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Gargzdai (Gorzd), Lithuania

Soviet Interrogations Regarding the Killing of the Jewish Women and Children of Gargzdai

The following documents in the Lithuanian Special Archives are identified by Dr. Arunas Bubnys, Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941 at 40-43 as sources of information regarding the killing of the Jewish women and children of Gargzdai:

Translations of these Russian language documents are set forth below.

Translations by Valentina Aleksa

Tr  Translator’s note:  Words which are illegible or not visible are set forth in brackets as follows: [ ]. Place names of smaller towns and villages are generally set forth as named in the document, rather than according to their Lithuanian names.

E    Editor's Note: Editor's redactions from the document are set forth in braces as follows: {}




Translation by Valentina Aleska
Translator's Note: The name "Puzneckis" is set forth below according to its Lithuanian spelling, rather than as transliterated in the Ruussian document.

I.   Interrogation minutes of A. Puzneckis

 26 October 1944, LSA, doc.col. K-1, inv.sched. 58, file 38501/3:



USSR

People’s Commissariat of State Security

Seal – “Acquired in 1962”

Kretinga District Department of NKGB of Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic       [Illegible note across]

Seal – “Lithuanian SSR KGB archive”

File # 1363

{Name 1 and} Puzneckis Antanas Ionas1 are charged in accordance with Article 58-1a.

 

Case opened: November 10, 1944.

Case closed: December 25, 1944.

Number of volumes: 1

Volume # 1

After trial and entry of judgment into force, this file must be returned immediately to [Criminal Archive?] of NKGB.2

A copy of judgment must be attached to the file.

Transfer of files which are being processed, as well as files taken from archive to other departments and agencies of NKGB, even temporarily, is conducted exclusively through

_______________________ (name of inventory department)

Transfer of investigation file is processed with permission of Chief of corresponding NKGB office or his/her Deputy.

 

Justification: Directive of NKVD, Prosecutor’s Office, and People’s Commissariat of Justice of the USSR # 00359 of 10/IV/1939 (April 10, 1939).

 

Archive # 0409755

                    38501/3

Submitted to archive on ______ 194____

 

 


Page 1

Record of interrogation pertaining to Case #19.

Interrogation started on October 26, 1944, at 11:40.

                      Finished on ______________, 194_, at 22:00.

I, investigator of NKGB task force of the Lithuanian SSR, second lieutenant {L}, interrogated a suspect under arrest:

1.      Last name, name, and patronymic Puzneckis Antanas Ionas;

2.      Born in 1914;

3.      Place of birth: village Pakasiny3, Gargzdai district;

4.      Address: village Soviazhsin4, Gargzdai district;

5.      Member of any party: not a member;

6.      Nationality: Lithuanian

7.      Citizenship: USSR;

8.      Passport or other documents: Passport series I-?? # 589130 (passport number, series number, when and by whom was issued);

9.      Education: literate, village school (when and where went to school; place of graduation);

10   Occupation and specialization: agriculture;

11     Type of work performed: laborer (place of work, position);

12    Marital status: married (degree of relationship, last names, names, patronymics, addresses, occupations);

13    Social class background: “middle-class” peasant;

14    Social and political activity in the past ____________________  ;

15    Government awards: none;

16    Military or special rank: none;

17    Military obligation: liable for military service;

18    Participation in the Great Patriotic War: did not participate;

19    Battle injuries or shell-shocks: none;

20     Lived on the territory occupied by the enemy? Lived on the occupied territory from 1941 until the day of liberation; was a member of the “white Army” bandit group;

Page 2

(Pencil mark – 19)

Testimony of the defendant (witness) Puzneckis Antanas Ionas

Question: How many times did you participate in execution by firing squad of Soviet citizens?

