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Holocaust Survivors: Shep Zitler's Story
I was born in Vilna, Poland. Right now it's Vilnius, Lithuania, the capital of Lithuania.
I am proud of having been born in Vilna because it gave an eminent name to the Jewish people. Vilna was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Why? Because like Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Vilna was believed to be the capital of the Diaspora Jews in Eastern Europe.
In Vilna, we believed in the book, in learning. We had the Strashun Library, the biggest library of Jewish learning in the world. We had Jewish organizations. The Bund started in Vilna. We had so many organizations: the left Zionists, the right Zionists, the middle Zionists, the Bund, the Communists, the religious party. A father and mother could have five children and they would belong to five different organizations. At dinner they would all be arguing because each wanted to persuade the other one to his point of view. We had the biggest cantors in Vilna. And, also we had the biggest thiefs.