An excerpt from Peretz Goldshtein’s Holocaust diary
The inhabitants of Hosht began to live through the horror of war, of bombardments. We trembled with fear for our very lives. Reverberations of the bomb explosions were heard. Towards evening, at dusk, we could see the sky become red a huge ball of fire reflections from the incendiary bombs that created enormous conflagrations.
Thus it began the ”nd of June, 1941 the ‘7th of Sivan, 5701.
There was a terrible panic, a fear, a dread. The mask of death was on the face of everyone. We walked about like shadows. The Soviet authorities continued to rule the town. At night, their staff went away, returning in the morning. They tried to calm the inhabitants, telling us not to be afraid, to go to work as usual. But who could even think of work?
The fright and the panic became unbearable when we heard reliable rumors that we were next! That on the morrow, in our city of Hosht, there would be the second massacre, if not Thursday, then on Friday. Immediately, everybody tried to escape. But where to?
No one asked himself that question. There was no time to give oneself an answer. But we must escape! We dare not, could not, wait until the Angel of Death would arrive.
Escape! Whatever will happen at least we must try! Perhaps some will succeed in saving their lives. It was almost winter. We could not stay in the fields or woods; we had to be somewhere indoors. But who thought so far ahead? Escape! Hosht presented a terrible scene. Everyone was running about, here and there there and here. We couldn’t find a place for ourselves. People fainted, cried, banged their heads against the wall. It was still worse (if that were possible) for those who had small children, We couldn’t decide what to do with the infants except to smother or drown them, as had been done in other towns. A refugee from Kostopal related that he was hiding in a place with some women and little children. When the children cried for water or food, poor souls, and could not be quieted, the mothers smothered their own children!
The panic was beyond control….
Translation by Rabbi Simcha Rabinowitz