Response: I participated in execution by firing squad of Soviet citizens twice. The first execution of Soviet citizens occurred at the end of September, 1941, in the forest, near the village Ashmonishki,5 Gargzdai district, Kretinga parish, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. I talked about my participation in this execution and all the details of this execution during the interrogation on October 25, 1944.6 As for the second mass execution of Soviet citizens, I can report the following. After the execution of the first group of the defenseless Soviet women in the forest, near the village Ashmonishki, all of us returned to Gargzdai police department, where the police Chief told everybody, who participated in the execution of the Soviet citizens, to report to the police department the next morning. All of us, who participated in the executions of the Soviet citizens on the first day, reported to the police department, as we were told. Moreover, new people were involved on the second day. The Chief of the Gargzdai police department ordered all participating citizens, as well as police officers, to go to the Anelishki’s7 estate.  The police officers prepared one horse cart, which was loaded with rifles and munitions, and we went to the Anelishki estate, which was located, approximately, one kilometer away from Gargzdai. We were in groups of…

                                   Signature: Puzneckis

Page 3

Testimony of the defendant (witness) continued        (Red pencil mark “20”)

… 2 or 3. We came to the Anelishki estate on foot. Personally, I walked with the citizen {I}, who lived in Gargzdai. When we came to the (village) Anelishki estate, about 16-17 horse carts were already there, ready to go. The Chief of the Gargzdai police, Manchkus8, ordered to put the Soviet citizens, who were held in the camp in the Anelishki estate, on the horse carts. After placing the Soviet citizens on the carts, the Chief of the police assigned all police officers evenly among the carts to guard those who were sitting on them. There were only 3 or 4 police officers who were assigned to every fifth cart. I, as well as other citizens, was involved as a security guard and was on one of the carts, where there were no police officers. The Chief of the Gargzdai police, Manchkus, along with other four police officers, left on the cart loaded with rifles and munitions. Sometime later, at about 11:00 am, after getting all the guards on the carts, we all headed towards Ashmonishki.

Question: How many Soviet citizens were there on each cart?

Response: The carts differed in size, so there were 5-6 Soviet citizens on some of them, but the large ones took up to 12 persons.

Question: Continue your testimony.

Response:

            Signature:  Puzneckis

Page 4

(Pencil note – 20 [?])

On the way to the village Ashmonishki, approximately, one kilometer before getting to the village, the convoy made a right turn towards the forest. Right there, the Chief of the police with other police officers, who left earlier from the Anelishki estate, were waiting for us to provide more security for traveling through the forest. When the carts were going through the woods, the Soviet citizens, among whom there were defenseless women and children (and some women had babies) started to scream and cry, because the Soviet citizens understood that they were going to be executed. After having traveled by the forest road for about half a kilometer, all the carts stopped near the forest meadow.9 One grave was dug in that meadow: approximately, 10 meters long, 3.5 meters wide. I don’t know how deep it was, because I did not approach the grave. The grave was fenced by a barbed wire, approximately, 25-30 meters in diameter. When we arrived to the location of the execution of the Soviet citizens, there was a Roman Catholic priest10 there, in the space surrounded by the barbed wire. I don’t know his last name, but I know that he lived and served in the church in Vezaiciai, All the Soviet citizens were huddled in the place surrounded by the barbed wire. The Chief of the police ordered us to stand around the barbed wire to prevent any escape attempts, so we did.

                    Signature: Puzneckis

Page 5

                                                                                                              (Red pencil note– 21)

After that, the Chief of the police, Manchkus, ordered the police officers {I}, {S}, Salikla Bronius11, Lukauskas Ildefonas12 (I do not know the last names of the others, but there were 7 or 8 persons in total), to take the defenseless Soviet women and children to the grave and conduct execution.

Before the execution, as well as during it, there was a continuous and endless moaning and crying of the Soviet women and children. At that time, when the execution was in process, the Chief of police Manchkus said that “whoever wanted to become a Catholic, could come to the Roman Catholic priest and receive communion.” After that the women asked if they would stay alive, if they received communion. Manchkus responded: “Even if you receive communion, you still will be executed.” After that reply, some women went to the priest to receive communion, but were still executed. The majority of women did not go to the priest. When the execution of defenseless women and children was over, the Chief of the police ordered all the guards to take shovels and start throwing dirt into the grave. I participated in throwing dirt into the grave, where there were dead bodies of the Soviet citizens.

