomorrow we would be taken to the place of execution. I managed to escape.
The night was dark. Cold. I spent all night in a forest near Saukenai trembling from cold. Another night came. What was I supposed to do, where could I go, who would take me in? I decided to reach the town in the dark.
With the help of a certain old man I established myself in the Pavainiskes village with the Rackauskas family. They had buried their daughter not long ago, thus they gave me her clothes to wear. For some time I was hiding on the furnace where bread was usually baked, however, soon the kulaks discovered my shelter.
One day one of them came and asked: "Where do you keep that Jewish sting?"
Luckily for me, my hosts managed to make the murderers drunk and during that time I escaped to the forest. I heard someone shooting into the air several times. Fearing the punishment from his authorities for his stupidity, the murderer fired a few shots into the air to show that the escaped Jewish girl Mary Javno was shot to death. The hosts staged a false funeral. That day their little pig had died. It was wrapped in a linen sheet and buried in the forest. The neighbors wept over the young Jewish girl who "failed" to escape ...
I was hiding in the Pavainiskes village until the time when the prisoners of war shot the two policemen, Juodkazis and Cepulis. Finally, we felt one morning that our villages were all surrounded by Hitler’s soldiers and policemen with dogs. My hosts told me to run to the forest. They gave me a piece of bread and some smoked bacon and I ran away to hide under a fir tree at the distant end of the forest. I was fortunate for the soldiers did not reach the backwoods. The winter was cold. I was lying on the ground in my dress only without stirring a limb. In the evening, when the Rackauskas daughter came looking for me, I could not move for my belly was frozen to the ground. After being torn away from it, a big wound remained ...
Having survived and after healing a little, I left and headed in the direction where my eyes and feet were taking me. Holding closer to the huts, fainting from starvation, I finally reached Siauliai and with the help of some acquaintances I lived with different people. I would like to kindly mention the names of some people who helped me: The Cepaiciai family, and my classmate Janina Purvaneckaite who helped me immensely.
Unfortunately, I did not escape from the ghetto or prison, though I managed to escape from death more than once however.
I would have to write a thick book to tell my life story, but my memory is failing me. What else did I want to say? Ah, yes, about the man I mentioned, Koloksa! I will remember him, the cruel murderer, for as long as I live. I want to relate an episode where he participated in an execution of the runaway Jews.
This happened during the last days of the German occupation. Near Saukenai, the bourgeois nationalists brought fifteen of the runaway Jews. Koloksa drew the circle on the ground and ordered everybody to lie down. To those who did not understand he explained: "Lie down so that you form the shape of the daisy flower." The people did as they were told. Yes, one could tell the circle reminded of the daisy blossom. Koloksa, standing on the truck, fired at the people on the
To those who were watching his "game" he explained: "What now, people, you’ve lost in this bet your five liters of vodka! I have proved that a daisy can bloom in red."
Blood was streaming from the petals of the "flower" making the colorful meadow red. Somewhere, not far away, the murderers were drinking the five liters of vodka they had won in the bet. To me, it seemed they were drinking the blood of the dead ...
Raudonoji Veliava (Red Flag)
29 October, 1960>
Copyright LitvakSIG, June 1998
The Eye Witness Series Project seeks to document first person accounts of the Massacre of Lithuanian Jewry during the Shoah, the Holocaust period.