1,900 Jews Slain by Nazis in 4-day March to Soviet Border; ‘revolt’ is D.n. B. Version

Completely authenticated details of the massacre of a number of Jews conservatively estimated at 1,900 who lived in Chelm and Hrubiaszow in the Lublin province of Nazi-occupied Poland, near the Soviet border, were received here today. The slaughter occurred during a four-day enforced march of several thousand Jews to the Bug River, which divides German and Soviet Poland at that point.

The D.N.B., official German news agency, issued only this report on the massacre: “An attempt of the Jews to revolt in the Chelm and Hrubiaszow districts was ruthlessly suppressed.”

The actual events were as follows:

On Thursday evening, Nov. 30, the Nazi authorities in Chelm ordered all Jews between the ages of 15 and 60 to appear at 8:30 o’clock next morning in the market square Place Luczkowski on the main street, Lubelsulica. No reason for the order was given. To ensure compliance, the Nazis took 20 prominent Jews as hostages. Many Jews, fearing the worst, fled on Thursday evening and Friday morning. But the majority of the Jews appeared at the specified time.

When about 2,000 Jews had assembled, they were surrounded by Nazi auxiliary police, elite guards and a small detachment of soldiers armed with machine-guns. A Gestapo officer addressed the Jews, informing them that the Jews of Chelm had been sentenced to be deprived of civil rights and expelled from the town.

The Jews were then ordered to sing Jewish songs and were kept in the square until 12:30 p.m. Their wives, mothers and sisters, who in the meantime had collected in adjacent streets, were repeatedly dispersed by the police and many were beaten. Their desperate cries for the return of their loved ones were ignored.

At 12:30, the Jews were ordered to line up in military formation. They were surrounded by Nazi soldiers riding lorries and motorcycles and were marched off on the highway in the direction of Hrubieszo. The women were forbidden to follow and those disobeying were driven back.

A few kilometers from Chelm, near a military hospital situated in the woods, the party was halted and told that 20 would be executed. Twenty were then picked out and were marched off into the woods, from where shots were shortly heard, accompanied by screams.

600 BODIES COUNTED

The rest of the party was then driven on again at a quick pace. Those falling from exhaustion were shot dead on the spot. The bodies of those thus executed were later found scattered along the road. Two Polish peasants hired by a Chelm Jewess to follow the party and determine the fate of her husband counted more than 600 bodies between the wood where the first execution occurred and the township of Sialopol, 36 kilometers from Chelm on the road to Hrubiaszow.

On Friday evening the remnants of the Chelm party reached a village two kilometers from Hrubieszow and were ordered to camp in the fields. The camp was lit up with searchlights to prevent any from escaping.

Meanwhile, the Nazis in Hrubieszow issued a similar order to local Jewish males between the ages of 15 and 60 to appear on Saturday morning at a specified place outside the town. Unaware of the fate of the Chelm Jews, more than 2,000 Hrubieszow Jews assembled between 7 and 9 o’clock on Saturday morning.

Four hundred were freed and were told to return home. The others were lined up and were told they had been sentenced to expulsion. Their documents and valuables were confiscated and they were told they would be taken to the Soviet frontier.

At 9:30 a.m. the remaining Jews from Chelm arrived and joined them. It was estimated the party now included 1,100 Jews from Chelm and 850 from Hrubiaszow. Before being marched off, they were told that those who returned would be treated as spies and executed.

Although the frontier was only 4 kilometers distant, the Nazis took the Jews by a roundabout route covering more than 50 kilometers, chasing them across fields, woods and marshes from Hrubiaszow to Mieniany, Cuchoburze and Dolbyszow.

EXECUTIONS EVERY 5 MINUTES

Every 5 minutes the Nazis ordered those who were tired and unable to continue to stand aside. These were shot dead and their bodies were left lying in the fields. During the march Jews were not given food or drink and those trying to leave formation to take water from ditches were shot dead.

When Dolbyszow was reached, the survivors were divided into two groups, one numbering about 550 and the other about 400. Thus 1,700 had been shot between Chelm and Hrubiaszow and between Hrubiaszow and Dolbyszow. The larger party of 550 was marched off towards the frontier town of Sokal, and the party of 400 towards Belzy. Of the smaller party only a few were shot dead before reaching the bridge over the Bug River, but of the larger party 250 were shot dead.

Thus, during the four-day march a total of 1,950 were killed.

The two parties reached Sokal and Belzy, respectively, on Monday, Dec. 4. At the Sokal bridge, the 300 survivors of the 550 group were counted and were told that anyone failing to cross the river, either over the bridge or by swimming, within 20 minutes would be shot. Before crossing the Jews were allowed to have a meal of dry bread and water brought by Christians of Sokal.

On reaching the Soviet side, the Jews had to wait three hours and then were given the decision of the Soviet authorities that they had to return to the German territory. Despite desperate resistance they were taken across the frontier by the Soviet guards and turned over to the Germans.

At 7 o’clock in the evening the Jews were told by the Nazis that they would be shot unless they crossed the river again, at their own risk, at 6 o’clock the next morning. A number swam across and succeeded in entering Soviet territory undetected. The rest were arrested by the Soviet authorities but were not sent back. A few found refuge in neighboring villages on the German side.

SOME DROWNED CROSSING RIVER

The 400 brought to Belzy crossed into Soviet territory, though they were not admitted at first. A number of Jews at both Sokal and Belzy were drowned in attempting to swim across the river. Many who succeeded in crossing were taken to Soviet hospitals, where several died.

During the four days of the march the Jews were given only one loaf of bread daily for each 30 men.

An average of one Jew every five minutes were shot dead.

One Nazi guard was heard to say, “I have already settled 76 myself,” and received the reply from another guard, “I have only killed 63.”

Among those killed was Isaac Lewenfuss, 55 years old, who had been the book-keeper of the Hrubiaszow People’s Bank. He was completely exhausted and unable to carry on after arriving 15 kilometers from Hrubiazow. When he was ordered to lie down, which was the prelude to execution, his 20-year-old son Mendel offered to die in his place, but the offer was refused.

The youth then declared: “Then shoot me together with my father.”

A storm trooper said: “Oh, you are volunteering to die. Very well, it’s very nice of you.” Father and son were then shot together while locked in embrace.

Among others executed were three members of the well-to-do Chelm family Lewenstein.

NEXT STORY