Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Nazi Officer Turns Jewish Woman and Child into “statue of Ice”

May 18, 1943
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The story of how a sadistic Nazi officer turned a Jewish woman and infant in Vyazma into a “statue of ice” is told today by a correspondent of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee here who heard the details from the woman’s husband, a captain in the Red Army.

While the Germans were in Vyazma – in the dead of winter – they slaughtered hundreds of Jews with bayonets and machineguns. Among those assembled in an open place in the city was a young woman, Raya Spirman, and her two-year-old infant. The Nazi officer in charge of the executions ordered that the mother and child, whom she was holding pressed to her breast, be taken aside. When they had completed their butchery, the officer and his staff approached Mrs. Spirman, who stood silent and petrified at the horrors she had been forced to witness.

“She looks like a statue,” remarked one of the Nazis. “Indeed, she does,” added the officer. “We shall make a statue of her.” Mrs. Spirman’s coat was taken from her and she was forced to stand in the freezing wind, her child in her arms, as icy water was poured over her. That night, the execution place presented a grim spectacle – hundreds of mutilated corpses lying on the ground, and the frozen body of a woman and child standing over them, as if on guard.

A few days after Mrs. Spirman and the others had been killed, the Red Army recaptured Vyazma. Her husband, Capt. Boris Spirman, was among the first to enter the city. He rushed to his home only to find it in ruins. Inquiring of a neighbor as to the fate of his family, he was led to where the frogen bodies of his wife and child still stood. For days afterwards, he was tto stunned to speak.

Recommended from JTA