[Lublin District, Poland] * [Chelm - Hrubieszow Death March]
[Dubno, Ukraine] * [Belzec Death Camp]
[Sobibor Death Camp] * [Majdanek Concentration Camp]
[Jewish Revolts and Uprisings in the Lublin District]
Until 1939, more than 80,000 Jews lived in the five southern counties of the Lublin district: Janow Lubelski, Bilgoraj, Krasnystaw, Zamosc and Hrubieszow. These areas were ideal for partisan activities because the main railroads the Germans were using were north or south of the area and the area was hilly with several deep forests. During the initial deportations of Jews from the Lublin district to Belzec, largely between April and September of 1942, Jews in small towns of southern Lublin showed persistent resistance -- according to the scholar Shmuel Krakowski, "perhaps greater resistance than in most other areas of Poland." The total number of those who fled from the five counties in southern Lublin reached 20,000 -- greater than in any other part of occupied Poland. Sadly, the majority of the fugitives were caught and killed in the first German hunts for escaped Jews.
From what I can gather, the most successful Jewish partisan groups in the Lublin district were as follows: Chil Grynszpan's group in the Parczew forests; Frank Blaichman's group of youthful disobedients who refused to be confined to the ghetto of Kamionka near Lubartow; Shmuel Gruber's group of escaped prisoners of war from Lublin; the Knopfmacher group which escaped from the Wlodawa Ghetto and Adampol Labor Camp; and the Adolf Bron group in the western part of the Lublin district. Sobibor camp escapees eventually joined each of these groups after the Sobibor Uprising in October of 1943. The groups listed here consisted of solely Jewish members, with only a few exceptions for pro-Jewish Russian fighters, but had mostly helpful cooperation from the Armia Ludowa.
Amcha ("your people") was the "code" that the Maccabees had used when they fought the Syrians in the 2nd Century BCE. Jewish partisans in the forests of Lublin used this same password to identify other Jews in the area. In fighting as partisans, their number one goal was to save Jewish lives. Women with small children and the elderly found refuge because of the men and women listed below. Several of the "family camps" grew to hundreds of people, most especially the camp called Tabor operated by Grynszpan's 2nd Holod Battalion and the camp called Ohozhe operated by the Lichtenberg group.
As is evidenced from almost every testimony I have read to compile the research herein, both the Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (NSZ) -- which had around 75,000 Polish fighters -- and the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) -- which had around 270,000 fighters -- consisted of many vicious anti-Semites. The groups were very active in the Lublin district. Therefore not only did the partisan groups have to withstand the Nazis and anti-Jewish Polish fighters from these two armed groups, but also the combination of Polish military men and Polish farmers intent on murdering Jews.
Of course, there were some pro-Jewish Polish military men and an occasional pro-Jewish farmer as well. In spite of these obstacles, two cases of Jewish partisans rescuing Poles is documented in Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's book "Zydzi i Polacy 1918-1955" (Jews and Poles 1918-1955). In February of 1944, Abraham Bron saved his friends, Stanislaw Saganowski ("Dab") and his son Jerzy Saganowski ("Brzoza") of Aleksandrowka from the NKVD and the UB. They were active members of the NSZ, and thus had to go into hiding after the arrival of the Red Army. Bron arranged for immunity for the Saganowskis from the local secret police and protected them afterward. Bron helped them move to his house in Krasnik. Subsequently, Saganowski, Sr. went into a black market business with his Jewish friend. Saganowski, Jr. enrolled at a high school in Krasnik. Both maintained personal contacts with their NSZ colleagues but remained passive in the anti-Communist struggle. In a separate incident in the spring of 1945, a Jewish general, Aleksander Mieczyslaw Skotnicki saved Pawel Golombek from the Communist secret service (UB). Golombek was a Polish policeman who was secretly in the Underground. Skotnicki was later killed in battle.
Collectively and individually, Jews throughout the Lublin district resisted Nazi oppression. The Jewish partisans listed below are an inspiration. They valiantly fought and died for freedom against the Nazi murderers. In many cases, very little information remains about the existence of particular partisan groups due to the complete annihiliation of the units by the Nazi murderers. The conditions the partisans had to overcome are monumental by any standard. There was not just the lack of food, the constant starvation, and the need to find food by any means possible. Another obstacle was dealing with the fact that most of their family members had previously been murdered and overcoming the feeling that they were now truly alone in the world. There was also the problem of how to get weapons, how to stay warm in the winters, and how to avoid detection by Polish and German soldiers. Complicating this last matter was the fact that a majority of Poles and Ukrainians were eager to report Jews to the Nazi murderers. We fondly remember the Jewish partisans of the Lublin distrct as heroes, today and forever.
Two of the more successful Jewish partisan group leaders, Shmuel "Mietec" Gruber and Yechiel "Chil" Grynszpan, had both previously been corporals in the Polish Army. Jews had been required to serve their country -- even as the borders changed -- for centuries. This previous military training was crucial to their success as unit leaders.
Below is information on the specific groups that formed between 1942 and 1944 in the district, each formed to fight off the Nazi murderers:
Groups form Northwest of Lublin: In Markuszow and Kamionka in 1942, groups of young Jews who escaped from ghettos or otherwise avoided capture managed to acquire weapons and food. When the Jewish community of Markuszow was rounded up, some 700 Jews fled. The four separate Jewish partisan groups -- one led by Mordechai Kirshenboim, a second led by brothers Yerucham and Yaakov Gotheilf, a third called the Cossacks, and a fourth group from Kamionka led by Frank Blaichman -- set up camps in the Wola forests. In early December of 1942, a group of S.S. men and Ukrainian auxiliaries arrived near Markuszow to search the forests for hidden Jews. On December 2, the first day of the search, about 400 Jews were killed. Another 600 perished before the sweep ended on January 20, 1943.
