Testimonies of terror in Lithuania during the Holocaust
By Grant Gochin
(*Appeared first in The Times of Israel)
There were very few survivors from Lithuania.
In the villages, there were almost none. We know what happened in some locations because we have testimonies from some survivors.
Yakov Zak testified about the Lithuanian Holocaust:
“The rabbi of Kelmė, Kalmen Benushevits, who had escaped to Vaiguva at the outbreak of the war, had been brought together with the Jews from Vaiguva. He had been forced to kneel next to the pit the entire day. He had quietly whispered a prayer, watching while the Jews were shot. After all the Jews were shot, he was shot as well.”
“The mystic religious melodies of the yeshiva students, their rabbis and leaders were eternally silenced. The town was ruined down to the foundations; the Jewish community of Kelmė was ruined forever. Peasants also related that while the yeshiva students were being taken to be shot, they did not weep. Like stone statues, they moved slowly, with their eyes raised to the sky, murmuring prayers.”
What is little known and seldom discussed is the particular cruelty and contempt that Lithuanians displayed towards observant Jews during the Holocaust. Frequently, Jews were tied by their beards to horses and dragged to their deaths as a form of public entertainment. They were beheaded, and publicly tortured. Everywhere, Torah scrolls and religious books and objects were destroyed and burnt.
My own cousin, Sheyne Beder of Birzai Lithuania, testified: “One day, shortly after Dr. Levin was shot, the Lithuanian murderers carried out the popular rabbi of Birzai, Rabbi Bernshteyn. He was taken to the Shirvenas Lake. There the rabbi was forced to duck underwater several times. Then the murders explained to the rabbi that he, Bernshteyn, was guilty of all the sins that Jews had committed against the world, and that he was responsible for the sins of all the Jews of Birzai. They set his beard on fire, burned his body with irons and finally shot him”.
For Lithuanians, the blood sport of torturing Jewish clergy was particularly entertaining. After starving and torturing the Jews, Lithuanians would take pleasure in murdering children in front of their parents and raping daughters in front of their fathers. By humiliating and destroying clergy in front of their congregations, spirituality and entire belief systems were upended, leaving only the human shell of the Jews left to murder.
Dvoyre Lazarsky of Ariogala Lithuania and Frida Praz of Vaiguva Lithuania, testified:
“The rabbi of Raseiniai, Rabbi Katz, was not in the camp. He sat in his home and studied day and night. With a broken heart, he observed the annihilation of his congregation. But he could not help them. The heavens, to which he shouted and pleaded for mercy from the depths of his heart, remained mute. Lithuanian partisans once came to the old man’s house. They found him sitting and studying. They ordered him to get dressed and go along with them. He categorically refused to go along and announced that he knew where they were taking him, and that he was ready to be shot in his home. The murderers spared him two times, and went away. The third time, two partisans came and forced the rabbi to leave his house. Dvoyre personally saw the rabbi being taken away in the direction of Jurbarkas, to Zhuvelishkiai. The rabbi went slowly, marking his steps, his head bowed down low to the ground. The murderers took the rabbi to Zhuvelishkiai, and there they shot him.”
The government of Lithuania states “No partisan ever murdered a Jew”. The Lithuanian government has an entire government agency dedicated to Holocaust fraud. They constantly report how many Lithuanians were benevolent to Jews. A testimony from Elke Flaks, born in the town of Krazhiai is an example of Lithuanian benevolence:
“When they arrived at the pit, Rabbi Kremerman held his youngest child in his arm. In his other hand he held a book, and he recited something for the children. The murderer permitted the rabbi and the children to say their confession before death, and ordered them to undress.”
Lithuania had the highest murder rate of Jews in all of Europe. It was safer to be a Jew in Nazi Germany, than it was to be a Jew in Lithuania. The participation of local Lithuanians in the Holocaust was massive, in some places, estimates indicate that 50% of the population participated. Not a single Holocaust perpetrator has ever been punished by the Government of Lithuania. Deliberately.
