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August 14: Surviving the Einsatzgruppen

August 14, 2013

Rivka Yoselewska testifying at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in the District Court of Jerusalem.Rivka Yosselevska was one of a handful of Jews to survive a Nazi massacre of 500 that began when the Einsatzgruppen surrounded the ghetto of Zagrodski, near Pinsk in Belarus, on this date in 1942. The next day, the Jews were herded to a pit and shot. Yosselevska was wounded in the head but lived, and spent three nights lying among bodies in the pit until a farmer rescued her, hid her, fed her, and later helped her join a group of Jews hiding in the forest, where she survived until the arrival of the Soviet army in the summer of 1944. Yosselevska testified about her horrors at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. She lost a daughter, as well as her mother, father, sister, and other relatives in the slaughter.

“I also want to mention what my child said while we were lined up in the ghetto, she said, ‘Mother, why did you make me wear the Shabbat dress; we are being taken to be shot.’ And when we stood near the dug-out, near the grave, she said, ‘Mother, why are we waiting, let us run!’ Some of the young people tried to run, but they were caught immediately, and they were shot right there. It was difficult to hold on to the children. We took all children not ours, and we carried them -- we were anxious to get it all over -- the suffering of the children was difficult; we all trudged along to come nearer to the place and to come nearer to the end of the torture of the children.” —Rivka Yosselevska