Thus, the first three groups of partisans mentioned above were exterminated. The only survivors of "the Cossacks" group, per Samuel Gruber's testimony, were Jusek Piasaki and Jerzy Marcinek. These two later merged with Gruber's group. There were two specific incidents still in memory today from the survivors. These incidents occurred after years on the run and in hiding. Near Markuszow was a village called Pryszczowa Gora, built on a peaty area with 350 families in the village. The residents, all peasants, were poor. Markuszow Jews built caves and camouflaged themselves at this locale. The shochet went out one day and was spotted by the military police after a local villager complained. The Germans were led to the entrance of the cavesite. The cave entrances were stuffed with straw and set on fire. All of the Jews were dead, except one little girl. She was taken in by the villagers and passed from house to house. The second incident concerned a separate group of Markuszow fighters, the Emilia Plater group led by Shmuel Yaeger. On Feb. 4, 1944, there were three unknown peasants at a barn owned by a farmer the partisans knew in Pryszczowa Gora. The threesome had reported the Jews to the Germans, and by the time the partisans realized this they were ambushed. The two survivors of this incident were Janek (also called Yosel), unknown surname, and Sziye Goldberg. They were both severely wounded.
Frank Blaichman's group was more successful because they were better armed. The group began with around 75 fighters, but in fall of 1942 50 of their fighters were killed in battle, leaving just 25 remaining. Blaichman's group was very successful in acquiring weapons, which several of the other Jewish partisan groups had great difficulty achieving. At just age 16 when the war started, Frank Blaichman became an unlikely leader and hero. He had no military background or training, but assumed the role of leader of the group for the purpose of avenging the blood of his murdered family members. The Blaichman group merged with a group led by Shmuel "Mietek" Gruber in the summer of 1943. The combined group total was around 90 fighters.
All Jewish members of the Polish Army were sent to the Lipowa 7 Labor Camp in Lublin. Samuel Gruber and other Lipowa 7 inmates were forced to build the Majdanek Concentration Camp as part of their slave labor detail. Gruber had been injured in a battle in the campaign against the Nazis, so he was eventually taken out of slave labor. He remained at the Lipowa camp, but was assigned to work in an office of a hospital that distributed uniforms, rifles, and pistols to German soldiers coming from the front. He was able to steal weapons, which he funneled to the anti-German Polish underground. In October of 1942, Gruber and another prisoner named Kaganowicz (first name either Berko or Josef) led a group of around 25 men into the Kozlow woods north of Lublin. After Gruber's group, at several other groups of prisoners from Lipowa 7 also escaped into the woods. They were aided by a People's Guard Polish detachment.
Gruber's group had difficulty finding weapons after escaping from Lipowa 7. His group had around 20 persons and was largely unarmed, but had local connections with friendly farmers -- especially in a particular hamlet north of Lubartow called Przypisowka, where the villagers were involved in the Polish underground. The Gruber group placed vulnerable, sick, or elderly Jews with farmers they could trust to avoid attracting attention.
The Blaichman and Gruber groups merged in summer, 1943, and together they hunted down Nazis and any Poles who collaborated with them. They blew up the town halls in Garbow and Markuszow because the Nazis were going to use lists of Jews in those locales for slave labor. They picked off German patrols and stole German weapons. They initially fought in the area west of the Wieprz River in the Janowski (Yanov) forest west of Lublin. The combined forces acquired rifles, pistols, and machine guns as well as food and clothing obtained from various sources, including Nazis, Polish villagers, and an occasional political ally. This combined group, "The Lubartow Group", reached Chil Grynszpan's groups in January of 1944 and merged with them. The combined groups had around 400 fighters and worked closely with the Armia Ludowa.
Groups form Northeast of Lublin: Yechiel Grynszpan was part of a horse-trading family and thus became familiar with the wagon routes and swamps in the forests near where he grew up prior to the war. His family mostly traded with non-Jews, and therefore he also knew which Polish farmers could be trusted. In late 1942, Grynszpan's group formed. They had around 50 fighters but only two rifles and one pistol. In early 1943 they came across the remains of weapons hidden after the battles of September 1939. The group managed to acquire seven more rifles, ammunition, and a small number of grenades. Grynszpan worked to motivate the partisans, saying "You are born once -- you only die once!" He became a larger than life figure.
Grynszpan's group set up a camp in the woods called Tabor where the elderly, children, and those too weak to fight could still survive under the protection of the unit and surrounded by dense forests. An estimated 1,000 Jews were at the camp. Few of them actually ended up surviving the war. The camp residents were mostly from local villages such as Kodeniec, Pachole, Zahajki, and Krzywowierzby. The three village elders who oversaw the Tabor camp were Abram from Zaliscze (Abram Cholomski), Yankel from Holowno, and Nuchem from Krasnowka. Jews set up a makeshift synagogue in the forests. They carried out various services for the partisans, such tailoring, shoemaking, and cooking.
