b. Vilna, Lithuania, 1905
Eta Levin Hecht
b. Kovno, Lithuania, 1938
As soon as the Nazis occupied Kovno, Lithuania—it was in June 1941—they and the Lithuanians started to oppress Jews. From the beginning, Jews were ordered to wear two yellow Stars of David, one on the front and one on the back of their garments. Lithuanian partisans and Nazis entered Jewish homes and took clothes and jewelry, killed men and later women.
In early July, the Jews were ordered to put barbed wire around a suburb of Kovno called Slabotka. All Jews, about forty thousand of us, had to move into the Ghetto Slabotka, or “Kovno Ghetto.” We got one little room in a house. We were four people: my mother, my wife Rachel, my four-year-old daughter Eta and myself.
We were not allowed to go out of the ghetto except for hard labor. We went to work in commandos under Nazi guards. The killing of Jews in the ghetto was a regular event. Survival was a matter of miracles.
October 28, 1941, at 6:00A.M., the Nazis ordered all the Jews to line up, eight persons in a row in a big field, for the purpose of counting how many Jews were in the ghetto. Row by row we passed a Nazi officer who was sitting on a chair in the field. He ordered some rows to go to the left and some to the right. In our row were my mother on my right, Eta on my left, and Rachel. When our row approached the Nazi officer, he ordered us to go to the left. At this moment my heart told me to go to the right. I grabbed Eta's hand and pushed her and the others to the right.
It took a full day till the Nazis ordered us to return to our homes. The following day we found out that those who went to the left were killed. About ten thousand Jews were killed at this action, mostly the elderly, children, and the sick.
The Nazis came more and more often to search the houses for children and the elderly. One day we hardly managed to hide Eta in the bed, covering her with