The extermination of the Jewish children in Kaunas
ACCOu'NT OF MARIA ILINICHNA YARMOVSKAYA
The germans built a ghetto that turned into a death camp in Slobodka, beyond the Vilia River. Periodically, executioners would show up there and exterminate several thousand inhabitants. This was called the "cleansing" of the ghetto. So, on 17,1941, more than 10,000 people were removed from the ghetto and shot.
1943, a certain Goecke came to Kaunas; he was already known in Poland as “the butcher in white gloves:' He had just carried out the liquidation of the Warsaw and Vilnius ghettos. Once in Kaunas, what interested this German beast most of alI wether or not there were many children left in the ghetto.
On October 27, (1943) the Germans collected 3,500 women and children and herded them to the station. There they separated the children from their mothers and poisoned them. The children were dying before their mothers' eyes. But some of the children were left with their families. Goecke issued a special order for the immediate handing over of all children. It was announced that severe punishment awaited those who evaded out this order. A couple named Zeller was publicly executed for failing to thand over their child to the butchers. The unfortunate parents were beaten, forced to sit on a red hot stove, and had needles shoved under their fingernails. When they lost consciousness, they were carried to the gallows. Holding their victims in the nooses in a way that was calculated not to kill them, the Germans took them down and put off completing the execution until the next day. Then they lashed the father to a stake and lit a fire beneath his feet. They stripped the mother naked and contin orture her.
That's how it will go with anyone who puts up resistance to us;' Goecke announced a megaphone.
GARF f.8114. op. 1, d. 953 ll 109- 109 ob. Atypewritter manuscript.
From “The Unknown black book” of Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman.Indiana University Press 2008 ( 2010 Paper back edition ).
The Babi Yar Massacre
Before the chillingly well-organized Babi Yar massacre in Kiev, mentioned earlier, there appeared an anti-Jewish poster on September 28, 1941. Non Jewish-r Ukrainians and Russians recalled later that upon seeing that poster "few considered the possibility of the terrible truth: mass murder” and that nobody expressed any such thoughts.28 Many, perhaps most believed that the Jews "merely" awaited deportation, and hardly anyone expressed "regret. "I've great news for you !" Anatoli Kutnetsov heard his Russian-speaking Ukrainian grandfather say that day “From tomorrow there won't be a single Yid left in Kiev.It seems it's true what they said about them setting fire to the Khreshchatyk. Thank the Lord for that ! That'll pay them back for getting rich at our expense, the bastartds. Now they can go off to their blessed Palestine, or at any rate the Germaans'll deal with' em. They're being deported!" The young Anatolii himself ,who had a good Jewish friend, thought that the Germans would send the Jews to Palestine and that this was for the best. Yet Lev Ludin recaIls that hundreds of non-Jews petitioned the authorities to Jews to stay.29
All day Monday, September 29, Jews-men, women, and small children-along with non-Jewish husbands, wives, and other dear ones, walked to the designated street corner in Kiev's western Lukianivka district. The Russian middle-aged teacher L. Nartova described in her diary the view from her balcony: "People are moving in an endless row, overflowing the entire street and sidewalks. Women and men are walking, young girls, children, old people, and entire families. Many carry their belongings on wheelbarrows, but most of them are carrying things on their backs .They walk in silence, quietly. How awful ... It went on like this for very long , the entire day and only in the evening did the crowd become smaller " She even adds-which other sources do not confirm but which may be true-that Jews also walked the next day "and so it went on for several days."3o Fedir Pihido was on Lviv Street that Monday, around eleven o'clock, and saw how "many thousands of people, mainly old ones-but middle-aged people were also not lacking-were moving ,ard Babi Yar. And the children-my God, there were so many children ! All this was moving, burdened with luggage and children. Here and there old and sick people who lacked the strength to move by ill selves were being carried, probably by sons or daughters, on carts without any assistance.Some cry, others console. Most were moving in a self absorbed way, in silence and with a doomed look. It was a terrible sight” . In the early morning of the next day, when he "could not yet know a what had happened," Fedir Bohatyrchuk apparently saw many Jews in the same direction.They had "stony faces, paralyzed with fright. They already instinctively foresaw what was going to happen to them. Only. children did not suspect a thing and walked business-like, with ba" their hands or knapsacks on their shoulders. I remember a group of Jews who carried a gray-haired old man, apparently a rabbi, on a stretcher were singing a sad song."3!
