By Esther Miller

Our little town of Telekhan had quite a few talented boys and girls, who might perhaps, in time, have made contributions to the progress of the world.  They fought heroically as Partisans against the bloody enemy.  Only a handful survived.  Some found refuge in Israel, while some joined the Red Army.  The survivors: the two brothers Laibel and Ephraim Klitenik, Eli Sanders, Berl Gieskin, Faivel Lemmel, Aaron Shmuel (Riva’s son) who fell defending Leningrad; Laizer Lutzky and Shloime Landman, now in this country.  Many teenagers joined the underground, among them my cousin Dina Godiner, who now lives in Lodz, Poland.

There was no ghetto in Telekhan, no crematoriums.  The Nazis brought together the entire Jewish population, forced them to dig holes in the earth and fill them with water.  They opened fire with machine-guns at point blank range at the Jews who stood at the edges of the holes, and continued to shoot until all were killed.  Those who did not die instantly were left to die in agony.  The shooting lasted two days.  The Nazis also sent out squads of gunmen to hunt down Jewish runaways.  This gruesome story was told to Shloime Landman and Osher Gurshtel by the Telechan Christians post W.W.II, when they returned to the city.

“The stories of the Nazi bestialities are so fantastic, so gruesome, horrifying and repulsive that the human mind is unable to comprehend them.  When we realize that all those atrocities took place in our time, in the civilized 20th century, by the bloody hands of civilized Germans, we become ashamed and seized with fear for the future.  And there is reason to fear for the future.  If Germans (and biologically they belong to the human race) could degenerate to such cruelties, what assurances do we have that such a holocaust might not be repeated?  Shimon Dubnow, the famous Jewish historian who was shot by the Nazis in the Riga ghetto early Sunday morning, November 30, 1941, told the Jewish children of the ghetto:  “all the Jewish histories written up till now are meaningless.  Jewish history begins now!”  We may well add: the history of all mankind is now beginning.”

[1] Excerpt from Telechan Memorial Book, page 8.  Translated from Yiddish by Leah Rosenberg

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