                                     Signature: Puzneckis

Page 6

I have to mention that we did not put a lot of earth into the grave, because the Chief of police Manchkus hurried us to go to Gargzdai. Meanwhile, when we were shoveling earth into the grave, the police officers, who conducted the execution of the Soviet citizens, gathered all their clothes and put them into the carts, and then everybody left, except myself and {B}, who lived in the village Kvietiniai and  had his own cart. We went straight home, because my village is on the way to the village Kvietiniai.

Question: Were there any cases of burying Soviet citizens who were still alive?

Response: I cannot provide any facts on this. When we were throwing earth into the grave, filled with the executed Soviet citizens, nobody demonstrated any signs of being alive; they were quiet, but, based on the stories of people who lived in the village Ashmonishki (I don’t know exactly who was telling those stories), during the first night after the execution of the Soviet citizens, there was moaning coming from the place of the execution. This might be possible, because we did not have enough time to put enough earth on top of the executed Soviet citizens – we put no more than 25 centimeters…

                   Signature: Puzneckis

 

Page 7                                (Red pencil mark – 22)

… and even less than 25 centimeters in some places.13

Question: Were there any other incidents of executions of Soviet citizens in the Gargzdai district?

Response: From the conversation with the villagers (I don’t remember now who they were), I know that there was one more incident of execution of Soviet citizens in the Gargzdai district, not far away from Gargzdai, in the direction toward the Memel (Klaipeda) border, where male Soviet citizens were executed. This was, approximately, on the third day since the beginning of the war, around June 25, 1941. But I do not know who participated in this execution.

Question: So, you participated in the execution of the Soviet citizens two times?

Response: Yes, two times.

Question: How many defenseless Soviet citizens were killed by you personally or with your assistance?

Response: Personally, I shot 4 Soviet women. I spoke about it in detail during the interrogation which occurred on October 25, 1944. But I assisted in execution of, approximately, 270 Soviet women and children.

Question: Name all persons you know, who participated directly or indirectly in executions of Soviet citizens at the end of September, 1941 …

                        Signature: Puzneckis

Page 8

(Pencil mark – 22 [?])

… in the forest, near the village Ashmonishki, the first time and the second time. Where are they now?

Response: I know the following participants, who participated in the first and in the second execution of Soviet citizens, which were conducted at the end of September, 1941, in the forest, near the village Ashmonishki, Gargzdai district, Kretinga parish, Lituanian SSR:

1.     1. {I} – a resident of Gargzdai; worked as a police officer, personally executed the Soviet citizens in the first and in the second shooting. Sometime later, after the execution of the Soviet citizens, he volunteered to join the German army. I don’t know where he is now. His family also left and I do not know where to.

2.     2. {S} – I don’t know his first name, a resident of the village Vezaiciai. Worked as a police officer, personally participated in the executions both times. Approximately, in October, 1941, he moved from Gargzdai to start a new job elsewhere, but I do not know where.

3.      3. Salikla Bronius – a resident of Gargzdai, worked as a police officer until the arrival of the Red Army. During both executions, he personally shot Soviet citizens.

 

                          Puzneckis

 

Page 9                                 (Red pencil mark – 23)

 

He ran away with the German army during retreat.

4.      4. {G1} – a resident of the village Anelishki, participated in transporting and guarding Soviet citizens, who were going to be executed. At the present time, he lives in the same village Anelishki.

5.      5. Manchkus – the Chief of the Gargzdai police; worked there before the arrival of the Red Army. I don’t know exactly where he is now, but I know that he has a property on the way to the town of Veivirzenai.

6.      6. Gubista14 – I don’t know his first name. A resident of the village Gerduvenai. Both times assisted in transportation of the Soviet citizens to the location of execution using his own horses. Currently, he lives in the above-mentioned village.

