Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004

Jews of Vilno

So my, my father worked there, my, my uh, my--oh, I, I just want to say that as the Germans were about to enter Lida, my uncle Sevek was informed by the Russians that he had to go to Central Asia or they were going to kill him. And so we said our tearful goodbyes and he was taken away. And, uh...

With his wife?

No he wasn't married.

He wasn't married.

And my, and my aunt Ala's husband had found, had found a, a job. He was a tinsmith and he found a job working in one of the factories. So we, we lived in this ghetto uh, and the number of Jews varied because while there were Jews from Lida, they also would take Jews from small little shtetlekh around and put them together, so the ghetto had never had a stable population. And...

Was there typhus?

I don't remember typhus. There was typhus in the forest, when we get to the partisans but not--I don't remember. There were infectious diseases. I don't, I don't know that I would have known one from another exactly then. But uh, uh, one, one thing that happened was that uh, the situation in the Vilno ghetto, as bad as it, as it was in our area, things in Vilno were much worse already. They got bad, really bad, and they started killing really early. And so some several hundred Jews escaped Lida--escaped uh, Vilno and somehow made their way into Lida, and the Judenrat was able to secure their papers and find them jobs, which was a massive undertaking, but it was done. Concurrently with this, a group of Jewish thieves from the ghetto--and there was this priest who had amassed a lot of Jewish things and they, they robbed him. And the Germans heard of this and they right away wanted the, the people to kill them. And in order to save their own lives, the robbers betrayed who the Jews of Vilno were. And everybody was--and one of the Jews by the way was uh, was a doctor ??? a famous uh, surgeon that my father trained with in--at the medical school. And he had come and, and lived with us in the ghetto. He had come from Vilno, he was one of those Jews. So one day, it was the middle of the winter, it was cold, frigid. Everybody had to get out. They passed the Jews, you know, like into a, a small area so they could go one through one at a time, and the robbers identified all the Jews of Vilno, which were killed a couple days later--they were shot. All those who could not go uh, I mean, all those like some very young children or, or sickly older people who couldn't get up and to go out in the morning, when they--people returned after, after the Aktion, they had their knives there--with knives their, their throats were slit and they were lying in pools of blood. So that's how the Vilno Jews...

Did you see any of this?


Did you see any of this?

I, I--they were killed a couple days later and nobody in our house was left behind, so--I mean, it was common knowledge, but it wasn't in my house. Nobody was left.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn