Only Seventeen Jews Escape Massacre by Nazis in Russian Town of Velizh

A harrowing account of how the German occupation forces in the town of Velizh, in the Vitebsk district, used machine guns, the noose and fire to murder all but seventeen of the 1,440 Jewish residents of the village is related in a letter from one of the seventeen – a young half-Jewish girl – shown to this correspondent today.

The letter, written by Lida Grigorieva to her father, a Red Army man at the front, tells how the Germans drove all the Jews of the town into a ghetto as soon as they occupied Velizh. Nine hundred of them were confined in a pigsty. Every day groups of Jews were led to the outskirts of the town and shot, while others were hanged in the town itself, Miss Grigorieva writes.

When the Nazis were forced to abandon Velizh, they locked all the Jews in the pigsty, sprayed kerosene over it and set it afire, the letter discloses. Those who tried to escape were mowed down by machine guns. Only seventeen Jews remained alive.

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