Khonon Reif, born in the town of Tirkshliai testified:
“The last Jew brought to the marketplace was the town rabbi, Kalmen Magid. The bandits made the men line up in rows. The director of the Lithuanian gymnasium, Miltsius, placed the rabbi in front of all the Jews, cut off his beard with a pair of scissors and cut a crucifix into the hair on his head. Rabbi Kalmen Magid stood with his head bowed, weeping. All the Jews wept with him. The Lithuanian population of the town and from the surrounding countryside had assembled to watch this show, and they enjoyed it thoroughly. When they were finished with the rabbi, the murderers pulled out the town doctor, Khayim Lipman. He was from Kaunas. His parents and brother were sent to Russia as bourgeois in the spring of 1941. The Lithuanian murderer ordered the doctor to point out the Communists among the Jews. Dr. Lipman responded that there were no Communists among the Jews of Vekshniai. The Lithuanian murderers began to entertain the Lithuanian public. They forced the Jews to dance around the rabbi and clap their hands, and to fall down and get back up. If any Jew collapsed, the Lithuanians doused him with cold water and forced him to get back up and dance again.”
Reif further testified:
“Finally the Lithuanian murderers forced the rabbi to get onto a horse, and then they forced the assistant rabbi, Rabbi Bloch, to pour a bucket of water on Rabbi Magid’s head. On a nearby hill next to the study house, stood the entire Lithuanian intelligentsia of the town, dressed in their holiday clothes, along with simple peasants. All of them watched as their Jewish neighbors were tormented, and they enthusiastically clapped as if they were watching a circus.
The German ordered all the Jews to line up, and each one had to pass by him. The German asked the happy Lithuanian “intellectuals” as each Jew passed him by: “Communist?”
The Lithuanians answered each time, “Yes, Communist!” At this, the German would strike the Jew with his whip. The Lithuanians would begin to applaud. The show at the marketplace and then at the synagogue yard lasted for more than three hours.”
Khane Pelts testified:
“In one group were the town rabbi, Rabbi Yitshok Bloch, his brother Reb Zalmen Bloch, Rabbi Azriel Rabinovitz, Rabbi Pinchas Elfand and several other pious Jews with long beards. Together with them were many students of the yeshiva. It was told that at the grave, Rabbi Zalmen Bloch gave a speech to the Jews, telling them that they should die proudly for the glory of God’s name, repenting for the sins which the Jewish people had committed over the course of many years. Yitshok (Iske) Bloch (not a relative), also made a final speech. He was a Revisionist. He said to the murderers: “You are sprinkling the trees with our blood, and the floors will be washed with your blood in revenge.” Iske Bloch was sliced into pieces with knives. The rabbis’ beards were torn out along with pieces of flesh, and then they were shot”.
Malke Gilis testified about the daughter of a Rabbi:
“Mrs. Elfant, born in Yelok, daughter of the rabbi in Yelok. As Mery Shlomovitz relates, Mrs. Heni Bloch (nee Blekhman) had begun to give birth at the pit. The Lithuanian murderers threw the unfortunate mother into the pit while she was still alive. The little, half-born child was dragged along after its mother as she was thrown into the pit. The Lithuanian murderers were doubled over with laughter at this tragic scene. Mery saw this incident with her own eyes, while she was standing not far from the pit.”
Yente Alter (nee Gershovitz) testified:
“All day long on Thursday, June 26, 1941, the men continued to be tormented in various murderous ways. The town rabbi Shmuel Fundler and Shmuel Gershovitz had half their beards shaved off by the Germans, who chased them around the yard together with the rest of the men. The torture of the men became a daily program for the German murderers and their loyal assistants, the Lithuanian partisans.”
Continuing she testified that:
“there were lootings virtually every day. Any Lithuanian who wanted to, looted openly and freely. While Jews worked, partisans would torment, bully and mock their religion. They had a weakness for teasing, mocking and tormenting religious Jews. Once at work in the courtyard and park of the Polish Count Oginsky, Rabbi Shmuel Fundler was forced to get into harness instead of a horse. The rabbi could not withstand this, and suffered a heart attack. He lay dead on the spot. This was July 2 or 3 1941.”
No government has ever created and implemented such a sophisticated Holocaust revision program, as Lithuania. It is the only government in the world ever to go to court in order to defend the good reputation of someone who was a mass murderer of Jews.