7.      7. {B}, a resident of the village Kvietiniai. He was also taking Soviet citizens to the location of the execution both times. Currently, lives in the same village.

8.      8. {P1} – a resident of the village Anelishki, who participated in transportation of Soviet citizens to the execution location during the second shooting. At the present time, he lives in the village Anelishki and works on his farm.

9.        9. {P2}, a resident of the village Anelishki, who participated in transporting Soviet citizens to the execution location during the second shooting.

 

               Puzneckis

 

 

Page 10 

(Pencil mark – 23)

 

Before the retreat of the German army from the Kretinga parish, {P2} worked as a laborer in the village Kvieitiniai for the landlord whose last name is {G}. During the retreat of the German army, he was taken to Germany by the Germans.

 1   10.   {L1} (I don’t know his first name), along with his brother, the residents of the village Vaitelu15 participated in the second execution by escorting Soviet citizens to the location of execution. I am not sure where they are right now. Probably, still living at home.

11  11. { L2} – I don’t know his first name. He is a resident of the village Zevirbliu16. He escorted the Soviet citizens to the location of execution during the second shooting. I don’t know where he lives now. I can add the following about {L2}: the husband of {L2}’s sister, whose name is {Y}, a resident of the village Gribusinei17, told me once, sometime in October, 1941, when we were at the mill house, that, during the Soviet rule in Lithuania in 1940-1941, {L2}went across the state border from Lithuanian SSR to Germany with some military information, but I don’t know exactly what kind of information it was and where he obtained it.

 

Some other people also participated in the execution of the Soviet citizens, but I do not know their last names.

 

                                Puzneckis

 Page 11

Question: How did you participate in looting of personal possessions which belonged to the Soviet citizens, who were executed?

Response: I brought a short fur coat from the location of the first execution. This coat belonged to the Soviet woman who was executed. I do not know her last name. The rest of the belongings was collected by the police officers. They took personal belongings to the police warehouse in Gargzdai, from where, sometime later, the Red Cross distributed all the belongings among poor local residents. I received something too: one featherbed and two feather pillows, and nothing more.

Question: What kind of personal property did {S- see page 8, # 2}acquire by taking it from the Soviet citizens?

Response: I cannot say anything about this.

Question: What other assignments did you receive from the German authorities?

Response: I did not receive any other assignments from any German authorities.

                                 Puzneckis

 

Page 12

(Pencil mark – 24)

I am telling the truth in this regard.

              Puzneckis

The record of interrogation was read to me in the language that was understandable to me (Lithuanian). My responses were written correctly.

                               Puzneckis

Interrogators: Investigator of NKGB task force of the Lithuanian SSR, second lieutenant {L}.

Special agent of NKGB task force of the Lithuanian SSR, second lieutenant, {B}.

 

Concluding Pages:

(Illegible note in pencil – “No info, signature”?)

                                                                                     Form – n - 2

Sentence

In the name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The 19th of March, 1945. The city of Šiauliai.

Military Tribunal of NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) Forces of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, in open court hearing/closed judicial session

[?] Office of Special Department of NKVD

Chief Justice: Captain {B} (Ministry of Justice)

[?] First Sergeant {S}

[?] Private {L}

Secretary: First Lieutenant {M} (investigator assistant)

[?] sides: prosecution and defense

After hearing the case of the defendant Puzneckis, Antanas, the son of Ionas, born in 1914, in the village of Pakasiny, Gargzdai district, Kretinga parish, the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, a peasant, of a peasant decent, Lithuanian, not a member of the Communist Party, 2 years of school education, not married, [did not serve] in the Red Army, no relatives, with no criminal record, who was charged with a crime in violation of Article 58-1a of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation

the court determined the following:

The defendant Puzneckis, while living on the territory temporarily occupied by the German forces, participated in mass executions by firing squad of Jewish population in September 1941 twice. As an accomplice in the above-mentioned executions, Puzneckis convoyed the Jewish people to the location of executions twice: …


… about 70 people on the first day and about 300 people on the second day.18. After executions, Puzneckis buried the bodies of the executed, placed their clothes, which were taken off before the executions, on the carts and took the clothes to the police department. All the above taken into account, a military tribunal found Puzneckis guilty of committing a crime in violation of Article 58-1a and part 2 of the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of April 19, 1943.

