International Day of commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
General Assembly Hall
10 February 2011
Mrs. Nesse Godin
Holocaust survivor (Lithuania)
[Delivered by Mrs. Vivian Bernstein, a child of Holocaust survivors, on behalf of Mrs. Nesse Godin]
Thank you so much for extending to me the invitation to be with you for this special commemoration for the Holocaust.
I am not a speaker or professor or politician. I am a survivor of the Holocaust and I am here for one reason only, to share memories. I do so that you would know the truth but most of all not to allow such atrocities in humanity ever again.
I was born and grew up in Shauliai Lithuania. Lithuania was a democracy where all the people regardless of race or religion lived freely together. I had a normal childhood with my parents two brothers and family.
In June of 1941 my life changed. The Germans took over Lithuania, the army, the wermacht, marched thru my town in one night, no buildings were bombed, no people were killed, but right after another group marched in they were called Einzatz Grupen, Mobile killing units. They ran through the city grabbing Men and boys allegedly for slave labor but they were killed in a mass grave in a forest near Bubiai and Kuziai. Then a ghetto was formed, 3500 people did not get a certificate that was needed to get in, they were killed in a forest near Zagare.
In the ghetto starvation and selections. Due to the limit of time that I was given to share with you, I will just share one of those selections. On November 5, 1943 I was already working as a slave labor outside of the ghetto, when I came to the gate to be with the group I worked with I saw trucks outside of the ghetto, we wondered what the trucks were doing there, we were ordered to go back to our rooms. I ran to the room I shared with my parents, brothers and uncles.
My mom put layers of clothing on me, bread in my pocket, the words she said I will never forget, ’She said my child the trucks are here to deport us. We may be separated, each member of the family needs food and a change of clothing”. But a little later orders changed, we were ordered to go to work. So I left the Ghetto with the group I worked with. All day we were wondering what the trucks were doing there, did they bring food? or were they taking people out to be killed.
When we came closer to the ghetto we heard cries coming from there. When we came in the people that cried so bitterly told us exactly what happened that day. SS and Gestapo and Ukrainers that came with them ran through the ghetto, found everyone and ordered them to the gate and there one Nazi with the move of the thumb who shall live and who shall die.
Is it up to a human to decide that? A thousand children thru the age of fourteen it missed me by a year and a half, five hundred of elderly and so many healthy and strong, the Nazis figured they may fight back, they removed them before they took the rest of the people. We did not know then where they were taken to, after the war we found out that they were taken to Auschwitz, there they were taken into the gas chambers where they were killed and their bodies were burned in crematoria. On that selection I lost my father that was his day off from work. I do not ask about millions I ask about one human being, my father, a loving gentle human being.
This selection is called the Kinder Action, The Children selection. The life in the Ghetto after the children selection was terrible, no children, no future. In 1944 we were deported to the Stuthoff concentration camp. There I was separated from my family, my name Nesa Galperin became number 54015. One day as we stood in Apel Roll Call a woman told me that the Nazis will kill me there because I look so frail. She advised me if I could get out to a labor camp I may survive.
I listened to her advice and one evening I saw women lined up they were given a blanket and a dish for food I assumed it was for deportation to a labor camp so I snuck in the middle of the line and succeeded to leave for a Labor camp. I was in four labor camps, it was terrible in the cold of winter women died of hunger and disease. January 1945 we left the last labor camp and started what is called now the death March. We marched through the roads and towns of Poland and Germany leaving many women dead on the road. Some shot and some just left to die of the frost.
In the middle of February we stopped near a small town called Chinow now it is called Chinovia.
The guards pushed us in a barn there was just straw on the ground. I do not know how many of us were there. The guards ordered 50 women outside and ordered them to dig two long holes in the ground. We assumed that they were going to shoot us but they had different plans for us. On one hole they put sticks on it served as a bathroom the other hole was to be a grave. The Nazis knew that we will die there. Hunger and disease took its toll. Every day there were dead women, the healthier women had to drag out the dead undress them naked/ the guards ordered that the clothing be sorted for recycling and the bodies were dumped in the hole.
All thru the Holocaust I prayed to G-D to save my life but it came a time when I went to the so called bathroom and I saw a mountain of naked skeletons I did not want to live any more .I went into the barn sat in the straw and prayed to G-D to die and the women around me said stupid girl Hitler wants you dead, you HAVE to live. In Spite of the Nazis you try to survive and if you survive they said “Remember us light a candle for our Soul.
But most of all teach the world what happened during the dark days of the Holocaust. What hatred and indifference can do to humanity. On March 10 we were liberated by the Soviets. We the Survivors are fulfilling the promise that we made to our people that were so brutally killed. I personally volunteer for the United States Holocaust memorial museum in Washington DC. I call the museum the most wonderful institution of education/ It teaches how to respect every human being that the lord created and not to allow genocide in the world again.
In conclusion I like to ask you wonderful people that represent most of the countries of the world.
We the survivors of the Holocaust are getting old many are not alive anymore please take over our promise and let’s stop hatred in the world let’s make sure that no child would have to suffer like I did.
May G-D by what name you call him bless you and the countries you represent. And may G-D bless the country that gave me a home
The United State of America