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Testimony of Meri Michelson

Testimony of Meri Michelson

Written in Yiddish; dated September 1946.
Meri Michelson was born in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, on April 6, 1934; she was the daughter of Hirsh and Stira (nee Skop).

In 1940, the Soviets entered Lithuania.
In the summer of 1941, Meri went to a summer camp of the Pioneers in Palanga, Lithuania, near the German border. On June 22, 1941, the Germans began bombarding the area. Fires broke out and wounded children ran about in the streets. When Meri escaped out into the street, a bomb exploded beside her, but she wasn't injured. She was pushed into a vehicle that was evacuating children, but it was soon damaged by a bomb, wounding some of the passengers. Those who remained uninjured continued to flee under fire, on foot or by rides people offered. Roadside bomb craters were filled with the dead and wounded, some with limbs blown off. The children entered a village to rest, but it came under bombardment and the nearby forest caught fire, so they had to continue in their flight. When they reached the Latvian border a truck took them across, although officially the border was sealed.

In Riga they stopped at an eight - story building and went down into its shelter. During a bombardment, seven floors of the building collapsed. In a forest on the way to Pskov, Russia, they were caught in crossfire between partisans of "Red" and Fascist factions, and at night they came under bombardment in Pskov. The next day the children boarded a train and after a month reached the town of Perevoz. Meri fell ill there. The children were divided into groups of ten and sent to kolkhozes. Meri, aged nine, was sent with a group to the Kartashikha kolkhoz. Later the children were placed in a children's home in the village of Garishkino [?] near Gorki (now Nizhniy Novgorod). Some time afterwards they were transferred to the Ichalki kolkhoz.
In December 1944 Meri returned to Lithuania, where she stayed with acquaintances.

On January 23, 1945, Meri's mother was liberated from the Lowicz camp in Poland and was immediately drafted by the Soviets to run a mess hall for officers. After she completed this assignment and discovered that Meri was alive, she obtained a transit pass and dispatched a woman courier to bring Meri to her. The woman took Meri in order to escort her to her mother in Lodz. On the way, four vehicles of a Jewish organization that transported children across borders, including Meri, were stopped by NKVD agents near Ponary. Meri was forcibly placed in a children's home but escaped from it, and with the aid of the courier woman got to Lodz and rejoined her mother. They traveled from there to Szczecin (Stettin), then to Berlin and the Feldafing DP camp. There they reunited with Meri's father, who had been in an extermination camp but survived.