In accordance with the articles 319-320 of the Criminal Procedure Code

the Tribunal sentenced

Puzneckis Antanas, the son of Ionas, based on the Article 58-1a of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and with authorization of part 2 of the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of April 19, 1943, to penal labor for 20 years with a subsequent deprivation of rights for 5 years, according to parts a, b, c, d of the Article 31 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and confiscation of all personal property. Incarceration term for the convicted Puzneckis, in accordance with the Article 29 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation [is to be counted – inserted] starting on October 25, 1944. This sentence is final and not subject to any appeal.

Consider the above-written insertion “is to be counted” true and correct.

                         Chief Justice {B}

                         [ ] {L}, signature

Seal

Measures taken in regard to repressions against family members

in accordance with guidelines of NKVD USSR and Public Prosecution Office of the USSR

##215/5c from 30.V 252, from 27.VI 1942.

[ ] ##61990

Chief of the department “A” of NKVD USSR

Special agent – signature.



II. Interrogation Minutes of P. Gubistas

Translation by Valentina Aleksa

Translator’s note:

1.      The name of the Defendant has two spellings in these documents: "Gubista" and "Gubistas"
 


                                                                                                                       Confidential (pencil note – 52)

Copy 1

Institute of the Communist Party History at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuanian SSR

To the Editor-in-Chief,

comrade {B}

The City of Vilnius

In accordance with your request, we are sending materials pertaining to Gubista(s) P.K.19

For committed crimes, Gubistas was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment on November 15, 1945 by a Military Tribunal of NKVD forces, Lithuanian SSR.

Enclosure: Excerpts from the record of interrogation of the suspect under arrest, Gubistas, 2 pages in total.

 [Deputy?] Director of the Committee of State Security

in the Soviet of Ministers of Lithuanian SSR.                 (Signature) {R}

 Rectangular seal (in Lithuanian)

Institute of Party History

Received

March 27, 1965

#36/5

 

Page 2 (File 20170508_132656)

                                                                                                                                      Pencil note -B

Excerpt

From the record of interrogation of the suspect under arrest, Gubista(s) Povilas, the son of Kostas; born in 1917, in the village of Geduvene20, Gargzdai district, Kretinga county, Lithuanian SSR; politically uncommitted; Lithuanian, a citizen of the USSR; education – 4 years; descended from wealthy farmers; resides at the place of birth, no conviction history.

July 28, 1945.

In 1941, three weeks after the arrival of the Germans, I started working at the auxiliary police department:  guarded a bridge across the river Minija two or three times, guarded a prison, where the arrested Soviet citizens were held. Among the arrested who were held in prison, I personally know {T}, a resident of Gargzdai; {L}; {M}, a resident of Gargzdai; and {S}, a resident of the village Rudaiciai. {T} was arrested for being a member of the County Executive Committee and conducting a requisition; {L} was arrested for being a Head of the County Executive Committee; {M}was the Head of the Internal Department of Workers-Peasants Militia; {S}was an employee of the Soviet bank.

I joined the auxiliary police force voluntarily, approximately, on July 13, 1941, i.e. three weeks after the arrival of the Germans. I worked at the auxiliary police for three weeks. The coordinator of these police was Lukauskas Ildefonse.21. There were only three or four persons in these police. The goal of the auxiliary police was to arrest Soviet citizens and help regular police in all their activities. Regular police were supposed to enforce law and order. They carried out arrests and executions of the Soviet citizens, transferred Soviet activists to the Gestapo.

