Veteran Stories:
Eugene Katz

Civilian

  • Eugene Katz.

    The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem
  • Eugene Katz during his younger years.

    The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem
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"From the 900 people, 12 survived, the rest were caught."

Transcript

They [Nazis] used to come in with trucks, in May [1942] a couple times, and usually they surrounded the ghetto, run away, and leave it as it is, like nothing happened. We used to watch over there, from the attics, across the river, what was going on. June 14th, they send in a big row of Germans, police, especially Ukrainian groups, Lithuanian groups, and they start to pull us out from our houses, who didn’t go out. They would throw hand grenades, in the houses with the people. They brought Christians to dig two big graves, with shovels, and we were sitting and waiting. The Rabbi stood up – the Rabbi […] stood up, and he said, “This is a curse from God, we have to die here.” He didn’t say to run, save yourself. So, on the day of June 14th, 1942, 900 people ran away because you didn’t see a metre from you, you didn’t see what was going on.

The swamps from the city, about 15 kilometres. People would run into the swamps but there was another problem. The farmers used to have dogs, and soon the dog would start to bark. They would run up to the Jews, catch them, and bring them to the city. They would get paid with tobacco and clothes. If people would start to, you know, decide to fight back, they would tie up their hand with barbed wire, they would burn their backs, the guards would cut off their ears, and they were doing people with the – they would hang them in the park in the city. This went on until June 14th, 1942, they liquidate the ghetto. From the 900 people, 12 survived, the rest were caught.

Yes, two of us escape. Later we went into friends. When they start to bomb the city, we left the city, we got a horse and buggy, and we went to best friends, people we knew for generations and we stayed there until they gave an order to come to everybody to the ghetto. We left the clothes – everything was worth at this time maybe two hundred dollars.

January 6th, the partisans, we were getting supplies from Germans. There were bushes, swamps, they were not able to go through. Soon, we would find out their routes and we would kill them on the roads and take their ammunition and supplies, the most supplies the partisans got in the beginning.  Later the Russians send out [supplies] to the partisans’ area by parachute.

How did you kill the Germans?

We killed them a lot. Whenever we got a call, and was under fear from another town, he promised to bring a group of under 150 from […] and 37 kilometres. We used to have our people working there and they would tell us the situation is there. We prepared everything. Soon we went into the swamps. The […] group, we let them go, they didn’t bother, another group killed them.

We get another German alive. Russian Army, a soldier was in the partisans too. When he grabbed them, he brought them to the camp and he dug out a grave. A child from the city, a twelve-year-old boy, had killed him. They sent the German to give the body back. They sent out a delegation, you know. They were able to offer to us alive, and give them the body and that was in defeat.

In 19 –  later, when we went into a group of friends, the family Zurawski, where we were when we left the clothing, one of the brothers hide the dog who went to the Germans and brought the chief of the police for Germans and he catch us alive with three of us.* This was before Christmas, the Old Testament [Julian calendar] is 13 years [months] different. January 6th is Christmas. They catch us alive, they tie us. My right hand means left, and they didn’t bother. They tried to kill us in the house but they decided they’d have a mess so they took us out from the house and untie the rope. And we start to run. I run to the right side, and he [Moishe] run to the left side. He was killed on the spot, and I ran away, and got a Russian machine gun with 47 bullets and I got out two discs, he didn’t.

It was the evening. It was a very cold winter there. I start to freeze and when you start to hallucinate, everything, if you sit down for a minute, you’d be dead. I know about this. And I run and find another friend who we knew before the war, and he said, “I can’t keep you here. There will be a party, police and Germans.” I say, “Well I’ll go in the barn, with hay on top, the cows would be in there.” He brought me a glass with some very strong and something to cook and I was sleeping there for two days. When the party was over, he came here and find me alive, and I started to move, oh my God, I survived. After this, I went back to the partisans.

*Eugene Katz, Moishe Katz, and another unidentified person

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