INDEX/TABLE OF CONTENTS:|
1. Belzec Resistance
2. Sobibor Resistance
2. Krasnik Resistance
2. Lublin Resistance
5. Other Partisan Resistance
Map of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust:
There was significant resistance to the Nazi murderers in the Lublin district of Poland. Lublin district -- which housed Sobibor, Belzec, and Majdanek death camps -- was a central area of Nazi control in Europe. The Nazi ideal was to murder the Jewish population, displace the local Poles, and create an ethnic German state in occupied Poland. The best source of information on the resistance of the local Jewish population is the book "War of the Doomed" by Shmuel Krakowski. Most of the Yizkor books created by Holocaust survivors from the Lublin area also feature specific stories of heroism and resistance. Below are real stories of Jewish resistance.
A 15 year old Jewish boy from Wloclawek who had been resettled in Zamosc with his family, Lejb Wolsztajn, succeeded in both witnessing and escaping from the Belzec Death Camp on April 11, 1942. Wolsztajn hid in public toilets with excrement until the evening and then hid near a S.S. laundry facility. He then walked back to Zamosc and informed the Jewish committee members (Judenrat) of what he saw at Belzec, including the fact that the Jews did not willingly walk into the "showers" (gas chambers) to their deaths. Wolsztajn's story was never relayed to the Jews remaining in Zamosc. In August, 1942 he was again deported again to Belzec where he perished.
There were several escape attempts from the Sobibor Death Camp, both successful and unsuccessful. Of course, the most significant of the escapes took place on October 14, 1943, when 20 of the Nazis guarding the camp were killed. This event is depicted in the book and film "Escape from Sobibor". An estimated 60 Jews successfully escaped, avoided Nazi gunfire, and survived the war in the forests of Poland against all odds. Their names are listed here.
The Waldkommando at Sobibor Death Camp was composed of 20 Polish Jews and 20 Dutch Jews. It was a special unit which supplied wood for the crematorium by cutting down trees and digging out the stumps. On July 20, 1943, after two Jews from the Walkommando named Shlomo Podchlebnik and Josef Kopf attacked a Ukranian who was guarding them with a knife Podchlebnik had in his boot, they encouraged others Jews in the Waldkommando to also flee. According to Szmajzner, the other group of Polish Jews decided to flee on foot while eight guards were eating lunch on this same day. Several of them -- Podchlebnik, Kopf, Zindel Honigman, Josef Freitag, Chaim Korenfeld, Abraham Wang, and Aron Licht -- were able successfully escape. Josef Kopf and Aron Licht were murdered by Polish anti-Semites in separate incidents after their escapes. The others survived the duration of the war.
Zvi Sobelman (pictured), who was born near Holeszow in the Lublin district, was sent to the Sobibor Death Camp. Somehow Zvi not only survived Sobibor, but also escaped (likely during the revolt in October 1943). Subsequently, the boy of around age 10 joined the partisans and fought until the end of the war with the partisans. He subsequently joined a youth Zionist brigade and attempted to make emigration to Israel, but it was illegal and he was deterred in Cyprus. Eventually he made it to Israel, where he fought in the War of Independence at the young age of around 18 years old. Zvi was killed while fighting for freedom. He fought not only against the Nazis, but also against Arab terrorists. A true partisan hero, dead before age 20.
On April 30, 1943, 2,000 Jews were deported from Wlodawa to Sobibor Death Camp. They attacked the death camp's S.S. guards upon arrival at the unloading ramp. All of the Jews were killed by S.S. machine guns and grenades.
Between October 26-28, 1942, five Jewish partisans were killed in Wereszczyn, Chelm County. They were probably escapees from the Sobibor camp.
