Concordia University MIGS

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Meanwhile my work in the hospital had become deathly dangerous because many of the sick were suffering from typhoid fever and from dysentery and I didn't even have a shirt to change and I could easily get sick any day.

We were expecting some higher-ranking murderers who knew that we have a hospital in the ghetto. So I asked my father that when the 'good friends' will come, he should, for God's sake, stay calm. Father was the oldest one in the hospital and I was dreadfully afraid lest they take note of him, but I was destined to endure fear. Just when the murderers were doing the rounds, inspecting the sick, I was standing beside my dear father, guarding him; he suddenly started to stammer and point at the bloody guests and at my eyes, and he wanted me to tell him at exactly that moment why I'm so frightened and who the guests are. Dr. Domya himself also got scared and thought that our end had come. I thought I was finished. The murderers didn't wait long and they went straight to my father's bed. My heart stopped beating. One of the inspectors asked Dr. Domya:

'Who's this sick one?'

But I interrupted him and said:

'This sick one is already better. He will soon be able to return to work.'

They both looked at me quizzically, wondering, and went away.

'Well, good you've saved your father.' Dr. Domya was pleased. But as for me, I asked myself: How much longer will I succeed to protect him from the murderers' hands.


Meanwhile Yom Kippur 1941 arrived. There was nothing to eat before the fast except for some tea and bits of bread. We fasted the day of Yom Kippur. Father felt very bad because of fasting, so Dr. Rosenblum asked me what I intended to do now with my father, whether to give him an injection to keep him alive or let him expire. It was only a matter of an injection.

I was devastated and I didn't even have anyone to consult about what to do. I decided to give him camphor in order to revive him a bit and to lengthen his life.

What sort of a life is this? I thought to myself at the same time. Wait - until one fine day the murderers notice him and take him away to be shot. What kind of a life is that! But I thought: if my mother was here now with me at such a decisive moment of father's life, what would she tell me to do?

With such thoughts I stood near my father and watched him start, slowly, to breathe more easily. And when he returned to normal I felt lighter in my heart and I rejoiced that I would still have someone to care for and that I am not completely alone in the world.

Possibly, if my father had died then, I also wouldn't be alive now because the hospital guarded me from many dangers.


A few days after Yom Kippur father called me over and told me to have a look under his blanket and tell him why he's so itchy in a certain spot. I took a look and I saw what I expected to see: lice.

I understood very well at that time my father's shame, mixed with regret, that he has to show his daughter his naked body and ask her to free him from the ugly parasites that torture him. Under normal conditions mother looked after him.

Somewhere I got hold of a fine comb and I carefully combed his body. Then I washed him with Lysol, a kind of disinfectant. My father's joy was indescribable. He was like a new person. He embraced me with his left hand with which he was able to move slightly, hugged me and kissed me, with tears in his eyes, thanked me for making him clean.

I told him that he doesn't have to be ashamed with me because I am his daughter and I told him that the moment he feels itchy he should let me know.

That's how the days passed. The hospital was full with around 150 sick ones, mainly very sick. Many had typhoid fever. I ran around, hungry, from bed to bed, both daytime and nighttime and I sometimes felt that I was passing out. At such moments I would sit down at the foot of my father's bed and rest my weary feet when the sick ones would ask me very much, or when I would be relieved for an hour or two. But this would rarely happen because everyone was embittered and didn't think about the other person.

I had to work harder than anyone else because my unfortunate father had a bed here in the hospital and I imagined that as long as I will be needed they'll let me keep my father with me, I therefore wanted my work to be important and indispensable.

The commandant already knew about our hospital and in the first murderous days they did indeed leave us alone. After Dr. Gurewitz left with the first 'aktzion' slowly, all the doctors, therefore, signed up with the hospital.


Following is the staff of our hospital, as far as my memory serves me:
Fanariyov - a barber surgeon
Dr. Chanuch, a gynecologist
Dr. Damya, a surgeon
Dr. Damya (his wife), a neurologist
Dr. Doneman, a radiologist and gynecologist
Dr. Wofsy, internist and son-in-law of the well-known official of Dovinsk
Dr. Rosenblum, internist
Dr. Baylinson,
Dr. Sigal
Dr. Botzianu, a Gruze
Dr. Landau, from Riga, a surgeon
Dr. Seminovich Wofsy, skin specialist, brother of the famous actor Michaels

Dentists were:
Dr. Silin
Dr. Queen
Dr. Muller
Dr. Prezmo
female Dr. Chatziantz, wife of Dr. Chatziantz
and others.

Toder Gurwich, a midwife
and I myself

The pharmacist was Eli Wolfsy; eye doctor, Dr. Kroin (maiden name Fein, from Libon, Latvia)

Those on the Committee (Judenrat) were:
Mishe Movshenzon
Berl Rapaport of the furniture factory.
Yashe Kroin
Fran Edelstein
Dr. Doneman, head of committee

Policemen (other than the Latvians, obviously):
Dismond (from the cinema Grand Electra)
His brother from the paper factory
Pasternak from Kreslovka
and others.

In the Burial Society:
Nachum Opler
Strikovich, a Jew from the old city

At the supply depot:
Frau Landau

In the kitchen - Frau Rapoport (of the furniture factory):

In the warehouse where bread was distributed:
Frau Landberg

From the stationery depot:
Frau Levine (of the confectionery factory) and others

There was also a tailoring section and a shoemaker section.

Those doctors who had relatives went to spend the night sleeping in the barracks and I used to remain alone in the hospital with the sick. When anyone needed a doctor right away, or when anyone was about to die I would go in the dark, throughout the ghetto to get a doctor, though I knew that the Latvian murderers our 'guards' are around, with guns in their hands. More than once I thought that one or another of those Lats was aiming at me from the distance and is going to shoot me. In that kind of fear I went at night to get a doctor for Frau Wofsy, who was the pharmacist and had the key to the medicines.


I still didn't have a place where I could rest my weary bones and I suddenly felt such exhaustion that I knew that something was going to happen to me. I changed a lot, both in my appearance and in the tempo of my work, and the doctors asked me to find a place where I could sleep amongst people whom I knew, because if I will lay down sick, who will take care of my father?

