Eliahu Reif and Chaya (Reif) Chasman

Eliahu,ChayaReifA group of Jewish survivors from Skuodas: Top: 1)Eliahu Reif 2) Zivia Reif 3) the child Itshak’l 4) Yosef Chasman 5) Chaya Chasman; Below: Chaya Chasman. Courtesy Yad Vashem

Hana Shaf-Brener describes the fate of Chaya Reif, Rochel-Riva Reif, Ita Reif, and Tsvia Reif: “On Thursday, June 19, 1941, three days before the Second World War started [in Lithuania], Chaya Reif went to the city Shavl to visit her mother, Rochl-Riva, her daughter Ita, and her niece (her brother’s daughter) Tsvia. The war broke out on Sunday, 27 June 1941, and it was impossible for them to return to Shkud. They were imprisoned in the Shavl ghetto with their family. [Chaya’s] mother, Rochl-Riva, passed away in the Shavl Ghetto. Her daughter Ita and her brother’s daughter Tsvia were taken away in an Aktion [mass arrests and killings] of the ghetto’s children. Chaya survived, made aliyah to Israel, and passed away here [in Israel]” (31). 



ChayaReiftestimonyp5Chaya (Reif) Chasman’s testimony. Courtesy Yad Vashem.

Chaya (Reif) Chasman’s testimony on the murders in and near the Shaul Hall (see original on Yad Vashem here):

On the same evening of June 29, 1941, the Lithuanians took groups of men from the Caesar Hall to fields owned by the Jew Zelikovich. There they were forced to dig pits. The Lithuanian “partisans” [members of Lithuanian fascist groups who collaborated with the Germans and, in the following months were active in the mass murder of Lithuanian Jews], together with a number of Germans, took groups of men from the hall to the pits and killed them there. Most of the Jews of the village were murdered that evening. At the last minute some of those about to be murdered were taken aside. They were taken to clean up rubble in the city and to prepare housing for the German troops and the Lithuanian “partisans.” After they completed these tasks, they were killed. Among the victims were: Reuven Gilder, Moshe Leyb Grinblat, Netanel Turek, and Yosef Levin.

People said that, when he was at the pits, Yitzhak Malkenzon, who had married the widow of Zelikovich, strangled a Lithuanian “partisan” to death. Another Lithuanian split his head in two so that he fell next to the Lithuanian he had strangled.

Chaya (Reif) Chasman’s testimony on the murders at Dimitravas (see original on Yad Vashem here):

… The women and children were kept for another week in the synagogue without food or drink. They were guarded by armed “partisans.”

Afterwards, they were taken to the Demitravas estate between Kretinga and Drobian [Darbėnai]. Before the war, when Smetona was head of Lithuania, political prisoners lived on this property. The women and children suffered from the terrible conditions. They were forced to perform hard labor where they were living and also heavy agricultural work.

When they were beginning to kill all the women from Telsh [Telšiai] at the Goral [Geruliai] estate, they also killed all the women and children on the Demitravas estate. I learned about these things when I was in the ghetto of Shavli [Šauliai] from people who had been in Shkod [Skuodas] at that time.

Esther Zelkovich, whose step-father had strangled a Lithuanian, told me that she had personally witnessed this taking place.

Her whole family, her mother and her [other] children, were killed on the Demitravas estate. Esther fled from the ghetto and hid in villages, fields, and woods until liberation by the Red Army. She then returned to Shkod. There she received threatening letters from Lithuanians so that she was forced to leave the town.

Some of the Jewish youth who had escaped to the Soviet Union volunteered to join the Lithuanian Division, 50 percent of which was actually made up of Jews. Many of the latter fell in combat. A few of them returned to Shkod, where they wandered in shock through the streets of what had been their town but was now a hostile environment….