The Lida Ghetto
from the memoirs of Chaim Basist, entitled "The Story of the House of Plotnik-Monco-Basist."
The Lida Fair, date unknown.
Courtesy of Towns of Belarus, by Viachka Tselesh.
October 1941. The Jews of Lida were forced into the three neighborhoods that made up the ghetto. We arrived from Lipnishuk together with my mother’s young sister Tsirl and her husband and their three children Sarah, Rachel and little Shulamit. Tsirl’s husband Naftali claimed that thanks to us they would be protected from the great harm that was about to befall. My Uncle Naftali always said that of all the family, the Jews who would not be harmed were our small family, and thanks to us, also his own. From the first day of the war, Naftali became more and more religious, to the point where he would pray three times a day and fast on Mondays and Thursdays. They came to find a place to live with my mother’s cousin, Chayele Herman. Two of our houses were destroyed by a bomb on the first day of the war. Herman Noyman, her husband, was a kind, pleasant man, we felt very close to his family, and of course when they came into the ghetto we shared a room with them. A small wooden house where once lived three Polish families, now housed 40 people. It was very crowded but in spite of that we lived in hope that we could manage in those difficult times until our salvation arrived. We lived with the Noymans in harmony; that is, we shared everything. In one room were the five members of the Basist family and the Noymans with their children, the youngest only four years old.
The Germans ordered every Jew over the age of twelve, man and woman, to work. Since my father was a well-known artist, the task of establishing a metalworks factory was imposed on him; it was to be in a two story building that had been a school and which was fenced off and guarded by German policemen.
I was at the time a student, and with no other choice my father employed me as an assistant welder. The place was relatively protected from the taskmasters, and we also got soup once a day and a few slices of bread. After a while, my father also brought in my Aunt Tzvia Boyreski’s son David, and so we passed our time working, processing and manufacturing various items for the Germans. That work saved us during the time of mass killings, and also helped us to prepare things that later on we could take into the forests and use to fight in the partisan units and to take our revenge on the Germans.
In October of 1941, we were forced to affix a yellow patch to our clothing and ordered to move into defined neighborhoods or quarters. Before the war, there lived in Lida about fifteen thousand Jews; now about ten thousand were concentrated together in three quarters: Piaski, Koshrova, and the third and largest of them, Postovska-Kholodna.
In the Ghetto
Our family, together with the family of my Aunt Sheina-Riva, moved to the Postovska-Kholodna quarter. We settled into the house at number 15 Kholodna Street, a small wooden house on the corner of the street, which was divided into four apartments comprised of one room and a kitchen. The bathroom was outdoors. On one side the house was bordered by the workshops of the Regional Commissar (Gebietskommissar), which were erected by the initiative of the Judenrat in order to help the Jews survive; a fact which allowed us to infiltrate them occasionally. On the facade of the house we were forced to erect a sign with the names of the tenants. We lived in one room, together with the younger daughter of our aunt, Chayele, her husband Herman and their small daughter. In another room lived the older daughter of our aunt, Yocheved, with her husband Menachem, their two children and two young men who were refugees from the city of ?ód? in Poland whose names were Egnatz and Avraham Pladon. In another room lived a refugee named Felix from Hamburg, Germany, with his wife and their children. In the room at the rear lived Moshe, the oldest son of my Aunt Sheina-Riva (called der strasinik) with his wife and niece, a young girl of about 13. Altogether, there were forty people listed on the sign affixed to our house.
Every Jew, from age 12 or 13 had to work. The Germans waged a psychological war against us. They would tell our representatives that everyone who worked, or, as they put it, every “productive Jew,” would remain alive. Most of the work was very difficult. For the most part, the work involved tearing down the walls of the houses which had been destroyed during the bombing of the city…apparently they feared that an underground would be created. As it turned out, most Jews worked on demolishing their own homes; undergarments were organized into piles for use by the Germans. “There must be order” was their famous expression. The Jews worked cleaning the city, and in the winter clearing the roads of snow and ice. Others worked loading and unloading trains, and various other types of jobs. The Jewish council tried in many ways to convince the Germans that there was a need for Jews to keep the system running, since they would be essential for establishing a center of workshops in one place to serve the army as well as the civilian system. Thus the idea was born for crafts workshops, which went by the German name Handverkshtaten. At the head of the factory stood a German inspector, who worked on behalf of the regional commissar, and at his side was a Jewish engineer named Altman, the son-in-law of Tsukranik, one of the wealthy men of the city. Altman, an assimilated Jew who spoke only German and Polish, believed until the end that the Germans would not annihilate all of the Jews. At his side was Alperstein, a Jew who believed, like him, in the promises of the Germans.
