Testimony of Eliezer Kaminski

Yad Vashem Document 033/297

translated by Shoshana Stiftel
Posted with permission of Yad Vashem
Those wishing to cite this material must get permission from Yad Vashem as well as the translator

Eliezer was born in 1923 in Grodno on the other bank of the Nieman, to his father, Kadish and mother Mina WOROWEICZYK from Skidel. He left Grodno for Israel in 1948. [Sentence of personal data deleted].  The evidence was given on 14 January 1958 in [locality deleted]  to Dov Rabin, Jerusalem.

After the Nazis took over Grodno, I began to work in the train station loading and unloading. We had been paid for the work but the German watchmen abused the Jews, demanding that they unload the wood while running.
In the ghetto, I lived in Wilenska Street. As I had a horse, I worked transporting mail from the train station to the Post Office and vice versa. I was paid and received food for the horse.
During the great "aktzia" [catching Jews] in January 1943, I hid in the garret with other Jews and went down when we felt the danger had passed. I did not believe that Jews were taken to other places for work. I felt they were going to die. I wanted to escape the ghetto but did not know how. My cousin, Yedidiah KAMINSKI left with a group of young men. A few weeks later on a Shabbat morning, we heard ghotting in the ghetto as they started to gather Jews. I decided to run away. I escaped through the barbed wire on Zamkowa Street with Rita SHKOP, daughter-in-law of Yeshiva Head Rabbi Shymon SHKOP. We went down to Kolz'a, then to the "little wood", and from there to Fishkit [?]/
Rita knew that the group that first ran away decided to go the partisans in the Szczuczyn area. So, we returned and walked through Nieman road to the "Rabbi Eliahu" and turned onto the road to Skidel. By night, we found a lonely peasant house in a field and hid in the barn. The dog barked. A woman came out, looked around, and entered the house. Before morning, we left the barn and went on. A few kilometers before Skidel, we turned to the village Kutra where Rita said her Gentile nanny lived. We went to the house but saw a group of young shkaztim so we ran away.
 Then, we tried another yard where a Belarussian woman directed us to Rita's nanny. We found her and slept in her place but she could not keep us. We again went toward the border between the "Third Reich" (that included Grodno) and Belarus. On our way, we saw German border guards. We crept into a poor peasant house. After negotiating, she showed us the way to the border for a fee. This time, we crossed. We arrived in Szczuczyn where a few survivors of the ghetto slaughter remained. I was there for a week. Rita remained with her relatives. I had been told that if I went to Lida, I could find a clue about the partisans. They did not want to go to the forest because they felt that after the slaughter, their situation was better because they traded with the Gentiles.
I went to Lida where the Judenrat worked with the Jewish police and partisans. They tried to help the newcomers find a place to stay to join the partisan camps. Every week, a group of about fifteen armed men left the ghetto. Some bought arms from the Gentiles. In Lida, I met Yankel MOGODOWSKI. He was ill after they amputated his finger and leg [?} because of frostbite. I asked about my cousin Yedidiah and his friends. Those who went to the partisans told me about him. After a while, a guy from the forest came to take his brother and wife. He took me with them when I asked about my cousin. His brother could not go so I recommended a mathematics teacher from Grodno, Yudel RAISKIND. Right before the bridge over the Drzitwa [?] River, someone shot at us with German pistols and machineguns. The teacher and the girl were killed. I fell wounded. I was thrown into a ditch. They took my boots, tobacco, cigarettes, matches, trousers, belt, five marks, and the grenade that I had. Because they thought I was dead, I lived. These were ten to twelve "White Poles" who spoke Belarussian. They were from nearby villages and served in units that fought with the Germans against Jews and partisans.
After they left, I stood up to look for the others but in vain. I found them dead. I went alone to Radun. There, I heard from a Gentile that in the forest were Jewish guys who attack peasants. He showed me the way. The Gentiles gave me a place to sleep and food and requested that I tell my friends that they were good to me. After a while, I met one of the partisans who brought me to the camp where I found the Grodno group in the Yanachi Forest.

Copyright © 2001, Irene Newhouse
HTML by Irene Newhouse, ed 6/21/2016

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