I didn't want to, nor could I wait for strangers to do me favours; the doctors and all the hospital staff were tied to the hospital only because they knew that for the time being nobody is being taken from the hospital to be shot. But nobody really thought of curing the sick because today or tomorrow all will be shot anyhow.

My father needed the kind of attention that no one, only I, could give him, but I felt that I was losing my strength and I was falling from my feet. I started to look for a place where, at least a few times a week, I would be able to rest my bones. I found such a place at my aunt's Musia Kellerman. She was still alive at that time. The place consisted of three boards, nothing more.

When I told my father that I was going to my relatives to sleep, he got very frightened. With his sad eyes he asked me pleadingly:

'You're leaving me here alone? Who will even want to come near me?'

He thought nothing other than that I would never again return to him. I calmed him and told him not to call upon anyone. I'll come in the morning to clean him up.

I didn't want to ask any of the nurses or any of the sick, in spite of the fact that they all told me to go and have a rest and they will look after my father in the meantime. I said goodbye and went to my new 'bed.'


I went into barrack 71. Everyone was already lying on their hard 'beds'; some asleep, some unable to fall asleep because they were tortured by hunger or dark thoughts. I lay down to sleep. For the first time in four months I permitted myself to stretch my weary bones out a bit. But I couldn't sleep. I lay, looking at the people who were lying there like judged ones who were awaiting their day.

I heard Frau Zyer call out from her sleep, or not from her sleep, and calls her two shot children. Another one was crying out cursing herself for not having gone away with her parents. Another one could be heard whistling the song 'Mein Shtetaleh Beltz.'

I looked around in the dark and listened: Who is that singing. That longing whistling awakened in me all the wounds that were not yet healed at that time and, indeed, they will never heal.

The barracks were something new to me. I had acclimatized myself in the hospital to have to do only with the sick and to run from one bed to the next. I didn't know how the people in the barracks lived. I then used to once a week go out into the yard for a few minutes when I had to beg for a potato for my father. I never delayed because I knew that my father was awaiting me.

Once, as I was lying thus on the boards, I saw Basia Kling, a young intelligent girl, who had already lost her parents and her brother, put her head in a broken oven and looks for burning coal to warm herself. While doing so she was whistling a sad melody, quietly so as not to disturb the 'sweet' sleep of those asleep. The melody of that lonely child who was wandering around here in the ghetto, hungry and embittered, awaiting her judgement day, that might come any day, tore at my heart.

Because of such, and similar scenes, the night passed without sleep for me. But at daybreak, it was still on the dark side, I went to father. My father's joy, when he saw my arrival, was boundless. Only now was it clear to me that he really thought that I would never return to him. Only God knows what dark thoughts plagued him all night.

I cleaned him up with even more devotion than normally, thankful that he didn't bother anyone at night. This must be my work only. That, after all, was what mother wanted.

In this manner I went off to sleep a few times a week. It was bitter for me that when I cleaned up my father I didn't have any fresh clothing for him, because he only had the one set of underwear with which he arrived in the ghetto, so that until his underwear dried he had to lay naked, covered up just with a coat that I had managed to grab off the wall while I was driven out of my house.

There was never a night without a death in the ghetto. Children used to die more than adults. I had a great need to pour out my heart a bit and cry but I had nobody, so I would sometimes ask to be allowed to accompany the dead because at the Grive cemetery an aunt of mine was buried, Sara Shneider, a sister of my mother, so I wanted to find her grave and pour out my aching heart. It didn't take long and I found her grave. I poured my heart out to her and I asked her to help me overcome my troubles, not so much for my own sake, but because of my sick father who needs me and other than me has nobody who even wants to have a look at him.

I was at the funerals very often, though a dead one was not supposed to be accompanied by more than 10-12 people, but Herr Nachum Apter, head of the Burial Society, knew that a daughter of Frankel's is in the hospital, and her only pleasure is to go to the cemetery to cry her heart out, so he would often list me with the entourage.

When I returned from the cemetery I always put on a smile because I didn't want my father to catch on where I had been.


The 9th of November was drawing near. We awaited this day with great fear because that was the day when Hershel Greenspan shot, in France, the German minister Vom Roth and the Germans, because of that, would on that day, cause great trouble for the Jews, both in Germany and in the conquered countries.

We anticipated troubles and knew that something dreadful would happen. Our premonition came for what we saw around us, and what we saw was that the murderers were preparing for that day quite openly.

An order was issued that we must deliver all our valuables such as gold, diamonds, expensive coats, furs, etc. so that nothing will remain in our possession. Otherwise 300 Jews will be hung. We started to give all our things away, whatever we owned and we were happy to do this just so as to avert a greater misfortune. Things were collected from everyone. Nobody was bypassed. I gave my marriage ring and another ring that mother had given me as a gift when I turned 20 and of which I swore that I would never remove it from my finger as long as I live. I took off both rings, kissed them and threw them into the large box that the murderers placed at the Jewish Committee for us to fill up with our antiques. Father couldn't understand why I was removing my rings and where I was off to on such a cold day.

Then documents were distributed for all who worked for the Germans in town and all who worked in the ghetto as tailors and shoemakers and in the kitchen and also those who had documents that they were doctors or dentists.

I didn't have anything to show, except for my father on my hands. I didn't even have anyone to consult, because mother had long ago gone.

I did have two cousins Roza Blumkin and Eda Kritzer, and they knew of my troubles very well. They couldn't help me though because they themselves were in danger, even though their husbands were lucky to have documents. So they got the following idea: they found a man who was willing to put me on his document. I simply had to change my name to Donion. The idea didn't appeal to me, though it was a matter of saving my life. I had faith that God would help me some other way.

And that's what actually happened. A woman from Kovno came to me, Riva Malarska, and proposed that I should go over to the workers' barracks to hide out and there is a possibility that one of the workers will be able to save me.

From beneath father's cushion I took out a watch that I had hidden there for an hour of need, handed it to her, in case she has to bribe someone and I went into the workers' barrack to see how they were preparing for the dark yomtov. That was on the night of November 7. I went in and waited to see what would happen.