On June 22, 1941, the Germans occupied Gargzdai District and executed all male Jewish people on the second day, not far from Gargzdai, near the German-Lithuanian border. Executions of the Jewish male population were conducted by the Germans. At this time, all the Jewish women, elderly, and children were arrested and kept in the “ghetto” in Anelinja (Anelishki) estate, which is located one kilometer from Gargzdai, in the direction toward Vezaiciai.

The Jewish people spent, approximately, one month there, but I am not sure now. There were, approximately, 250-300 people in the ghetto. Then young, able-bodied Jewish women were selected and, under the pretext of going to Plunge22, taken to the forest "Zvelseni"23 and executed there. Two or three days later, the rest were taken and executed at the same location.

Page 3 (Page 2, File 20170508_132703)

I know about this, because I brought the first group of the executed women from “ghetto” to the location of the execution.

I don’t remember on what day and in what month Lukauskas Ildefonas ordered me to transport the Jewish women using my own horses, but I did. We approached the forest, got off the highway to turn to the forest, drove for about 500 meters away from the highway, got the Jewish women off the carts, and saw a freshly dug grave on the mound.24 When women saw that, they started screaming loudly, because there was a grave in front of them and they were surrounded by armed guards. In order to make women stop screaming, the guards opened fire. My horses got scared of screaming and shooting, so I went home.

The Jewish women were escorted by the following police officers:

1.      1. {S}25, a resident of the village Vezaiciai, a member of the “White Army” bandit group;

2.      2. Puzneckis26 - I don’t know his first  name; a resident of the village Saulazeliu; a member of the “White Army” bandit group;

3.      3. Mackus27, a resident of the village Milzima, a police officer;

4.      4. Saliklis Bronius28, a resident of Gargzdai, a police officer;

5.      5. Lukauskas Ildefonas29, a police officer. I do not remember the rest.

There were a lot of armed people, whom I do not know, in the forest, so I cannot say who was carrying out an execution. While I was at the location, where we brought the Jewish women, a half of them, about 100 women, were taken to the grave. I heard that, before the execution, all of them were undressed, and executed after that. Clothes and shoes were taken by the police officers.

The record of interrogation is located in the file #30878/3, pp. 49-52.

True: KGB officer in the Council of Ministers of Lithuanian SSR

                                      Major     (signature)  ({C})





Notes by John S. Jaffer
places mentioned in text
Combined excerpts from Lithuanian Army Topographic Maps
Places mentioned in text are underlined in red.
Full maps available at lithuanianmaps.com

1 In addition to the present document, Puzneckis is recognized as a participant in these killings in the Statement of Aleksens, I.A. [Jonas Aleksiejus], The Tragedy of Lithuania: New Documents on Crimes of Lithuanian Collaborators during the Second World War, ISBN 978-5-903588-01-5, p. 222; Efraim Zuroff, Operation Last Chance: One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice, pp. 157-158; Interrogation of Povilas Gubista (or Gubistas); interrogation of Saliklis (name Puzneckis misspelled "Kuzneckas.")

 2 NKGB was the name of the Soviet Secret Police during portions of 1941 and also 1943-46, following "NKVD" and preceding "KGB."

3 Pakasinis, immediately north of Gargzdai, shown on Lithuanian Army Topographic Map, 1938.

kviet


4 Zuroff identifies this village as "Saulazoles," evidently Saulazoliai, shown on Lithuanian Army Topographic Map, 1938. See map following Note 3.

