Eye-witness Reports Nazi Massacre of 5,000 Jews in Kerch, in the Crimea

An eye-witness report of the Nazi massacre of 5,000 civilian Jews in the city of Kerch, in the Crimea, was brought here today by a Jewish fisherman, Josef Weingarten, who succeeded in escaping from the city.

Weingarten was left for dead by the Nazis after being machine-gunned together with hundreds of other Kerch Jews in a ditch eight kilometers from the city, which was covered with sand by the executioners after the mass-slaughter. He regained consciousness, however, after nightfall, and crawled out of the mass-grave stealing into town through the darkness. For thirteen days he was hidden, but finally succeeded in reaching the Russian Army’s lines where he was given medical treatment.

Completely grey-haired as a result of his experiences under the Nazis, although he is but 40, the Jewish fisherman told the gruesome story of how the Nazis rounded up Jews in Kerch every day, herded them into trucks, and transported them to their death under the pretext that they were being sent to work in the fields.

CLOTHES AND SHOES OF MURDERED JEWS APPROPRIATED FOR NAZI USE

"In one of these raids, they arrested me and my wife, together with other Jews, and took us in trucks to an unknown destination," Weingarten said. "Approaching the village of Bagrow, eight kilometers from Kerch, we saw open trenches filled with bodies of well-known Kerch Jews. Piles of shoes and clothing lay near the huge graves. It was obvious that we were being taken to meet the same fate as these victims.

"The trucks stopped at one of the trenches and we were ordered to completely undress and get into the pits. I shall never forget the lamentations of the women and children begging the murderers for their lives. Merciless laughter was the reply of the Nazis. Their machine-guns rattled and I lost consciousness.

"The coolness of the night revived me. I was wounded and felt severe pain. Like a madman I scratched at the sand around me and to my horror touched the dead body of my wife lying among the bodies of many of my friends. Weakened from loss of blood, I crawled out of the grave and reached Kerch after dodging the Nazis on the road."

Hidden by neighbors until he was able to smuggle himself to the Russian lines, the Jewish fisherman learned from them that the Nazis had wanted to kill his four-year-old boy. The baby, however, was spared when the Russian neighbors assured the murderers that he was not Jewish. "There were no less than 5,000 Jews massacred in Kerch by the Nazis," Weingarten reported.

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