I didn't have to wait very long. The commandant from the ghetto came in, a murderer, a Latvian, who found shooting a delight, and he began to call out the names of those who work for Germans outside of the ghetto.

I thought he looked at me and I thought that I would be a lot better off if I was at the hospital at that time. I sneaked out of the room and quickly went upstairs, back to the hospital. Father thought that I was running around like that to save myself, so he started to press me to himself as though to want to calm me. Then night passed in great fear and the black Friday came, Nov. 8. It was both raining and snowing outside, and it was just as dismal as in our hearts. I shuddered lest the commandant should spy me and remind himself that I'm the one who tried to hide amongst the workers, and for such an act there was only one punishment: death.

Right in the morning my cousin came in and started to plead with me, with tears in her eyes, to have pity on myself and father, and change my name. Again I didn't want to hear of this and I again put my faith in God. She left, embittered, and thought that today I surely wouldn't escape the murderer's hands. Then my other cousin came in and with a cry also pleaded with me to change my name but I refused her also.

'Maybe you have,' she pleaded with me, 'some poison for my mother. She has no documents and they will probably take her away today, God knows where to.'

I didn't even have any poison for myself, so she left, thinking maybe that I did have some but I don't want to give any poison for my dear aunt Musia.

Around me some people were saved because of a document and others had prepared morphine so as not to fall into the hands of the murderers, and I myself occupy myself with the sick. I do what they ask of me and I don't think of the great danger that I'm in myself.

Suddenly I got an idea: I'll go to the Jewish committee and ask for a document there, since I've been working for over four months in a hospital where they are pleased with my work. No sooner said than done. I went down into the yard. The yard was packed with two categories of people: those with document in their hands, who were secure in their lives for the time being, and those without documents. They were desperate. I shoved through the people and went into the committee. I had to talk to them a lot and assured them that I'm asking for the document not for myself but my father.

'Imagine for a moment that it is not my father, but yours, and he's left, confined to bed, without any help,' I argued.

They promised to give me a document just so as not to have my father on their conscience. Besides, they valued my work and liked me a lot.

So time marched on and we were occupied with only one thought: When will the day of judgement be, today or not today?

Soon I had new guests. Roza Zaltzman, a sister-in-law came to me together with one of her sisters, Fanya Marina. They told me joyfully that a cousin of theirs, Laizer Morin, included them both on his document - one as his wife - the other as his sister.

'Only you haven't let anyone include you on their document, and who knows what your end will be.'

They said goodbye to me. We kissed and cried. Then they went in the room of the 'lucky' (ones) workers, and I remained closed in with my father who had no idea what sort of danger we were in.

Friday evening SS men came in with cudgels in their hands, armed with revolvers, and drunken Latvians with eyes bloody from murdering. With wild laughter they started to pull people out of their hiding places and those who didn't have documents. The tumult was indescribable. Shooting was heard. We were all struck dumb. Thinking very little of ourselves because the scene changed so quickly, like in a film and they captured us completely. I was quietly informed that my sister-in-law, Roza and her sister Fanya had just been taken away to be shot after they had been badly beaten because the Latvian commander had issued an order that they were not Morins but Zaltzmans.

So it was that one, two, three, I lost my two relatives who, just a few hours before, were so happy with their document that would permit them to live. They had bemoaned my troubles but not their own. . .

Those who were found in hiding were shot on the spot. In the great panic people had run to hide in the hospital, but since not everyone could immediately be registered, because the murderers were there, their hiding didn't save them.

For instance, a Jew by the name of Zeligman came running in from the Grive, and asked for a place. I placed him on a board near my father, half undressed, and wrote down his name so that he was overjoyed that for the time being he was saved.

Outside, meanwhile, a devil's dance was taking place. There was shooting from all directions and nobody knew whose hour would strike in a minute or two. Suddenly, a nurse ran in out of breath and told everyone in the hospital that the commandant of the ghetto was coming here with some bandits to search for people who were hiding, and he has a list of who can remain here and who must go with him. My heart started to pound. I went over to father and gave him a kiss. I took my leave from him in that way in case I would be taken away because I didn't want the murderers to see that I have an old, sick father. I stood, awaiting my destiny. I stood not far from father's bed like a wild beast. The Latvian commandant came in with a gang of Lats and Germans who had long ago been prepared for one job only - to torture and shoot us. His shouts could been heard from a few rooms away. He threw the sick ones off their beds and looked for victims and tells his gang to take them down into the yard. Those who can't walk are immediately shot in the yard. He was able to do this. His hand didn't even tremble.

Father was lying there, looking at me with tears in his eyes, terribly frightened, asking what was going on. I calm him and tell him to lay with his face to the wall and not speak to me nor calm me, so that nobody should notice him. Suddenly he saw a girl, a friend of mine, Pesia Trok, runs in and hides beneath my father's bed. He indicates this to me as though one says: What's this? I winked to him that now one must be quiet so he kept quiet, frightened as he was.

They finished with their work in the nearby rooms. Those sick ones whom the commandant wasn't pleased with, were dragged from their beds and taken out to the yard to be shot.

And now the murderer came in to the room where I was standing and waiting and he began to read out loud a list of the doctors and nurses in the hospital. My heart stopped beating and I couldn't think straight. I stood dumbfounded and watched and saw how those not on the list were preparing for their last way. Suddenly, as though in a dream, I heard my name called amongst those who remain to work according to the agreement of the district commissar.

I waited until the murderers went out and I started to cry bitterly. My cry was one of joy and also the terrible fear I had lived through. Now father understood that something terrible had just taken place here and he also begun to cry dreadfully so that I could barely calm him down.

That is how that dark night passed. It cost us a few thousand lives.


The next day, Shabbes morning, I saw, through the window, a band of SS men, accompanied by Latvian bandits, approaching, with guns and truncheons in their hands. Their thirst for Jewish blood had not yet been satisfied. An order was issued that everyone must assemble in the ghetto yard.