The liquidation of the labor camp in the Lublin region in November 1943 evoked a strong unease among the Jewish prisoners in the Krasnik Labor Camp. They also knew that the Budzyn Labor Camp, 6 kilometers from Krasnik, had been transformed into a concentration camp. The prisoners decided to energetically prepare to escape. With the help of agents from among the prisoners themselves, the Gestapo learned about preparations for escape. Eight Jews were arrested in the camp on Feb. 13, 1944. During an investigation by the Nazis, twelve false identity cards and more than 20,000 zlotes in cash was found. The photographs on the identity cards revealed that the cards were designated for the camp leaders, Pesach Kawa and his family, for several Jewish policeman, work foremen, Dr. Josef Szapiro, and the camp medic. In the matter of the identity cards and the preparations to escape, the Gestapo implicated 40 prisoners from the S.S. camp in Krasnik. All were shot between the Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, 1944. Two Jews managed to escape during this period: Jankiel Erlich, age 24, and Yechiel Rolnik, age 33.
A separate incident occurred at the camp near Krasnik called Skret, aka WIFO. This was a little-known labor camp that housed thousands of Jews, mainly from Krasnik and neighboring villages. There was a mass escape attempt from the WIFO Labor Camp on February 17, 1944, but only seven prisoners were able to escape. They were: Hersh Datum, Szaja Datum, Daniel Datum, Israel Jankiel Sukmann, Lejba Brener, Shmuel Lejzer Brener, and Mischa Stahlhammer. Mr. Stahlhammer describes this event in his son's book, called "Codename Barber". Israel Suchman was later killed in the forests. Additional escaped Jews who were caught and murdered included: Asher Bankierer, born 1929, unknown location; Moses Dorn, born 1926 in Lodz; Adam Diament born 1916 in Krasnik; Daniel Foder born 1905 in Jozefow; Shlomo Himelblau born 1916 in Krasnik; Lejba Hecht born 1913 in Lodz; Lemel Kuchcik, born 1914 in Lodz; Hersz Powroznik, born 1920 in Krasnik; Gabriel Reinstein, born 1925 in Chodel; Israel Schor (Szor), born 1916 in Krasnik; and Jankiel Schwarzbard, born 1920 in Krasnik. May their heroism be remembered and may they never be forgotten.
On November 3, 1943, a Jewish cleaner at the Budzyn Labor Camp, Jacob Katz, rescued seven elderly Jews by hiding them beneath mattresses.
In Janow Lubelski near Krasnik, partisan fighter Ben Kamm of the Korczynski brigade recalls their effort to free Jews from the ghetto: "The Janow Lubelski camp was situated in a meadow close to a forest. Inside were approximately 1,000 Jews working on a vast irrigation project. When the signal came, we rushed in and killed the guards," he recalls. Kamm took the gold cufflinks off the commandant of the camp, later donating them to the Russian war effort. Some inmates ran off to the forest, while others remained in the camp due to concerns about lack of weapons or food. Says Kamm, "The local population was hostile, the terrain difficult, and (positive) provisions absent." A total of 60 people from the Janow Ghetto were able to escape without being recaptured. Kamm later joined the Fyodorov partisan group after learning about Korczynski's anti-Semitism.
The Lipowa Street camp in Lublin was a labor camp from which many Jews were able to escape. One reason was that the people imprisoned there had previous military experience and were more knowledgeable about weapons and self-defense. The Jews who had been captured by the Germans in their campaign against Poland in September, 1939 were eventually sent to the Lipowa Street Camp. In February, 1941, Yitzchak Brandel and several others escaped from the camp, but were apprehended. In April, 1942 a group of 17 prisoners led by Samuel Jegier succeeded in escaping from the camp to the forests of Pulawy. In October, 1942, David Reisler led a group of 40 prisoners in an escape, however they were betrayed by the Polish Military Organization (POW) and murdered. On October 28, 1942 another group, led by Shmuel Gruber and Kaganowicz, escaped from the camp. On November 11, 1942 a group of 46 prisoners, led by Stefan Finkiel, escaped with arms taken by force from the German guards. In December, 1942, a group of 15 prisoners including Aron Fajgenblum escaped from the camp and were murdered, probably by Poles, on December 14 near Krasnik. In March, 1943, an armed group of 30 men, led by Roman Fiszer, escaped from the camp. There was one last successful escape from the Lipowa Street camp, on October 2, 1943. Of those listed, Gruber, Finkiel, and Fischer survived the war. Those who remained in the Lipowa Camp were eventually sent to Majdanek to be murdered on November 3, 1943.
