In his "Diary of the Vilna
Ghetto" H. Kruk tells us that D. was killed one day
before the liberation on 19 September 1944 (Rosh Hashana)
"In the Ghetto two choirs
were created, a Hebrew and a Yiddish one. The Hebrew
choir was led by the musician (Wolf) Durmashkin.
...(26 April 1942) In the newly renovated hall that had
been known as the old small town hall, they held the
premiere of the first presentation by the Ghetto Theatre
presented by the culture committee. ...According
to the opening speech given by the chairman, Eng.
Nochman, a concert was given by the junior symphonic
orchestra under the baton of Durmashkin, and a piano
concert plus a series of dramatic theatrical
presentations. The show itself was perfect. But the
evening was chaotic. ...(9 August 1942) The third
symphony concert was presented in the hall of the Ghetto
Theatre. Once again the same talent and the same chaos
occurred. The Ghetto demonstrated excellence and great
measures of talent. The last concert under the baton of
W. Durmashkin demonstrated that in the domain of musical
art, the Ghetto's stands behind no one. The concert by
the Ghetto was on a very high level, for an hour and a
half from start to finish, it was a great
accomplishment. Today, (13 May 1943) in connection with
the anniversary of the symphonic orchestra in the
Ghetto, there is an echo of another concert (which took
place the evening before), which was a benefit concert
in honor of the director Mr. W. Durmashkin. ...(June 12,
1943) Two days earlier in the Ghetto Theatre there was a
fiery premiere by the Hebrew dramatic studio in the
Ghetto. It was a performance of Pinski's "The Eternal
Jew." The event was entirely in the hands of the
students, most of whom were policemen. The direction was
under the Jewish artist Beregolsky and music maestro--W.
Durmashkin. This play, as with other Ghetto
presentations, left a very strong impression. Most
importantly , the mass scenes in the first act."
In the Vilna Ghetto -- as
shown by Sh. Kaczerginski -- D. demonstrated his
artistic talent, organizational skills and conducted the
symphony orchestra, which was far better than the city
orchestra. The Estrada Orchestra together with the
Hebrew choir and the children's choir was outstanding .
D. also wrote a large musical work with musical
accompaniment to the presentation of "The Eternal Jew."
D. in fact, also led the
symphony orchestra on the Aryan side of the Ghetto.
Officially he was listed as a correspondent. Afterwards
when attempts were made to try to save him, they were
unsuccessful. When the ghetto was liquidated D. was sent
to Estonia. In one of the camps he lost several fingers.
Finally in the summer of 1944 he was burned in an
Estonian concentration camp."
About his tragic end it was
written in the "Teachers' Memorial Book":
"The bloody year 1941 was a
difficult one for the young artist. But neither the
walls of the Ghetto, nor the awful occupation of the
Germans, could contain him. He wanted to use every
opportunity to show off his talent. He organized a
first-class symphony orchestra in the Vilna Ghetto.
Under perilous conditions he stole himself out of the
Ghetto and created instrumental notes. He received the
first Ghetto prize awarded for music for his "Elegy for
Ponar." He also continued to be involved with the Hebrew
Choir and wrote music to the opera by D. Pinski "The
Eternal Jew." In the Ghetto he created a music school.
After that they tried to rescue him from the Ghetto, but
it was not successful."
His sisters tell us that
even in the Estonian concentration camp he continued to
use his musical talent, and actually an hour before
liberation he was incinerated by the Nazis.
His two sisters, Henny and
Fanny, students of the Vilna conservatory, succeeded in
saving themselves and now live in New York. They were
witnesses to the Nuremberg Trials at the International
Tribunal in the sentencing against the Nazi murderers. A
record was produced by them "Songs to Remember" (Vilna
Ghetto and Hebrew Songs) sung by Henny Durmashkin and
accompanied on the piano by her sister Fanny.
Sh.E. from David Rogow and Sh.E. from Henny and Fanny
Sh. Kaczerginski --
"The Destruction of Vilna," New York, 1947, pp.
New York, 1954, pp. 125-126.
H. Kruk -- Togbukh
fun vilner geto," New York, 1961, pp. 235, 244, 329,