With me in the hospital, there was a nurse, Breen (maiden name Lapidus), from Nyick-Dvinsk. She had once taken lessons from my brother, Shaul (presently in Israel). Since then we had become very close friends and always stuck together. So now we decided not to go down into the yard come what may. We would not wait to be led off to be tortured, to be beaten over the head like a dog and then be led away to be shot. Meanwhile, a new Aktzion began in the yard. Out of breath, a Jew ran into the hospital. His name was Shalman. His wife was lying here with typhoid. She herself was a nurse right here in the hospital. He asked me to let him hide here beneath his wife's bed. How could I refuse his request? So he lay down beneath her bed and I covered him with some old things that I took, for his sake, from a woman acquaintance. I did not even manage to tell nurse Breen that under such and such a bed a Jew lays hidden - because immediately a few Germans entered, and a few civilian Latvians, with pointed guns in their hands and they howled:

'Raus! Shnell raus fun hir!'

The nurse did not lose herself, and she replied that we were ordered not to leave the hospital, but to stay and guard the sick. If so, they took the list of the sick from us and began to count, to see if everything was correct. But first they let us know that if they will find more people than are on the list, they will shoot us immediately.

At that time we had 150 sick, including the children.


Suddenly I heard one Latvian say to another, in Latvian, that the sick must be loaded on autos and be taken away. I got so scared that I felt I was collapsing. Does this mean that all my struggle on behalf of my father was in vain - and that my father will soon be taken away and shot? And I, myself, may be the one who will turn him over to the hands of the murderers to be shot. And since he's incapable of walking - I myself may have to lead him to Kiddush HaShem (his death as a martyr). I felt my head splitting. As I was standing and listening to what the murderers were saying to one another, not able to shout in their faces: 'No! I won't hand my father over to you! He deserves to die a natural death!'

I don't wish on anyone what I had to live through at that moment. And no one can understand this, except for someone who had lived through this themselves.

What was one to do now when both our lives were hanging by a thread?

I went over to my father and told him simply:

'Father dear. You should know that of ours, no one remains alive, only you and I. Mother, the children and my husband have already been shot. Now the murderers have come after the two of us, and perhaps this is our day of judgement. There's no more I can do for you. And about myself, I am not thinking. If you can, pray to God for both of us.'

I spoke to him in such a way that he could understand every word, and he should realize that this is the end for us. I really wanted him to get a heart attack from the 'good message' and die on the spot so that I would not have to hand him over to the murderers.

My father began to cry bitterly and pressed me to his heart. We kissed one another heartily, with the thought that we are now saying our final goodbyes. I turned him so that he would be facing the wall, so that the murderers would not notice him so quickly, and I left the room. Father must have said his final confession both for myself and for him. And perhaps, in his mind, he already saw all his beloved ones of whom I have just told him that they are no longer alive. . .

The murderers spoke to nurse Breen. I approached them. They warned us once again now that they are going to check, and if they will find here anyone hiding, the two of us will be the first ones to be shot - and as they were speaking, they shoved the golden guns into our faces.

The check started. They went into the room where my father was lying. I approached my father's bed. I concealed him and bent down, looked under the beds as though I was helping to search. Because of this, the murderers did not go over to my father's bed. One of them looked at me with his murderous eyes, pleased that I was helping him to search, went into the next room where Herr Shalman was lying beneath Frau Shalman's bed, listening to the noises of the murderers and was afraid to even breathe. He probably heard their threats also, and probably feared for himself and for us. I was sure that at any moment he would be found and that all three of us would be shot. My heart nearly gave out because of regret that because of me my good friend nurse Breen who was innocent, would fall into the hands of the murderers. Why did I allow someone to hide beneath a bed without even telling her?

The Latvians poked at the packs under all the beds with their guns, including Frau Shalman's bed, but they found nothing. Meanwhile, I looked at the sick. In their faces I could see that they were all holding their breath. . .


We went into the kitchen. Once again we assured the murderers, and we tried with all our strength, not to show that we were trembling with fear. We let on that everything was correct. Suddenly nurse Breen noticed that a Lat wants to raise a turned-over bath, and from beneath the bath something red was showing. As though with a leap she suddenly stood beside the Lat, swatted him on the hand and in correct Latvian said:

'If we tell you that everything is one hundred percent in order here, you should believe us.'

He let go of the bath.

From the fearlessness with which these words were spoken, he, miraculously, remained baffled and confused and he left the room. However, the others, it seems, could not part from us so easily. They stood there looking at us with their murderous blood-thirsty eyes. We understood very well what they were thinking and I'm saving myself the trouble of telling you.

One civilian Lat pierced me with his two eyes and I saw in him that any moment he was going to take men and immediately I thought of my father.

'What's your name?' he asked me.

I told him my name. Then a second one asked me:

'Are things very bad for you now?' (Zihobn yetz shlect?)

I answered that he probably knows how good things are for us. He told me not to worry, because this time the hospital will not be harmed. That will be another time.

With this promise they went down into the yard to help others in the slaughter.

In the yard the execution was carried with outmost speed. The victims fell like sheaves. The cries and wails reached to heaven but did not penetrate. In heaven no one heard them. A few hours later when all were slain a deathly silence again prevailed.

It was only now that Herr Sholman came out from beneath the bed, started to kiss my hands, and thank me. But who wanted his thanks? I went over to nurse Breen and I did not know how to excuse myself for putting her in such danger, and all because of me. She did not let me excuse myself very much but simply led me to the bath, lifted it up and we saw a woman in a red blouse, lying all curled up, half dead, half alive. This was Frau Alperovich who used to sew children's clothing from her shop on Peterburg Street opposite the cinema 'Grand Electra.'

At this point Dr. Domya entered, and started to shout at us, asking why we weren't down below in the yard where our names were called out. We told him what had happened here, and we explained to him that perhaps it was better that we did not go to the yard, because if one of those who were hiding here would have been found, that one would have been the first one to be shot as an excuse. He understood us and went off to his wife and child and I remained in the hospital with the sick.

