b. Skudvil, Lithuania, 1922
It happened in the middle of the night. It was not a knock at the door, it was a bang at the door. Two Lithuanians with rifles burst in. They went from room to room and pulled everybody from their beds. We want all men, get dressed. They shouted, “Skubek!” which means fast. They took me and my cousin with whom I was staying after fleeing from my own home.
My cousin's mother wanted to give us food. “They won't need any more food, ” the Lithuanians yelled. Why shouldn't we need food? What if we get hungry? I was puzzled.
We were on the street. It was dark. Lithuanian police, serving the German occupation forces, were chasing Jewish men from their homes. There was a pogrom atmosphere in the street.
A woman begged for her husband. She wanted to go with him. “Right now we want only men. Your turn will come later.”
A woman begged for her young son. He is sick. “We'll cure his sickness in a minute.” How do you cure someone's sickness in a minute? I was puzzled.
We were brought to the market place. There were a lot of Jews sitting on the cobblestones with their hands up. Lithuanians with rifles were rushing back and forth, counting their prisoners. Vienas, du, trys, they counted in Lithuanian and took them away.
When a father was separated from his son, he begged that they should stay together. “Don't worry, you'll wind up in the same place.” And the Jewish father thanked God. They will wind up in the same place together after all.
And then my turn came. Many of us were marched off to Traku Street. There the gates of a big jail opened and we were marched inside the courtyard. After an orgy of beatings, we were ordered to give our name and occupation. Then they started counting again: vienas, du, trys, ten, fifty, seventy. We were taken to a cell in the jail. Seventy men were put in a cell of about twenty-five by twentyfive feet.
There were seven cots, or rather steel frames, with steel nets in the middle, on each side of the wall. A total of fourteen cots. They were attached to the wall by means of a hinge and could be put up against the wall. It was obvious that seventy men cannot sleep on fourteen cots. So the cots were up against the wall