The partisans in the Grynszpan group had some variety. Among them was a group of escaped prisoners of war from Lipowa 7 camp, Fioder's brigade of mostly Russian fighters (including some Jews), and later the Gruber-Blaichman-Yaeger Jewish partisans from the Pulawy area. Grynszpan himself eventually formed a tight bond with the Armia Ludowa, which recognized the group as most organized Jewish resistance in all of eastern Poland.
Some of the activities of the Grynszpan group included the liberation of Jews from forced labor at Jablonia and Adampol, preventing German transportation abilities, and attacking German brigades. Velvele Litwack, one of the young fighters, describes specific activities of the group below.
Tragically, in the fall of 1943, the Nazis invaded the campsite and 75 of the around 200 of the Jews living in it were murdered. In the fall of 1943, more than a dozen of the Sobibor uprising escapees found Grynszpan's group -- each sick, starved, and frozen. They included: Yehuda "Atleta" Lerner, Abraham Margules, Hella Fellenbaum, Ajzik Rotenberg, Itzhak Lichtman, a Russian Jew with a pistol (Taborinski), Ada Fischer, Kitty Gokkes, and Ursula Stern. Prior to finding the Grynszpan group, Sobibor survivors Lerner, Taborinski, and Moshe Goldfarb were with a group of six other Sobibor survivors who were lured into a group of around 20 Polish fighters led by two brothers called Piatek. Without warning, these Polish fighters attacked the Jewish Sobibor survivors near Hola, and six were murdered, including one woman. Three lived to tell the story. They left this group and continued to search for allies, and fortunately met the Grynszpan partisans.
The Lubartow group of Gruber and Blaichman eventually joined Chil's battalion. The combined units were tough, experienced, and disciplined by the fall of 1943. There were 150 people in the combined unit, including 20 armed women who fought alongside the men. They were fierce opponents to the Nazis and their collaborators and killed any Nazis they encountered. The group derailed bridges, blew up at least four army troop trains, hijacked German supply trucks on highways, cut phone poles between Lublin and Wlodawa, and attacked police headquarters and government posts in Kaplonosy and Parczew
Grynszpan group partisan Zev Velvele Litwack recalls:
"On December 16, 1942 Chil led us to the village Ostrowa, where we started a heavy fight with the Hitlerists and after some hours we succeeded in conquering the position. German officers fell in our hands and 12 Polish policemen were shot. We captured many arms, uniforms, and other things. We burned down their housings and the town hall. The mayor, who had cooperated with the Germans, was shot. This was the first act of revenge for the Jewish bloodshed." But there was a price to pay: shortly after the victory, the Germans surrounded the partisans. The partisans were bombed for three days with planes and tanks. According to Litwack, "When they were about 40 meters from our range of sight came the order: 'Fire!' And we opened fire from all sides, so that the Germans did not know from where it came and they were standing in an open cornfield on their way towards us. In this battle we lost three partisans, two Russians and one Jew, Simcha Lewinson from Sosnowica. Tens of Germans were killed. After fighting for about five hours the Germans retreated."One daring, but ultimately unsuccessful, action devised by the Grynszpan unit was an attempt to liberate 770 Jewish prisoners from the Krasnik Labor Camp (Skret). Liaison was established with the Jews inside the camp, who were supplied with 30 revolvers and a number of hand grenades. A plan for concerted action was carefully elaborated; the revolt inside the camp was to flare up simultaneously with the partisan attack from the outside. An informer revealed the plans to the Nazis. Several days before the scheduled revolt was to take place, the Nazis seized the armed rebels inside the camp, killed the bulk of them, and transferred others to the nearby Budzyn.
By July of 1944, Chil's partisan forces -- which had formed an alliance with the Armia Ludowa -- was surrounded by German soldiers. On July 22, the Red Eighth Army passed them during the night, and the partisans from the Mietek and Grynszpan groups were behind the front line of liberated Poland. Of the roughly 4,000 Jews who had fled to the forests of Parczew, Markuszow, and Wlodawa between 1940 and 1944, only around 200 were still alive. Chil's group was one of the most successful partisan detachments in all of Europe.
Wlodawa is located east of the Bug River, near Sobibor. In October of 1942, a separate group of around a dozen partisans formed outside of Adampol, Poland. Freedom was a new concept for this group, as most had been imprisoned in the Wlodawa or Adampol ghettos and had found a way to escape. This group was the beginnings of the Moshe Lichtenberg group.
By March, 1943 the group had around 30 fighters including around 27 males and three females. The Polish farmer Papinski was a messenger between the Lichtenberg group and local populations. In May, 1943 the Wlodawa Ghetto was liquidated. Between the partisan groups in the area, there were at least four rescue missions into the Wlodawa Ghetto to smuggle Jews out of it, and over 100 Jews were taken out of the ghetto or the nearby Adampol Labor Camp. The Lichtenberg partisan group gained new members until it reached 80 fighters. The very young, very old or those without any weapons were relocated to a place called Ochozhe, an island inside the forest surrounded by very deep swamps. This was a family camp similar to the Tabor camp of the Grynszpan group, protected by the partisan fighters.
Lichtenberg's group, which eventually came to number 100 to 120 fighters (including 10 female fighters), briefly joined the Chil Grynszpan group, but Lichtenberg's leadership style clashed with that of Grynszpan. In July, 1943, a man named Kolka Meluch arrived in Wlodawa with a small brigade of fighters and explained that he was from the Bielorussian partisan movement headquarters. Lichtenberg believed him and followed him toward the headquarters with all 100+ fighters from the group. They crossed the Bug River to continue their struggle for freedom in the Soviet partisan movement. While there, unit leaders Moshe Lichtenberg, Motel Rosenberg and Chaim Fiszman were shot by Kolka in a dispute over machine guns. It was a devastating defeat for the partisans. Melech was not a partisan commander as he had stated, but simply a bandit in the forests looking for people to take advantage of.
