The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/kiev/babi-yar.08

[From a CompuServe message]

 Allow me to quote the affidavit of a witness, Shloma Gol of Vilna,
 sworn at Nuremberg Aug. 9, 1946:
     I, Schloma Gol, declare as follows:
     1. I am a Jew and lived in Vilna, Lithuania.  During the German
        occupation I was in Vilna ghetto.
     2. The administration of Vilna ghetto was managed by the S.A.
        The town commissioner of Vilna was an SA officer called
        Hinkst.  The regional commissioner was an SA officer called
        Wolff.  The Adviser on Jewish questions was an SA officer
        called Muerer.
     3. In December 1943, 80 Jews from the ghetto including 4 women
        and myself were ordered by [an] SA officer whose name I
        forgot, to live in a large pit some distance from town.
        This pit had originally been dug for an underground petrol
        tank.  It was ciruclar, 60 metres in diameter and 4 metres
        deep.  When we lived in it the top was partially covered
        with boarding and there were two wooden rooms partitioned
        off, also a kitchen and a lavatory.  We lived there six
        months altogether before we escaped.  The pit was guarded
        by SA guards.
     4. In the morning the officer standing on the edge of the pit
        accompanied by 14 or 15 SA men, said to us: "Your brothers
        and sisters and friends are all near here.  Treat them
        properly and if you complete your work we will send you
        to Germany where each man can practice his own profession."
        We did not know what this meant.
     5. Thereupon the SA men threw chains into the pit, and the
        officer ordered the Jewish foreman (for we were a working
        party) to fasten the chains on us.  They weighed 2 kilos
        each, and we could take only small steps wearing them.  We
        wore them permanently for six months.  The four women (who
        worked in the kitchen were not chained.
     6. After that we were taken to work.
     7. Our work consisted of digging up mass graves and piling
        the bodies on the funeral pyres and burning them.  I was
        engaged in digging the bodies.  My friend Belic was
        engaged in sawing up and arranging the wood.
     8. We dug up altogether 86,000 bodies.  I know this because
        two of the Jews in the pit were ordered by the Germans
        to keep count of the bodies: that was their sole job.
        The bodies were mixed, Jews, Polish priests, Russian
        POWs.  Among those that I dug up I found my own brother.
        I found his identification papers on him.  He had been
        dead for two years when I dug him up, because I know that
        he was in a batch of 10,000 Jews from Vilna ghetto who
        were shot in September 1941.
     9. The procedure of burning the bodies was quite methodical.
        Parallel ditches seven metres long were dug.  Over these
        a square platform of boards was laid.  A layer of bodies
        had oil poured on them and then branches were put on top
        and over the branches, logs of wood.  Altogether 14 such
        layers of bodies and fuel were put on each pyre.  Each
        pyre was shaped like a pyramid with a wooden funnel sticking
        up through the top.  Petrol and oil were poured down the
        funnel, and incendiary bombs put around the edge of the
        pyre.  All this work was done by the Jews.  When the pyre
        was ready, the officer himself or his assistant (also in
        the SA) personally lit the pyre with a burning rag on the
        end of a pole.
     10.The work of digging up the graves and building the pyres
        was supervised and guarded by about 80 guards.  Of these
        over 50 were SA men, in brown uniforms, armed with pistols
        and daggers and automatic guns (the guns were always cocked
        and pointed at us).  The other 30 guards consisted partly
        of SD and SS.  In the course of the work the Lithuanian
        guards themselves were shot presumably so that they should
        not say what had been done.  The commander of the whole
        place was Muerer (the expert on Jewish questions), but he
        only inspected the work from time to time.  The SA
        (assistant) officer actually commanded on the spot.  At
        night our pit was guarded by 10 to 12 of these guards.
     11.The guards (principally SA guards) hit us and stabbed us.
        I still have scars on both legs and on my neck.  I was
        once knocked senseless onto the pile of bodies and could
        not get up, but my companions took me off the pile.  Then
        I went sick.  We were allowed to go sick for two days: the
        third day we were taken out of the pit "to hospital" --
        this meant to be shot.
     12.Of 76 men in the pit 11 were shot at work.  43 of us
        eventually dug a tunnel from the pit with our bare hands,
        and we broke our chains and escaped into the woods. We
        had been warned by a Czech SS man who said: "They
        are going to shoot you soon, and they are going to shoot
        me too, and put us all on the pyre.  Get out if you can, but
        not while I am on duty."

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