5 Asmoniške is shown in a clearing within the Vezaitine Forest (Miskas Vezaitine) on the Lithuanian Army topographical maps from 1938-39, very close to the border between maps 1201 and 1301. The Vezaiciai phone book entries for 1940 1939 show "Gargždu girininkas [Gargzdai forester], Asmoniškia." The maps may indicate a forestry building (deer horn symbol) to the left of the letter "A" in "Asmoniske," and may additionally show a small settlement just above the letter "A."



  lithtopo with gravesites
Excerpts from Maps 1201 and 1301 (combined)
Lithuanian Army Topographic
Black dots added to map show two killing sites
"Gir." = Girininkaja = forestry
"Eig." = Eiguva = forest station
Lithuanian map symbols at maps4u.lt




kreiskartewith gravesites
Stadt und Landkreis Memel (1941, but based on earlier maps such as Einheitsblatt Nr. 1, 1929)
Black dots added to map show two killing sites
W.W. = Waldwärter = forest guard
German map symbols at mapywig


1914 forest Russian
Russian Map
 1: 84,000 (1914)

6 This previous day's interrogation has not been located in the Archives.
 
7 Anieliske is shown in the Lithuanian Army topographic map from 1938. See map following Note 3 above. This is the former estate of the noble family located east of the Minija River. The Jewish women and children were imprisoned there, shortly after the invasion of June 22, 1941, until they were killed in September, 1941. It is believed the site of the imprisonment is closer to the Minija River than the placement of the word "Anieliske" on the 1938 map, and corresponds to the site called Anielin on earlier maps.

8 This police chief is identified in other sources as Mackus or Mockus. Dr. Arunas Bubnys, Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941, p. 42 (police chief of Gargzdai rural district Mackus); Gubista Interrogation (Mackus, a resident of "Milzima," likely Mielzyny, south of Gargzdai, on E side of Minija River); S. Vaintraubas, Garazas, ISBN 9955-9317-1-X (2002), pp. 20-21 (Mockus). Compare Testimony on the Murder of the Jews of Shkud, Lithuania (Jonas Mockus) (identification with individual involved in Gargzdai killings is uncertain).
   
    The priest from Vezaiciai who witnessed the second killings, Jonas Aleksiejus, did not list this individual as among the perpetrators. Interrogation of Witness Aleksens I.A., Tragedy of Lithuania, p. 222.

9 Puzneckis' statements that they turned into the woods approximately 1 km south of Ashmonishke and then proceeded approximately another 1/2 km to the killing site, imply that this killing site was south of Ashmonishke. Thus the killing site described in this testimony is likely the southwesterly of the two sites in the forest.

    The 1938 Lithuanian map does not show as many roads through the forest as earlier maps, and does not show a road for a turnoff point south of Asmoniske. Older maps show several possible turnoff points - a small road or path leading south (shown by a solid line), and other logging roads leading southeast (shown by double dashed lines). The Lithuanian mapmakers in 1938 may have chosen to omit temporary logging roads included in the earlier maps, even though those roads continued unchanged on the ground. Alternatively some of the roads marked on the older maps may have been blocked or reconfigured, causing them to be omitted on the Lithuanian maps. Nonetheless one or more of the roads shown on earlier maps, or possibly a similar replacement road, was evidently clear enough to allow the passage of carts and their passengers as described by Puzneckis.

    Even if it existed in 1941, the north-south road seems less likely to be the turnoff described by Puzneckis. This road or path would be closer to Asmoniske than he described, and would run through a meadow rather than a forest at the point of the turnoff. A more likely turnoff point may be the logging road shown in red below, assuming that this road continued to exist in 1941. This portion of the road does not exist at the present time (although there are indications in the aerial photo on Google Earth that a road once existed here, and there is an existent continuation of the road to the southeast). Instead, the monument at this site is approached from the northeast.

possible puzneckis route
Stadt und Landkreis Memel (1941)


1941 color
Grossblatt No. 1 - Memel
(June, 1941, but fails to incorporate important post-1929 changes shown on Lithuanian Army Topographic)

1941 color with route and site

Added black dot shows approximate location of southwest killing site, as located on Google Earth
Red line shows possible route as described by Puzneckis



    The distances as testified to by Puzneckis may be compared with the following map with superimposed meter scale:

  puzneckis distances
Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1914)


10 Jonas Aleksiejus. See Interrogation of Witness Aleksens I.A., Tragedy of Lithuania, p. 2

11 See interrogation of Bronius Saliklis.

12 Ildefonsas Lukauskas has been identified as the leader of the first executions in the forest. Saliklis interrogation; Dr. Arunas Bubnys, Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941, p. 42. The priest who witnessed the second killings, Jonas Aleksiejus, identified him as the leader of the second killings, also stating that he was in the Gestapo and had been killed in 1944 by someone unknown. Interrogation of Witness Aleksens I.A., Tragedy of Lithuania, p. 222.


