Names of Our Cousins Killed in Naishtot and Virbalin, Lithuania, July - September 1941

Miriam Matlovsky Bernstein
Zvi Bernstein
Shimon Bernstein
Peretz Matlovsky
Chasia Matlovsky
Bayla Zeamon Matlovsky
Raiza Zeamon Matlovsky
Yisrael Moshe Matlovsky
Liba Matlovsky Penkinsky
Modechai Penkinsky
Joseph Penkinsky
Zvi Penkinsky
Mina Matlovsky

Jacob Matlaw’s Sister (40 yrs)
Miriam’s son (22 yrs)
Miriam’s husband
Father of Chaya (59 yrs)
Mother of Chaya (55 yrs)
Chaya’s aunt (40 yrs)
Chaya’s grandmother (81 yrs)
Chaya’s brother (20 yrs)
Chaya’s aunt + 3 children:
Chaya’s cousin (21 yrs)
Chaya’s cousin (14 yrs)
Chaya’s cousin (10 yrs)
Chaya’s aunt (35 yrs) (Grampa’s 1st cousin)

*All testimonies were given to Yad Vashem by Chaya Ben-Haim, the only survivor of her family, in Tel-Aviv in April 1999.


Miriam Matlovsky Bernstein and son, Herschel (Zvi)

Story of the Death of our Relatives

At dawn on June 22, 1941 the German army entered Naishtot encountering no resistance. The first Jewish victims fell that same day. German soldiers shot David Glodnikov, Mordekhai Levinshtein and Iser Grosman. At noon, at the municipality square, in full view of a large public, two Jewish barbers M.Lubovsky and Y.Katz were executed by shooting, after a dead German soldier was found next to their shop.

On June 25th all Jews were ordered to the market square. The Lithuanian mayor informed them that from that day on the Jews would work on different tasks in town: they would dig pits, clean and sweep the streets, repair roads etc. The Jews were immediately engaged to work under the supervision of Lithuanian guards who badly mistreated and humiliated them.

Herschel (Zvi) Bernstein, 1938 picture sent to his brother, Irving in the US, a year before the war began.

At the beginning of July, after the Jews returned from work, a group of armed Lithuanians led by Germans from Shirwindt, swamped the town and ordered all Jewish men, ages 14 and over to come out to the streets. From there, they were led to the municipality building. Municipality clerks stripped them of their documents, money and other valuables. Then, in groups of 50 they were led to the Jewish cemetery where fresh pits were already dug out by Soviet war prisoners. There, they were shot by both Germans and Lithuanians. Victims were forced to stand on the edge of the pit where they were shot, targeted to fall directly into the pit. The next group of victims before being shot themselves would be forced to drag and push bodies into the pit if a victim failed to fall directly into the pit. A total of 192 men, among them several Lithuanian Communists, were murdered on that fatal day.

The district governor and the mayor were both present at the murder scene. Immediately after the murders these two invited all the participants in the murders to a big party where they thanked the Germans and the Lithuanians for the action. In the days that followed Lithuanian collaborators were still looking for escapees. They caught nine men and murdered them too.

Families of the victims were told that the men were sent to Germany to work . Jewish women had to take over, and were then employed to do the same work as the men before their murder. Specific hours were fixed to buy food and to pump water from the public well.

On August 23rd 1941 women and children were whisked to a makeshift Ghetto in two shabby alleys – the synagogue alley and the bathhouse alley.

On September 16th 1941 (24 of Elul 5701) armed Lithuanians showed up in town forcing all women and children from their homes. All were ordered on to carts and transported the Parazniai forest, about 4 km away from Naishtot. Fresh pits were already dug out. Forcing victims to undress before they were shot, the Lithuanians murdered 650 Jewish women and children. One young woman refused to undress, and a killer cut her dress and stomach open.