No Man’s Land

On 8 February, 1940, Pese R. entered the office of the “Committee to Collect Material about the Destruction of Polish Jewry, 1939” in Vilnius, Lithuania in order to give an interview. She was one of many Polish Jewish refugees who had found shelter in Vilnius.

On 8 February, 1940, Pese R. entered the office of the “Committee to Collect Material about the Destruction of Polish Jewry, 1939” in Vilnius, Lithuania in order to give an interview. She was one of many Polish Jewish refugees who had found shelter in Vilnius.

In the interview, Pese talks about her experiences escaping the German Wehrmacht and the crimes she witnessed. The record of the interview in its full length is to be found in the We Refugees Archive.

Pese R. and just three thousand other Jewish people from Suwałki managed to escape to Lithuania in early 1940. But not everybody was this lucky: While the Germans deported many Jewish Poles from the region into the area around Lublin and murdered them, others died on their escape.

In “No Man’s Land” near Suwałki, many risked the crossing of the border to Lithuania which in many cases was their death, others took their own lives out of desperation or went insane. A delegation of different Jewish aid organizations reported on this catastrophical situation in November 1939.

With her interview, Pese R. contributes to the documentation of the German crimes in Poland for posterity. Her further fate is unknown. Did she venture to start a temporary new beginning in Vilnius? Did she manage to escape before Germany occupied Lithuania in June 1941 and murdered the Jewish population almost completely?

The long-established Jewish community of Suwałki was destroyed in the Shoah and did no longer exist after the Second World War. Today, only the Jewish cemetery reminds us of the ciy’s Jewish history.

Excerpts from:
Wiener Library Document Section 532, Series 1, frames 0084–0087

Translation:
Miriam Schulz

Voice:
Tal Hever-Chybowski

Script:
Kristof Gerega (Schuldenberg Films)
Miriam Schulz

Direction:
Kristof Gerega (Schuldenberg Films)

Camera:
Anton Yaremchuck

Cut:
Kristof Gerega

Production:
Schuldenberg Films

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