Oral History

Nesse Galperin Godin describes the formation of the Siauliai ghetto

Nesse's family had a dairy business. The Germans occupied Lithuania in 1941 and established a ghetto in Siauliai. Nesse lived in the ghetto until 1943 when she was old enough to work. In 1944 Nesse, her mother, and a brother were deported to the Stutthof camp near Danzig. Nesse worked in several Stutthof subcamps until January 1945, when the inmates were put on a death march. She was liberated by the Soviets in March. Nesse, her mother, and two brothers survived, and she arrived in the United States in 1950.


Now to go into the ghetto you just had to show the certificate. If you had the certificate, they let you in through the gate. So about five thousand people got into the ghetto. We had ten thousand Jewish people into the two ghettos. The people that did not got the, get this yellow certificate, I believe it's about 3,500 of them--the orphanage, the old-age home, the elderly, the sick, the children from many families, and many, many people that they came to their home last and there was no more room in the ghetto. They were put into the city synagogues, in the shulen, as we called it, in the shul. With hunger, no water. They were begging for food, they were begging for them to be saved. People were trying--our Jewish community council, who were wonderful people, they tried so hard to save. They were saying already, "Okay, take them to this little city of Zagare." They thought at least they will live, because we had already the thousand men experience. These people were killed just like the thousand men, in another forest, 3,500 of them. So by the time the ghetto was formed, I don't know exactly whether it was August or September, I don't remember. But I know [by the] High Holidays, we were already--my family--in the ghetto. Half of our population was killed.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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