After losing these key men, Leon Nemzer, who had served in the Polish Army, took over as the group's leader. The ammunition and food supplies of the Lichtenberg group were consistently very sparse. The local Poles in the area around Wlodawa were very hostile to the Jewish partisans. A few months after Nemzer became leader, the group of Jewish partisans was absorbed into the Molotov Partisan Brigade, which had four Otriads. Each of the Otriads had around 400 fighters. In April of 1944, the Soviet Army liberated the area where the partisans were.
Another group of Jews mostly from the Wlodawa area formed inside of the labor camp and eventually escaped. This group, led by Nachum Knopfmacher, eventually merged with Lichtenberg's group, but the two leaders had different ideas about the right actions to take in the short term. Lichtenberg was more focused on revenge and Knopfmacher was more focused on freeing Jews from Adampol Labor Camp.
Groups form Southwest of Lublin: By 1942, the last Jews of Krasnik had been deported to the Belzec Extermination Camp. Hundreds of them were able to escape into the woods before the deportation. Abraham Bron, partisan name Adolf, operated a unit that had 40 persons around Krasnik, where the Budzyn and Krasnik (Skret) Labor Camps were located, by the end of 1942. The group's initial concerns were finding food and carrying out small attacks on Polish police and German gendarmerie posts to acquire arms. They later were joined by around 30 escaped Soviet prisoners of war. The combined group attempted a series of attacks on trains, but had difficulty carrying out these attacks due to their lack of military training and the superior skills of the German enemy.
The Bron partisan group set up a family camp in the forests in which Jewish elderly, women, and children could stay under the protection of the partisan fighters. In spring, 1943 the group made contact with the Armia Ludowa and became another sub-unit of Grzegorz Korczynski's forces. Korczynski was the leader of the Armia Ludowa units in this part of the Lublin district, which included quite a few Jewish, Russian, and Polish sub-units. By summer, 1943 the Armia Ludowa organized these various units were reorganized into two groups: Battalion number 3, which consisted of Polish fighters, under Wladyslaw Skrzypek, and Battalion number 4 under Karol Lemichow-Herzenberger. The Jewish Adolf unit and a Russian unit were thus working side by side under the German Lemichow, who was made a commander of the Armia Ludowa after being injured during his service in the Red Army. Around September, 1943 Herzenberger conspired against the Jewish unit with a gang of Polish bandits under the leadership of Andrzej Kielbasa, who demanded that for him to serve with the Armia Ludowa all Jews must be removed from the unit. A plan was drawn up for the destruction of Abraham Bron's Jewish partisan unit. Nineteen Jewish partisans were murdered when their own unit, the Armia Ludowa fighters led by Kielbasa and Lieutenant Karol Herzenberger Lemichow, turned the arms on the Jewish fighters.
L-R: Karol Hertzenberg, Grzegorz Korczynski, Jan Wyderkowski.
A majority of the Jewish unit managed to escape their attackers, albeit quite narrowly. After this incident the Bron unit left the Armia Ludowa. A month earlier Kielbasa was involved in the murders of 26 other Jewish fighters, including Yaakov Freitag, the commander of a group of fugitives from Rzeczyca (near Poniatowa Concentration Camp). Frank Blaichman describes this incident his book as follows: "We learned that on September 9 a unit of the Polish National Armed Forces (NSZ) had killed 26 Jewish partisans in the Borowa Forest, south of Lublin. They had gained access to the partisans' base by pretending to want to help them and then had come at night and thrown grenades into the bunkers while the partisans slept. The AL later composed a song in memory of these partisans, but the words fail to mention that the partisans were Jews."
Herzenberger was killed on December 26, 1943 in a clash between his unit and the Germans. After his death, the Bron unit rejoined the Armia Ludowa. According to Shmuel Krakowski, the Jews made up a significant part of the Armia Ludowa forces operating out of bases in the forests of Lipsk in the winter of 1943-1944. The units were as follows: Lenek's group, a mixed unit of Jews and Russians numbering 43 fighters; Grzybowski's unit; Jastrzab's unit; Bohdan's unit; and Prohor's unit, which was an all-Jewish unit. By this time the Bron unit numbered around 25 fighters.
In winter and spring of 1944, the Jewish units gained new members: 26 prisoners who escaped from the Klemensow Labor Camp near Szczebrzeszyn , 60 prisoners who escaped from the Krasnik Labor Camp (called Skret), and 13 who prisoners escaped from the Budzyn Labor Camp. Only eight of the escapees from Skret camp reached the partisans. The Janowski and Wanda Wasilewska units, which included several dozen Jews among many Russians, also moved into the area. The Germans opened a large anti-partisan campaign in Poland on June 9, 1944 which included more than 25,000 fighters. The operation was led by the Nazis Haeneke and Bork.
