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Shlomo Yechilehic' Story
Excerpts from "The Book of the Jewish Partisans"
Published by "Hakibutz Haartzi"
Shlomo Yechilehick from Vidz, who traveled on this train, related his
story and the story of the trip which lasted for him only one night.
"I was standing in the station, watching people enter the train;
suddenly I decided not to enter together with them but to wait. When I
saw how the railway cars were being locked, doubts arose in my mind
and I began to be afraid of what was going to happen. My friend, Tuvya
Bilk, was standing next to me. We decided to enter last. Since we had
both been working in this railway station, we knew the place well. We
hid ourselves and waited. At dusk we left the hiding place, crawled to
the train, and began knocking on the cars and called on the people to
get out. We told them that they were shut up. Their reply was: 'We'll
go to Kovno, and then we'll see'. The police noticed us. We managed to
evade them, then returned to the train and banged on the outside of
the railway-cars. We called our names, for we had many acquaintances
among the people in the train. After we had cut the wire in one of the
windows, several people got out. They were the Figit brothers from
Vidz and their parents, Baruch Ulman from Braslav and Israel Wolfson
from Swienciany. The rest did not move deciding to stay. We knew that
there were many young people in the train, and succeeded in opening
another window, and one man got outside. Suddenly policemen ap- peared
on the spot. They caught the people who had escaped from the train and
arrested them. Bilk and I succeeded to escape. We looked out after the

ted men and saw how the policemen took them into an empty railway car.
A short while later we approached that car and opened its door. At the
same moment policemen surrounded us. We escaped once again. They shot
in our direction. We decided to get aboard. There was no other
alternative. We had no arms and it was impossible to go to the woods
without weapons, especially after we had received information on the
bad situation of the partisans after the big hunt carried out against
them. As the train moved, we were clutching the car-chimney.

The last four cars were going to Vilna. Those who traveled in
them had relatives there, but in reality the majority were wealthier
people who thanks to the bribe given to the policemen, were put into
those four cars. We knew that when the train arrived in Vilna those
cars would be left there, and we intended to make use of it. However,
the tiredness, the anxiety and the lack of sleep, were strong enough
to make us fall asleep during the journey.

When I opened my eyes, a Polish railway worker with a look of
surprise in his eyes, was standing next to me. He asked us who we were
and what we were doing there. We replied that we, were Jews traveling
from Swienciany. The man said that the train would be leaving soon for
the Ponar Extermination camp. We jumped down and started to crawl
underneath the cars. We knocked on them and passed to the people
inside the information we had received from the Pole. We heard weeping
and crying.

The train was standing in the Vilna railway station. I knew
well the place and also its vicinity. We decided to escape from there
and to find out what was going on in the Ghetto.

We had hardly made a few steps when we bumped into a Jewish
policeman. He shouted and threatened us. We learned from him, however,
that those who were released were being transfered to the Vilna
Ghetto. He led us to the police-car. Gens, surrounded by Jewish
policemen, was sitting at a table. When he noticed us he burst out
shouting how dared we to travel on the outside of the locked car. We
requested him to take us to Vilna. We told him that we knew every-
thing. At this moment he looked confused and very depressed, an old
broken man. Next to him stood Dessler, quiet and indifferent. Gens
ordered the policeman Davidovsky to escort us to the Ghetto. When we
were on the bridge stretching over the railway tracks, we still had
time to see the Jewish policemen hurriedly leaving the train in the
direction of the ramp, and S,.S. men, armed to their teeth, replacing
them. The train moved and we remained the only witnesses of the last
journey of the Jews from Swienciany, Vidz, Braslav, Svir, Michalishki,
Oshmana and other localities - the survivors of earlier massacres."

One of the policemen, who escorted the victims out of the
Ghetto, Itshack Tubin, recounts: On the day of the "action" I was
ordered to assemble the people in a room where the registration took
place. Those were mostly old people, considered by the Germans as
"unfit for living". Afterwards arrived carts, and the people were put
on them by our policemen. Then I entered the Beth-Hamidrash and told
those who were assembled there that it had been very hard for us to
carry out this task, but it would have been worse had it been done by
the Lithuanians.

At four o'clock I went with the carts. A woman, who was
traveling with me, said: "I am 57 years old and this is the end of my
life. It is not so terrible. We, the Jews living in the shadow of the
Germans are all doomed. I have already lived the years of my life, but
some go sooner and others go later".