Maria Alexandrovna Pleshkova,
Chashniki, October 2nd, 2008
Chashniki. Old Jewish houses.
I was born here in 1938. My mother told me a lot of stories about Chashniki. A lot of Jews lived here in the center of town before the war. In fact, almost all the houses here in the market square belonged to Jews. The central street (now Mir Street) was cobbled and when horse carts were coming to the square it was terribly noisy. All the warehouses were located on the river bank – they also belonged to the local Jews.
Of course, Jews were different: both rich and poor. But here, in the market square, the houses were owned by the rich people.
My grandfather was a potter and had many Jewish friends.
During the war both this and the neighboring house (Maria Alexandrovna was interviewed in front of her house in the market square) were turned into Gestapo.
I cannot tell you for certain where the Jews were taken before the execution, I only remember the night when they were shot. It was terribly windy and raining. The Jews had a feeling or perhaps even knew when they would be shot but they were still hoping for something. Jews had given their belongings to Russian people for safeguarding. I remember that really well.
Who performed the execution? The Jews were assembled by the policemen and late in the evening convoyed to the river. There were two ditches there and that was the site of the execution. I remember hearing the non-stop shots… We used to live in Lunacharsky Street (current name), which was not so far from the execution spot.
Now there is a memorial site there. When I worked at school I used to take students there and we would clean the place up.