At this time the partisans numbered around 5,000 fighters, including 3,000 Soviets, more than 1,500 Poles, and more than 100 Jewish fighters (most of whom belonged to the Adolf Bron unit). The partisans suffered heavy losses in battle and the Janowski and Wanda Wasilewska retained only around 1/5 of their members. The Adolf unit lost most of its members in a battle with Division 154 on June 14, 1944 in the forest of Janow Lubelski. It was just a few weeks before the area was liberated. Around 15 of the fighters were left. Additional information about resistance in the Krasnik area is available here. Abraham Bron is discussed on page 111 of "The Routledge Atlas of the Holocaust" by Martin Gilbert.
Back to Grzegorz Korczynski. In 1942, the groups under his commanded and consisted of the following: A Jewish partisan unit from Frampol that had escaped from the ghetto; a group under Yaakov Freitag that had escaped from the village of Reczyca in Pulawy County; a group under Reuven Yehoshua Pintele's leadership; a group that escaped from the Majdanek Concentration Camp under the leadership of a partisan named Robert; and several non-Jewish Polish fighting groups.
Prior to joining up with Korczynski's group, Robert's Majdanek escapees carried out a successful ambush on the road near Bychawa, attacking two trucks carrying gendarmes, on October 15, 1942. Together, the combined unit successfully attacked the Germans at the Janiszow Labor Camp near Annopol on November 6, 1942. Although all of the prisoners were free to leave the camp, they had no resources such as food and arms, and many were either caught and killed or caught and sent to Budzyn Labor Camp. Around 60 prisoners successfully escaped, but were eventually attacked and murdered by armed Polish groups.
Next, Korczynski's unit was intent on attacking the Rejowiec-Lwow rail line. But on April 4, 1943, every Jewish partisan in the unit -- with one exception, Korczynski himself -- was murdered. The circumstances surrounding the deaths have never been explained. Additional details regarding Korchinsky's appalling anti-Jewish activities are available here.
Groups form South of Lublin: There were also several Jewish partisan groups that formed in the southern tier of the Lublin district. They were frequently in touch with Russian units that traveled in and out of the district and then headed back east. The Berek Joselowicz detachment under Eduard Forst had a base in Puszcza Solska, a little northwest of Jozefow in Tomaszow Lubelski County. The group formed and fought in April and May of 1943, but by August they had been murdered.
In May 1942, a group of young Jews from Tomaszow Lubelski -- led by Mendel Heller, Meir Kalichman (last name also possibly Kalechmaker or Lilkemakher), and Szymon Goldsztein -- organized a Jewish partisan unit. This unit fought the Germans for some time, but was betrayed by local Poles and annihilated.
According to Shmuel Krakowski, in July 1942, Jews and Poles joined Rayevski's Russian unit in the south of Lublin. This unit became the largest in the area and had three submachine guns and a few rifles as well as grenades and pistols for each fighter. Rayevski (Ryavski) decided to leave to go to Russia but the Jewish partisans stayed behind because they were familiar with the local area. The unit split up, with a majority heading east. The leftover Jewish unit, led by the brothers Chaskiel Met and Yaakov Met, was based in Kosznia near Frampol. A local forest watchman in Kosznia told the Germans exact details of the whereabouts of the Jewish partisans. The Jews killed this Polish collaborator. But when the Armia Krajowa found out about it, they spread anti-Jewish propaganda in the area and recruited hundreds of peasants to expel the partisans from the forests (source: Shmuel Krakowski).
On October 2, 1942, 300 Jews fled Frampol during the deportations to death camps. Some of them had acquired guns earlier and had them hidden in the forests. This group joined with Korczynski's Armia Ludowa unit and was wiped out before the end of 1943.
In the vicinity of Majdan Tyszowski, Tomaszow Lubelski county, a Jewish partisan unit commanded by a Jew from Lublin named Cudok (also spelled Tsadok, Tzadik or Chudak) established contact with the local unit of the Armia Krajowa. After a successful joint operation, the Armia Krajowa unit invited the Jewish combatants for a feast. The Jews were first served poisoned vodka and then fired upon. No one survived (source: Unequal Victims: Poles and Jews during World War).
There were many Jews hiding in the villages near Bychawa. At the end of 1942, about 70 Jews gathered in the garden of Faluch(?) -- but only 12 survived the war. According to the Yizkor book for Bychawa, Henek (Henryk) Zimerman was the leader of the most organized and most active Jewish partisans group in the area. With him was Josef Reznik, who was captured by the Polish Army in 1939 and escaped from the Lipowa 7 camp in Lublin. Reznik was in the area of the Dombrow and Osterlic forests.
Before the war Zimerman had taken their guns that were hidden in the forest. Then he gathered young Jews and hid in the forest. His name became famous in the area. The Zimerman partisan group consisted of between 12 and 20 fighters at various times. Even the 12 German gendarmes in Krasnik were afraid of them.
Zimerman tried to enlarge his activity. He contacted farmers in villages that would hide Jews. He alerted them that there would be consequences for those who murdered Jews. After a farmer named Balachuk turned in Zadok's brother-in-law, Zimerman burned his house and the partisan caught Balachuk and killed him. They put his body on the road and left a note that he was killed because he turned in a Jew to the Nazis.
Zimerman also supplied the hidden Jews food and he ordered the farmers to leave each evening outside their houses pots with cooked potatoes. At the beginning of 1943, Zimerman attacked the police station of Piotrkowek. He took from the seven policemen their weapons and set fire to the documents and Archive to prevent checking of false documents.
