My great-grandfather’s name is Moshe and today he is 95 years old. He was born in 1915 in Kelme, Lithuania.
On June 21, 1941 the Nazis occupied Lithuania, My great-grandfather was living at that time in Shauley. A week after the Nazis conquered Lithuania, they reached Shauley and began collecting all the Jews and announced that they’re going to be all together in a place called the ghetto.
In August all the Jews were at the ghetto, which was surrounded by an iron fence. The Nazi guards were standing all around the ghetto. That’s how life in the ghetto began.
Every morning the Nazis counted the Jews and took them for different works (only the women and the men went to work, while the kids and the old people stayed in the ghetto). The “payment” for a day’s work was half a loaf of bread for the whole family.
At the beginning the gentiles who loved the Jews and felt sorry for them, threw food over the fences, until the Nazis threatened to kill them. They lived in this way for three years, and many of them died as a result of hunger and disease.
Early in the morning during October, the Nazis took all the young Jews and drove them out of town. When they came back at night all the kids (ages 0-14) were loaded on trucks and were taken to an unknown place.
The parents were shocked to realize that their kids were taken and no one knows where to. The rabbis told all the Jews that it was supposed to happen and nothing will help and that they have to accept this situation.
After a week, the Nazis took all the religious Jews, including my great-grandfather to dig a big hole. They were told to take their clothes off and at that moment they realized that something is going to happen. The Nazis killed the old rabbis and asked for the young men to bury them in the hole. The young men prayed for the skies to be open so the dead rabbis could ask God to help the Jews survive.
On November 1943 the Jews who were left in the ghetto were loaded on to freight cars and trains and were taken to Germany. In Germany the Jews were put in a concentration camp near Munich, which was called Dachau. When they arrived they saw big smokestacks and smelled an unusual smell. After a while they were taken to the showers, and some of them were poisoned with gas.
My great-grandfather didn’t make it on time for the showers. Then, an order from the camp director told them to go to work in digging tunnels against tanks.
My great-grandfather, who was a strong man, survived these hard jobs. Those who couldn’t survive these jobs were burnt in the big crematorium.
My great-grandfather, Moshe, was a religious man and a Zionist, and he dreamed of coming to Israel his entire life. His dream came true in 1975 when he came with his whole family to Israel.
When he arrived in Israel his first words were: “Everyone who wanted to kill us one by one didn’t make it, the Jewish people is alive and well.”