Oral History

David Levine describes hiding his two-year-old nephew during a roundup of children in the Kovno ghetto

David was born to a middle class Jewish family and attended a Jewish school. In August 1941, after the Germans occupied Kovno, he was forced into the Kovno ghetto, where he shared two rooms with his immediate and extended family. Many members of his extended family were killed during the Great Aktion in Kovno in October 1941. David worked in a forced-labor brigade in the ghetto. In March 1944, he witnessed the Kinder Aktion and was able to save his nephew. During the destruction of the Kovno ghetto, David and his surviving relatives were deported to different camps. David and his father were deported to Dachau; his mother and nephew were eventually deported to Auschwitz and killed.

Transcript

All of a sudden I, I heard a commotion and I heard noise outside the window. Our window faced the gate of the ghetto. When I looked out the window, there were buses lined up in front of the gate and I could see that the Ukrainians and Germans were taking the children into the buses. They were taking babies, children aged...all aged 10 or 11. And, uh, I had a child. I had my little nephew. He was only two and half years old and I knew that they were going to come, uh, and I could see that. And, uh, so what I did very quickly, I, I pulled a suitcase out from under my bed and I put him in the suitcase and I told him that "You may not cry, you may not speak, and you may not say anything or shout because if you do," I said, "The Germans will take you and you will die." He understood that even though he was only two and a half. He knew exactly what, what was happening. They, he...he had a feeling and I put the suitcase back under the bed and I jumped on top of the bed a couple of times to, to cause the dust to settle on it, so it would look like the suitcase had not been opened recently and and and I went back to the window to see what happened. Uh, the, uh...within, within a minute there was a Ukrainian soldier came through the door of the apartment, and he asked were there any children here. And I said, "No there aren't any." And he said, "I going to look and if I find any," he said, "Not only will I take the child, but you will come." Of course, in the beginning, he examined my papers to see I was only 14. I was strong enough to be able to work, but he looked at my papers and said that since I worked, he let me alone. But he said that, if he finds a child, I will go with him. And I said, "Well there aren't any." And he looked and looked. Of course, he didn't find. The little boy didn't say anything.


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