Partisan Mordechai "Motel" Sztrajnblic was in a cowshed and heard the shooting. He went to the forest and saw the Zimerman group killing four German gendarmes and three or four others were able to escape. Zimerman took their machine guns from them. In May or June 1943, Zimerman was arrested, but the arresting forces did not know he was a partisan . They took him to Piotrkowek, from where he was able to escape.
In the end of summer of 1943, Zimerman was killed along with six others, including Cudok. A German unit surrounded the village Mejdan-Damninski. They burned 12 houses of Zimerman and his group -- 16 people in total were hiding in a cowshed in the village. The German surrounded them. Zimerman tried to break out to the forest. The battle took from 11:00 until 16:00 hours. Zimerman continue to shoot until his last moment. Reznik and few others reached the forest and survived.
Groups form East of Lublin: There were more than a dozen Russian partisan groups in the Lublin district. There was significant overlap between the Russian partisan groups in the Lublin district and both the Red Army and the Armia Ludowa. One of the earliest Russian partisan group was called the Fioder group (also Pushkin's group, or Imienia Jozefa Bema). It consisted of both Jewish and non-Jewish Russian fighters, mostly escaped prisoners of war, and had around 40 unskilled fighters. It's leader was Fioder Kovalov (partisan name: Teodor Albrecht), a Soviet officer and escaped POW, and the group fought in the Makoszka forest near Parczew. The first battle of Fioder's partisans took place in November 1942. The partisans tried to beat off a German assault on a forest where a group of Parczew Jews were hiding. But the partisans were forced to retreat, and most of the Jews were killed on the spot. On Dec. 6-8, 1942, the partisans fought another battle in the Parczew forests. In spite of having considerable police and military forces, the Germans suffered significant losses while the partisans managed to successfully extract themselves out of the encirclement. On December 17, 1942 the Fioder unit captured the town of Ostrow Lubelski, killing a policeman and wounding a few others. During this battle a Polish police post was attacked, a post office, a dairy factory assisting the German war effort, and a German government office were destroyed. In the spring of 1943, Fioder's forces joined with Grynszpan's group. In the second half of 1943 and the beginning of 1944 Ostrow Lubelski was under the control of the Communist AL (Armia Ludowa). The following Jewish members were killed in action around Passover, 1943: Chuna Kot, Lejb Grinblat, Hersz Rodzinek, Yosef Waserman and Itzak Tarif. Eventually Fioder is believed to have gone into Russian territory (further east).
Moshe "Mischa" Edelstein, born 1923 in Kalisz, led a partisan unit.
A Russian group led by the Edelstein brothers and Itzhak Reichman numbered around 20 fighters. The Edelstein brothers were refugees from Kalisz who went to Povorsk, Ukraine and organized an underground resistance there. The group operated out of the forests. Misha Edelstein was humble and modest, but wanted revenge for the deaths of his parents and girlfriend Raja Plus. Today in Rivne there is a memorial in memory of Misha Edelstein. He was murdered in battle after the liberation. Pasha Reichman later joined another unit and went to Israel after the war.
Another Soviet partisan group, led by Kolka, is discussed above.
A fourth Soviet partisan group, called the Janowski group, is discussed in the next section below.
The Wanda Wasilewska brigade led by Oleksiy Fedorov (Alex Fyodorov) was a large brigade of mixed Jewish and non-Jewish fighters. This group mostly fought east of the Bug River, but eventually crossed westward to take on the Germans more directly. According to partisan survivor Ben Kamm, the Fyodorov Brigade had destroyed 549 German trains by the end of 1943. Many of the groups, including the Fyodorov group, received airdrops from Russia, which included such needs as ammunition, mines, and medicines. They also received regular reports from Radio Moscow. The group's objectives were to distribute weapons to the local population and to get as many people to fight as possible.
Jews Who Fought with the Armja Ludowa: Several units also joined with the Armia Ludowa, the left-wing Polish forces fighting the Nazis. Most of the Jews involved in the AL were not political at all, but simply were fighting to sustain their livelihood. The Janowski group was one such group who fought with the Armia Ludowa. This mixed group, which had around 50 to 70 fighters in 1944, was led by Jews Leon Kasman and Leon Bielski. The Janovski group arrived to Parczew forests at the beginning of 1943, crossing west from the Bug. Their main mission was to free the Poniatowa Labor Camp near Opole Lubelski. However before that took place, in November of 1943, all of the Jews in Poniatowa were murdered. The group continued moving west and came to Mielec, Poland near the end of the war. They succeeded in attacking German units and blowing up trains. They received heavy support from Russia, as the heads of the unit had strong ties to the Russian military. They also took revenge on a Polish family that had shot the Jews they were hiding, however the location of this incident is not known.
Jewish doctor Michael Temchin was a commander in the Armia Ludowa, a leftist underground organization in Poland. His unit, which consisted of both Jews and non-Jews, was active around Krasnik, Lublin district. They planned to rescue Jews from the Krasnik Ghetto. However those inside the Ghetto were hesitant to allow the partisans to act, and in one night the entire Krasnik Ghetto was wiped out with few managing to survive or escape.
A significant number of Jews reached important positions in the Polish partisan movement, especially in Units on the left, the AL, and the Socialist Fighting Organization. The Commander of the largest Partisan Battalion in Generalgouvernement territory was the Jewish Officer, Alexander Skotnicki (Captain Zemsta), who was included among the Armia Ludowa's renowned organizers list.
