Kovno Home Page
Kovno Stories Links
Kovno Stories
Testimony of Zvi - Hirsch Griliches

Testimony of Zvi - Hirsch Griliches.  
Extended DescriptionTestimony of Zvi - Hirsch Griliches. Written in Yiddish.
Zvi - Hirsch Griliches was born in Kaunas (Kovno) on September 12, 1930, the son of Yefim and Klara (nee Ziv).
His father worked as a chemical engineer in his father - in - law's tobacco factory. Zvi and his sister grew up in a wealthy home and received a good education.

On June 15, 1940, the Soviets conquered Lithuania. The factory was nationalized, but Zvi's father continued to work there. When the Germans came, Zvi's uncle -- who had been the manager of the family's factory and was a personal friend of Antanas Smetona, Lithuania's president -- was arrested for possessing a weapon (that was used for hunting). He was taken to the Ninth Fort and ordered to dig his own grave, but in the end was released thanks to his connections. When he returned home, he committed suicide.

From mid - August, the Jews were ordered to move to the ghetto. In the first "aktion" (roundup for deportation), 500 people, mostly of the intelligentsia, were taken to the Ninth Fort. Afterwards there were several smaller "aktions." During the "Great Aktion," 11,000 people were taken and killed on the spot.

When the ghetto's dimensions were reduced, additional relatives came to live in Zvi's family's apartment. In 1942, two transports left the ghetto: one to Riga, Latvia, and the other to the Palemonas camp in Lithuania.
During an "aktion" in late 1943, the family hid in an attic; 3500 people were deported to camps in Estonia, and only a few were saved. Zvi's sister and two nephews were smuggled into a Lithuanian orphanage.
On March 27, 1944, an "aktion" was carried out targeting children and the elderly, who were sent to the Auschwitz camp. The Nazis arrested the members of the Jewish ghetto police force, as a result discovering 21 hideouts. Those found hiding were sent to Auschwitz. Almost all of the Jewish police officers were shot.

As the Soviet Red Army approached, there was disquiet in the ghetto. It was now called the Kovno Concentration Camp. The workers of "Herresbau" (Herresbau Leitung, the military construction administration), HKP (Heereskraftwagenpark; installation for repairing military vehicles), and HPL were moved to quarters in the Sanciai (Shanchiai) neighborhood.
Then there were two additional "aktions" in which 1800 and 3000 people were deported.
In the four days of these "aktions" Zvi's family hid in a hideout they had constructed in advance. The space that was intended for twenty people had to accomodate sixty. Its location was revealed by informers; [Beno] Liptzer was shot immediately, and the children and elderly were separated from the rest and killed. The adults were deported to the Stutthof camp.
A month later, on August 17, 1944, Zvi was taken from there to Lager X (Camp No. 10) at Utting am Ammersee. This was a small, new, outer camp of Dachau, with 650 inmates who worked and lived under harsh conditions.

In January 1945, Zvi's father died of starvation, lice and beatings. His mother died a month later of typhus.
On April 24, 1945, with the American forces approaching, the inmates were marched to Dachau. After three days, they commenced a nighttime death march.
In May 1945 they were liberated at the village of Waakirchen near Bad Toelz.

Zvi joined the "Ma'apilim" kibbutz (communal group) and went to the Feldafing DP camp.

Note: Beno Liptzer was the head of the Jews' work brigade who performed various functions in the Gestapo headquarters building in Kaunas.