Testimony of Josef Kaplan

This testimony was sent to the World Jewish Congress as part of a search to locate witnesses to war crimes committed in the Lida area, so that the perpetrators could be brought to trial in Germany.  The records of this search are now preserved at theJacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati OH in File C210, boxes 3, 4 & 5.  Translation by Irene Newhouse

Box C210, file 3 page 143-144
Letter from Harry Kaplan, Israel, dated 10 April 1964.  It's labelled "Translation".

"To the World Jewish Congress!

As I have heard the German prosecutor is searching for survivors of  the Lida ghetto, I have a sacred duty to come forward.

I, Josef Kaplan (or Caplan) now in Israel, survived in the words around Lida.  I was in the ghetto until its liquidation.

Under (the direction of) the Regional Commissariat Lida 28,000 Jews were persecuted & murdered in Lida.

The  criminal leaders were
1. Anweg (Hanweg) Regional Commissar
2.  Windisch Chief of Staff
3. Werner, Economic  Inspector
4. Winheim (Wienheim?) " "
5.  Ditze " "
6.  Kardes (Kordes) Work Inspector
7.  Borman (Barman) was Regional Commissar in Potosk or Polosk (illegible)
8.  Miss Maia

All the Jews were imprisoned in  5 ghettos:
1. Lida 2. Voronovo 3. Vasilishok 4. Szczuczyn 5. Ivye

 First, all sorts of humiliation, "contributions", confiscation of savings, murder of the BERKOWITZ family, murder of 12 Jews.  Arrest of (illegible)  Jews, their shooting.  On 1 March, the Judenrat & 170 others murdered.  On 9 May, the Jews of Voronovo were murdered, on 10 May, those of Ivye & Vasilishok.  Thus the above-named bandits murdered all the Jews in the region.  Much more can be said about this, but it's hard for me to write about.  Those who survived the 8 May Aktion in Lida were imprisoned in 3 ghettos:  Lida, Shchuchin & Ivye, then deported to Majdanek in 1943.  All were murdered there.  No one survived Majdanek.  Thus the end of my city Lida.  I promised the dead I would tell the world how they were laid in mass graves near the barracks & covered with lime.

I myself was also beaten by Werner, and he also sicced his dog on me.  Marks of the dog's bites are still on my hands & feet.  All 4 were soon thereafter in Werner's house.  In Vasilishok 7. (street?)  They carried out all the Aktionen & selections.  The fate of every Jew was in their hands.  Police, Belarussians, Ukrainians & Lithuanians.  They decided everything & carried it out. Savings were confiscated,  people were tortured, used as forced labor, beaten, starved.  Everything which was owned by Jews was destroyed.  All this was done by the Regional Commissariat.  Winheim, Ditze, Bachmann, Korde or Karde, or Corde or Carde, & also Wassikiewicz, a special assistant to Windisch".  Conditions in the ghetto:  100 grams of bread per day.  Twice a day (illegible) soup. 

12 Jews worked at the railway.  One day one of them was 15 minutes late.  The SS took them all out & shot them.  It was Dec. 15.  One of them fell unnoticed in the snow under the iron bridge. The SS brought the Jews to the Judenrat at Korashower St. & shot them next to the building.  They counted the bodies & realized there were only 11.  They gave the Judenrat until 4 PM to find the missing Jew & if he wasn't found by then, they would shoot 200 Jews. The wife & 2 children of the missing GERSHOWITZ were handed over as hostages.  Thereupon he turned himself in & the SS shot him

The translator has added a footnote that 5,850 Jews were murdered in Lida in 8 May.
The parenthetical comments above were added by the original translator of the letter into German from (probably) Yiddish

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