The First Akcia

Mass Murder

"We just couldn’t believe that such brutality could occur in our town."

"December 4, the issue was ordered that all Jews must assemble in front of the great synagogue to be inoculated against typhus. It was raging in that part of the world, but some of the people, like my father, were skeptical. Why would the Germans suddenly worried about our health? So he hid us in the attic of the mill where he worked, but a lot of people assembled that day, and suddenly they were surrounded by the Gestapo and the Ukrainian police. They were herded into the synagogue; they were kept there for two days and two nights without food and water, and the situation there was atrocious, and then they were taken away by truck.

When the shootings stopped, we made our way back to the ghetto, to my grandmother’s house. The whole family was assembled there except for my tall red-head Aunt Mincia. Her three children were crying. Her husband found out she was taken away; we didn’t know where. My grandmother was a very ailing and elderly lady, and she was a puller of strings for us. She kept saying, 'We’ll try and find out where they’ve taken these people. Then we will send her warm clothes, and we’ll send her food, and maybe we can buy her freedom.'

We went to sleep somewhat reassured only to wake up the next day and find out about the horror that befell our town. Half of the Jewish population-- 2,500 men, women, and children-- were driven to the nearby forest of Siemakowcze. There they were forced to disrobe in a barn and a group of five approached the ravine where there were machine guns. The clothes they collected from the victims, they were selling on the city streets. Public mourning was forbidden. This is our custom: seven days of mourning. Men do not shave. Any man that was found was severely beaten or killed if he was not shaven. It was, a horror story. We just couldn’t believe that such brutality could occur in our town."