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Elimelech Benari's Kletsk Memoir
There was another fate for those imprisoned in the great synagogue, as Alter Merovich relates:
In the late evening, the Nazi commander appeared and greeted us with these words, Everything has been carried out suitably!’ He showed us the plan for the ghetto and ordered us to enter the apartments in the ghetto – thirty-four people in each house. Many took a risk and hurried to their previous apartments to get clothing and food. But immediately chaos broke out and several were shot by the Belorusian police near their houses.[Source: Testimony of Alter Mazovich, Pinkas Kletsk]
Thus began the period of our lives in the ghetto. In the first days a Jewish Council was organized, which included the public and representatives of refugees in the town. Their first duty was the division of labour. Every day the workers went out to different undertakings. It was the women’s job to sweep the market area and the streets. The Nazis’ relationship to the workers was barbaric and cruel. They would all return to the ghetto bloody and beaten. An exacting search was carried out at the entrance gate, and every object was confiscated.
One time they ordered us to collect all objects and movable goods left in the houses of those who had been murdered in the great slaughter. We moved the furniture to a building that was formerly a yeshiva, and there they sold it publicly to the Belorussians. The rest of the goods moved to the barracks and collected into three full warehouses, and we were given the task of counting them. Afterwards, the goods were sent to Germany.
Different rumours spread among the ghetto population. News of the mass destruction and liquidation of ghettos in the towns and villages nearby arrived. The mood was one of despair and depression, yet despite this, sparks of hope for salvation still burned. Secretly, small groups began to organize with the hope of fleeing and joining the partisans, of whose deeds and struggles we heard wonders.
Despite the Judenrat's promises - that no danger was expected for us and the that there would be no more slaughter - the ghetto inhabitants began to prepare bunkers. Everyone sought ways and means to escape the destruction that lay in wait. The young people began to discuss plans more vigorously and to make plans for struggle and survival. This became known to the Jewish council and to keep faith with their promises to the Germans, they decided to take steps to prevent these plans.