Vilna: A Young Jew in the Vilna Ghetto
A troubled evening approaches. The streets are full of people. The owners of the yellow craftsmen certificates* are registering. Whoever can do so, hides. The word "maline" has become relevant. To hide, to bury oneself: in a basement, in an attic, to save one’s life....
The tenants of the house go into a hide-out. We go with them. Three floors of warehouses in the courtyard of Shavli 4. Stairs lead from one story to the other. The stairs from the first to the second story have been taken down and the opening has been closed up with boards. The hide-out consists of two small warehouses. You enter the hide-out through a hole in the wall of an apartment which borders on the uppermost story of the hide-out. The hole is blocked ingeniously by a kitchen cupboard. One wall of the cupboard serves at the same time as a little gate for the hole. The hole is barricaded by stones. The flat through which you enter the hide-out is located near our apartment. Little groups of people with bundles go in. Soon we also crawl through the hole of the hide-out. Many people have gathered in the two stories of the hide-out. They sneak along like shadows by candlelight around the cold, dank, cellar walls. The whole hide-out is filled with a restless murmuring. An imprisoned mass of people. Everyone begins to settle down in the corners, on the stairs....
We are like animals surrounded by the hunter. The hunter on all sides: beneath us, above us, from the sides. Broken locks snap, doors creak, axes, saws. I feel the enemy under the boards on which I am standing. The light of an electric bulb seeps through the cracks. They pound, tear, break. Soon the attack is heard from another side. Suddenly, somewhere upstairs, a child bursts into tears. A desperate groan breaks forth from everyone’s lips. We are lost. A desperate attempt to shove sugar into the child’s mouth is of no avail. They stop up the child’s mouth with pillows. The mother of the child is weeping. People shout in wild terror that the child should be strangled. The child is shouting more loudly, the Lithuanians are pounding more strongly against the walls. However, slowly everything calmed down of itself. We understand that they have left. Later we heard a voice from the other side of the hide-out. You are liberated. My heart beat with such joy! I have remained alive!
Y. Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto, Tel Aviv, 1973, pp. 36-37, 39.
* Certificates that were distributed to Jewish skilled workers employed in places authorized by the Germans.
Source: Yad Vashem