Testimony of Josef 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 39-41.  This document is English,  undated, & headed "Translation".  The numbers indicate these were responses to a questionnaire sent out by the World Jewish Congress.

2. At outbreak of WWII, he lived in Lida, which was occupied 27 Jun 1941.

3. During the war he was in Pastowska St. ghetto & Krasne work camp. 

4.  there were 4 ghettos in Lida, with about 6,000 Jews & 160 in Krasne.  On May 8, 1942, about 4,500 people were shot in the square, on Sept 27, 1943, about 3,000 were deported.  "Judenrein". 

5. "The first mass murder took place on 1 March 1942, when all the intellectuals were killed (the trial massacre); on May 8, 1942 - the first massacre; on September 27, 1943 deportation by train - Judenrein.  I saw everything and felt it on my body, until April 1843.  I also worked at the Gebietskommissariat, and at gardening, which was under their direct supervision.

6. In charge of the deporations and murders were Windisch, Werner, & the Gebietskommissar". 

7.  Other perpetrators: the above mentioned 3,  Winaim, SS. Sobolewski, a White Russian Wasiukiewicz, personal representative of Windisch.
"I would like to add a few facts about their cruelty.  The three Gestapo men whom I mentioned before arrived in Lida right after the Feldkommandatur left, and the Gebietskommissariat was established.  They continued the mass-murders in a methodical way according to plans from the very first day they took command.  During the first weeks my father and I worked together at the Gebietskommissariat proper. My father was one of a group of 5 whose duty it was to take care of their dog, the same dog they used to carry out many cruelties.  And when the dog became sick, they declared, 'If the dog should die, you will all be shot'. 

I was assigned to clean the place & very often I would get blows from Windisch & Werner.  With every passing day, on one hand, the persecutions increased, and the noose around the necks of the ghetto-inmates became tighter; on the other hand, when the ghetto population became panicky, they would reassure the people & tell them, 'you are useful Jews, as long as I am here nothing will happen to you'. 

I would like to enumerate the persecutions in that order:  a white armband with a blue mark on the left arm; later a yellow badge; restrictions in regard to buying food at the market- only 1 time during the week.  Later it was forbidden altogether.  A ban to walk on the sidewalk, not to walk in groups less than 5 person [sic]; in the gutter.  Death penalty for butter, meat & fat (many executions took place for these reasons).  Confiscations of furs, gold, silver, copper & other metals. Very often Windisch would wait at the ghetto gates & search the inmates returning from work.  Many people lost their life on account of this.  The family BERKOWICZ - father, mother, 2 daughters - were shot; the reason -  one daughter was guilty of "Rassenschande".  NARKUSKI worked in the stables for the horses, where Windisch would come, and he was shot because of a false & cruel accusation.  But this was not enough.  In order to carry out the action of May 8, 1942 according to plans, they prepared for the job many months in advance. 

On March 1, 1942, they went through a "trial" mass-execution, in order to see how it worked in reality & perhaps eliminate certain "mistakes" which could lead to surprises.  Also at that time hundreds of people perished, including the entire Judenrat.  The president of the Judenrat was a teacher, whose name I forgot.  When he was killed, his wife escaped to Voronovo, a small town near Lida.  There, the massacre took place exactly 2 days earlier than in Lida.  During the selection, she saw Windisch & told him she was the wife of the president (of the Judenrat).  He told her, 'don't worry, you'll remain alive'.  But he sent her to  (the group) marked for death.  Many other people followed her & naturally all of them perished.

I was in the ghetto til May 1, 1943, and at the time of the 2nd action (Judenrein) I was not there any more. My father was in one of the freight cars & from there he succeeded to escape and remain alive.  It is impossible to describe everything.  At a hearing I could give more information". 

 "addendum:  I buried those of the Judenrat and all the Vilnius victims".

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