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If this table could talk

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There was a chess table owned by the Orlanskis family in Lithuania in 1941. It was prized possession, custom built by master craftsmen. The Orlanskis family was a successful, hardworking Jewish family. They must have enjoyed playing chess and if they had children, perhaps they might have found it extremely helpful in educating their children about strategy and the importance of thoughtful actions.

The Orlanskis family home stood opposite the Plunge synagogue on a prominent corner of the city. Across the street was the police station. By all accounts, it was a lovely home, owned by a prosperous successful and loving family with furniture fitting their status and wealth.

Plunge was a predominantly Jewish city. The Orlanskis family were a leading family in the area.

Personal photograph

Life ended for the Jews of Plunge in 1941 when Jonas Noreika led the slaughter of the Jews and the plunder of Jewish property. Noreika, a murderous, racist, thief, commandeered and stole the Orlanskis home and amongst the many items he plundered, was the Orlanskis’s prized chess table.

From the Orlanskis’s home, one can imagine Noreika sitting by the picture window, playing chess at his newly stolen table, watching the Jews in the synagogue being forced to burn their Torah scrolls, the young Jews being raped by Lithuanian guards under his command, and the Jews being tortured, starved and murdered.

Lithuanian sadism was extraordinary in the annals of human history. Even Nazis were shocked by the extent of the savagery and sadism of the Lithuanian murderers.

As an avid chess player, perhaps, Noreika plotted the murders of Lithuanian Jews while playing chess with his Nazi SS colleagues. My own relatives were among Noreika’s victims. He strategized the murders of my cousins as he calmly played at this very table.

Initially I learned about the table from Silvia Foti’s book, “The Nazi’s Granddaughter” in Chapter 34. Just as it was a favorite possession of the Orlanskis family, Foti describes how it became a favorite possession of the Noreika family. Noreika took the table with........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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