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October 15: In the Brest Litowsk Ghetto

October 15, 2014
37648The Nazis began to liquidate their recently established Jewish ghetto in Brest Litowsk, Belarus on this date in 1942, shipping the internees outside the ghetto for massacre, then conducting a manhunt for those hiding in bunkers. Some Jews who managed to flee joined partisan units operating in the forests; Hana Ginzberg of Brest would be remembered as an outstanding partisan (more information on her would be welcome). When the city was liberated in July 1944, there were less than ten Jews to be found out of 30,000 in 1941. The following is a diary excerpt by Asher Zisman: “The courtyard of the Mizrachi building on Dluga St is full of people. There is great panic. They even buy poison to prepare for every eventuality.... From mouth to ear it was silently whispered that tonight it would begin... those who returned from the Aryan side report that the police were massing and preparing to surround the ghetto.... The senses are dulled, one waits for death. From our hiding place we can hear the Jews being taken away like cattle in carriages to Bronnaya Gora.... Nine people lie in our hiding place, half dead.... We are filthy, unshaven and half blind. It is already 2 months that we are lying there hungry and thirsty — tightly squashed together. We ran out of water — the murderers filled the well in the courtyard with stones and wood.... From outside terrible screams reach us — somewhere the police have discovered a hiding place. I can see how they lead a woman and small child — it’s Hannah Nussenbaum’s daughter with her daughter and other Jews. Their cries are deafening.... Mrs. Dolinski left our hiding place and surrendered to her executioners, asking to be shot.... We possess only 4 more matches — we only cook in the middle of the night — we are preparing for death.” Brest_Litovsk_9_15_39“In mid-1942 an underground resistance movement, led by Arieh Scheinman, came into existence in the ghetto and planned an uprising when the Germans came to liquidate the ghetto. Its members also raised funds to buy arms for fighting groups in the forests. But the Soviet unit that made contacts with them turned out to be a gang of robbers and many underground fighters were murdered.” —Jewish Virtual Library