During the months of August and September 1942, thousands of Jews were herded into the synagogue in the town of Kowel, Poland where they were imprisoned until their execution. In their fear and desperation, many of them wrote on the walls of the synagogue using whatever they could – unsharpened pencils, pens and even their own fingernails. Last testaments, letters and declarations were written in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. Below are some of the inscriptions that were found.
18,000 Jews were murdered in Kowel.
I am a Daughter of Israel, and I am twenty years old. Oh, the world around me is so beautiful! Why are they going to destroy us when everything within me yearns and longs for life? Are my last moments of life really near? Vengeance! Let everyone who reads my last request avenge my death!
“Reuven Atlas, know that your wife Gina and your son Imush perished here. Our child wept bitterly. He did not want to die. Go to war and avenge the blood of your wife and your only son. We are dying although we did no wrong.
You who come after us – Remember!
The innocent blood of our young people will be spilled here in an hour’s time,
blood clean as the waters of the Kinneret.
We demand vengeance! Cruel vengeance!
Earth, cover not our blood
Heaven, avenge our death
We are going to a cruel death at the hands of the brutal murderers together with the whole community of Kowel.
Thursday, 14 Elul
Bluma, Yaacov, David and Yehuda
Rosa, daughter of Hainoch died a tragic death. I fought, I wanted to live – but in vain. My heart, my heart goes out to my Niusienki – I wanted to live for her sake. If I could have just seen her… it grieves me terribly. 31.VIII.-42
Dear Andziulo! In a few moments, we, my brother and I set sail towards eternal death. If anyone from our family should survive – may he avenge our spilt blood.
The murderers are coming.
Silence reigns in the hall.
Hearing their voices sets our hearts pounding.
Hearing their voices stops our hearts beating.
Lord, take us to Your eternity!
But the murderers will surely still pay with their blood!
How will I be able to rejoice if I am already in the grave?
But I wished that their every last child would be cut up into pieces while still alive….
One more hour and one more moment…..
Farewell my beautiful world, the world I did not have time to get to know.
Tanya Arbeiter and all her family 23.8.1942
Mother, I want you to know that they caught me when I went to bring water. If you come here, remember your daughter Yente Sofer, who was murdered on 14.9.1942.
Such terrible scenes
Such terrible pictures
So much pain – no one is protesting!
Not one hand is raised
Not one fist is clenched
We just call out to God!