Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yad Vashem - Untold Stories of the Murder Sites in the Occupied USSR

I just came across a New York Times article published last year about new research being done at Yad Vashem on lesser-known killing fields in the Holocaust: "New Looks at the Fields of Death for Jews" (April 19, 2009). One report about Liepaja is from a German sailor who filmed the killings at Skede.
One little-known case comes from a German sailor who filmed killings in Liepaja, Latvia. The film has been on view for some years at the Yad Vashem museum. But the new Web site has a forgotten video of a 1981 interview with the sailor, Reinhard Wiener, who said he had been a bystander with a movie camera.
According to part of his account, “After the civilian guards with the yellow armbands shouted once again, I was able to identify them as Latvian home guardsmen. The Jews, whom I was able to recognize by now, were forced to jump over the sides of the truck onto the ground. Among them were crippled and weak people, who were caught by the others.

“At first, they had to line up in a row, before they were chased toward the trench. This was done by SS and Latvian home guardsmen. Then the Jews were forced to jump into the trench and to run along inside it until the end. They had to stand with their back to the firing squad. At that time, the moment they saw the trench, they probably knew what would happen to them. They must have felt it, because underneath there was already a layer of corpses, over which was spread a thin layer of sand.
Yad Vashem has created a website devoted to this topic - the Untold Stories. There are several pages devoted to what happened in Liepaja.

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