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2 Execution site(s)
Albertas B., born in 1935 is interviewed by the Yahad team.
Y.U.: Did you watch the shooting from the top of the hill?
Witness: Yes, from the top. The Jews would be undressed, lined up near the pit and shot. Their bodies would fall into the pit. Then, another group would be lined up. They were shot in groups of about ten people. The groups were undressed, lined up near the pit and shot from the distance of about 15-20 meters.
Y.U.: Where did they put the clothes – just nearby?
Witness: Yes, the clothes were thrown nearby. The Jews did it themselves, because they were ordered to undress.
Y.U.: Were the Jews totally naked?
Witness: Yes. (Witness N°107, interviewed in Plateliai, on October 21, 2014)
"In the early morning of August 1941, insurgents Benediktas P. and Juozas Zh., who was the squad chief, came to my house and ordered me and other villager, Pranas U., to go to Laumalenka forest, located 3-4 kilometers from the town, and dig a pit. The white insurgent Petras B. led us to the place, and we dug a pit of 19x3 meters. At about 2 PM, we heard people screaming and understood that Jews were being brought to be shot. I and Pranas U., we got scared and we hid ourselves in the forest, about 1 kilometer from the pit. A bit later, we heard volleys of shots. After that, the police chief, Juozas Zh., riding a horse, started searching for us to cover the bodies with soil. I and Pranas U. went to the execution place and saw bodies of women, children and elderly people near the pit and inside it. We counted 74 bodies in total." [Deposition of Kazys N., born in 1892, a shoemaker from Plateliai, taken on October 29, 1948, RG-26.004M Reel # 9 File12825 3BB]
Having settled in Plateliai at the end of the 18th century, the Jews were employed in small commerce, craftsmanship and fishing in the lake bordering the town. There was a synagogue in the town, but no Jewish school or any other Jewish public institutions. From the end of the 19th century, the Jews of Plateliai started gradually emigrating to America and South Africa, and the flow continued into the interwar period, propelled by a huge fire that devastated half of the town in 1923. The disaster worsened the economic situation of the Jews. Families usually maintained vegetable gardens beside their houses, which helped them survive. Of 150 Jews that lived in Plateliai in 1923, only about a hundred remained in 1940.
Three dozen Jewish men from Plateliai were arrested about a week after the German invasion, on the second day of the war. While they were confined in the synagogue and forced to do hard physical labor, Jewish women and children were forced to work for the farmers around the town as auxiliary labor force. The first shooting took place in the Laumalenka forest, 4 km south of the town, in the beginning of July 1941, when up to ten Jewish men were shot. The rest of the Jewish men were executed in mid-July at the foot of Mount Bokštikalnis, 0,5 km west of the town. After the execution of men, 70 women, children and the elderly were placed in the synagogue and kept there until the end of August. They were shot and buried in a trench dug by residents of the town in the Laumalenka forest. In the same manner as the men before them, the women had to undress before being lined up at the edge of the pit and shot.
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