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Soldiers from unidentified units of Einsatzgruppe C look through the possessions of Jews massacred at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev. Soviet Union, September 29–October 1, 1941.
The Germans occupied Vilna in June 1941. In October, Rochelle and her family were confined to the Vilna ghetto, where her mother died. Her father, a Jewish council member, was killed in a camp in Estonia. When the ghetto was liquidated in 1943, Rochelle and her sister were deported--first to the Kaiserwald camp in Latvia and later to Stutthof, near Danzig. In 1945, on the sixth week of a death march that forced the sisters to protect their bare feet with rags, the Soviet army liberated them.
The Germans occupied Riga in 1941, and confined the Jews to a ghetto. In late 1941, at least 25,000 Jews from the ghetto were massacred at the Rumbula forest, near Riga. Steven and his brother were sent to a small ghetto for able-bodied men. In 1943 Steven was deported to the Kaiserwald camp and sent to a nearby work camp. In 1944 he was transferred to Stutthof and forced to work in a shipbuilding firm. In 1945, Steven and his brother survived a death march and were liberated by Soviet forces.
Aaron was one of four children born to a Jewish family in the northeastern Polish town of Zdzieciol. His father was a shoemaker and, along with a business partner, he also ran a shoe store in the town. Aaron attended a private Jewish school, where he studied the Polish language and history as well as Jewish history and Hebrew.
1933-39: On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Three weeks later, Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union [under the German-Soviet Pact]. Aaron and his family felt lucky. Zdzieciol was in the eastern part occupied by the Soviets so they didn't see any Germans in 1939. His family heard stories about the German treatment of Jews and were elated to see the Soviets. His father advised his children that two trades needed during war were tailoring and shoemaking.
1940-44: In June 1941 Germany invaded the USSR. In early 1942 the Germans set up a ghetto in Zdzieciol, and on August 6 decided to liquidate it. At 4 a.m., his family heard people running; Germans and drunk Lithuanians surrounded the town. Aaron and his family were marched to a cemetery and ordered to lie face down. Professions were called out: "Carpenters! Blacksmiths!" When shoemakers were called, Aaron raised his hand, never lifting his head. A soldier hit him with a rifle and ordered him up. He was among those deported to a work camp. The rest were shot.
Later, Aaron escaped and joined the Soviet partisans. Conscripted into the Soviet army in July 1944, he was in Germany when the war ended. He immigrated to the United States in 1947.
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