REMEMBERING THE WAR
THE STORY OF A WITNESS
I will always remember the day of June 22nd, 1941. My parents took me, a thirteen-year-old boy, to Mstislavl with them. The trade square was filled with people and horse carriages. Everything could be bought here: cows, pigs, sheep, chikens, pots, buckets, boots and what not. We began our shopping when suddenly the whole square went silent. The voice from the loudspeaker announced the news.
People immediately began leaving the square – it was becoming empty in seconds.
Then, it was November, 1941, we went to visit my cousin Anna in Mstislavl. We had some tea and talked a little and then went to get some water from the well. At that time the wells in villages were meeting points, where you could find out all the news.
So, we approached the well. Indeed there was a group of women, who were discussing their problems. Their conversation was in an amazing mixture of Russian, Belarusian, Polish and Ukrainian… Even some words in Yiddish could be heard from time to time.
The women greeted us and instantly told us the news: "Today Jews are being shot…" And then we saw a line of people and stood still. At the front there were two Germans with guns, behind them – several policemen. And then we saw the people who were being taken to the execution. No one was crying or shouting. We could only hear the orders from the Germans: "Schneller, schneller! ("Faster, faster!") However, the people in the line kept walking very slowly – who would be in a hurry to die?!
I can still remember a young couple, maybe a brother and a sister, or a boyfriend and a girlfriend. They were walking with their heads up, hugging each other. They looked proud… A group of old women, who apparently had difficulty walking, said to the women next to the well: "Bye, we are going already…" "Bye", - said the Russian and the Belarusian women. And then everyone started crying… For so many years they had been neighbors and friends…
Most of the people in the line were women and children. We did not see the execution but later we found out that the fascists shot hundreds of Jews on that day.