The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944 by Herman Kruk.
Review by Jan Peczkis (Rating: 4 of 5 stars).
Jewish Nazi Collaboration Went Far Beyond “Choiceless Choices” or Desperately Trying to Save One’s Life. Incisive Details
This extensive diary covers most of WWII at Wilno (Vilnius, Vilna). Most of the Jews of Wilno were shot, by the Germans, as part of what became known as the Holocaust by Bullets. Kruk eventually met the same fate. The main local site of the shootings was the woods at Ponary.
1939 ZYDOKOMUNA: JEWISH-SOVIET COLLABORATION AGAINST THE POLISH FORCES
In his Sept. 19—Oct. 6 entry, Kruk describes Jewish disloyalty to Poland, in the form of Jewish 5th columnists disarming Polish soldiers, at Luck (Lutsk), as follows, “The day after the entry of the
Bolsheviks, groups of the new militia disarmed Polish soldiers. A Jewish fellow stopped a high Polish officer and challenged him to give him his weapon. The officer gave his revolver, which he carried on his belt. Finally, the young militiaman began removing the medals from the officer. The officer complained that he couldn’t take them from him. The fellow threatened him with the rifle. The officer then took another revolver out of a holster and shot the militiaman on the spot.” (p. 172). Good move!
[Will the shooting of this turncoat Jew now go down in history as a pogrom?]
A ROLE-REVERSAL: CHRISTIANS SOMETIMES SOUGHT REFUGE AMONG THE JEWS!
In his entry of January 15, 1942, Kruk describes Christians hiding amongst the Jews in order to avoid being conscripted by the Germans for forced labor and sent to Germany. (p. 172; See also p. 479).
Now, other chroniclers have described Poles hiding, among Jews in the ghetto, in order to evade the Germans. However, note the late date of this occurrence in the Vilna Ghetto (January 1942), several months after the start of the German-made Holocaust on the eastern front.
JEWS AND POLES: NO DIVIDING OF THE DEAD
Author Herman Kruk realizes that Jews were not the only victims of the Nazis and that, in death, Poles and Jews were equal victims. In his entry for June 22, 1942, he comments, “Tens of thousands of Jews have been shot at Ponar [Ponary]. Thousands of Poles have experienced no better fate.” (p. 311).
JEWISH GHETTO POLICE: PROFITEERING AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER JEWS
Kruk, in the entry of January 25, 1942, comments, “Fines, fines, and fines. The Jewish police force in the ghetto is a big consumer. Aside from the hundreds and thousands of confiscations of gold and money taken from ghetto residents, the police budget is full of income from…fines. Fines rain down on the inhabitants more fiercely than blows from the Germans. People are fined for everything… Fines, fines, and fines. No small thing, the Jewish police in the Vilna Ghetto!” (p. 182).
JEWISH GHETTO POLICE: MUCH GREATER DILIGENCE IN SERVING THE GERMANS THAN WAS REQUIRED BY ORDERS OR CIRCUMSTANCES
In his entry for January 29, 1942, Kruk writes, “The Jewish police are more German than the Germans. The Germans once ordered furs taken. They took what they could, and it calmed down. But the Jewish police never rest. Just yesterday, they ‘uncovered’ a radio and 15 furs.” (p. 187).
JEWISH GHETTO POLICE: LIVING LAVISHLY AND DECEIVING THE JEWS ABOUT GERMAN INTENTIONS
In describing the situation at Oszmiana (October 27, 1942), Kruk comments, “The 30 Jewish police are splendidly set up; they eat and drink the finest and spend their time with the local girls. None of the local residents believe in an AKTION—this is the major achievement of sending Jewish police there!” (p. 386).
JEWISH COLLABORATORS MORE COLLABORATIVE THAN NON-JEWISH COLLABORATORS
On March 18, 1943, Kruk had this entry in his diary, “Paradoxes. One strange and extremely difficult situation here leads, among other things, to paradoxes no one would probably ever have been able to invent…Germans have no trust in the Aryan Poles, Russians, and Lithuanians. But, on the contrary, their Jewish slaves are their best…co-workers. Paradoxes, paradoxes, and paradoxes.” (p. 479).
Published with the author’s permission.
The title image: „The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944” by Herman Kruk – part of the cover. / Selected by wg.pco