In April 1943, the historian Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum (pictured) was deported to the Trawniki Concentration Camp near Lublin. Three months later, he was liberated by Shoshana Emilka Kossower, a former member of Beitar, and Teodor Pajewski, a Polish railway worker. Both were sent by Adolf Berman, a representative of the Jewish National Committee. Ringelblum had previously set up an underground infrastructure in the camp. His meetings in Trawniki with attorney David Szulman, a member of the Jewish Combat Organization, created the base for this cooperation.
OTHER PARTISAN RESISTANCE:
On November 6, 1942, a group of Jewish partisans led by Yehoshua Pintel (or Pintele) stormed the Janiszow Labor Camp and attacked the Nazis guarding the camp. Many of the 600 Jews at the camp were able to flee into the forests, although many were later recaptured.
From December 6-10, 1942, Nazis marshaled troops, armored vehicles, and artillery to undertake a massive manhunt for more than 1,000 fugitive Jews in the Parczew forests from the Grynszpan partisan group. Around 200 of the partisans ended up making it through the duration of the war.
The communique of the commander of the Lubllin gendarme, dated Aug. 29, 1943, states that
Wehrmacht soldiers discovered three bunkers and killed 11 Jews on August 27 in the area of
Sawin in the forests of Malinowka.
Hans Frank reported that 800 Jews had fled to the forests in the Chelm area on March 29, 1943.
Recorded on July 6, 1943, there was a battle between a Jewish group and a German cavalry unit near Kowalina, five km. southwest of Krasnik. The Germans killed ten Jews and captured arms and ammunition, according to a written report by the Ordnungspolizei commander of the General Gouvernement.
Similarly, on August 17 and August 26, 1943, two other clashes are recorded: one in the village of Podgranicznik, 30 km. northwest of Krasnystaw, in which two Jews were killed; and another in the village of Poreba, 26 km. east of Bilgoraj, between a large partisan unit and the German Truppenzpolizei.
With the help of Judenrat member Shlomo Goldwasser, a majority of the Jews from Markuszow near Lublin escaped from the town and into the forests on May 9, 1942. They subsequently lived there, unarmed and without steady food rations, for many months. But in October of 1942, most of the escapees were tracked down by a German encirclement and subsequent armored and artillery attacks.
In Czemierniki near Parczew, the Nazis shot 36 Jews accused of helping partisans in 1942.
In Sawin, near Chelm, where a labor camp operated, eight Jews were shot in the forests in 1943 after escaping the camp. Additionally, in August, 1943, Wehrmacht soldiers discovered three bunkers and killed 11 Jews on August 27 in the area of Sawin in the forests of Malinowka.
In the fall of 1943, Jews in Wlodawa attacked the Turno Estate, a farm that operated in the village of Turno by a Jewish man named David Knopfmacher, but had since been confiscated by the Germans. The farm was set on fire and a Jewish refugee named Yankel, who had lived in a hole in the floor of the estate's barn for about a year, died just hours after being taken to safety by the attacking resisters.
In Tomaszow Lubelski, a group of young Jews led by Mendel Heler and Meir Kalichmacher organized a Jewish partisan unit. However, this unit was ultimately betrayed by local Poles and the members were all murdered. A small Jewish group was also formed in a town near Frampol called Gorajec by brothers Yaakov and Yechaszkel Met, to assist with food and arms for Russian partisans in the southern part of the Lublin district. They were also betrayed and murdered near the village of Kosznia, which had a highly anti-Semitic population.