With the creation of the workshops, they searched for craftsmen of all kinds. My father, of blessed memory, who was the only certified master welder in the region, and was very well known professionally, was chosen to be the manager of the metal-works factory. Moshe, the son of Aunt Sheina-Riva, was selected as the manager of the wooden furniture factory. The manager of the garage was a mechanic named Velvel (Zev) Kropsky. There were also factories for the manufacture of clothing, shoes, and more. I joined my father in his work shop, in spite of the fact that I had no knowledge at all of the profession. Thus our life in the ghetto began.
The ghetto was fenced with barbed wire, and there were two entrances. The first entrance was on Suvalska and Postovska Streets. Another gate, on the eastern side near the village of Ruslaky, allowed the Germans an easy entrance and exit from the ghetto from the villages. The ghetto was bordered to the east by the Lidzeike River and to the north by the railroad tracks leading to Minsk and a bridge guarded by Germans and Ukrainians. On the western side were the workshops and Suvalska Street. That was the main ghetto, made up of small wooden houses which at one time were populated by Christian families, altogether two streets and a few lanes. The Koshrova and Piaski quarters of the ghetto were smaller, and as it later turned out, temporary. They were relatively far away from the main ghetto, on the other side of the city. The offices of the Judenrat were at the main entrance on the western side, on the Suvalska Street side. On the Kholodna Street side was the entrance for those who toiled in the workshops of the Handverkarshtaten. We entered the ghetto in the sub-zero cold of winter, living in houses that had no heat. For lack of space, we slept three or four to a bed. There was a severe shortage of food, medicine, and other essentials.
At work, the Germans allotted each of us a 500 gram piece of bread, and once a day a bowl of soup from the kitchen of the regional commissar. The food was brought to us by David-Lipa Berkovitch, a large ruddy-faced man with a good heart. Only those who worked received food. At that time, rumors began to reach us from Vilna and other cities, that the Germans were going about killing Jews. Also in Lida the Germans killed Jews, though not in large groups, just to confuse and frighten us. At the start of 1942 they imprisoned about eighty Jews who had worked in the old army camps, and among them was Shimon, the father of David. After a short time, they killed them all, for the Germans claimed that they had tried to steal weapons. We knew this to be a lie, but at that time we had no connection with the underground or the partisans. Also for their other murders, they had explanations. They would say that the Jews who had been killed were not productive. It created disquiet, and we could feel the danger.
At this time, Jews began to arrive by circuitous means from Vilna. The tidings that they brought were even worse. In that city, there had begun a period of “Aktions,” or mass killings. At that time, Lida was relatively quiet, and so began the flight of Jews to our city. It was necessary to quickly supply all of those who arrived from Vilna, Grodno and other places with documents stating that they were long-established residents of Lida, otherwise they would be put to death. Yocheved, the oldest daughter of Aunt Sheina-Riva, and her husband Menachem Resnick, were friendly even before the war with the mayor appointed by the Germans. Menachem appealed to him for help, and he provided, in return for payment, blank forms for documentation with the seal of the municipal government. Thus began the chapter in which we provided the refugees with documentation produced by Menachem Resnick.
In the meantime, the Germans continued with their selective killings in Lida. Among others, they murdered Sima Tereshinski (from the panbokim), our neighbor before the war, who had traveled to a nearby town without documentation. Sometimes we would hear from the goyim of other towns, or from Christian visitors, about the killing of Jews from other places. One day we were ordered to hand over all of our furs, money, gold and other valuables; those who refused would be killed. All of us worked from morning until night; we passed the long winter nights in the light of home-made oil lamps, with stories, songs and card games, arguments over our situation, hope that the Germans would soon be defeated and discussions about the war and what might be done. We didn’t have any answers.
