The Trial of a Nazi Murderer of Lyakhovichi Jews - "Bloody Yosef"

A report on the trial of the murderer and destroyer of a series of Jewish communities in the Baranovichi area, including Lyakhovici, and about his trial in Wroclaw, Poland in 1947, as reported in newspapers and letters.
By A. Narkunski and Zwi Mukasai, 1949 translated from the Yiddish by Wilfred "Bill" Kay, 2008.

On trial in Wroclaw Poland, 1947

Dr. Narkunsi and Zvi Mukasey, who testified at the trial of Bloody Yusef and reported on his criminal fate to their fellow Lyakhovichi survivors and mourners.

The mass murderer, Yusef Gruniewich, was born in Kovno 1923, finished gymnasium (school) there, came from Lithuanian background, but considered himself Polish at the trial, calculating that a Polish court would be more lenient. He was fluent in Lithuanian, Polish, German and Russian.

Yusef’s invented story for his defense was that he decided to penetrate the German SD (Sicherheitsdienst) to serve the Polish cause. He started his criminal career in Kovno, later moved to the Baranovichi area. According to his lies, he penetrated the SD Service as a "Polish Patriot", so that, as an insider, he could report what the German plans against the Polish community leaders were. He said he wanted to avenge the death of his parents; he wanted to destroy the German’s from within. He used the old argument other prominent defendants used.

The Germans immediately started to recruit local helpers for their occupation plans. Yusef Gruniewich immediately joined the SD (Security Services) to provide reporting services, obviously, to spy for the Germans. He became a translator and "negotiator" for Jewish problems. He quickly advanced to higher positions, gained the trust and admiration of the Germans in the Baranowice area.

His murderous talents were exposed during the trial. As written by a reporter "his fantasies and pathological methods were exposed at the trial". He and his helpers were responsible for the death of 25,000 victims, mostly Jews.

The three phases of the murderous Yusef:

  • First, he started as a friendly, sympathetic person, he was known as the "Good Looking Yusef".

  • Second, he pretended to help the Jews by extracting large sums of money to buy them favorable treatment from the Germans. He was then known as the "Friendly Yusef".

  • Third, when the Jews had nothing left to extort, he became the sadistic "Bloody Yusef", this label also came out at the trial. He was accused of crimes against the Jews, The killing of partisans, forcibly removing hidden children from churches - never to be seen again, etc.

When the Russians liberated the area, he loaded his stolen Jewish valuables and escaped with his family to a safe area. But he was discovered in Wroclaw (the area was part of Germany before 1945, it is now part of Poland). Many witnesses testified against him, including two Jews; witness Hirshel Mukasai was from Lyakhovici / Israel.

Yusef Gruniewich, "Bloody Yusef", was found guilty, sentenced to death and executed by hanging.

Yosef Griunevich on trial in Wroclaw Poland, 1947 - receiving his death sentence, execution by hanging