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|Catalog No.||6384||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||Neomi Bloch: her testimony on Telsiai; a composition by Israel Kaplan about this testimony||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||20782ר"מ||Similar Items|
|Donor||Eilati Shalom||Similar Items|
|File name||עדותה של נעמי בלוך על טלז||Similar Items|
|Collection||Kaplan Israel||Similar Items|
|Period||During World War II||Similar Items|
|From Date||23/06/1941||Similar Items|
|To Date||31/10/1947||Similar Items|
|Author||בלוך נעמי||Similar Items|
|Date of event||31/10/1947||Similar Items|
|databank||Collections Section||Similar Items|
From the Israel Kaplan collection:
1) Neomi Bloch: her testimony about Telsiai, Lithuania. Undated; 43 pages, handwritten, in Yiddish.
2) An essay written about Telsiai by Kaplan, based on Bloch’s testimony. Undated, 16 pages, handwritten, in Hebrew.
Source document: Holdings Registry file No. 20857 in the GFH Archives.
The following is a synopsis of events in Telsiai based on the two documents noted above.
On June 23, 1941, German aircraft bombarded the city. The Russians torched the city before their retreat. Many Jews sought refuge in villages in the vicinity but returned to the city on June 25, 1941. The next day Jews were abducted in the streets and sent to an unknown destination. As they passed by the window of [the town’s rabbi,] Rabbi [Avraham] Yitzhak Bloch, they prayed and recited the “Vidui” [Hebrew: prayer of confession in preparation for death]. The next day all the Jews were herded into the market square and then taken to a lake, and the rabbi addressed the crowd. Then the women and children were released, with the men remaining there. The women and children, thinking that they’d never see the men again, gathered at the home of the rabbi’s wife and observed the Sabbath eve there. The men were taken to Rainiai; after a brief time the women and children joined them there (but in separate barracks). Not far from there,another camp was set up, in which were interned some 6,000 Jews from communities in the vicinity: Viesvenai, Zarenai, Tverai, Lieplauke, Luoke, and Plunge. By order of the commander, Platakis, A committee was set up in Rainiai with eight representatives, among them Ore Grinker, Mulje Eljashev, and the Pelc brothers. Their task was to bring food from the city and to keep order in the camp. Thanks to the committee’s lobbying, the families were allowed to reunite.
The Germans ordered the Jews to rebury the bodies of some 70 Lithuanians who had been killed by the Russians. The Jews were obliged to exhume the graves, clean and dress the bodies, and bury them in the Lithuanian Catholic cemetery. During the process (16 hours), Lithuanians abused the Jews and robbed them.
On Monday, July 14, 1941 SS troops got the men out of their barracks, cut their beards and abused them. Some of them collapsed, and their comrades were ordered to step on them. Then 50 Jews were sent to dig pits for their fathers and brothers. At night, men were taken from the barracks, tortured, taken to the pits and shot. The next day, drunken Lithuanians burst into the barracks and commanded the rabbis, the bearded men, and yeshiva students, to go out to work. These men marched to their deaths for the Sanctification of the Holy Name, and at their head marched Rabbi Yitzhak Bloch and his brother Rabbi Zalman Bloch. Rabbi Yitzhak Bloch was brought to the forest, tortured, and then taken to [a] pit and shot. The shooters missed their mark, the rabbi fell into the pit and was buried alive while calling, “Shma Yisrael.” The bullet also missed Smuil Chaim Denis, the brother - in - law of Rabbi Bloch and director of a teacher training college in Telz, and the Lithuanians fell on him and stabbed him in the head with a [spear]. In the afternoon a storm raged and the murderers were forced to suspend their activities. The Jews who remained alive were locked into a barracks. Some disguised themselves as women and fled to the other barracks. Smuel Landau, a Torah student from Telsiai, came out of the pit alive and also returned [to the camp]. The rabbi’s wife, Ljuba Bloch, begged him to hide, but he stubbornly insisted on sharing the fate of the other men. The next day, when the storm subsided, the murderers resumed the slaughter. Dr. Moshe Blatt was the only man still alive in the camp, and later Dr. Kaplan [m.] joined him. The men from Viesvenai were also taken to the pits and shot. Despite the prohibition, several women, Rebbetzin Bloch among them, succeeded in going to the mass grave.
Several weeks later a stench rose from the mass grave and an epidemic broke out in the camp. 14 women and children died in one day. The Lithuanians feared the epidemic would spread and decided to distance the women and children from the pits. On a rainy day in the month of Av (latter part of July or first part of August) they were transferred to the Geruliai camp. Also women and children from Viesvenai, Laukuva, and other places were brought there. In that camp were already women and children from Rietavas and Alsedziai.
Six women from the camp were chosen [elected?] to a committee: Rebbetzin Ljuba Bloch, Rebbetzin Rachel Bloch, Ms. Rostovski, Dr. Mockil, Ms. Yazgur, and Ms. Bloch. The committee imposed order on the barracks and through its intervention cooking facilities were set up, and women were allowed to go out to the village to bring back foodstuffs. Nevertheless, infants died in droves. The women and older children were taken out to work at various types of forced labor; some mined peat in Duseikiai.
Following rumors that [the camp] would soon be liquidated, a delegation from the committee went to Telsiai to meet with the city’s commander. He refuted the rumors and presented plans to set up a ghetto in Telsiai. The ghetto was suited to a population of 500 to 600 women, while the Geruliai camp at that time could hold over 3,000 women. The pleadings of Rebbetzin Ljuba Bloch to Dr. Mikulski [m.] who was considered influential in the city, were fruitless. On Aug. 30, the commander Juodakis demanded a ransom of 30,000 rubles and threatened to exterminate everyone if his demand went unmet. With great difficulty the sum was raised (in valuables), but on Saturday [the Sabbath] ten peasants equipped with work implements appeared and said that they had dug graves for the women. At 7 a.m. drunken Lithuanians appeared in Geruliai. The heads [i.e. leaders] of the murderers were already waiting in the square: Juodakis, Platakis, Mikuckis, the Inzelevicz brothers, Kerulis, and Jurkevicz. One of the Inzelevicz brothers promised the Jews that they were being transferred to the Telsiai ghetto, but only 500 young women and doctors Kaplan and Blatt were taken there; all the rest -- the women, the children, and the men from Alsedziai -- were slaughtered. Several women who escaped from the pits, among them the Yazgur sisters and Miriam Slajmovicz, came to Telsiai. Several days later the women were sent out to work in the villages. In the ghetto a committee was chosen, of four women: chaired by Rachel Bloch, the rebbetzin of Telsiai, and members Ester Bloch, Lea Kopel - Flajser, and Mrs. Dr. Blatt. Two policewomen were also chosen to maintain order.
On Sunay, Dec. 21, 1941, the peasants were ordered to return the women [who worked for them] to the ghetto. On Dec. 24, 1941, the women and children were taken to Rainiai and slaughtered there. Twelve women and one man, Dr. Blatt, remained alive. Ten women found shelter in the homes of peasants, among them Gilis, Gurevicz - Kohen, Lea Kopel - Flajser, Lea Sif - Bajnosevic, Rejzl Sochat, and others. Two reached the Siauliai ghetto and remained there until the liberation: Neomi Bloch and Chaja Bloch - Osband. Close