I went over to my father's bed. We kissed and had a good cry. I asked for his pardon for telling him the truth, that our dear ones are no longer alive. I meant it for the best. . . and perhaps it is better that I told him, because on account of this God had seen his sorrow and saved him from death. That's how I spoke to my father and I felt good that there is still someone to talk to him.

I went off to see if any of my relatives were still alive. I found my aunt Musia. This was the second time that she had saved herself. She hid amongst rags somewhere amongst the packs. The murderers looked for her, poked through the packs with their guns, but she was destined to go on living. After every slaughter we would meet once more and rejoice a little that we are still able to see one another, and we would mourn the slaughtered ones.

'Maybe they are now better off than us,' we comforted ourselves. After all, we'll have to go the same way as they went and feel what they felt, if not today, another time.

That's how the second day of slaughter passed. It had cost us thousands of victims.

My aunt was destined to remain alive. She saved herself by hiding amongst packs of rags both Friday evening and Saturday.


The thirst for Jewish blood was not satisfied. The murderers came once more and surrounded the ghetto. We looked out the window and saw them approaching form the distance, SS men and Latvian police, drunk, with cudgels in their hands and with revolvers.

An order was given that everyone must immediately assemble in the yard. Once more I, and the Breen sisters decided not to go out of the hospital, but to remain here and see what the day would bring.

Many of the men went off to work while many remained in the yard, with the documents in their hands, because they thought here they are safer with their lives. With these thoughts they waited to be allowed back into the barracks. But woe was us. Now the hour had struck for those who did have documents. Those who as much as made a move to rescue themselves were dragged by the hair, whipped mercilessly and shot.

I went to a small window and saw how a woman all beaten up, was being carried down the stairs that lead to the hospital ward, her hair dishevelled, bleeding. Her name was Gutkin. She wanted to hide but she was caught. (She had once had a jewellery shop on Riga St.)

I went again to a window and looked out. I saw the rows of women of the workers and their children starting to move, not towards the barracks but towards the gate. We shuddered. We understood immediately that they are being led to the forest where so many of our precious souls were already lying dead.

I went down to the room where my relatives 'lived' to see if any of them survived. My intuition didn't fool me. In the empty room my 70 year old aunt Musia was walking around, all by herself, tearing her hair and mourning her children. She had hid beneath packs and the children had gone to look for poison for her. They had documents, but the devils caught them and shot them. Death wasn't enough, though. They were first struck blows on the head. That's how everyone was murderously beaten before they died.

This went on for three days during which thousands of innocent people perished. I went down to the yard to look for someone I might recognize, but all I saw was a yard full of people who could no longer walk so they were shot on the spot. Amongst them I also saw the old Saul Hellerman, a relative of my mother. He was amongst the last old people who lived downstairs in the barracks, that had been slaughtered. In the three days of slaughter I lost 11 relatives. From our large family only five remained. I was one of the five, though I didn't change my name.

Around four in the afternoon the mail workers returned from work. How bitter it was for them when they didn't find any of their close ones alive. Many of them wanted to commit suicide that same night. My cousin, Mendl Hellerman grabbed a knife and wanted to kill himself. It was with difficulty that he was held back from doing this.

From this and other similar scenes I felt that my hair had suddenly stood up on my head. This is a strange indescribable feeling. I felt that I was dying. I had no grip on myself. Dr. Rosenblum noticed this so he calmed me down and promised me a tonic in a few days - if they will let us live that long.

From our large family there now remained my father, my aunt Musia and her son Mendel and her son-in-law Paulye Blumkin and I.

From several thousands of people in the ghetto there now remained approximately 900. This was the result of the three days of slaughter. To celebrate November 9, when a Jew dared to shoot a German, the Minister von Roth.


A few days before Nov. 9 around 30 babies, younger than a year, were gathered in the ghetto. These were infants who had been handed over to Christians, hidden, or left in churches at God's mercy. People hoped that maybe God would help and the ghetto days would end - then the children will be redeemed. If not, perhaps the babies will survive and Jews will have mercy on them and redeem them from the Christian hands. But the peasants and the priests and the nuns obviously couldn't stand the crying of the children, so they turned them over to the Germans hands.

Immediately on Friday the babies were murdered in the first day slaughter.


For a few days rumours were abounding that the Latvians are not yet satisfied that a few Jews are still left alive in the ghetto. They started to demand from the Germans that they should eliminate us all so that there would remain no sign of us. They wanted the Germans to carry out their promise that even for two Lats one won't be able to see a Jew unless in a museum. Some old Lats conveyed this news to some of the labourers, (the 'good' news, that is), who worked in the city. They did this with joy and they were sure that the Germans would fulfill their request and that there won't even remain any witnesses to say a bad word about them; the Latvians, that is. They even gave the date when they will finish off the few Jews in the ghetto: November 20.

From such 'good' tidings we all were tormented, but we definitely wanted to remain a witness, to tell the world what the Latvians did to us.

'RUN, RUN. . .

A woman by the name of Dunievske, who worked together with me advised me to run away from the ghetto and not wait for death. She'll look after my father. At that time there was only one place to run away to. Not far from Vilna there was a small town/village Breslau where the few thousand Jews had not yet been touched. It was possible to escape to there if one was not caught on the way. Some thought they had nothing to lose and they ran off to there. They later sent a letter via a Russian that whoever can get away from the ghetto should leave. As far as I remember the following ran away to Breslau: Gitte Shneider, (had clothing store on Riga St); Chayim Shlossberg, who had lost his wife and two children on Nov. 9; his brother-in-law, Laibeh Dritz; Shiff with his daughter, (had a vursht-factory on Missnetzke St); Lok, (owner of shoe store) and others. Oh yes, also the Rabbi of Vienna who had been our rabbi for a few years before the war when the Rogachov Rabbi died. Also the Ragochover Rabbi's daughter, a single woman who lived in the rabbi's house.

What was I to do now? Run away or not? Before my eyes were my mother's last words, that I shouldn't leave my father all alone. I just took one look at him, how he was as helpless as a child, and looks only to me, because more than me he does not possess; nobody understands him, only I - so I could no longer think about running away. No, I will not run away. I don't want to have on my conscience that I had left my father alone with no one to look after him in the last moments of his life. Besides, who knows if one stays safe in Breslau. The Latvians can reach there also. The commandant noticed that people were running. He even knew where to. So once he said:

'Run, run, . . . but your running is in vain. You will be caught there too.'

