|Catalog No.||6377||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||M. Melamed: his testimony about the Kaisiadorys camp||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||20779ר"מ||Similar Items|
|Donor||Eilati Shalom||Similar Items|
|File name||עדותו של מ' מלמד על מחנה קושדר||Similar Items|
|Collection||Kaplan Israel||Similar Items|
|Period||During World War II||Similar Items|
|Author||מלמד מ'||Similar Items|
|databank||Collections Section||Similar Items|
From the Israel Kaplan collection:
M. Melamed: his testimony about the Kaisiadorys camp in Lithuania. Undated. 18 pages total (2 page synopsis and 16 pages full length), handwritten, in Yiddish.
A group from the Kaunas (Kovno) ghetto was sent to the Kaisiadorys camp for forced labor. Melamed and Moshe Bush for Zasliai were two of the 16 who were sent. On May 15, 1943, they set out before daybreak. They were the first inmates in the camp and they were to build it; when they arrived it consisted of one barracks, unfenced. The camp commandant, Scharke, was drunk most of the time, and the work boss, Roth, exploited this to the inmates’ advantage. In the camp they built an additional barracks, and some twenty Jews were brought from the Kovno ghetto to work at mining peat.
An additional, larger camp was situated in the middle of the nearby town of Ziezmariai. As the Kaisiadorys camp was still unfenced, the inmates were able to visit Ziezmariai. In this camp Jews were interned, among them also women and children, from the towns of Kreve, Holszany [sic; Golshany], Pabrade (Podbrodz), and others. They were put to work paving roads connecting Vilnius (Vilna) to Kovno. When it was decided to liquidate the Ziezmariai camp, many of its inmates were transferred to Kaisiadorys, thanks to the efforts of committee [?] member [m.] N. Rabinovicz. Sometime after that, 250 Jews were brought from Kovno, and all the inmates were put to work at peat mining. Sgt. Papankuk was appointed commandant of the camp. Upon his taking command, conditions worsened. Many inmates attempted escape to the [Kovno?] ghetto, but the guards were reinforced by Russian Cossacks [sic] in German army uniforms. As it turned out, they weren’t loyal to their posts and 21 of them deserted. In their escape four Germans were killed, one being the new commandant. The commandant appointed in his place treated the inmates better.
In August 1943 the peat mining ceased and the inmates were transferred to work in the forest. Daily routine in the camp went on until January 1944, when 12 young inmates, among them Samuel Bruckus of Palanga, were sent to the Ninth Fort to dig graves and burn the victims’ bodies. The previous group to do this task, escaped.
The commandant of the Kaisiadorys camp was relieved of his post, likewise the one appointed in his stead. The new commandant was First Sgt. Wilhelm Muts of Hamburg. He was a drunkard and Roth took advantage of this.
On March 27, 1944, all the children under age 14 were deported to the Auschwitz camp. The camp’s inmates, understanding that their end was near, made contact with the partisans. After two weeks of preparations it was decided that 80 young people would escape and the rest would remain in the camp. On April 11, 1944, only 44 inmates escaped. The Germans launched a manhunt. Some 250 inmates who remained in the camp were taken to the Aleksotas camp in a suburb of Kovno. Most of the escapees joined the ranks of the partisans. Close