The tragic fate of the Genoch Dumesh (1860 - 1941) in Vishky
in 1941
From the memories of his grandson Leizer Dumesh
and the
war diaries of Kurt Marien
by Dorothea Marien
Translation from German by Paul Deitch

Genoch Dumesh
from left to right: Hana born Bleimann, Israel Dumesh, Granddaughter of Genoch,
Genoch Dumesh - 1920

When my father went to the Synagogue, he nearly always took me with him. There I always met my grandfather Genoch, the father of my father.

Synagoge in Vishki                        
              The Synagogue in Vishki(before the Second World War)                                        The ruins of the Synagogue (2008)             

My grandfather Genoch was the high priest of Vishky. In the synagogue, during the prayers, he was greatly honoured. I was very proud. Genoch’s place in the synagogue was the most honorable, located exactly opposite the Torah altar and where the rabbi held the service. After the synagogue (prayers) he often came to our house.

My grandfather was a "blekher" (tinsmith). He had a workshop, where he made tableware of white iron/metal and many implements and, in addition, small bath tubs for children. He repaired tableware. 

Once a month he drove in his wagon, pulled by a horse, into the villages and farms in the surrounding area for one week to sell his products and accept additional orders. He knew everyone in the area.
One was sure that he would always return home on Fridays. Each time I went to meet him on the outskirts of Vishky. His horse knew the way home and approximately 300 m before reaching the house my grandfather walked the rest of the way. He knew that I would go to meet him and he always had treats for me hidden under the basket like apples, pears or berries. I climbed up onto the wagon and proudly rode up to grandfather’s house.

The drama

But my grandfather suffered the fate of all the Jews of Vishky. At the beginning of the war they were unable to leave Vishky to go to Russia. When the war ended in1945, we met my uncle Moysey from Gorki (now Nijni Novgorod), where we had remained with my mother for the whole duration of the war.
My father (Izrael Dumesh) and my uncle (Moysey Dumesh) met in Vishky and there learned of my grandfather’s fate.

Izrael       Moysey          Izrael und

       Izrael Dumesh 1928                                     Moysey Dumesh 1923                                     Izrael and Moysey Dumesh. Jurmala. 1948

Click on pictures to enlarge

There still were many among the Russians and Latvians that remained friends with them and they explained what had happened. They were all eye-witnesses in Vishky and consequently the fate of my grandfather was well known to everybody..They showed them the place where he had been buried and my uncle had his body exhumed.

My father and Moysey could identify the remains of my grandfather by his underclothes, his clothes and shoes.
They reburied the body at the Jewish cemetery in Vishky. A stone grave was made.

The soul of my grandfather Genoch was at peace. His grave is still in the Jewish cemetery in Vishky today. The burial date 1945.

                                                                        Genoch Dumesh grave. Vishki (2008)

When my father and uncle Moysey returned, they told us the whole story and to my question about what had become of our house, he said: “only a stone wall remains“. Then they said that the synagogue was burnt down in July 1941 with the Jews still alive inside."
The synagogue road (School Lane) had been destroyed, as well as many houses in which Jews had lived.

A personal remark from myself, Christine Usdin: The Latvian (as Lithuanian) population carries larger share of the blame than the German soldiers, simply because they had the choice.

Vishki/ Dagda memorial

Where our paths  crossed Dorothea Marien

After the death of my father Kurt Marien in 2006 we, his wife and daughters, found his war diaries. My father was a soldier in the German Army. He was drafted in 1940 and from 1941 was a radio operator - Lance Corporal in the communications section of the 53 rd Motorcycle Battalion of the 3rd Motorised Infantry Division of the 6 th Army/ Heeresgruppe Nord. On 22.6.1941 the battalion started the attack on the Soviet Union from Frankfurt-Oder on their way through East Prussia, Lithuania, Latvia toward Leningrad.
Together, my mother and I, looked through the war diaries, in which my father had noted each day’s events. 

Suddenly we stumbled over an entry:
Jewish village Visky/Wischky
On duty. Arrival in Visky 02:00
Jews herded together.
Shot at with machine gun.
Good (=mad) sight.
Received 12 eggs per nose. Stone protection trenches built. Laundry washed.
Night duty on the equipment. Shops cleared out.

In the middle of the night, my father together, with his Company took part in driving the Jewish population from their beds and out of their houses. They were herded together in order murder them all. (At the time a total of 750 people lived in Vishky, of which over 50%, about 450 were Jews.)  In order to herd them and force them together, my father’s Company shot into the group of people. While the Jews were being rounded up (driven together) in order to go to their death, Genoch Dumesh a dignified old man, a Jewish clergyman refused to join the group. He was immediately slaughtered/shot on the spot.
Laizer Dumesh, his grandson explained:
"Everyone knew Genoch Dumesh and not only the Jews.
He had been a Tinsmith and his tableware and handiwork was used in countless households, and many generations of children in Vishky and the surrounding area had bathed in his bath tubs. Consequently everything about his fate was well known and everyone in Vishky was an eye witness”. 

My father was there, he was an accomplice and eye witness. He never spoke about it. 

Afterwards the German soldiers received, “as reward “, 12 eggs each.
That always happened, when terrible deeds were required from the soldiers - they were rewarded.
It must not be forgotten that not only the Latvian but also the Lithuanian (and Ukrainian) population helped the German occupying forces to slaughter the Jews. They were often the Todeskommandos. They thanked the German soldiers and Einsatzgruppen for the destruction of the Jews by giving them  presents and like the German soldiers took possession of the Jewish houses and property (see: Shops cleared out - looted).
Some days later the Jews of Vishky together with the Jews from the surrounding Schtetl were taken to Dünaburg into a ghetto on the river Duna.


Herded Jews shortly before their destruction in c 1942, as they were being driven out of the Dvinsk Ghetto Dvinsk (then Dünaburg).


Jewish children and women from Dvinsk, abused and forced by the Germans to wash in the cold river  1941-1942

They were all killed here (over 15000 people) in the Pagulanka forest near Dünaburg.

Memorial for the victims of the Holocaust in the forest of Pogulanka

It is terrible what my father together with other Germans did to Genoch Dumesh and to many thousands, millions of innocent people.

I can only request forgiveness.

Genoch Dumesh’s sons learned of the awful event after the war.
9 July 2010

The song "Fire" was interpreted by Emma Shaver in 1943

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