So once again I stayed with my father and trusted in God.


A few days later the ghetto was closed and we started to suffer from hunger. Until now those who worked in the city would bring something into the ghetto - a bit of soup, a piece of bread. Now this ceased. Now everyone felt the pains of hunger and I amongst them.

My father lay there starving. I no longer had a source of a potato for him. He would show me, with tears in his eyes, that he's hungry, but I had to pretend that I don't see. Suddenly he got so angry at me for not giving him something to eat, that I thought he would hit me if he could, though he never hit me or any of his children all his life. His glance was enough.

We got one kilo of bread per week so I would cut the crust off for myself and the soft part I would divide up for father for the whole week and hide it somewhere near his bed. He wasn't allowed to see where the full ration was. Old stale cabbage was the mid-day meal, slightly heated because there was no wood for cooking. Besides, everyone got a litre of sour water. From the cabbage 'soup' I could take out the thick part and spoon by spoon, feed it to my father, and the watery remains I would drink myself.

This was the whole 'sustenance' in the ghetto. From such 'meals' we, naturally, couldn't quiet our hunger. From hunger I was so faint that I couldn't stand on my feet and father couldn't lie peacefully on his bed.


Once I was in another room attending to a sick one when I suddenly heard someone calling me in my father's room: 'Pesia! Pesia!' a few voices all at once kept calling me. I immediately understood that something had happened to father and I came running. When I came to father's bed I saw him choking on a piece of bread which he apparently snuck out of my hiding-place. But since he was in a hurry to swallow the piece of bread, so that I wouldn't catch him at the 'theft,' he started to choke and asked the sick people to save him. The sick ones got scared and started to shout and called me because who else, other than me, could they call.

Frightened, but with a smile, I took the too large morsel out of my father's mouth, and I scolded him:

'Father, you've already become a thief?'

He looked at me with guilty, tired, prayerful eyes, asking that I not be angry at him and he asked me to put the bread farther away because he can't help himself when hunger overtakes him. I calmed him, laid him back in his bed, and bitterly I returned to my work. I didn't even have anyone to whom to tell of this incident or to cry my heart out. I already had no relatives and strangers were too embittered to listen to me.

So it happened more than once that father would take his ration of bread in his mouth, choke, and ask me to help him. With my fingers I would take the bread out of his mouth and he would excuse himself with such childish, pleading eyes that they follow me to this day and never leave me.

November 20 passed and it turned out that our fear was in vain. We weren't touched. We understood that for the time being the Latvians didn't get from the Germans what they wanted.

Meanwhile hunger ate away at us. Every day there were people who died of hunger. I felt that my days were numbered, so I took, from my father's pillow, a bracelet with three precious stones that I kept hidden there and, through a middleman, Pakerman, a tin smith, gave it away for a pound of butter and a loaf of bread. My father's joy, when I brought him the bread and butter is indescribable. He asked me to hide it under his pillow and he indicated to me that I shouldn't divide it amongst the sick, but keep it for the two of us. He knew that I didn't feel good eating when others were hungry. But this time he watched me lest I give a crust to someone from our 'treasure.' When I would cut the single slice for us he would look me straight in the eyes and ask me to immediately hide the bread again. As long as the bread lasted things were bearable, but when I cut the last slice of bread father's eyes got saddened.

'What will happen now?' he asked me with his hands. It tore at my heart.

I started to vomit from hunger. I could no longer take the sour water in my mouth. I vomited green bile. In addition, it was a cold winter and we froze. Many froze to death in their beds. Father indicated to me that he is bitterly cold. In the hospital there were only a few hot-water bottles and I didn't know to whom to give them first. I got around this by making sure that everyone got one for at least half an hour during the day, my father included.

When I would sometimes come across an empty glass bottle and fill it with hot water and hand it to my father, he was so fortunate, but it happened more than once that the water spilled in the bed because the bottle was not securely closed. At such times father would have to lie wet in bed and wait until I dried his only set of clothes that he owned.

Father was cold, so I covered him with my summer coat and I myself would go about, in the cold, with only a summer dress with short sleeves and shiver from the cold that my teeth chattered. But I felt good that my father had a coat as a cover. Others didn't even have this.


That's how the days passed, in misery and in hunger, without hope, that things will get better, until once, December 25, 1941, a fellow by the name of Laibe Antirol came to the ghetto, accompanied by a German soldier and in a normal way began to distribute pieces of bread to the Jews who stood at the ghetto gates waiting for someone to have pity and give them a crust of bread that was left over. This fellow - who worked in the city - had the opportunity, from time to time, because of his blondness, to come to the ghetto and help in any way possible.

He didn't feel that the needle on his left breast where the yellow patch generally hangs, entered his arm. He stood, handing out the bread as usual, and returned home quite content, just knowing that thanks to him a few people will have a morsel to eat.

On the way to and from the ghetto he would go without the yellow patch and on the sidewalk, and nobody had an inkling that this was a Jew, but as he approached the ghetto he used to fasten the yellow patch with a tailor's needle.

One evening around 5 o'clock, he came to the hospital, together with the German soldier, and he complained that he fears the needle with which he fastened the yellow patch has penetrated his arm. Perhaps the doctors can have a look and see where the needle is and get hold of it.

So he was placed on a board, the so-called operating table, Dr. Domya called me over and let me know that I will assist.

We boiled the instruments. I held the patient and assisted. There was no anaesthetic. In general, there was no medicine except when a labourer got something from a German, not God forbid, from a Lat, that had mercy and would bring it into the ghetto. Meanwhile, another few surgeons came in, such as Dr. Landau from Riga and Dr. Doneman. They were all interested in helping the patient.

Dr. Domya, with bare hands - without gloves that is - made a cut with the knife on the spot where the man felt the needle must be. I heard Herr Antirol say something quietly and I thought he was saying his confession, but the needle wasn't there where the cut was made. So the barber-surgeon, Fonariyev, suggested making the cut a little deeper. They listened to him, as they were cutting, and I was watching something shine in my eyes. I couldn't hold back my joy and I called out:

'Here's the needle!'