Tragic Events - the Tale of the Vilna Refugees
In January or early February 1942 an event took place that had tragic consequences. In Lida there was a family of thieves by the name Zimleich, Jews whose business it was to steal horses from the goyim and sell them. They decided to break into the Orthodox Church on Suvalska Street close to the ghetto. They broke in and were surprised there by the priest, who was there at the time. In the midst of the ensuing struggle, the priest was stabbed and rushed to the hospital. The matter was turned over to the Germans, and in the course of their investigation they discovered that the crime had been committed by Jews. They ordered the Jewish council to turn the burglars over without delay, but the three criminals had escaped from Lida.
In the ghetto there were a number of refugees from Poland who were acquainted with the criminals, and the Judenrat had no choice but to turn them over to the Germans. The two (one of whom was named Virobek) were arrested and handed over. In an effort to try and save themselves, they revealed to the Germans that the Jews were tricking them, stating as proof that in the ghetto false documents were being prepared for Jewish refugees. In addition, they pointed the finger at Menachem Resnick as the one who prepared the documents.
That same night, a Polish policeman who worked for the Germans came as an emissary from the mayor and warned Menachem and Yocheved, advising them to run away. Menachem, Yocheved and their oldest son, Noah (who was about 13) left the ghetto for Vilna, leaving behind their five year old son with his aunt Chayele. Later on all of the members of the Judenrat were arrested.
On the second or third of March 1942, we awoke early in the morning to the sound of shouts and shooting. Alarmed, we ran out to the street. Whoever was not fast enough, or who was sick and remained in their houses, was shot to death; thus I saw our neighbor Mrs. Shapilkovsky, a nurse by profession, dead in the snow outside our house. The rest of us they stood in groups of four and led us to a huge field near the central post office. At the entrance stood two of the criminals, who pointed out all of the refugees who had received falsified papers stating they were residents of Lida. Those people left their rows, and were led outside the city and murdered. Thus were murdered several hundred Jews, most of them from Vilna. For the Germans, it was a kind of rehearsal for an Aktion which would take place the coming May, in Lida and the surrounding area.
After this sad event we came to realize that it was a kind of code for what the future held for us. The news from the front and the battle for Moscow warmed our hearts; in spite of the pretense by the Germans that the fall of Moscow was imminent there was clear proof that the war waged on. Every day trains full of wounded German soldiers passed by the ghetto from the direction of the front.
I remember well the arguments with the German Jew, Felix, who would say over and over that if we worked faithfully our lives would be spared. There were many in the ghetto who shared his belief. We moved into the apartment abandoned by Menachem and Yocheved, together with Egnatz and Avraham Paldon, two brothers who were refugees from the city of ?ód? in Poland. Egnaz, the elder, was a handsome blond man with excellent manners, who radiated nobility and was extremely quick-witted. His brother Avraham was dark-skinned, tall and athletic, a former Polish boxing champion in the youth division, with a fiery temperament. Egnatz, who was quite fluent in German, was able to establish a relationship at his workplace with two Germans in the gendarmerie (military police). Through them he was able to obtain food and many other daily necessities. For our part, we contacted a family friend, Jan Doilitko, from the village of Stigni, about 20 kilometers from Lida, and also with a Polish friend who had been born in Lida named Boltus. Both of them helped us obtain food. It should be remembered that by helping us they endangered their own lives and those of their family.
Among the many who escaped from Vilna there were two young people, a brother and sister. The former was a lad of thirteen named Leonek; his sister was twenty, blond and quite beautiful. Leonek’s sister somehow obtained a polix-deutsche document (a document stating that she belonged to the German race) and she was able to get work in the central post office. Leonek remained with us in the ghetto, and was wont to wander amongst the Christians in the villages and occasionally come to see us in the ghetto. From him we were able to learn of events taking place outside the ghetto.
Meanwhile, more tragic events took place inside the ghetto. Following the incident of the refugees from Vilna and other places, the six heads of the Judenrat were arrested and beaten to death most cruelly. Those who were responsible for disposing of the bodies told of how it was impossible to identify any of them. A short time later, the Germans ordered that a new Judenrat be established.
In the apartment in which we lived with Egnatz and Avraham stood a large baking oven. Since we were getting food from the two Christians, from Egnatz and from Zerach Arlock, my mother decided to go into the business of baking and selling bread and challah, and later to preparing meals; as a result a sort of small restaurant/bakery was created. All kinds of people came to buy bread. I remember one family from Vilna, respected thieves by the name di-halbah challah (half of a challah). Their son-in-law, a nice young man, used to ask my mother to sell him a half of a challah. When my mother asked him, “Why half a challah?” he replied, “Because I’m the second half.” Later on, he would join the partisans with us, and was later executed by his commanding officer for no good reason.
