Link to YouTube Heiny Ellert’s Testimony 25 min >>
The city of Heydekrug in East Prussia (formerly Germany, today Lithuania) has a special history: As part of the “Memelland” it was under Lithuanian rule from 1923, in March 39 (before the outbreak of the Second World War) Germany received this area back. Neustadt was very close, but behind the German-Lithuanian border (before 1918 it was the German-Russian border). During the Second World War in 1940, the Soviet Russians took over the Baltic States (while the world looked to the Germans invading Paris). On June 22, 1941, the invasion of the territory of the previous allies by the Germans began, the fight against the Soviet Union. In the cities, which were conquered now, the death squads raged under the designation “Einsatzgruppen”. They killed the Jewish population, among others. This meant mass shootings of a third to three quarters of the population of the small towns. Some Jews in Heydekrug came from Neustadt (today Žemaičių Naumiestis). When the Germans arrived in 1939, they fled from Heydekrug back to their old homeland. In 1941 Heydekrug took the initiative and took Jews from the newly conquered areas across the border to run their own concentration camp in the village for a few years. So it happened that well-known former Heydekrugers met their old neighbours as work slaves. After a short time it became clear to these people that all their relatives were no longer alive and that they would continue to live as orphans for the time being. Heiny Ellert lived till Oct 2021 in Australia and he kindly sent us 2019 the manuscript of this interview from 2014. The video lasts 25 minutes and describes the events of his youth, starting shortly before the war and continuing into the post-war period until he was introduced to his future wife.
About the map from Wikimedia:
- Description: Edited detail from a map of East Prussia. Red: Borders of prussian Heydekrug County. Yellow: Modern international border between Lithuania (north) and Russia (Oblast Kaliningrad, south. The lithuanian name for Heydekrug (english: Heath Inn) is Šilutė.
- Uploader: Michael König (User:Magadan) → Message.
- Source: Vogels Karte des Deutschen Reichs (Map of the German Empire). Scale 1:500,000. Perteis, Gotha, 1907. Sheet 5: Königsberg.
Author: Carl Vogel (1828-97). Drawn by V.Geyer, H.Kehnert, O.Koffmann, P.Langhans, M.Risch and C.Scherrer.
- License: Public Domain (copyright expired).