Gens on the Danger of Bringing
Arms into the Vilna Ghetto
(May 15, 1943)
Address by Gens, Head of the Ghetto at the Meeting of
Supervisors and Policemen, May 15, 1943
Ladies and Gentlemen! Today I have called you here
because there is something I have to tell you:
A few days ago I went to the Gestapo and spoke to the
Commander of the SD there about the revolvers. I may tell you that he is
not at all stupid. He said to me: "From an economic point of view the
ghetto is very valuable, but if you are going to take foolish risks and if
there is any question of security, then I will wipe you out. And even if
you get 30, 40 or 50 revolvers, you will not be able to save yourselves and
will only bring on your misfortune faster."
Why did I call you together? Because today another Jew
has been arrested for buying a revolver. I dont yet know how this case
will end. The last case ended fortunately for the ghetto. But I can tell
you that if it happens again we shall be very severely punished. Perhaps
they will take away those people over 60, or children... Now consider
whether that is worthwhile!!! There can be only one answer for those who
think soundly and maturely: It is not worthwhile!!!
It is not worthwhile having anything to do with the
Poles. I have said it from the first day, and today I say it more than
ever. You would do better to take a good look at what goes on among the
Poles, how they sell each other out, and how many Jews have gone to Ponary
because of the Poles – and then consider whether it is worthwhile.
As long as the ghetto remains a ghetto those of us who
have the responsibility will do everything we can so that nothing shall
happen to the ghetto. Nowadays a Jews whole family is responsible for
him. If that is not enough, then I will make the whole room responsible for
him, and if even that is not enough – the apartment and even the
You will have to watch each other, and if there are any
hot-heads then it is your duty to report it to the Police. That is not
informing. It would be informing if you were to keep silent and the people
were to suffer.
I am saying this for the brigadiers who are responsible
for their brigades. I demand of the brigadiers that they should know their
people. In an army an officer must know his men well. And the brigadiers do
not know their people. They just have their passes, sit in offices and
carry in [smuggle foodstuffs] through the gate. Yesterday for the first
time I punished brigadiers because the badges** were not
worn properly by their brigades. By nature I am a very lazy man. I give an
order and then I pay no further attention. I gave an order that the badges
were to be worn on all garments. Yesterday I remembered this order – and
straightaway 35 brigadiers were sitting in the lock-up. Starting tomorrow
the brigades will be checked by Levas, and if there is anything that is not
in order, then the brigadier will be punished. It is enough that the Police
have to act as nursemaids. If the workers do not go to work then the
brigadier is trash, he is no use!
Dont cause trouble yourselves. If they do not provoke
us, then we must not do it ourselves. Because it is we alone who pay! Look,
think, and see where we stand!!!
[I wish you] A good night.
Moreshet Archives, D. 1.355.
* Leaders of labor units.
** The yellow badge.