Surviving a Massacre | Facing History & Ourselves

Surviving a Massacre

In this graphic testimony, Holocaust survivor Zvi Michaeli describes realizing that he survived after the Jewish community of Eishyshok, Lithuania was murdered by the Nazis.
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At a Glance

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English — US


  • History
  • The Holocaust
  • Genocide

Surviving a Massacre

While we were already on the edge, says to me these words, "you survive and retaliate."

I have no time to think that whatever he means is true, whatever he says is true, but how could it be? I'm in front of the pit. I'm in front of the grave. And the machine guns start to play, and the machine guns start to shoot.

I was on his left side and he put an arm on my neck, his arm on my neck. Then the shooting starts. The machine guns get off. Then I feel like he gave me a push in, into the grave. But this bullet, probably his arm saved me. Came through up here, through my neck. You see that scar?

So the bullet just hit my upper skin. But I was starting to bleed, too. With that [INAUDIBLE], I fall in. He fall in on me.

I hear him calling. His blood was all on me. He probably got in chest. Shot. I was-- he was laying on me.

And I don't know how many times, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. But I'm still conscious. I know what's going on. I feel I'm not dead. I said to myself, if this is dead, it's not so bad. I'm still alive. But longer time, I feel his body on me. And it got heavier, and heavier, and heavier. Heavy like [INAUDIBLE]. I can't take it any more.

When I feel this, I feel good with him. But I feel good. Even if he's heavy, I feel his closeness to me.

But I couldn't take it anymore, his weight. I try to slide out. When I slide out, in one way, other corpses, other dead people, they wouldn't let me. It was hard to slide out from him, but I managed somehow.

I slide out. I managed somehow, but I feel my whole body's full with blood. Drying. But I think, I'm not dead. I'm not alive. But I came. I got more strength every minute. Conscious thought come back to me. I say let's be quiet. I'm in hiding. Not to give anybody a sign that somebody's alive. Because I hear every time screaming or yelling or crying, they used to come when I heard single shots. They used to finish them.

Conscious came back to me, fully conscious, but I feel blood to the touch. I touch but it's not my father's blood, because my father's blood was already dry. Fresh. So I feel right there, I put my finger in. I thought I'm a little wounded, I'm not dying.

That was already a little before dark. Before we were the last group that fell asleep. I don't know. I hear a lot of comments around me, yelling. There was talking, but they all went away, probably. I didn't look around myself. I couldn't look from the grave up. I could see only the skies. Couldn't see what's around me.

Little by little, I pulled over to the edge. Lifted up my head. When I saw except on the clothes, a pile of clothes. There's no action any more. They were busy with selecting the clothes, selecting the clothes, stealing the clothes, whatever. I lift up myself and I start to run.


Surviving a Massacre

USC Shoah Foundation

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