The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.012


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Life and Fall of Wlodowa: The Road of Bloody Battles        
Summary: from the Yizkor book of Wlodawa
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project (CANADA)
Keywords: Wlodowa

Archive/File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.012
Last-modified: 1993/03/19

              The Life and Fall of Wlodawa and Surroundings
                   Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski
             (Transcribed by Ken McVay, kmcvay@nizkor.org)

        [Please refer to Wlodawa.001 for transcription comments]

         THE ROAD OF BLOODY BATTLES UNDER THE GERMAN OCCUPATION
            			Pazan

At the end of the year 1939. It was after the invasion of the Germans in
Poland and its division into two parts. The other side of the Bug
belonged to the Russians and this side - together with the district of
Wlodowa was at the hands of the Germans. The Germans immediately started
issuing directives on the Jews of the little towns and villages of this
district. Our little town Sosnowitz experienced all the persecutions,
tortures and agonies which grew worse and worse from day to day.

Already in the year 1940 they started capturing people for work and also
transporting them to Sobibor. Like many others I was afraid of sleeping
at home and so I sept in the cornfields. On the 10th of October 1940 the
Gestapo of Wlodowa required from the "Judenrat" that every Jew of our
town should present himself within three hours at the market place of
Wlodowa. The next day all the Jews had to be there at 11.00 o'clock -
after this hour every Jew found in Sosnowitz would be shot. A tumult
broke out. Everyone felt that this action was connected with gas
chambers. At the same time I gathered up my courage calling on the
Jewish youth to come into the forest to the partisans who were fighting
against the Germans.

My father agreed with me and said: "Go, go my son and avenge the Jewish
blood, that is being shed without any cause."

Seven young men joined me, I got hold of two guns - a Polish classmate
provided them for me.

The next night at midnight I came to say goodbye to mother and father
and to my little brother who was then 6 years old, all in the house were
crying. My throat suffocated from tears that would not burst out, I
stopped them with all my power and escaped from the house. Outside the
echo of the weeping of all my relatives haunted me and has continued
haunting me ever since.

Our meeting place was in the Jewish Milwne. From there we set off assing
 fields and bushes to the big Parzawi forest. Along we with me
together were: Jechiel Grinspan, Abraham G., Nissan Zin (who fell in
battle), Simcha Levinson (who fell in battle), David P., Chaim Elieser
Blumenkranz (who fell in battle). We knew that in this forest Russian
soldiers were staying who had escaped from German imprisonment. The more
we penetrated into the forest the more we were lost. It was raining and
we became soaking wet. There was nothing to eat and to drink - so we
drank from the pools formed from the rain. Out of despair we looked into
each others eyes to guess their moods. The first to inspire me with
courage was Jechiel Grinspan: "Don't worry, he said, we don't have what
to lose. You don't die twice." You are born once and you die once. The
main point is not to despair. Suddenly we heard gunshots.

We started to run in their direction and we saw two men passing quickly
while hiding in the bushes.

They waited until we approached within hearing and shot: "Stoi!" (stop)
Who are you?" We answered that we were Jews.

They let us come closer and said: "Charasho Towarish!" which meant all
right friends. They brought us to a thicket and told us to make a fire
and dry our clothes promising us that soon their commander Fiodor would
arrive and they left us.

After some hours they returned with Fiodor. He received us cordially and
brought us to their base. There he ordered to give us something to eat
and he told us to rest. He parted from us warmly. 

"Tomorrow we will talk." (Sawtra bodim Gewarit) he said.

                       WITH THE RUSSIAN PARTISANS

Though we were very tired none of us closed an eye all the night. All
our thinking was devoted to the fate of our parents, brothers and
sisters. The next morning while we were standing for the morning
roll-call Fiodor read in our faces the sorrows and despair and he
encouraged us saying that we were not the only ones but that our fate
was shared with millions.

After a few months the group consisted already of some hundred men and
we had also some arms at our disposal including two Z.K.M.  (heavy
machine guns) so that we could defend ourselves.  Jews from Prazew came
to the forest and it became merry there.  They made a synagogue where
they prayed.  The escape of the Jews was revealed to the Germans and it
became very dangerous for the partisans.  The commander Fiodor was
afraid that the Germans would come to the forest with a big unit and
kill everyone.  The danger was even greater for the Jews as not one of
them possessed a gun.  The situation caused the Russians to penetrate
deeper into the forest and the Jews remained without protection.  It
became very sad but we did not have any choice.  The next day Fiodor
came taking all the youths and we belonged to the first of the fighting
unit he formed. Those who remained were put into "tabor" (camp) where
whole families and those unfit for fighting were entered.

                            THE FIRST BATTLES

When we were already well organized and in the possession of a few arms
the Jewish Partisan unit under the command of Jechiel Grinspan started
the preparations to act against the Gestapo in Ostrowa in the district
of Wlodowa. For several weeks we were occupied with the preparations. We
sent spy groups to investigate the fortified places, the guardhouse
where German and Polish guards stayed.

