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A squad of fifteen German soldiers was assigned to liquidate the Marcinkonys Ghetto in Lithuania on this date in 1942. They ordered the nearly 400 inhabitants to appear for “labor duty” at 8 a.m. at the entrance to the 3.7-acre ghetto. An official complaint later written by forester Hans Lehmann, a Nazi party member, stated that two of the German soldiers opened fire at the 150 or so Jews who showed up; other writers suggest that Aaron Kobrowski, chairman of the ghetto’s council, led a revolt with a pistol that he had stashed. Whatever the spark, Jews attempted to escape through the fence and attacked the Germans with bare fists. Many of the escapees were killed, and the Germans then scoured the ghetto and killed more than 132 Jews, while discovering five secret bunkers under houses in the ghetto. Some hundred Jews successfully got out of Marcinkonys and into the forests, and 45 survived the war. Lehmann was later investigated by his higher-ups and found to have allowed Jews to escape, despite being armed. He would be among Germans captured in a train derailment outside Bialystok the following year; identified by one of the escapees from Marcinkonys as a Nazi oppressor, he would be executed. For a more detailed account of the uprising, click here.
“Fellow Jews, everybody run for his life! Everything is lost!” —Aaron Kobrowski