    Efraim Zuroff, Operation Last Chance: One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice pp. 157-158 states Lukauskas was from Rudaiciai. There are two towns with this name, one northwest of Kretinga (Map #1200) and the other north of Vezaiciai (Map #1300).

13 The absence of a deep layer of covering dirt allowed Rachel Yami to survive the shooting: "Ruchl Yami-Gritziana, who until the end was with all of the women at the grave and survived by chance, later spoke about the tragedy of our Gordz Jews. When the women were shot she jumped into a pit and lay there until it became dark. She crawled out of the pit late at night and left for the village of Vezaiciai. The teacher in the local Lithuanian school hid her for a time and later he took her to a secure place where she survived until the liberation." Rachel Osher, The Destruction of Our Town Gorzd, translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund.

    Ms. Yami was likely among the second group of women and children, described in this Puzneckis interrogation, rather than the first group. The Lithuanian databases on JewishGen include a birth record for "IAMI, Rokhel Leia," born in October, 1908 in Plunge. This would make her nearly 33 years old at the time of the killings - too old to be included in the first group, described by Gubistas as "young, able-bodied women," and in the Soviet exhumation report as 107 "girls." The Tragedy of Lithuania 1941-1944, pp. 219-220.

14 See interrogation of Povilas Gubista (or Gubistas). Gerduvenai is NE of Gargzdai and shown on map following Note 3.

15 Evidently Vaiteliai, north of Gargzdai, shown west of Minija River on Lithuanian Army Topographic #1200:


vaiteliai


16 Evidently Zvirbliai. See map folllowing Note 15.

17 Evidently Gribziniai. See map following Note 15.

18 These totals are less than the number of victims found in the exhumations at the beginning of 1945. The Tragedy of Lithuania 1941-1944, pp. 219-220 (107 "girls" (i.e. young women) in first grave, 347 women and children in second grave).  Evidently, the results of the exhumation were not available to the sentencing authority.
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19 In addition to the present interrogation, Gubistas was also named as a participant by Puzneckis. Puzneckis stated Gubistas transported victims to both of the women's killings, while the Gubistas interrogation mentions only the first killing.  See Puzneckis, page 9, and Note 14.

20 Evidently Gerduvenai, NE of Gargzdai. See map following Note 3.

21 See Note 12.

22 Bubnys says that the pretext was the young women were going to work in Plunge. Arunas Bubnys, Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941, p. 42.

23 The forest is usually called the Vezaitine Forest, evidently named for the nearby town of Vezaiciai to the southwest. The alternative name for the forest used by this Defendant may be based upon the town of Zvelsenai, to the west of the forest (see map preceding Note 1), or the stream Zvelsa, which is a tributary to the Minija River running immediately north of the forest (see Lithuanian Topographic Map following Note 5).

24 The site of the first killings is probably the northeasterly of the two sites in the forest. This conclusion follows from the Puzneckis testimony that the second site was reached by turning into the woods south of Asmoniske. The road to the northeasterly site is shown on the Lithuanian Topographic Map from 1938, as well as earlier German maps (see maps following Note 5), and is in the same location today.

25 This individual was also identified as a perpetrator by Saliklas.

26 See interrogation of Puzneckis. His place of residence was evidently Saulazoliai. See Note 4.

27 See Note 8. The other witnesses disagree as to whether Mockus was at the first shooting. He was not listed by Saliklis as present at the first killings. Puzneckis stated that Gargzdai police chief "Manchkus" was at both shootings.

28 See Interrrogation minutes of Saliklis.

29 See Note 12.




 
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