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1 Execution site(s)
Yosif Z., born in 1930, recounts: “The column was more than 100m long. When it arrived near the cemetery, many Jews understood what was going to happen and began to shout. Some tried to run away, but were shot down on the spot.” (Witness N°730 interviewed on April 26, 2014)
“In August 1941, the Jews were taken in a truck in the direction of Lida, then shot approximately 5 km outside the city. According to the statements of the farmers of neighborhood, it is a punitive commando squad that scanned the region and shot the Jews under any pretext.”[BAL202AR-Z941/59Vol.Vp.814-B162-3433p.20]
Vasilishki is a village situated 25 km east of Grodno. Before WW2, more than 80% of the 2,500 inhabitants of Vasilishki were Jews. There was one synagogue, a Jewish school, a youth movement, Betar, and a Jewish cemetery. From 1921 to 1939, the village was part of Poland and in 1939 was overtaken by the Soviets. The German occupied the village at the end of June 1941.
As the Germans arrived, a Jewish police force of 20 men was set up. In December 1941, a ghetto was established in 4 streets of the village, where Jews from the neighboring villages of Zaboloc and Sobakintse were also gathered. The ghetto was guarded, but not fenced. Jews were forced to perform hard labor. On May 10, 1942, the Germans, assisted by the Lithuanian police, made a selection of the Jews in the central square. A witness saw them lying on the ground, face downwards. As one of them tried to smoke a cigarette, he was immediately shot down. Between 1,800 and 2,200 Jews were shot in the Jewish cemetery over the course of 2 days, where pits had been dug in advance. According to witnesses interviewed by Yahad, the mayor of the village did requisition local inhabitants to dig the pits. The mayor ordered the non-Jewish population to stay in their houses and not to open windows and doors. The rest of the Jews, around 200 people, were transferred to different ghettos, among them the Lida ghetto. A certain number of Jews survived by escaping to the forest.
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