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 Box C210, files 3, 4 & 5. Translation
by Irene Newhouse
Testimony of Abram Kuszelewicz (Kusielewicz)
From box C210, file 4, pp 25-27. This document is in French,
undated, & headed "Testimony dictated by Kusielewicz, Abram".
"The Germans arrived in our city on 27 July 1941. In October 1941 all the
Jews were herded into 3 different ghettos which were enclosed by barbed wire
& guarded by the SS & Lithuanians. All the population over
14 was made to do forced labor.
The heads of the Gestapo were called Werner & Windish. There
was a third whose name I don't remember. Werner had a dog name Donau
whom he directed against Jewish workers at any time, which bit them &
tore their clothing.
On 1 March 1942, the Germans organized a sort of rehearsal for the liquidation
of the Jews. At 5AM the entire population of the ghetto was chased
from the ghetto by whip lashes, and concentrated in the square by the new
post office. From these groups, several 100s, including the members
of the Judenrat were brought forward. The remainder was permitted to return
to the ghetto, but the return route was marked by the bodies of the elderly,
the sick, and children who had not been able to keep up the pace of the march.
The bodies of the Judenrat were returned to us about a week later, chillingly
mutilated. It was in full winter, with temperatures of 20 below, so their
limbs were frozen in the position in which death had found them, & it
was not possible to fit more than 3 bodies on the cart. I personally
worked to reheat the ground so that we could bury them.
I saw with my own eyes an old man, paralysed, murdered in his bed.
All who tried to hide from them were killed on the spot.
On 8 May 1942, the real extermination began. Taught by experience,
some people hid. The same scenario repeated. At 5AM everyone was wakened
by whip lashes. Women & children who didn't dress fast enough were
driven out half nude (it was very cold at 5AM). The entire route
was guarded by SS men spaced 10 meters apart, armed with rifles & submachine
guns. We were taken to a crossroads near the barracks.
Selection commenced, with those having some utility for the Germans sent
left, where their lives were preserved, right for those about to be massacred.
This selection was conducted by the sinister trio. My cousin was ordered
to leave his mother, whom he carried in his arms, because he was useful,
but he refused & we never saw him again.
A young woman appealed to Windish, "I'm 20 years old! Let me live".
She was driven toward death by blows from a club.
From these 3 ghettos, about 9,000 people only 1,500 survived.
(those who were useful). Those who had been sent left were forced to
thank the chief of the Gestapo for their lives on their knees. They were
led back to the Pastowska ghetto near the cemetery.
Hunger & epidemics raged, nightly incursions of the Gestapo left dozens
of dead in their wake, continuing until early September 1943. The Germans
never gave us food. One survived by guile. Butter & meat
were forbidden us on pain of death. I could climb, and succeeded one day
in escaping with a few others, including young NARJUNSKI (then about 20),
who was a courier, & who revolted one day & out of spite urinated
on the mare of the Chief of the Gestapo (Regional Commissar). [EIN: my French
isn't really up to this statement; but I think that's what it means].
In reprisal, the Chief of the Gestapo demanded 300 hostages from the Judenrat,
who would be killed. When he learned this, NARKUNSKI turned himself
in, as prisoner. (His family was among the hostages). Naturally,
the Gestapo killed him... I think that NARKUNSKI's brother, who lives
in Richon Lezion, would certainly testify to this.
In Sept. 1943 was the total liquidation, at Treblinka. I evaded this
epoch. If necessary, I would testify before the court".
Footnote: "It was forbidden Jews who worked in town to walk on the
sidewalks, on penalty of death. As far as I know, death was the only
penalty for Jews".
Another footnote: "The carnage occurred in the following manner:
Men & women were separated & reassembled before deep trenches made
with dynamite & forced to disrobe, placing their clothing by categories
in different places, shirts on side, pants on the other, etc. They
were then forced to kneel at the edge of the trench. Behind
them were SS men who murdered them with submachine guns. Those who refused
to kneel were tossed into the pit alive. To save ammunition, babies
were murdered by striking their heads against trees."
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