General Rola-Zimierski, the commander of the Armia Ludowa, declared at a meeting of the Polish National Assembly on the 2nd of January 1946: "Jewish soldiers fought against the occupation forces with much devotion and courage. They were valiant fighters and very often great heroes" and in his letter to the Organization of Jewish Partisans (F.P.O.), the general wrote: "Among the Jews who remained alive there were thousands who went into the woods to fight with arms, and fought together with their Polish partisan comrades against the common enemy."
Many of the names are Polish proper names, so Jozef = Josef = Joe and Rojza = Rosa = Rose. Other names are Yiddish or Hebrew names, so
Yaakov = Jakub = Jacob and Chana = Hanka = Hannah. To add a name to this list, please contact us.
Plater group (L-R): Zelazny "Iron" Ajzenberg, Martin Kirszenbaum, Mordechai "Marczynek" Kirszenbaum, Simon Rabiner.
Samuel "Mietek" Gruber, partisan leader.
Back row, from left: Harold Werner, Symcha Barbanel, Dora Grynszpan, Abram Grynszpan, Wladek Litwak;
front, from left: Chanina Henry Barbanel, Abram the Patzan, Shienka from Wlodawa.
From top, left: Dudkin Rubinstein, Jurek Pomeranc, Lonka Chaim Fefferkorn, Lova (Leon) Zitzman, Chil Grynszpan,
Yehuda Junak Milsztajn, Josef Rolnik, unknown Russian fighter. Kneeling, from left: Abie Rubinstein (Abram the Patzan),
Henry Barbanel, and Kirlow Rubinstein. The Grynspzan partisans in the Parczew forests, circa 1943.
Former Soviet prisoners of war -- Jews who were in Sobibor and who had originated in Russia.
A gathering in memory of the uprising. Pictured (left to right): Jefim Litwinowsky, Arkady Wayspapir,
Alexander Pechersky, Alexei Waytzen, Nahum Plotnitsky, Simeon Rozenfeld.
Ben Kamm, partisan responsible for helping Jews escape from the Janow Lubelski Ghetto.
Stara Wies, halfway between Radzyn Podaslki and Kock. Most of the members were escapees from the
Radzyn Podlaskie ghetto. In February and March of 1943, this group carried out successful combat
against the Germans on the Radzyn-Kock road and also in Stara Wies. The group was eliminated in
spring 1943. A separate group, likely very small (perhaps a dozen people), was organized by the
Pantshek brothers, whose surname was spelled various ways including Paczek and Ponczek. The
group was eliminated by Polish Armia Krajowa forces in November, 1943 per Shmuel Krakowski.
Partisans who previously escaped from Sobibor. Includes Shmuel Szmajzner (back, 2nd from left), Abram Kohn
(2nd row, far right), Kalman Wewryk (2nd row, second from right) and others not identified.
Symbol Guide (Legend)
* Escapee from the Sobibor Death Camp.
||| Escapee from the Warsaw Ghetto.
*** Escapee from Lipowa Street Camp, Lublin.
(()) Escapee from Adampol Labor Camp near Wlodawa.
@ Grynszpan group but combined with the Wlodawans (Lichtenberg group).
^ Note: "Patzan" was a nickname signifying a small person.
Jegier, Gruber, and Blaichman groups -- main areas of movement.
Grynszpan Lichtenberg, and Knopfmacher groups -- main areas of movement.
Dudkin Rubenstein (on the left), Yechiel Grynszpan (on the right), commander of this partisan unit;
Chaim Feferkorn (kneeling on the left) and Leon Lyowa Zitzman (kneeling on the right).
Unit commander Chil Grynspan, left, with Josef Rolnik (center) and Dudkin Rubinstein.
Leon Sittzmann (Zitzman), Joe Holm, and Josef Rolnik.
Zev Litwak, left; Shenka from Wlodawa, right.
From left: Moshe Peshalis, Motel Barbanel, his cousins Simcha Barbanel and Chanina Barbanel (skip the head
between them). Unknown, the uncle Gedalia "Geniek" Barbanel, unknown, and unknown.
Partisan Avigdor (Wigdor) Shporer in Lublin, 1944 (left side).
Nachum Knopfmacher, left, and Michael Knopfmacher (Michael Kaftori), right.
Partisans Zeev Litwack (Velvale the Patzan) and Chil Grynszpan, immigration photos to Brazil.
Lichtenberg group partisans.
Partisans in the Lublin district, unidentified location. Left: Partisan leader Abraham Bron; others unidentified.
Rifka Bursztyn and Hava Bursztyn are on the left side. Others are not identified.
Back row, l-r: Abraham Bron, unknown; Mordko Grynbaum; Shlomo Zismelech; Yaakov Bursztyn; David (last name unk.), Yosef
Graisman. Front: Rivka Bursztyn & husband Mordko Bursztyn; unknown; Hava Fabrikant Bursztyn (wife of Yaakov/Jacob Burstyn).
Left to right, first row (ground): Haika Grymbaum, Hava Burstein, unknown, Mischa Stahlhammer. Others not identified.
Partisan leader Abraham Bron, after immigration to Brazil.
Two fighters from the Polish underground "Armia Ludowa" in the Krasnik area. Photographed in 1944.
A group of fighters from the Polish underground "Armia Ludowa" in the Krasnik area, 1944.
Left to right: Simon Rabines, Shmuel Emil Jegier, Frank Bleichman, Stefan Sam Finkel. In Markuszow.
Unidentified fighters in Markuszow between 1943 and 1946. Seem to be affiliated with the Armia Ludowa.
