Testimony of Dr. Izak Kaplinski

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

From box C210, file3, page 196-198, dated 25 March 1965. This German document is headed "Translation".

"A few sentences relating to the narrator's feelings have been omitted in the translation.  Statement of Dr. Izak KAPLINSKI. 

"My wife & I endured the horrible selection of 12 May 1942 in Ivye, Lida District. 

1. It is fully true that the Nazi criminals you mention, Leopold Windisch & Werner, presided over the process. I saw them right in front of me that entire day & would recognize them again among thousands of people. 

2.  It is completely correct  that we were told we'd be sent to Lida or another town.  The unfortunate men, women & children therefore dressed in their best clothing.  Women put on several dresses, one over the other & dressed the children likewise.  Men put on two suits, if they had them. 

3.  During the terrible selection, which began at 9:30AM, the entire SS group, consisting of Windisch, Werner, the chief of Gendarmerie, and the Polish mayor Bialkowski,  others, who were armed with [a type of ]whips, scanned the faces of the terrified, unhappy Jews cursorily to determine who was in good health.  Anyone trying to show work papers was whipped bloody.  The large families were sent to the trenches first - their men had already been separated out at the end of 1941 - about 350 in all.  As the selection of about 3000 people takes some time, but the Nazi murderers had no patience, some elderly men & women were shot on site, and the last 1000 Jews were driven to the trenches with no inspection whatever. 

My wife and I were among the last 1000.  Without regard for the fact that, as a doctor, I wore a Red Cross emblem on my left sleeve, my wife & I were also sent to the trenches amid the heart-rending lamentation & chaos.  When my wife pointed out to an SS-man that I wore a Red Cross emblem, he whipped her until she was covered in blood. At the last moment, the Polish mayor BIALKOWSKY recognized my wife & me & took us back.  This incredible miracle saved our lives.

As became known after the massacre, the Judenrat & Jewish police were promised their lives in exchange for cooperation with the murders, ... and so it was.  Among the 450 survivors were:  the members of the Judenrat with their families & friends, the Jewish police with their families & friends, a number of experts like shoemakers, tailors, who'd previously done forced labor for the Nazis, and the 5 doctors, I among them. 

I. Concerning the Nazi-criminal Leopold Windisch.  On 12 May at 6AM were driven, in part with whips, from our beds to the large market place, where we were surrounded by machine guns.  There one could see the small, fleet figure of Leopold Windisch, who was the instigator of the massacre.  I myself saw him giving orders to the SS-members.  He'd disappear for an hour, and return again in a truck.  Thus he spent the day between the market place & the trenches. When the massacre ended at 3-4 in the afternoon -- we, the small remaining number (of Jews) had heard machine gun salvos every 10-15 minutes -- Windisch came to us & made a speech, which I will summarize here.  Since I'm fluent in German, I understood every word

"The Jews are at fault for both world wars.  They incited the Allies to annihilate Germany; therefore it is only 'logical' that the German government should exterminate all the Jews to blame for the catastrophe.  You are only remaining alive provisionally - depending on the status at the front; at the first major setback on the front, you will all be murdered". The Nazi murderers kept their word, because the small number of survivors, was, as I heard, sent to Majdanek in 1943, from where not a single one returned. 

II  Concerning Werner.  The second Nazi-murderer, Werner, a very corpulent & tall individual,  stood with an entire SS-group at the selection.  He was the man who stood there with a sack & collected all the valuables - e. g. money, gold objects, jewelry, watches, even fountain pens, from those of us still remaining at 3-4 in the afternoon.  This was probably also his job at the trenches.  Like all the SS-men, he, too, was armed from head to foot.  I with my wife remained in the Ivye ghetto to 31 Dec 1942, when the SS surrounded it at 4AM.  They came, to liquidate the remaining population of the ghetto. 

But they did not succeed on this day, as a significant number managed to escape, in spite of lively fire from the Polish police & the German SS.  I with my wife managed to survive the fire zone & reached the forests the night of 12/31/42-1/1/43.  Through a miracle, we encountered a group of Tewie Bielski's partisans that incredibly frosty night.  I was the first physician there.  I remained with the partisans 18 months.  On 21 March 1944 I was myself wounded as I was escorting a group of men wounded in a large battle with German regular military forces, rearward. On 10 July 1944 I was liberated by the Russian army.  

footnote to Bielski:  a partisan leader very famous there".

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