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Mass Murder

From that moment on began the full tragedy and mass murder:

The Hitlerites divided the human mass into three parts. In the morning towards the end of January 1942, they took the strongest [young] people out of the town, on the pretext of working in the forest. All carried wood-saws. I could not see the entire column of people clearly, because as they left town they were surrounded by units of foot- and mounted soldiers. At that point, the march changed into a wild run; those in the rear were urged by increasing series of whips. Those who were weaker and those who were carrying heavier loads [9], began to drop their bundles. They were not allowed to pick them up.

I was very sorry that I could not see more of that tragic last march. So, I decided that at any price I must see the next stage, which occurred two days later. I joined them when they assembled, and I walked along with them all the way to the outskirts of the town to an open field. There they were met by armed units. I was able to hide among the trees on the side of the road, and from there, being unobserved, I could see the entire area. [10] The third part and the last one contained women, girls, children, elderly, and sick, which were carried haphazardly on horse-drawn wagons like firewood. It was one of the most horrifying pictures under the sun, which encapsulated the entire martyrology and murder [11] of the Jews. This group stretch out despite the fact that the rearmost people were rushed forward, under heavy beatings, by the Germans, so much so that when the front-most of the column reached the railroad station [12], the rear elements were still leaving the town. Among the violations, screaming, and beatings of the victims, the Hitlerites lost control. You could see that they were scared and nervous.

It was possible for me to pretend walking back and forth and I did this from time to time. For my return I used a path that ran parallel to the road, about 8 - 10m (24 - 30 ft) away.

Many people could have escaped during this march, but none did. They were bound by the bonds of family, children --as if not wanting to leave the children alone/behind-- or were simply powerless or half-conscious.


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Translator's Notes:

[9] By implication, the victims may have been carrying their own food and bedding, for an extended assignment” in the forest.

[10] The original Polish document omits any transition between the incomplete description of the fate of the second group, and the removal of the third group. There is no clear reason the author made this choice. Possibly, he is referring to the work parties as the first group, the aged, sick, and elderly as the second group, and the detection and murder of remaining Jews hiding in basements as the third.

[11] Again, the author may be drawing a parallel between the treatment of the Wysokie Litewskie Jewish victims and that of Catholic martyrs at the hands of their tormentors. Or, this is a non-sectarian reference to innocent victims who perished in a mass murder.

[12] The Wysokie Litewskie railroad station was about 5 km or 3.5 miles to the northwest of the Jewish community and the Ghetto.


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