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05.07.2014
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Frida Geizeriker, who survived Svencionys, trying to find her lost family

70 years after this woman, who now lives in Lvov, survived a Jewish ghetto in a Lithuanian town, still hopes to find and connect with her relatives

In 1941, when the fascist invaders invaded Lithuania, all the men of the families of my relatives were killed, and my father Julian Geizeriker (1898 born) evacuated to the rear of the USSR. His father worked as a driver and drove in Russia some documents on summer 1941. He suggested that we all go with him, because Svencionys was restless, but my mom Sonia knew that the children would be difficult on the road, and decided to stay. She did not believe that intelligent Germans would shoot. Back to return my father could no longer remained in the USSR. He called himself the name of his cousin Khonon. He also used name Khonon in the passport.

My older brother Aaron Geizeriker (1924 born) was drafted into the Soviet Army, and he didn’t stay on the territory of Lithuania at the time of the occupation.

My mother Sofia Kowarski (born 1900), my sister Bertha Geizeriker (born about 1922) and Hanna-Raia Geizeriker (born in 1941), my younger brother David Geizeriker (born about 1931) and I (born in 1933) remained in the city Svencionys where we lived on the street Lentupska (Lentupio). Our house is located near the Polish cemetery.

Frida Geizeriker

At the time of the occupation, we were evicted from our spacious apartment and moved into the ghetto Svencionys in September 1941, where they lived for about one month.

One day in September, all the Jews were expelled from their homes. I do not remember exactly how it happened. We gathered in the square and we were going to work in the camp.

We have long held in the street, and only in the evening we went to the woods under the supervision of the Lithuanians. We walked for a long time. Only old people and children were allowed to ride in carts. The rest of the men and women walked. We drove to the camp to the site and placed in a large hut with no windows. As I wonder later it was September 28th.

In the barracks was not possible to even sit down, because there were so many people. In the morning, my mother tried to make semolina for our little newborn sister Hanna-Raia. Nothing more I can remember. Probably took a day or two. Mom agreed with some wealthy family, who were to be released from the Poligon, so they took my brother David and me. David cried and was afraid to move away from her mother. My mother forced me into the cart but my brother David stayed. Only with time I learned that I left the Polygon with family Goldberg: Peysakh, his wife Olga, daughters Stira, Hanna and Julia. Artist Peysakh Goldberg was among the "useful" Jews and was one of the first who survived from the Poligon and return to the Svencionys ghetto. In a documents I was recorded as "sister's daughter." Later, many "useful" Jews who managed to leave the camp took with them other children, posing for their family members.

Aharon Geizeriker

We rode the night and in the morning arrived in Svencionys. I do not remember where I went. But I was alone. I think that on the same day I got news that the whole camp was shot. It was on October 7.

In Svencionys stayed my mom’s relatives Kowarsky. Two of my mother's brothers Kowarsky was killed at the beginning of the occupation, but left their wife. One called Sonya, as my mom. Second name I do not remember. One of them had two daughters my age. These women agreed with the Russian peasant, who was supposed to take them to the village and hide from the Germans. They asked to take me also, but the man refused. And it saved my life on a second time. Russian surrendered my relatives and their daughters. They were shot. But I cannot remember where I found out about it.

No one wanted to take me in the ghetto. I spent nights in the field, because the houses were terrible, could come Germans. Sometimes a Jewish family that lived in the ghetto forced me to clean and serve them for food. Then he drove to the street. I wandered through the empty house to house, ate and dressed that I can find.

Jewish policeman arrived from Vilnius to Svencionys to learn about our situation. Apparently, the list of Svencionys ghetto residents was voiced in Vilnius. Because my aunt Lena Borovik (real name Chiena / Heena) (born 1911), the sister of my father Julian, from Vilnius found out that I was still alive and wandering about the ghetto. My aunt asked one officer to brought me to her and he did despite the risk. Lena was an activist in Vilnius ghetto. She hid Jews in the ghetto. When my aunt saw me, she fainted because of my view.

1946 Lena Borowik (left) and her friends Mosze Katz with sister Alta in Lodz

My aunt Lena lived in the ghetto together with her daughter Basia Borovik (born in 1933) and son Abram Borovik (born 1940). Aunts husband Joseph Borovik was killed at the beginning of the occupation. I was also lived with her, her children and several other people in the same room.

My aunt went to work. When we learned that the Jews are going to shoot, we began to seek shelter. Since we had a few more families. We hid in the cellar of the house in which we lived. When my aunt's little son Abram began to cry, one of the women strangled him with a pillow in order to save everyone from the Germans. After the war Lena tried to find a place to put flowers, but could not remember exactly where it was.

