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V. Killing of the Jewish Women and Children
The women and children of Gargzdai were initially rounded up at the same time as the men. After the men were killed, the women and children were kept prisoner for several months. The Gorzd Memorial book and the Shoys letters say they were kept in the village of Anelishke and forced to perform hard labor. Then, during September of 1941, they were taken to the woods northeast of Vezaiciai, on the road to Kule (Kuliai). The Gorzd Book says the children were killed by the Germans with bayonets, and their mothers and grandmothers killed two days later. (Memorial Book, p. 38).
The Court Judgment points to statements that women and children from Garsden were killed by "betrunkene litauische Hilfspolizisten" (drunken Lithuanian auxiliary police) in August/September 1941, but further states the Court could not determine if Gestapo personnel were involved. The Court concluded that a minimum of 100 were killed.
The monument at one of the women's killing sites states that the killing occurred in October, 1941, and 300 were killed. Yosif Levinson, Skausmo Knyga - The Book of Sorrow (Vilnius: Vaga Publishers, 1997), page 110. However, the monuments are not necessarily accurate sources of information as to dates. The monument at the men's site in Gargzdai has a clearly erroneous date of July, 1941 despite the known date of June 24. Pinkas Hakehillot Lita gives the dates of the women's killings as September 14 and 16, and states that about 300 were killed. The same dates of September 14 and 16 are given by Dr. Hershl Meyer in the Gorzd Memorial Book, p. 38.
There was one survivor of the women's shooting, Rachel (or Eyne) Yami, who provided chilling detail to Leib Shoys which is set forth in his letters. Because the former residents of Gorzd would want to know the dates of the killings, it is reasonable to suppose that Rachel Yami was the source for the dates of September 14 and 16 set forth in Pinkas Hakehillot Lita and by Dr. Meyer.
A Soviet investigation included an exhumation of the sites, "Act about Slaughter of Civil Soviet People by Fascist Aggressors on the Temporary Occupied Territory of the Gargzedai [sic] Volost, the Kretinga Uyezd, the Lithuanian SSR," The Tragedy of Lithuania: New Documents on Crimes of Lithuanian Collaborators during the Second World War, ISBN 978-5-903588-01-5, p. 219, and also the eyewitness testimony of a priest, Ionas Aleksens, identified in Lithuanian sources as Jonas Aleksiejus. He was riding a bicycle from Gargzdai to Vezaiciai when he encountered the women and children being conveyed to the killing place in the forest. He unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade the perpetrators from committing the killings. "Transcript of Interrogation of Witness Aleksens I.A.," id. at p. 221; Dr. Arunas Bubnys, Holocaust in Lithuanian Province in 1941 at 40-43. According to the exhumation, one of the graves contained 107 "girls" killed by firearms and blunt objects. The other contained 347 women and children, with the women having been killed by firearms and the children by blunt objects. Some of the children had no visible injury, indicating to the investigators that they had been buried alive.
The Lithuanian Special Archives contain interrogation records of three participants in these killings. Interrogations are translated here. The questions do not deal with motive or mental state of the perpetrators, but merely attempt to establish a sequence of events.
In attempting to reconcile the bare outline of facts from various sources, two questions arise: 1) what age victims were killed on each of the two days, and 2) which site in the forest contains the victims killed on the first day, and which contains the victims killed on the second day. The information is not entirely consistent.
Note: Anieliske, Ashmoniske and Perkunai
Anieliske was the location where the women and children were held captive between shortly after the invasion on June 22, 1941, and their killing in September, 1941. It was probably the area shown on older maps as Anielin.
Karte des Deutschen Reiches (1921-1929)
scale in meters
An important place name in the account of these killings is Ashmoniske. Bubnys indicates at p. 42 that on the way to the second killing, the column turned into the forest near Ašmoniškiai. The Destruction of Gorzd in Lite states that the killings took place in the Ashmonishke forest. Dr. Meyer states in the Gorzd Memorial Book, p. 38 (image 463), that the killings took place in the Ashmanien woods. This name does not appear on most pre-war German maps. Asmoniške is shown in a clearing within the Vezaitine Forest (Miskas Vezaitine) on the Lithuanian Army topographical maps from 1938-39, very close to the border between maps 1201 and 1301. The Vezaiciai phone book entries for 1940 and 1939 show "Gargždu girininkas [Gargzdai forester], Asmoniškia."
The symbol with the deer horns, to the left of the "A" in Asmoniške, may represent a forest service station or ranger's house. Similar symbols are used for these designations on Russian and German maps. Abbreviations on the Lithuanian maps are "Gir." = Girininkaja = forestry; "Eig." = Eiguva = forest station. Lithuanian map symbols at maps4u.lt On the German Kreiskarte map below, a similar symbol and the notation "W.W." [Waldwärter = forest guard] is shown just above the latitude line, close to where Asmoniške is shown on the Lithuanian Army topographic maps.