Extract from Yahadut Lita (Lithuanian Jews)

Volume 4 - Girtegole (Girkalnis)


A small village in the area of Rasein. Before the second world war 27 Jewish families lived there. Right from the very first day that war broke out with the USSR the village remained without government. One day, in early evening, villains took charge over the locals headed by Antanas Mikolitis and Josas Locominas who took charge of matters in the village. The first thing they did was to riot in the Beth Hamidrash. They took out the Sefer Torah, opened the scrolls outside, and stamped and danced on them with their feet. The Rabbi of the village, Reb Chaim Yitzak Osofsky, peeped through the window to see what was happening in the street. The murderers saw him and dragged him out to the street and began to assault him. With their bare hands they pulled his hair, his beard and the skin off his face and left him assaulted and bleeding.

The next day the murderers began, now wearing white armbands on their left arm, to assault the Jews of the village. They gathered some sickly men and 5 elderly women and between them the mother of two grown-up bachelors, the Zilberman brothers. They led her to the outskirts of the village. The Zilberman brothers did not want to let their mother go alone and joined her by their free will. All of them were shot as they left the village. After a few days the excited murderers put the Jews of the village (120 men, women and children) into three houses that belonged to Shmuel Tatz, Shimon Goldberg and Avraham Blacher and held them there without food for an entire week. On the 21st August (28th Av, Taf Shin Alef) they took them out, by now tortured and weak, from the houses and dragged them about half a kilometre from the village called Korpishok, forced them to undress, and shot them.

During the murder it was raining hard with lightening and thunder. After they completed their murderous act they hurried to a nearby forest to find shelter from the rain. They left the pit with the bodies uncovered. Yitzak Blacher was lightly injured and his wife was still alive but was severely injured in the stomach. Their three year old daughter was lying dead near them and their six year old son was dying. "Iím finished" Mrs. Blacher sighed to her husband "but you, run away". Blacher got up, took his dying son in his arms, crawled from the communal grave, and ran away from the site of the murders. The murderers did not notice him. With only a shirt to his skin he roamed the paths in the forest until night time. The boy died in the arms of his father and he buried him under one of the trees. In the morning Blacher crawled to the blacksmith on the edge of the village. He entered and hid inside and waited. The blacksmith who arrived took pity on him and helped him to wash the blood and bandaged his injuries. He gave Blacher an old suit, old shoes, a little food and asked him to disappear speedily as any minute clients may come in.

Thus Yitzak Blacher roamed the villages in the area for days and nights without rest until the day of freedom and was able to tell his fearful happenings and the end of the Jewish population in Girtegole.

In the book "The Butchery in Lithuania" (Tevach Hamoni b’Lita) the communal grave in Girtegole is marked with the following inscription: "The Place - the village of Korpishok, about 10 kilometres SE of Rasein close to Girtegole, the time August l941 the number sacrificed 600 -650.

Edut Yisroel Sor, Hertzlia

FOOTNOTE: The 21st August 1941, the day his parents and relatives were so brutally murdered, was the 30th birthday of my late father, Israel Blacher, who was then in Cape Town, South Africa. On 21st August 1996 a Blacher family reunion was held in Jerusalem, Israel.