Sometimes people would come to us, sent by the Judenrat, who forced us to feed them. Among others, I remember one solitary Jew from a city near Lida, who once a day would come in and sit at the table and my mother would serve him a loaf of bread, soup and a pot of tea. The man was ravenous; he grabbed everything. Apparently, it was his only meal of the day.
In the Postovska-Kholodna quarter of the ghetto lived some of my closest friends. Lazer Yizraski lived on Postovska Street next to the old Jewish cemetery; down a lane near him lived Chaim Cantor, the son of Dr. Cantor. Next to Kholodna, down the lane, lived my former classmate with whom I had shared a bench, Beyla Strodborski; sometimes we would meet and reminisce about old times in school. We often heard rumors about killings in Vilna and the annihilation of the Jews of Grodno. A few refugees arrived who related horrific stories to us. One of them, a man from Grodno, told us he ran away from a train that was transporting people to be exterminated in a place called Ma?kinia (Treblinka). He explained how they were brought to the railroad cars, and how he had stabbed a German guard and after many nights’ walking came to Lida. We also heard of mass killings happening in various places; it was difficult to believe, indeed it seems that subconsciously, we refused to believe.
Here I must mention my mother’s aunt, Sheina-Riva, who was a tall, robust woman, sister to my grandfather Yoel-Moshe. My grandfather had another sister (Chaya-Leah) in Lida, who died before the war. Sheina-Riva was about eighty years old. Her house stood opposite the old prison. Pessah, my mother’s younger brother, had been arrested and was under investigation in the prison. On the day the war broke out, the prison was bombed and caught on fire. The prisoners were able to break out of their cells, but when they reached the outside gate, which was made entirely of steel, they found they were trapped within the fire. It was impossible to break open the gate because the jailors, when they fled the fire, had locked it from the outside. Sheina-Riva could hear the cries of the trapped prisoners, and knew that her brother’s son was among them. She equipped herself with an ax and broke open the lock from the outside. She told us that she saw many people break free from the prison; some knocked her down to the ground in their haste, and she was unable to see if her nephew was among those who escaped. Sheina-Riva was indeed a woman of valor.
Not far from us, on one of the lanes, lived another son of Sheina-Riva, Yeshiyahu (Isaiah), with his wife Nechama and their three children. He was younger than his brother Moshe, and worked in the stables of the regional commissar, Hanveg. Yeshiyahu had initiative, and had gotten along well with the Poles since before the war. Through them, he was able to get a hold of two rifles, and to arrange with the Christians for his daughters to be placed with them. The elder, Esther, was about ten, and her sister Rochele was about one and a half years old. The middle daughter did not want to leave her parents. In the end, Nechama refused to join the partisans, and all three perished in Majdanek. When we returned to Lida from the partisans, we found Esther (who today lives in Israel) and tiny Rochele, who now lives in Argentina.
Life Goes On
Generally, Jews in our part of the world lived together in extended family groups. On my father’s Basist side, we were close to the “Zigalnitchky clan,” and on my mother’s Plotnick side, to the Moshovitzs and the Levinkovsky families; in other words, hundreds of residents of the city. During these difficult times, we were especially close, helping one another. Some of our family was in other ghettos in towns next to Lida. My grandfather and grandmother, together with my mother’s older sister Golda and her husband Yosef and their three children Alter, Shmuel and Moshe, who were my age and my sister’s age, and my uncle Pessah and his wife Yaffa and their two young children, were in the ghetto in the city of Ivye. Our connection to them was tenuous, through messengers who would occasionally come to Lida.
I remember a muscular Jew, about eighty years old, who was a strong man in spite of his advanced age, an expert locksmith who made his creations by hand; each one was a work of art. To be able to open his locks, you had to know how many times to turn the dial to the left or the right. This Jew was one of the kantonistim; when he was but a lad of twelve, he was kidnapped by the Russians and forced to serve in the army for twenty-five years. He used to tell us story after story about the war against the Japanese in 1905, in the days of Trumpeldor, and we young people would listen with our mouths hanging open. One story I remember very well: once he was sent to get a “tongue”, that is, to capture a Japanese soldier. It was a nearly impossible mission, but not for him. He crawled to the Japanese position, stunned one of them with a blow from his bare hand, and carried the Japanese soldier across his shoulders behind the Russian lines.
