Monday, February 23, 2004


Well, yesterday was one of those days…

I don’t really know how to say how I feel today. I know that I have been trying to take care of myself and the family as best as I can, but I feel rather… well, I had failed to do my homework here; I guess I had never taken the time. I wrote in the book about my trip to Aushwitz and Treblinka, and what it felt like. But those trips were nothing compared to what I learned yesterday.

I know I try and come off as glib when I write. I think that this is a combination practicality and self preservation; practically speaking I am trying to make a readable style that peope might like but also, regardless of how direct I think I am, I do tend to try and be “funny” from time to time and sometimes I think this is to my detriment.

Anyway, I had decided to take this writing about Pinsk seriously, and so I started to do a little research, something I had never really done. And it is this lack of previous work that I feel foolish, probably because I find that I had been unprepared for some meetings I have had in the past, and I find that they were opportunities wasted. The two sources I had grabbed for this were a Russian language tourism history called “Putevoditel Po Stolitsye Polyesya”, Published in 1990 and attributed to many writers and The newest Full color, three language “Pinsk: A Fairy Tale of Polessye” Which I think is based on the photograghy of Tatyana Hvarina.

Both of these though, especially the second are so sugary as to make one feel a little sick. So hoping to find some less baised reading I went on the web and the first thing I found has sort of stopped my world a bit. What I found was the on-line text from Nahum Boneh (Mular)’s Pinsk Volume II. The chapters I downloaded were called “The Holocaust and the Revolt in Pinsk: 1941 and 1942”. The sources for the text were primarily captured documents and the news paper articles from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zietung, the only newspaper willing to cover the 14 month grave war crime trial which took place in Frankfort from September 1971 to February 6th, 1973.

You can read the text of the chapters concerning this period of time yourself by going to:

There is also the home page for the book as a whole at:

Anyway, to quickly tell the story…

On July 4th, 1941, 13 days after the Nazis began their attack on the USSR, the Germans arrived at the gates of Pinsk. It says in the article that non-Jewish locals, arms filled with flowers, bread and salt greeted the Germans upon their arrival. The Soviet version of the story says that there was some minimal fighting on the part of the partisans. I have a fiew things to say about the different fariations of the story, and I will talk about this a lot over the next few days.

On the first day they marched down Listovski Satreet (now probably 20th Cemtyaber Street), a primarily Jewish neighborhood, and took sixteen young men from their homes out to the Lishce woods (A park sits there now) and tortured and shot them.

In the very first days of the occupation, Anti-Semitic decrees were introduced; Jews were not allowed to leave town, be on the streets after 6:00 PM and could not shop in the market. All Jews had to wear a white ribbon with a yellow Star of David. The Jewish shops were handed orders for soap, leather goods, bread etc, which needed to be filled. The punishment for not filling an order was death.

A group known as the Judenrat, was created. This group acted as the liaison between the Nazis and the Jewish Population. Their job was ostensibly to mandate Nazi material requests, but they were also responsible for the rounding up and turning over of people to fulfill work quotas or whom the Nazis wanted for one thing or another. All Men between the ages of sixteen to sixty five and all women between sixteen and fifty-five were ordered to do forced labor three times a week.

On the night of August 4th 1941, The Germans accompanied by the Polish police (Pinsk had been a part of Poland only two years earlier) came to Jewish homes in different part so town and arrested 300 men. The next morning, amidst questions as to what had happened to those that were arrested, the Nazi commander of Pinsk (Name unstated) gave the order to have all males between sixteen and sixty report for work at the railroad station. If the order were not obeyed, the 300 that were taken would be shot. The “workers” were told to bring food for three days. About 8000 men lined up in two long columns of five. They were told to leave their possessions on the ground and turn their pockets inside out. They were marched, probably north, toward a village named Posenits (Possibly Posenichi) to a distance of probably 6 KM. There, the men were ordered off the road to a place where long pits had been dug. There they were machine-gunned. Some tried to run but found more machine guns waiting them in every direction. Those who did not run were ordered to crawl towards the edge of the pits and were shot in the back of the head.

There were some survivors, and even some who managed to make their way back to Pinsk. That night, another three hundred males, mostly boys, were told to get hoes and to come with them. These people were made to drag those who had been shot trying to escape back to the pits. After the work was done, they too were shot.

On August 7th, The Nazis and the polish Police made the rounds and collected children as young as eight, Old people, sick people and those who had escaped and made it to the hospitals. If they found a young man they beat and screamed at him “Why did you not report to work with the others?”

This group was led through the streets, hands on heads in the pouring rain and shot as well. All told, 11,000 people were murdered over these two days. It is said that before the war, there were 80,000 people living in Pinsk, about half of them were Jews. Pinsk was a Jewish town.

I am going to stop here today. There is more to say and I will get to that tomorrow. Some of it I am afraid turned out to be somewhat personal. I wanted to say more but have a terrible flu and a bit of a fever today and I don’t feel well at all.

More tomorrow.