David J. Selznik

David J. Selznik

Born: 1912

Anyksciai, Lithuania

The village in Lithuania where David grew up was located near the Latvian border. His father was a peddler. At age 6, David was sent to Ukmerge, a town known to Jews by its Russian name, Vilkomir, to study traditional Jewish texts at the rabbinical academy there. Six years later, David was called to return home to head the Selznik family because his father had died.

1933-39: David lost his job in 1933, so he left Lithuania and went to the United States and then Portugal. But in 1936 the Baltic states were vulnerable to Stalin and Hitler, and David decided to return home to help his mother and sisters, who had since moved to the city of Kovno. The threat of war loomed over them, but the Jews could not leave. Through business contacts he found a job in a retail outlet for office supplies.

1940-44: In summer 1941 the Germans occupied Kovno and David was forced into a ghetto. Conditions worsened in 1943. The murder of Jews in the ghetto escalated in March 1944. He saw some Ukrainians and Lithuanians helping the Nazis. David watched as they took children to the top floor of a building and dropped them out the window to a guard who stood on the street. The guard then picked them up and knocked their heads against the wall until each child was dead.

In 1944 David fled from a transport as it left the ghetto and hid in a nearby forest for three weeks until the area was liberated. He immigrated to the United States in 1949.