General Zemsta (aka Snotnicki), the Jewish commander of the Armia Ludowa forces.
The People's Army (Armia Ludowa, known as Gwardia Ludowa or "The People's Guard") was one of the two main military
organizations of the Polish underground. Jewish partisan Dr. Temczyn is in this photo with General Michal "Rola" Zymierski (top,
center) of the Armia Ludowa. Top, from left: Jan Czechowicz, Stanislaw Kotek-Agroszewski, Zymierski, Grab Widerkowski,
Stanislaw Szot. Bottom, from left Waclaw Czyzewski, Cien, Dr. Michael Temczyn. Photo from 1944 in Parczew.
A mixed unit that included 7 Jewish partisans. Photo taken in November, 1943 in Drahichyn, Belarus.The photo includes
members of the Shish branch of the Molotov Brigade (Otriad Regiment). The Jews in the brigade were: Leon Nemzer, 2nd row, left
side kneeling and Siomka, next to him in the leather jacket; as well as, 3rd row, 5th from the left moving to the right: Chaim Ajzen,
Mechel Knopfmacher, Sashka Ganz, Motel Rabinowich, and Sirotchka (nickname, full name not known).
Mischa Stahlhammer, a Jewish fighter from Krasnik who later went to Sweden.
Lipowa 7 escapees:
Partisans Isadore Farbstein, Rostka Holm, and Frank Blaichman.
- Azoy iz es geven (The Way It Was, Yiddish), Buenos Aires, 1948 by Jonas Turkow.
- Chaim Ajzen Remembers by Henry Steel
- I Chose Life by Samuel Gruber
- Codename Barber: The Story of Partisan Mischa Stahlhammer by Semmy Stahlhammer
- Escape from Sobibor by Richard Raschke
- Fighting Back: A Memoir of Jewish Resistance in WWII by Harold Werner
- From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival by Thomas Toivi Blatt
- Fugitives of the Forest: Heroic Stories of Resistance & Survival in WWII by Gerald Levine
- Holocaust Journey: Traveling in Search of the Past by Martin Gilbert
- Hurbn un gvure fun shtetl Markuszow (Destruction and Heroism, Town of Markuszow. Yiddish. Tel Aviv, 1955.
- Imferno em Sobibor/Portuguese (Hell in Sobibor) by Stanislaw Szmajzner
- Martyrdom and Revolt. Documents and Testimonies by Miriam Novitch, New York, 1980.
.. Includes several testimonies from Sobibor uprising survivors who fought as partisans.
- Pogaduszki: The memoirs of Stanislaw Sierpinski. Haifa, 2005. In Polish.
- Promise at Sobibor: A Jewish Boy's Story of Revolt by Fiszel Bialowitz
- Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of WWII by Frank Blaichman
- Reluctant Soldier: A Jewish Partisan's Story by Jakob Friedman
- The Reminiscences of Dov Berezinby Mikolai Berezin
- Sobibor: Martyrdom and Revolt by Miriam Novitch. Holocaust Library, 1980.
- To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account by Kalman Wewryk
- Spotkanie z ziemia by Leon Bielski. Ksiazka i Wiedza. Warsaw, 1965.
- Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World by Jan Karski
- Szmul Zygielbojm: Profile of Partisan Hero by Ronald Cohn and Jesse Russel
- The Witch Doctor: Memoirs of a Partisan by Dr. Michael Temchin
- The Undefeated by Shiye Goldberg
- War of the Doomed: Jewish Armed Resistance in Poland, 1942-1944 by Shmuel Krakowski
- About Jewish Partisan Frank Blaichman
- Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism; pps. 48-51 discuss partisan children in
.. the Lublin Forests
- Fate of Some of the Sobibor Survivors (see also: Sobibor Remembrance Project)
- From a Prisoner's Camp to a Partisan Troop by Alufi and Barkeli in "Aishishuk", pages 77-78.
.. Profile of partisan Mordechai Glebocki, aka Shneor Glembotzky.
- Iberlebungen fun a Veloner Krigsgefangenen in Sefer Zikaron le-Kehillat Wielun.
.. Tel Aviv, 1971, pp. 380-384. Testimony of Aryeh Lejb Helfgot.
- Jewish Revolts and Uprisings in the Lublin District
- Long Valley Man's Memoir Tells Heroic Life of Partisan
- "The Polish Underground and the Jews: A Reassessment of Home Army Commander Tadeusz Bor-
.. Komorowski's Order 116 Against Banditry" by John Lowell Armstrong. Cites the testimony of Krasnik
.. partisan Hersz Broner. The Slavonic and East European Review 72, no. 2 (April 1994): 273.
- Rescue of Jews from the Wlodawa Ghetto
- Rise and Fall of Wlodawa - from the Yizkor Book
- Russian Jews and the Sobibor Escape
- Sobibor Survivors' Testimonies (see also: Sobibor Remembrance Project)
- Understanding the Polish Obsession with Salomon Morel
- Belzec Survivor Braha Rauffmann
- Escape from Sobibor
- Poland, Personally: Featuring Michael Kaftori, Wlodawa Partisan
- Profile of survivors Blaichman and Gruber
- Shmuel Mietek Gruber Video Testimony
- Tribute Video to Cesia and Frank Blaichman & Rose and Joe Holm
- Definitions of Important Terms Related to Jewish Partisans
- Lasting Memory Foundation: Lublin District Commemorations