Another observer, a female factory engineer, generalized later when the Jews walked away, "it was such a weight on the hearts of all “. However true this may have been for her, Nartova, Pihido, and othe no means were all onlookers sad. "Unfortunately and to my shame “ Bohatyrchuk writes, "I have to say that I saw quite a few of my co-religionists watching this exodus with a happy face. These short-sighted people blinded by hatred, simply did not realize what was going on."32 Walking on his own toward the Podil district, Kuznetsov found many non-Jews on the streets, "standing in the gateways and porches, some of watching and sighing, others jeering and hurling insults at the Jews. At one point a wicked-looking old woman in a dirty head scarf ran out. the roadway, snatched a case from an elderly Jewess, and rushed ack inside the courtyard. The Jewess screamed at her, but some tough characters stood in the gateway and stopped her getting in. She sorbed and cursed and complained, but nobody would take her side, and the crowd went on its way, with eyes averted. I peeped through a crack and saw a whole pile of stolen things lying in the yard." He overheard a story that a hired cabby had simply dashed off with the luggage of several families and later he saw Jews hurry down empty streets to a backdrop of "whistles and shouts from the doorways." Among the onlookers were also Germans. On Lvov Street, some apparently called out to Jewish girls "Come do some cleaning here!"33
After the Jews and those accompanying them arrived at the designated cr, they continued walking west, down Melnyk Street (present-day Melnykov Street). The seventeen-year-old G. A. Batasheva came there with her family around ten o'clock. Trucks loaded with clothes drove by the other direction, but people kept saying that they would be put on a train because some undistinct people, not Jews, shouted things like, “ Hurry, the trains are waiting!" The point of no return, according to heva, was near the intersection of Melnyk and Puhachov streets, where many non-Jews were told to go home. From there on, German soldiers and two police battalions edged the people on toward the Jewish and orthodox cemeteries and, behind those, a large ravine that was locally known as Babi Yar. Semiautomatic gunfire resounded from there.34
Another survivor, the then thirty-year-old Dina Pronicheva, recalled that just before the entrance to the Jewish cemetery, (Soviet-made) barbed wire and antitank hedgehogs blocked Melnyk Street. "Germans and Ukrainians" guarded the checkpoint. "One could enter freely, but nobody was let out, except for carters." As the procession passed the cemetery it reached on the left Kahatna Street, which had a long fence on the leftand a small Orthodox cemetery on the right. Into this street the people were directed, but Pronicheva walked straight to find out what was happening farther on. "I thought there would be a train standing there, but I saw that the Germans immediately took off and seized fur clothes. They took food and put it in one place, the clothes in another, while the people walked on. The Germans took out a large number of people, stopped those walking for a while, and took people out again. When it was my turn, I wanted first to get out, but they did not let me. I returned to my parents and did not tell them anything, in order not to upset them, and walked with them."35
The people made a right turn into a wide street that divided the small Orthodox cemetery from the large and also Orthodox Lukianivka Cemetery. “Both sides of Dorohozhytska Street were densely planted with young trees," Batasheva testifies, "and between them stood Hitlerites armed with automatic weapons and sticks. Many had dogs." After passing 'the two cemeteries, the terrified people entered a vicious gauntlet of German submachinegunners. "Those who tried to move aside. , . were :beaten severely with sticks and attacked by dogs. People were also beaten without any reason." It led to a large even ground,36 Pronicheva confirms this:
“ If someone fell, a dog was let loose which ripped things and the the body, the person just had to get up and run downward, and fall into the hands of [non-German] policemen, who undressed people completely, and while doing so beat them terribly, wherever and however they could-with their hands, feet, some of the policemen had brass knuckles. The people went to execution covered with blood.''37
A German source also confirms the presence of "Ukrainians or politsai-ethnically nondefined if certainly non-German policemen near the ravine: A former member of the principal murder team at Baby Yar, Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C (enlarged for the occasion with members of police battalions 45 and 303), told German prosecutors years later that the Jews were received, undressed, pushed, and kicked "by the Ukrainians."38 It is likely that these auxiliaries-as well as the Ukrainians at the checkpoint and the people who shouted about waiting trains-belonged to units created or commanded by Melnykites namely the Bukovinian Battalion and a company of what was then called the"Ukrainian police."39
Batasheva recalls that at the edge of the even ground there were elevations with narrow aisles in them that led into the Yar. The winding ravine stretched for
150 meters and was thirty meters wide and fifteen meters deep.40 Pronicheva convinced a policemen in Ukrainian that she was Ukrainian. "Sit down, wait until the evening," he told her. "When we´ve shot all the Jews, we will let you go." While waiting, she saw how "people were undressed and beaten, people laughed hysterically, they were visibly going insane, and turned gray within minutes. Babies were from their mothers and thrown upward through some kind of sandy wall. All the naked people were lined up two or three at a time and led to some kind of height, to the wall of sand, which had cuts in it. The people went there and did not return ... After getting out of the so-called door, that cut, there was a small ledge on the left. Here all the people were lined up and shot from the other side by machine-guns."41 At the end of the day she ended up in the ravine herself, alive. Overcoming great dangers, she lived to testify about the massacre.
Ukraine's other major cities experienced similar massacres in
1941. In Dnipropetrovsk on October 13 and 14,a police battalion assisted by auxiliary policemen shot at least ten thousand Jews and-most likely-nonJewish spouses and children of intermarriages.42 Unlike the "reprisal” executions that were meant to intimidate, the perpetrators did not mention these massacres to the population.
“ Harvest of Despair.Life and death under nazi rule.” Karel. C. Berkhoff. Harvard University Press. Pages 65 to 69.