Truth – Legends / Testimony of Raphael Cholel (Aharon Cholok) of Bat Yam
“In your book Sixty Years from Hell you also related to the Koshidar work camp, where there were some four hundred Jews from Kovno and Zhiezhmariai ghettos. To my sorrow you did not have information on what happened to the Jews of Koshidar in 1944. Since I was there, I will try to fill in the gaps, as you suggested, to the best of my recollection, regarding what happened in this camp.
"In March 1944 the group felling trees in Forest Three met up with partisans who had come to help a few people escape and join them. A few days later the partisans came and were joined by Jews working in places from which it was possible to escape.
"After the escape the Germans punished the camp director, and Brigadier Roth, a Jew from Czechoslovakia, received a severe beating and was transferred to Kovno ghetto. (He remained alive. I met him in Prague after the war.) A few days later the Germans eliminated the camp at Koshidar and transferred us to the Aleksotas camp, near the airport at Kovno.
"Since we were considered to be expert peat cutters, we were taken to the camp at Kazlų Rūda . By permission of the Germans, family members from Kovno ghetto also joined the Kazlų Rūda camp, including my sister Bunia Blacher. On July 1, 1944 the Germans eliminated the camp at Kazlų Rūda and moved us towards the train to Kovno through the forest.
We walked in fours, with a German and Ukrainian guard on either side. As we walked, the distance between the fours increased. Halfway there, a whisper was passed along that at the appropriate moment we would shout “Hurrah” and flee into the forest, and that is what happened. Fortunately, by chance, on leaving the path the forest continued downhill so that the shots fired by the Germans and Ukrainians missed us. Those who did not succeed in escaping were taken to Kovno ghetto. I escaped together with two friends, Abrashka Lifschitz and Feivke Kushnir. We did not look for contact with the other escapees for fear of being caught. Nor did we approach the farmers for food, so most of the time we were hungry and ate grass.
"In the forest we met some partisans, who would not let us join them. We hid alongside the main road in expectation of the Red Army.  On August 1 1944 we saw them marching down the road. We found a military vehicle going in the direction of Vilna and rode with it to enlist in the Red Army.”