My aunt Lena, cousin Basia and me cannot sustained our staying in the basement and climbed the stairs to the attic, and then another one on the attic. We got neighboring ghetto. I think we have moved from the ghetto Carmelitu to the ghetto Rudniki. There did not want to take us, but the aunt persuaded. Then we met our relatives who fed us. Perhaps it was a family of Israel and Ester Borovik (Lena’s husband Josef and Israel Borowik was brothers) and their children Sonia, Vera and Abrasha. After the war sisters Sonia and Vera Borovik was survived and moved to the US, but now they are no longer alive. I am in contact with their children. I also red in Sonia’s memories about hot my aunt’s son was strangled in the basement to save other people. It means that maybe Sonia was with us. But I don’t remember).

Yulian Geizeriker

In the morning the Germans started to take people and my aunt was worried. She found gold in a store merchant and gave the ransom to Polish women, who hid us and another man with a daughter in a hole under the kitchen. In this pit was damp and cold. We did not eat and could not stand at all. My aunt found a new refuge in another Polish woman outside Vilnius and took with only her daughter Basia. I sat in the pit nine months all alone. Sometimes I come out, even though it was dangerous. Polish woman gave me a food. Her son could not stand me because I was a Jew. I remember that the airfield was near to this place.

Nine months later, in 1943, my aunt Lena came and took me to his shelter. I don’t remember what part of Vilnius was this village. I lived there in the house of Polish woman, whose name I also don’t remember, but I remember that she even wanted to adopt me, took me to the church. I read a lot of books in her house. My Polish name was Zosia do not give out that I was Jewish. And even when my brother came back and asked me Frida, I was so scared and claimed that I am Zosia.

It was in 1944 when my older brother Aaron came from Ashgabat to Vilnius. My father Julian was staying in Ashgabat during all the war. He was sure that we all were killed. That is why father met different woman Vera Naumovna Petuhova. When my brother Aaron was wounded he found our father in Ashgabat and lived with him.

My cousin Basia and traveled by train to Ashgabat to gain strength after so many torments. There we were staying together with my father Julian and his new wife Vera Naumovna until release in 1945. We went to school, lived in a rented apartment.

1945, Ashgabat, Basia Borowik (left) and Frida Geizeriker (right)

In autumn 1945 my father, me and Basia returned to Vilnius. We lived at the apartment all together: father Julian, brother Aron, aunt Lena, her daughter Basia and me.

In 1946 in Vilnius Lena met Moshe Katz (born in 1882 born, profession tailor) and his sister Alta Katz (born in 1900). It seems like they came from Lodz and invited my aunt Lena return with them to start a new life because Lodz was a transit point for those people who wish to move to the United States, Israel or other countries.

In March 1946 Lena with Basia together with my brother Aaron, Moshe and Alta Katz and arrives to Lodz. In April of the same year they were placed at street Gdanska, 35 in Lodz. We have one more address street Wilenska, 28/9 in Lodz that probably can be their other location.

They sent us some photos, but I did not know anything about their lives and plans.

Six months later my father Julian took me with him to Lviv, Ukraine, where lived his wife Vera Naumovna for those moment. My father was not really a family man. He never told me about what he knows about Lena. I am sure that he knew more. I am sure that my aunt was searching us in Vilnius. But our relationship ended. So far I cannot find information about my aunt and my cousin, except they lived in Lodz for a while and left.

1946, Vilnius, Frida Geizeriker (left) and Basia Borowik (right)

I also learned from the archives that my brother Aaron went to Israel, Haifa, where he died young in 1956. He had no own family. I cannot find his grave and establish the cause of early death.

My father Julian (Khonon in passport) died in Lviv in 1972. Except Lena my father had another sister Khava Rubin (born in 1906). In 1926 Khava married photographer Nathan Rubin and lived with them in Kovno. Their son Aaron was born in 1929. I remember when they came to visit us before the war. Khava divorced with her husband Nathan, and he traveled to the United States. I don’t know anything about the life of my aunt Khava and her son.

I also know nothing about my mother's family Kowarsky. I only know that she had four brothers, two of which immigrated to the United States around 1930. Two others were killed after the occupation. I wrote about the fate of their wives and daughters, who were also killed. I remember that my grandfather and grandmother Kowarsky was rich and died when I was a child.

I still live in Lviv. My sons live in other cities with their families. They help me in my research. I have poor eyesights now and I often forget things. But I never forget my story and I wish to save it and to know something about me dearest aunt, cousin and brother. I feel like the part of me missing without them.

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