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  Z A S L I A I,  L I T H U A N I A  

The Holocaust in Zasliai
From Yahadut Lita (Lithuanian Jewry), Volume 4
Published by The Association of The Lithuanian Jews in Israel, 1984, Tel Aviv
Translated by Amnon Even-Kesef

Zasliai is located at the Troki [Trakai] region, about 10 km from the city of Kushidar [Kaisiadorys], half way on the road from Kovno to Vilna. About 1,000 Jews lived in the town during the year of the Holocaust.

The Germans were seen in the town from the early days of the Germany-USSR war. A part of the Jewish population was trying to escape to the USSR, but was caught up by the approaching German army and were compelled to return to Zasliai.

From the moment the Soviets retreated, the Lithuanian "activists" became the rulers of the place. The first ones to be arrested were the residents that were suspected of cooperating with the Soviet authorities. Jews and non-Jews were arrested. The Jewish prisoners felt immediately what their status was and what was awaiting them. While the non-Jewish prisoners were being investigated, and, if there were no severe accusations against them they were released the Jews were not even investigated. The fact that they were Jews was sufficient reason to move them to Kushidar, and none of them returned.

After the "Soviet Followers," the turn of the rest of the Jews arrived. Everyday the "activists" sent the Jews to work. They were employed at street cleaning or any other work. The work began early in the morning and ended approximately at 5PM. After returning to their homes, they were forbidden to leave their doorsteps. Food supplies were not given to them and they had to take a risk and beg their non-Jewish neighbors to sell them some food to feed their families, for full price, or for the exchange of some items.

They were under severe fear day and night from "unexpected visitors." Armed Lithuanians used to break into their homes and rob them and abuse them as their hearts desired.

On August 17, 1941, in the middle of the night, all the men and some of the women were taken and transferred to Kushidar. They were held there for 10 days and on Auguest 26, 1941 (3 Elul 5701) they were murdered in a grove near Kushidar, together with the Jews of Kushidar and vicinity, and were buried right there.

The rest of the Jews of Zasliai were transferred on September 22, 1941 to Semilishok [Semeliskes], and there they were murdered on October 6, 1941 (15 Tishrai 5702) in a grove near the town, together with more Jews from the towns in the vicinity.

Only three women and two children managed to escape form the "actions." They found shelter with some farmers in the vicinity and were fortunate to gain freedom after long period of unending hardships and sufferings.


Based on the
testimony of
Raja Schiff

In the list of the mass graves that was published in the book "Mass Slaughtering in Lithuania," Part B, the mass graves in the vicinity of Zasliai are marked as follows:

1. The location Kushidar Grove, what is called Vasiliev Diches; The time August 26, 1941; the number of persons murdered 1911 men, women and children.

2. The location Semilishok, the bottom of the forest, about 200 meters North-East of the town; the time October 6, 1941; the number of persons murdered 962 men, women and children.

Testimony of Raja Shiff-Berkman, Jerusalem
(See: Kushidar)

Editor's Note: For more from Raja Shiff-Berkman, see Shlom Letter below.


Shlom Letter (About the Events of the Holocaust)
By: Raja Schiff Shlom-Berkman

Preface: This letter you are about to read was written by Emanuel Shlom's mother, Raja Schiff Shlom-Berkman, to her sister and brother-in-law, Ida and Itzchak Kalamitsky. In this eye-witness account Raja wrote in 1981 she describes the fate of most of the adult population of Zasliai - including her husband Moshe Mendel, her father, Itzchak Berkman, and her father-in-law, Shalom Abba - in those terrible days of August 1941 during the German occupation which had begun a few days after June 22, 1941.



Copyright 2006-2023 Jose Gutstein. All rights reserved.

Yad Vashem photos courtesy of Ilan Guy.