Meylakh S. – Vilnius, Lithuania

VILNIUS, LITHIUANIA – February 3, 2007

Last night after I came back from our retiree Sabbath celebration I found a wonderful surprise. It was your nice and wonderful, truly friendly letter…

When the war began on June 22, 1941 I was in military camp 50 kilometers from Vilnius. Our big family remained in Vilnius while I was moving east with my camp. On June 23 Germans occupied Vilnius. Since then up until my discharge from the military in July of 1946 I had no information about my family. When I accidentally met my mother she told me what happened during those terrible 4 years. First everybody were taken to Gestapo, my mother was sent to death camp in Shtutthof (Poland) and all my relatives were killed by firing squad. Germans were forcing hungry and hardly alive camp prisoners to dig trenches, killing those who could no longer move. In winter of 1944 my mother had no shoes and she was forced to work barefoot, but luckily soviet army tanks stormed in and freed semi live prisoners, my mother included. From the camp my mother returned to Vilnius where her toes on her right foot were amputated (frost bites). So no peasants helped her or any of my other relatives. Thank God I was blessed to be with my mother until she passed away at the age of 80. She died on December 19, 1976 and since then every month, without exceptions, I go to see her, or rather the stone that embodies dearest person to me. It may seem strange and even bordering on mysticism but I talk to her in my head, tell her all news about my life, my wife, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Then I leave filled with light and relief.

I returned to Vilnius in 1946 still wearing Cossack military uniform that people in Vilnius have never seen. We used to live in a poor, one bedroom apartment without a bathroom… As soon as I arrived I went to check on “our” apartment. A poor Polish family has already moved in. There still was our furniture in it. When I told them that it was our apartment and our furniture they were in shock. They were so terrified, especially of my Cossack uniform, I thought they were going to have heart attack. It was clear to me that when my family was kicked out and taken to ghetto, they seized our “house” with everything in it and were certain that all Jews were killed and that they would live here in peace. I was sure that there were no Jewish blood on their hands and I felt sorry for those poor people so I turned around and left without saying a word…

I’m sending warm hugs your way. Please write some more about you, its such a joy to me.

Your Meylakh.

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