I immediately regretted this because how could I, a simple unskilled one, show such a good surgeon as Dr. Domya where the needle is? But it was too late. I expect some comment from the doctors that during an operation one must control oneself. Herr Antirol was bandaged up. Then I again washed and boiled the instruments, and so that the doctors should notice me less, I went to the room where father lay.

I sat down on father's bed and started to tell him the story of the needle. As I was sitting there talking, I suddenly heard Dr. Domya calling me. My heart started to pump faster, and I was prepared to defend myself. But much to my amazement Dr. Domya handed me a whole loaf and assured me that I had justly earned it.

'That's from the patient,' Dr. Domya said. 'And he asked me to tell you that while you held him during the operation he felt that a good angel was holding him. He regrets that he didn't bring anything more along and why you never come to the gate when he distributes bread.'

From now on, Herr Antirol ordered that he will send me extra bread whenever he will have any. My father rejoiced greatly at the good message, because it was true that I never went to the gate to ask for bread.

I cut the bread into small pieces and divided it amongst everyone, but even more than with the bread I rejoiced at the compliment Dr. Domya gave: that for my work, which he incidentally values highly, I'm worth something better than to have to suffer so much.

Herr Antirol kept his word and several times sent me a loaf of bread. I used to give something to the one who brought it and the rest I gave to my father, for myself and for the other sick ones.


It was very bitter when the labourers were no longer allowed to come and apportion bread at the ghetto gate and when the ghetto commandant issued an order that no longer were we allowed to exchange anything with the Lat police for bread. What was a mother of six young children, such as Frau Solmon do, for example. Her oldest daughter was then 14 or 15 and the youngest boy three or four. The unfortunate mother wanted to protect her children from a certain death through hunger, so she disregarded the order and would secretly sell a garment or some other item for a piece of bread. She had lost her husband the same way I lost mine and my dear ones and she was always busy with one thing only; guarding her children who, by now, looked like corpses. Even when there were 'Aktzions' she managed to rescue her children because she worked at tailoring.

But one mean morning she went out to the gate to exchange something for bread and the same murderer who had given her some bread for a blouse snitched on her to the ghetto commandant. The commandant told everyone to come out in the yard and line up as though in readiness for a parade. Then Frau Solmon was brought and two bullets were shot into her head.

At that time I didn't go down to the yard. I stood near father's bed and covered my ears so as not to hear the shots for which I was prepared. Besides, I felt that I wouldn't be able to stand it. Father didn't know what I was thinking about in those moments, nor what was happening in the yard.

The first one who brought me the 'news' was the barber-surgeon Panariyov. He highly valued my work in the hospital and my devotion to my father. Often he would let me in on the secret that they don't want to keep my father here in the hospital much longer and he helped me work things out so that my father would stay longer.

When Frau Solmon was shot they didn't even let her children accompany her to the burial and for that reason she was buried in the ghetto, in the yard.

That was the end of the mother who before everyone's eyes, sacrificed her life for her children's sake. Now they remain alone looking around for someone to throw something their way.

Slowly every source of bread vanished from the ghetto. It became so bitter, that it couldn't become any worse.

Once I went up in a room where a few rotten potatoes were being cooked. The odour of the potatoes nearly drove me insane. I felt that if someone were to give me a small piece of potato at that time, they would save my life. But how could I ask for a piece of potato from strangers who are just as hungry as me. So I returned to the hospital and had a good cry. Frau Dunaievsky saw me crying so she was very surprised because I was never seen crying. They always saw me going around from one sick one to the next, doing what I was told to do. This was the first time that I was seen crying. Sometimes I did cry, but only at night, when I would go around amongst the sick, or when I was able to sneak away to the Grives cemetery.

Frau Dunaievsky begged me to tell her what happened, so I told her; I can't stand the hunger any longer. She understood me very well because she was just as hungry as me. . .

'When will our miseries be over?' she asked me.

I didn't want my father to see, however, how troubled I was because what kept him alive was my good mood. I washed my face and went to him with a smile. He felt, though, how embittered I was and that I'm fooling him. He even looked at me with eyes that questioned why I was crying. I wanted to brush everything aside with my hand but my father didn't smile. He showed me that we are both equally hungry and he himself began to cry. Though he cried himself he asked me not to cry, but how could I not cry when I saw father dying of hunger and of cold. I promised him though I wouldn't cry and I went to attend to my sick ones who had no one in their loneliness and all of whom loved me because I never deserted them, neither by day nor by night.

On the night of Jan. 6, 1942, Dr. Domia was called out and from that day forth we never saw him again. That's how people disappeared every night. Everyone thought that perhaps tomorrow their turn would come.

One doctor, Rosenblum, now became the director of the hospital. Once he said to me that he can no longer keep my father in the hospital and he no longer wants to be responsible for him. He will have to be taken down to the men. I answered him that his talk is in vain. I won't put my father there where he can be seen, besides, I can't work there because men and women aren't allowed to live together - who will pay heed to my father? And let him not think - I said to him - that because he is director, he can do whatever he likes. Here it's a ghetto - and the only reason people want to be assigned to the hospital is because they believe that as long as they are sick the hospital will not be harmed and nobody will be shot. Nobody is tied to the hospital, and if he likes I can tell him that which he himself knows, that other than me, nobody stays here at night; everyone goes to their families to sleep and I'm left to care for the sick, like a dog. People gather here only when there is a danger, that and they hope they can be saved here. I'm at least worth that my father should remain here.

'If they should, God forbid, want to take you away to be shot, because you're keeping my father here, I will ask to be shot in your place. But if my father were to be taken downstairs to the open rooms, where the commandant always comes in to mock us, that I won't allow.'

I got my way. My father was not moved. He didn't even know in what danger he had been. Once more it was proven to me that if I weren't here my father would already long ago be taken downstairs and the commandant would have shot him immediately, even without an order from the German.


