Testimony of Abram Kuszelewicz (Kusielewicz)

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

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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