Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Leon Salomon - June 18, 1990


He said this to a guard?

He said to the guard. And the guard said in Russian, I can't repeat it cause it was a swearing word and when this happened, he also handed him silver too. So he started running, when he started running we were left, four of us with one guard. Now this particular guy, another guy handed to this guy, some stuff too, silver and he says, "go right ahead." As we came a little closer to a small little bridge, and on each side to the right side, this was direction where they took the people to be killed and to the left side I said, "Let's go for it, we've got nothing to lose, we die, we die, we're going to die anyway." And we started running. The other guy who gave this guy silver, I understand, was wounded and killed. I was running zig-zag and I survived. The other kid froze, he didn't go no place. And that was the end of this episode.

So, both your sisters were taken away?


And you were now alone in the woods?

I was now alone in the woods and nobody to talk to, and nothing else, so I was going toward the direction of Svir. Svir was another ghetto because the Germans did not systematically, they didn't do the killing all at one time. They could liquidate one city and leave the other city intact. So, I was going to the direction to that city and somehow mingle with the Jews in the other ghetto, because in the woods to stay by myself, was almost impossible. First, the farmers they were afraid of their own lives to let me in and some of them were not sympathetic at all. They would give you up for a pound of sugar. So, there was no where to go or get any protection whatsoever, so my next step was to go to the city Svir. On the way there, I stopped in a small town called Constantinova, where only a few Jews lived, about twelve or so. Because they were important to the German, they had some kind of fabrications and factories where those Jews were contributing to it and they needed them. And, of course, I could stay only overnight there, they were afraid themselves, if from there I was whisked off and I went to Svir. I stayed there a short time in Svir. From Svir I went to Mikaliskes, another Jewish ghetto and from Mikaliskes they were looking for people to go to work back to Costantinova where I came. They needed people to work there in the woods to cut trees, so I volunteered. I just wanted to get out of the ghetto and I think I'll go to this small town. And so I landed back to the small town Costantinova. And I was there until 1943, spring. In springtime all this little ghettos surrounding Vilna were supposed to be concentrated into one ghetto which is Vilna. In other words, Mikaliskes, Svir and all the other small ghettos, Costantinova, no matter where Jews were, they all were supposed to be consolidated into one major ghetto Vilna. And in Vilna there were still Jews there living. What happened consequently, those people who were supposed to go to the Vilna ghetto into one place, instead were taken to Ponary and Ponary is on the outskirt of Vilna, it is a suburb, where 80,000 Jews perished, all of those people who were supposed to go to Vilna ghetto actually went to Ponary, where they faced shooting executions.

Can I stop you for a second, did you know about Ponary then, what was going on there?

Oh yeah, because Ponary, the shooting at Ponary took place way before then, way before then.

When they first came in?

Yeah. Yeah.

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