There was among us another Jew, a skilled woodcarver, whose name was Hanoch (his nickname was “the Red”). He truly had red hair, and golden hands. Hanoch believed that through his art, his life and the lives of his family members would be spared. Next to us also worked four blacksmiths, each one an artist in his profession. There was also Velvel (Zev) Kropsky’s garage. About twenty people worked in the garage, among them Baruch Levin from Zheludok, a town close to Lida. The regional commissar particularly admired the garage. I remember a man named Zvi Hazan, who worked in the factory my father ran. Hazan was a soldier at the start of the war, but he was captured by the Germans near Smolensk, about 600 kilometers from Lida. He ran away, and by a circuitous route was able to rejoin his family, his wife and children. Every now and again he would tell us tales of his travels.
Archik Gerbovsky, a watchmaker by profession, also worked with us; he was well-known among us as a safecracker. When they occupied the town, the Germans confiscated many safes, some as large as a wardrobe. The safes could withstand fire and were sealed and keyless. We were ordered by the German supervisor to find a way to open the safes, one way or another. Archik was a true artist at cracking safes, and a very pleasant person. Someone else who also worked with us in the workshop was a Jewish refugee from Poland by the name of Lasky, who was an expert engraver. I learned the trade from him, as did my cousin David, even though neither of us had had any prior knowledge of the craft. We worked and lived in fear, and in the hope that the Soviet troops would be able to push back the Germans while we were still alive.
In the ghetto there was a fixed order to the days; the Jewish council worked as much as it was able to ensure that we had as normal a communal life as possible. The Judenrat worked under extremely difficult conditions and under a great deal of pressure. On the one hand, they made every effort to meet the demands made on them by the Germans, while on the other hand they labored diligently to protect the lives and health of the Jews. As far as is known, there were no cases of death from hunger or disease in our ghetto.
As I have said, the needy were helped by the stronger families, as was instructed by the council. The Judenrat in Lida did not give unconditional cooperation to the Germans, a fact which was made unequivocally clear later. In the ghetto, as has been said, there were refugees from many places. Several of them are especially engraved upon my memory. Before the German occupation, during the time when the Soviets ruled, among others who came to our house, there was a Jew from Lublin; fifty years old, a childless war refugee, very polite and noble. As time passed, it became clear to us that he was from a very famous Polish family. He and his brother had owned the famous Zilber Brother’s distillery. They were particularly famous for, among other things, their kosher-for-Passover liquor (paykhovska). I also remember Professor Amerant and his wife, who arrived from Vilna. Zilber’s situation, and that of others like him, was especially difficult. With a great deal of effort, my mother was able to convince Zilber to eat with us.
Among the Germans in Lida, there were two who were particularly awful: the first was Vindisch, a short man with pursed lips, quiet, who didn’t yell or beat people. To select victims, he would come to the workshops and go through the departments, looking without a word passing his lips; he was checking to see if we were being as useful as was expressed to him by the regional commissar, Henvag. We later learned that Vindisch had already prepared his plan for the annihilation of the Jews of the region; he was the person in charge of the “final solution” in our area. The second, Werner, was tall and robust, and was always accompanied by a German shepherd by the name of Donner. If the Jews saw Werner and his dog Donner approaching, they would run for their lives. He would catch them and beat them near to death, and then he would give the order, “Mencsh (man) – catch the Jew!” The Jew would be forced to stand still while the dog bit him over and over, until Werner had had enough. Those two were the ones who planned and executed the Aktions against (the annihilation of) the Jews in the entire region.
The regional commissar Henvag wanted, for several reasons, to keep the Jews alive, and from time to time he would come into the workshop with groups of people in order to show them the place, in the hope that the workshop would continue to operate. I remember that one time Kobe arrived; he was the supervisor (“governor general”) of all of Byelorussia, of which Lida was a part. Kobe was the “arch-killer” who was later killed by the partisans with a powerful bomb in his home in Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia.
The Germans recruited all kind of bad elements from among the local population. Entire units the size of a military company and below, filled with Lithuanian and Latvian murderers, who were noted for their great cruelty. In particular, two Polish policemen remain in my memory, one by the name of Brode (dirt) and the second named Podheini who had a deep scar on his face. Their cruelty knew no bounds; they each murdered dozens of Jews.
