Shots heard in a Lithuanian pine forest

Jews detained by Lithuanian nationalists shortly after the German invasion.

On the 11th July 1941 Kazimierz Sakowicz began keeping a diary of events he witnessed near his home. He lived in the pine forest outside Ponary in Lithuania. Sakowicz did not survive the war so his diary was to become an important document:

July 11 1941

Quite nice weather, warm, white clouds, windy, some shots from the forest. Probably exercises, because in the forest there is an ammunition dump on the way to the village of Nowosiolki. It’s about 4 p.m.; the shots last an hour or two.

On the Grodzienka [the Wilno-Grodno highway] I discover that many Jews have been “transported” to the forest. And suddenly they shoot them.

This was the first day of executions. An oppressive, overwhelming impression. The shots quiet down after 8 in the evening; later, there are no volleys but rather individual shots.

The number of Jews who passed through was 200. On the Grodzienka is a Lithuanian (police) post. Those passing through have their documents inspected.

By the second day, July 12, a Saturday, we already knew what was going on, because at about 3 p.m. a large group of jews was taken to the forest, about 300 people, mainly intelligentsia with suitcases, beautifully dressed, known for their good eco- nomic situation, etc.

An hour later the volleys began. Ten people were shot at a time. They took off their overcoats, caps, and shoes (but not their trousers!).

Executions continue on the following days: July 13,14,15, 16,17,18, and 19, a Saturday.

The Shaulists [ members of a right wing Lithuanian Nationalist group employed by the Einsatzcommando] do the shootings, striplings of seventeen to twenty-five years.

See Ponary Diary, July 1941 – November 1943: A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder

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