ON THE FRONT LINE IN LITHUANIA, 1915:
STORIES OF JEWISH EYEWITNESSES
by Anatolii Chayesh
Translated by Gordon McDaniel
The City of Siauliai
On April 17, 1915, the Germans descended on Siauliai from several
directions. The population fleeing on all roads ran into German units,
who turned the refugees back.
On the same day, a fire broke out in Siauliai, started in a stack
of hay by our troops. Eight hundred houses burned in this fire,
including the residence of the state rabbi, together with the archives
and metrical books, and also the city offices and archives. Most of
houses that burned belonged to Jews. The approaching Germans tried to
stop the fire, which they did with much effort.
In the first days after the Germans arrived, they plundered
private homes and also carried out requisitions. The dregs of the
population took part in the plundering, including some Jews.
On the third day a residents' committee was formed consisting of
eight people, four Jews and four Christians, as was a residents'
militia for protection of the city. A deputation from the committee
went to the commandant with a request to stop the plundering. The
commandant, that very day, issued an order that threatened severe
punishment for attempting to take the property of others. The
plundering was completely stopped. The requisitions, however,