And so life in the ghetto went on. We were largely unaware of events occurring outside the ghetto. But things happened inside the ghetto, as well. There was the incident of the two young people, Leonek and his sister, and the refugees from Vilna. The sister, who as it was said worked in the post office, was a very beautiful girl. Many of the Germans thought she was a German as well; they fell in love with her, but she rejected them. One of them reported to the S.S. that she was a Jew impersonating a German, and she was arrested. At the workplace of Egnatz and Avraham the bosses were sergeants in the military police named Prost and Dombeck. Prost was in love with the girl, and he traveled to his birthplace in Germany in order to bring documents stating that she was born in the same town. He then returned with the documents in order to free her from prison. But he was too late. In the meantime, the girl had confessed that she was a Jew and was put to death. Sergeant Prost, who had tried to save the girl, was sent as punishment to the Russian front. Leonek, the girl’s brother, was left with no one.
Egnatz, a man of many accomplishments, brave and cool-headed had, as was told before, made contact with various Germans through his place of work. One incident that happened was that a German soldier from the unit in which Egnatz and Avraham worked came to say goodbye before he left for the Russian front. He entered the ghetto, even though it was forbidden. Egnatz fixed him a hot meal and gave him vodka; a discussion ensued in which the soldier said that according to his commanding officer the war would be ending in a few weeks in a victory for the Germans. Avraham said to him, “Yes, but first you must conquer an important stronghold, ‘mita meshunah’ (a strange death).” The German answered, “If we haven’t yet, certainly we shall conquer it very soon and then the war will end.”
In the evenings, friends of Egnatz and Avraham would gather at our place, among them Leibel Orzchovski, whose nickname was “ketzef”, Meir-Yosse Itzkovitch, whose nickname was Tel-Chai, Avraham Luit, Chaim Kalmanovitch and his sister Reshka, who was Avraham’s girlfriend, a friend of Egnatz’s named Moshke Shaborvitch, a refugee Teiger, young people from the ghetto police, and others.
To pass the time, we used to play cards, and I remember one popular game was “The Ninth Wall.” We also played poker, sometimes for large amounts. I remember once, when Orzchovski lost all of his money, he turned to the dealer and asked, “Can I play for my pants and boots?” He had new pants and boots. He played, and lost, and went home in a pair of old pants and old boots in place of his own.
As mentioned before, my cousin Menachem, his wife Yocheved and their son Noah tried to run away from Lida after the incident of the falsified documents. They left the city for Vilna, and stopped near the city of Voronovo, about 40 kilometers from Lida. It was difficult to get to Vilna, and even in Voronovo it was risky for them to stay. By chance they discovered a group of Jews who worked for the Germans clearing trees from the forest, and joined them. At night, they would sleep in the home of a farmer who lived nearby in an isolated house. On Sundays, the farmer would go to visit in the town of Voronovo. One time in a pub he met up with a Polish policeman of his acquaintance who collaborated with the Germans. In drunken camaraderie, he confided that he had two Jewish refugees from Lida and their son living with him. The next day, the policeman arrived. The son, who was the first to realize that the man approaching them was a policeman, tried to run away and was shot to death. His mother Yocheved saw this happen and was unable to save him. That same day, Menachem and Yocheved decided to leave for Vilna, in spite of the many dangers. They were very brave people. They arrived in Vilna and were absorbed into the ghetto.
We did not know of their fate. We were involved with our own day-to-day problems. There were rumors going around; something was going to happen. There were different feelings as to what it would be, but something warned us that something terrible was about to happen. We continued to work. When people talked about annihilation, our acquaintances would say, “What are you talking about? If one Jew remains in Lida, the regional commissar will allow you to stay; you will remain alive.” My father would say, “The Germans will not allow a single Jew to remain alive; we are all going to die.” He said this in front of me, in spite of my youth.
In the middle of April, 1942, my Aunt Tsirl, her husband Naftali, and their daughter Sharele came from the Piaski Quarter. My Uncle Naftali told my parents, “We want Sharele to stay with you: you will stay alive even if the rest of the Jews are exterminated. We want her to stay with you.” After about two weeks, the girl (who was about 10 years old) began to miss her parents and my mother took her back to Piaski.