I grew weaker from day to day and my face swelled up from hunger and the cold. One night I wanted to steal the bread from my father - the piece that was prepared for him for the following day. I approached the bed but remained standing, should I do it or not? I stretched out my hand toward the piece of bread but - I controlled myself. I hid the piece of bread even better so that my eyes shouldn't see it, and I ran out of the room as though I was escaping from a fire and busied myself with some kind of work, just so that the night would pass. From that time on I even came into the room where my father lay less often.

That's why I was doubly grateful the following day when I could offer my father that same piece of bread without father even beginning to know that I, his own daughter, wanted to steal his last bit of bread.

People started to die like flies. My heart had already turned into stone at the sight of the dead who used to be carried on to a pile every morning down to the ghetto yard where they were buried. The ghetto was sealed and even the dead were no longer taken out.

A mentally ill man once grabbed me by the arm, thinking that I was his wife who had been shot. I shuddered from fear and I felt his hand getting colder and colder. . .

As the days passed and the hunger ate away at us, my father became so thin that he no longer had any skin on him on which to lie. I had to move him every five minutes on another side. He stopped asking me and he dirtied himself as he lay. I had to clean everything but I saw that I wouldn't have to suffer from my father much longer. Soon I will no longer have anyone to whom to give a piece of bread and a piece of sourkraut. Soon I will be completely alone. . .

From such thoughts I was feeling very bitter because I so much didn't want my sick father to leave me.


On Feb. 19, 1942, the workers returned form the city very scared and they all remained overnight in the ghetto. We thought at that time that this was the end and we started preparing for our last way, from which no one had ever yet returned. I went to my aunt Musia to sleep that night, because my face was so swollen that my eyes hardly showed.

That evening, more than usual, the workers went around looking for relatives or close ones. One of them, Abrashe Zweigorn, greeted my aunt and my aunt indicated to him that I am Pesia Zaltzman Frankel. He took a good look at me, and when he saw what had become of me, one of his good acquaintances, he started to cry bitterly and since his shot wife had been a good friend of my aunt, and he himself always enjoyed himself with our family, he promised that from this day forth he will help me and my father - provided that it would still be allowed to go to the city to work. He gave me a piece of bread with which I went off to share with him, and I told him who gave it to me.

I noticed, however, that this time my father wasn't so happy with the piece of bread. I looked closer and I saw that he was expiring. The next few days he grew weaker and weaker and I saw that he wouldn't be suffering much longer, nor would I have to suffer from him much longer. I called over nurse Breen and asked her to take a look at my father.

'You must be prepared for this, which is best for him,' she said to me. 'For him death is much preferred instead of further suffering, and the suffering of you yourself, now you are at least sure that he won't be shot, but he will die by himself.'

I still wanted to give him something. I ran into someone I knew, Glika Maggid, and I told her of my father's condition. She was laying languishing, but she took out from somewhere her last spoonful of sugar and gave it to me for my father.

But when I dissolved the bit of sugar in hot water, and spooned it into my father's mouth, the bit of water remained in his throat and he started to wheeze. From minute to minute life left him. That was the night of Sunday, Monday, February 23, six days in the Hebrew month of Adar, two o'clock in the morning. I put my ear to his heart and asked him if he knows who is beside him. I told him it was me, his daughter Pesia. He embraced me with his last bit of strength. In half an hour he was gone. I held his hand up to the last minute.

I sat beside his bed until 6 o'clock in the morning until someone came into the hospital. In spite of usual self-control I now lost it all, as I sat there beside my dead father. I felt that only now was I completely alone, as alone that it couldn't be worse. Finished. I have no one to fear for, and no one will cause me to suffer, and no one will any longer hear my father's sounds. My father had no voice so he used to speak to me with a kind of grunt.

The old sick Zeligman and another few Jews lifted my father, and when the doctors entered they carried him off to the purification house. Frau Strekovich gave me candles which I lit there. She also gave some sheets. I took them, the four sheets, into the tailoring and from them shrouds were made. I paid ten rubles for the work. I also gave 30 rubles for Psalm recitations, and I started to prepare for my 'simcha' (joyous occasion), for my father's funeral. Of all eight children God wanted me to be the one to bury my father and go through it all. The pious Jews told me that on account of this I won't have to suffer in the world to come and they wished themselves to also die a natural death.

The doctors congratulated me at my 'luck' that had happened: My father had died a natural death. He wasn't shot. At the same time they shook hands with me for my devotion to my father during his whole period of illness in the camp.

Dr. Doneman expressed that he, the head of the committee, couldn't save his father, a healthy, not very old Jew, and I did manage to keep my father away from the hands of the murderers for 8 months.

'But,' he continued, 'this way only because of your great effort and because you worked like a horse night and day in the hospital, so that no one will be able to say that they are not satisfied with your treatment.' That's how Dr. Doneman went on speaking to me. 'And you yourself suffered from your father's fear and hunger and cold, more than anyone, and because you worked without pay, without even a good word.'

At one o'clock in the morning a Jew came to tell that the grave is ready. I didn't have any shoes so I borrowed a pair of felt boots somewhere, grabbed a kerchief on my head and I went down together with aunt Musia to see my father put to his eternal rest.

When I realized that of five sons there was no one to say Kaddish at their father's open grave, I felt that my heart was tearing apart, the pain was so great. But at the last minute my cousin Mendel Hellerman came and said Kaddish. Afterwards the 'Malei' was said and then it was over. That's how my father was relieved of his great suffering and that's how the earth covered that which was so dear to me and that gave me courage to endure endless difficulties for eight months.

I put a flask in the grave beside my father and in it I put a note with my father's name in Yiddish and in Russian. He was 71 years old.

When I came home from the funeral and lay down in the barrack on the three boards, where I used to sleep, near my aunt Musia, the good woman Strekovitch came over to me and handed me a hot cup of tea, sweetened, with a teaspoon. I realized that for eight months I hadn't seen a sweetened cup of tea, nor a teaspoon and the tears started to choke me.

With such thoughts I fell asleep. I slept through the whole night. There was no longer anyone to call me. I remained like a broken branch of a lovely large tree.


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