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Zitler Family, Vilna, 1936
Zitler family, Vilna, 1936. Left to right: Doba Zitler Lewin, Shep's youngest sister; Sonia Zitler Morgenstern, Shep's oldest sister; Professor Michael (Micha) Morgenstern, Sonia's husband; Tzerna Morgenstern, their daughter; Rivka Zitler Podolski, Shep's sister; Asher Zitler,Shep's father; Hershel Morgenstern, son of Sonia and Michael; Mr. Podolski, Rivka's husband; Rachel Zitler, Shep's sister who was going to Palestine, providing the occasion for the taking of this photograph; Motele Podolski, son of Rivka; Bertha Cohen Zitler, Shep's mother; Meyer (Meier), Shep's cousin; Leib, Meyer's son; Shep Zitler at age 19 years. Not shown: Benjamin Zitler, Shep's oldest brother already in Palestine.
Photo Credit: Shep Zitler

The Death of Young Tzerna Morgenstern

From: Ghetto Vilna
Author: Abraham Sutzkever
Translated by Shep Zitler

Zelda Einhorn, an escapee from Ponary, saw her whole family shot to death there. She told (the writer) that she had seen how Tzerna Morgenstern, a young woman of 18 years, the beautiful daughter of a well-known Vilna professor, was murdered. She had been marched with her mother and young brother. She stood near a deep ditch. She was told to remove her clothes. Those who did not respond had their eyes stabbed out. It was evening. The moon had just begun to appear above where Tzerna stood, half undressed by the ditch. The Nazi commandant, Weiss, approached Tzerna rapidly and pulled her aside, as if to rescue her. Tzerna resisted, preferring to be with her mother and little brother, already shot lying in the ditch. Weiss would not let her go. "A beautiful girl like you should not die," he said and dragged her further away. She screamed and cried but to no avail. Weiss continued, "How beautiful is the world with the moonlight shining on the leaves, and you, young girl, are more beautiful by the moonlight." He spoke to her like a lover, extolling the beauty of life to this unfortunate girl as he removed his revolver from his back pocket and shot the sad young girl in the head. Then roaring with laughter, he proudly dragged the dying girl to her family's ditch.
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