Lithuania had a miniscule Jewish survival rate of 3.6% – the lowest in the world. Only 0.04% of Lithuanians have been proven to have rescued Jews. Due to the intense pleasure Lithuanians derived from murdering Jewish clergy, almost none survived.
Every aspect of Jewish life became a target for dehumanization by creative Lithuanian perpetrators, and their Nazi enablers. Mass rape of young Jewish virgins was common. Rape is an act of violence and humiliation. In one well known case, it was combined with the destruction of personal identity and religion. Every component of their victims identity was stripped from them prior to their murder. JewishGen describes the events as follows:
People still talk about one particular grave in which 74 high school girls were shot. This is what happened: The Nazis and their local collaborators selected these girls from the school, used them for their own pleasure and then brought them to the mass grave sites to be killed. But then, for a brief moment, a miracle happened. A priest arrived and told the girls that he would convert them to Christianity, and thereby save them from being shot. Was this a sincere gesture on the part of the priest to save the girls? Or was it merely the commander’s cruel deception of the priest and the girls? These are still unanswered questions. It soon became clear to the girls that no such miracle had occurred when they saw the murderers making the preparations to execute them. And when the girls began to resist, they began shooting. One of the girls was able to grab hold of a half drunken murderer and began choking him. She was immediately fended off by another one of them who split her head open with his rifle. In this way everyone was killed on the spot and tossed into a mass grave. They say that this particular girl who put up a fight was tall and strong. Her name was Rochale Tsin. This is how all the girls were killed. Today they lie in the first grave by the entrance at the Koshan Memorial.
Jews were also incarcerated in their beautiful shuls, starved there for weeks, then often set on fire. Lithuanians did this to dehumanize us and to inspire doubt in our God, and destroy our souls, before murdering our bodies. It was a Chilllul Hashem of the worst kind; a desecration of God’s name and presence that ended 600 years of flourishing Jewish life.
Continuing Lithuanian Holocaust revisionism and their heroization of the murderers, is dehumanization of Jews. It is Holocaust triumphalism. Does this not compel us to demand justice?
On September 14, 2022, Cantor Dudu Fisher (of Lithuanian descent) will join with Cantor Daniel Singer (also of Lithuanian descent) to present the documentary, ‘Baltic Truth’. The documentary will address the massive fraudulent cover up of Lithuanian Holocaust crimes by the current government of Lithuania. Fisher and Singer are among two of the greatest Litvak cantors in history. They will implore the heavens, as did Rabbi Katz for mercy, from the depths of their souls. They will commemorate and memorialize our Jewish brothers and sisters, who were murdered with such delight and enthusiasm by their Lithuanian neighbors.
Following in the spirit of the testimony of Khonon Reiff that “….Rabbi Kalmen Magid ordered everyone to recite the Jewish confessional prayer, and did the same himself,” cantors Fisher and Singer will too recite the Confessional Prayer ordered by Rabbi Magid, since we are all that remain to give voice to our brethren.
Please note that should you be in New York on 9/14/22, and wish to participate, tickets are available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/baltic-truth-narrated-by-broadway-star-dudu-fisher-ft-live-concert-tickets-407980730347
We want you to know that Lithuanian Diplomats have been invited to attend.
We respectfully ask you to consider signing this petition presented by one of the documentary sponsors, The Israeli American Civic Action Network: https://israelusa.org/act/stop-european-union-holocaust-distortion/
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. 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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One thought on “A CRY TO THE HEAVENS”
To use the word ‘horrified’ would be an understatement regarding the monstrous atrocities to which Jews were subjected – and to what level of depravity and cruelty any of the perpetrators, who are called ‘human’, could sink! Many of us have forebears who came from Lithuania. Yet often they were silent about how things were or what they went through . A line from the song ‘The Way we Were’ refers: ‘What’s too painful to remember we often choose to forget’ – .
We have all read,seen or heard of the horrendous abhorrence of the Holocaust and the hate-filled anti-Semitic cruelty Adolf Hitler embedded into people’s psyche. … One actually wonders how it is possible to be so absolutely devoid of conscience and commit acts of vicious barbarism. .
Expositions of iniquity like this should be brought to the fore, so that we never forget; … nor that it is ever forgotten.