On December 16, 1942 Jechiel 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 burnt down their housings and the townhall. The mayor
who had cooperated with the Germans was shot. This was the first act of
revenge for the Jewish bloodshed. A little bit after this victory, the
Germans surrounded us. It was a very heavy attack. Three days the
Germans bombed us with planes and tanks. We sat in the trenches under
the trees and we waited until the Germans would approach the forest. We
were divided into groups under the main command of Fiodor. 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
Levinson from Sosnowitz. Tens of Germans were killed. After fighting for
about five hours the Germans retreated. 1942 was a year with great
snowfalls, storms and frosts. Winter was at its peak. Our situation was
not delightful at all, we were naked and barefoot. And also the hunger
left its marks. We started attacking villages taking weapons and cattle
by force. But every time we paid with victims. The Germans ambushed us
at the exit of the village. We defended ourselves but our arms were too
poor to drive away the well-armed Germans.

The farmers reported our attacks to the Germans and that we were taking
everything from them so that they could not deliver the fixed quota to
the Germans. Gradually we organized the farmers not to report our
appearances to the Germans as this would be better for their own sake.
Finally the farmers brought us food voluntarily.

On January 11th. We were surrounded in the forest of Parzew by a big
German unit. But our Russian commander tricked them and we pushed back
their attack.

On February 26, 1943 at 11.00 o'clock in the morning, we, a group of ten
people with the commander Smaste were surrounded by 400 Germans. My
comrades were sleeping in the hut of the forest-guard and only I wearing
a German uniform kept guard. The Germans approached shouting: Kamarad
(friend) I threw myself down on the ground and started shooting at them.
The Germans answered with heavy fire from machine guns. I detained them
until the group left the hut and I succeeded in withdrawing to the other
side. Our fighters among them was Zipora (now in Israel) opened the fire
and succeeded in passing and leaving the German encirclement.

On March 1943 the first planes with arms from the Sowjet Union arrived.
At the same time we separated from Russian partisans and formed a Jewish
division under the leadership of Jechiel. His division spread throughout
all the forests of the district of Wlodowa. We also founded a "Tabor"
where we put all the old women, and children. We protected them from the
Germans and the murderous Polish underground. We performed many battles
and acts of terror with strategic calculation and exactness. Thus, a
heroic chapter of the history of the Jewish uprising in World War II was
written.

We bombed trains near the village Sarki, not far from Sobibor; we burnt
down a glassworks factory in Duvazne, in Wirk we burnt the guardhouse,
in Kaplinitz we attacked the German army and killed 26 Germans, we
destroyed the Bridge near to Sawin where the railways passed on which
the trains with soldiers to the front were transported. In Sosnowitz we
attacked a garnison  and killed 120 Germans.

One night we invaded in Parzew, burnt the townhall and shot the guard. A
week did not pass without our having removed from the rails a train with
soldiers.

At the same time we stopped sleeping in the forest but slept instead in
the villages that we now held and where we had sympathetics helping us
in the war against the Germans and Polish murderers. The government of
all councils of the whole district of Wlodowa went over to our side.
Then Jechiel Grinspan organized the division which was under the
commandment  of the "Armia Ludowo" (National Army).

One day a commander of this army, Roleh Smirski along with some Polish
officers came to us. We passed before them in a big parade. Jechiel
Grinspan was promoted to rank to high commander. We all were promoted
for our battle with the Germans, which I mentioned before. In this
battle with the Germans I killed with my gun 11 Germans - and the whole
group was rescued.

In April 1943 we were heavily attacked in the forest of Kaplinitz. In
this battle we lost 70 Jewish fighters. Women and children rescued from
the ghetto Wlodowa were also killed.

It became known to us that in Adampol there were Jews from Wlodowa and
Sosnowitz. I asked for permission from our commander Jechiel Grinspan to
go to Adampol and to take the Jews from there and to bring them to the
forest. From the whole group only Nissan Zinn agreed to join me.

In the evening we both went to a farmer in Kaplinitzki whom we knew very
well. We promised him a good pig if he would bring us to the camp. He
led us there and remained half a kilometer away of the camp and we
continued. Nissan stood at the gate and I in German-uniform entered the
camp. I took two Jews with me and left.

                        REVENGE OF OUR BLOOD

The wintermonths were slowly creeping until the summer of 1943 arrived.
We were informed that in the ghetto Jews were still living. I learned
that from my whole family which was killed in Sobibor only father
survived. I sent a farmer from the village Krasivka to bring my father
to the forest. The farmer returned without my father but with a letter
from him in which it was written: "My son, I don't have anything to live
for and it is not worthwhile for me to come to the forest. God shall
help you and guard you from all dangers. Revenge all, for the Jewish
innocent blood which was shed."

                 RESCUING JEWS FROM THE CAMP OF ADAMPOL

On May 2, 1943 at night Wlodowa was encircled by SS-men and Ukrainians
driving out Jews from their hiding places. Tens of mem , women and
children were shot in the street. My father too was shot in the
Wirokstreet.

This was the last action liquidating the last remnants of Jews in
Wlodowa.

One night I invaded in the first barrack of the camp Adampol. The Jews
were alrealy  sleeping and I woke them taking along with me more
than thrity people, young men and girls ordering them to pass the fence
while I jumped after them. All this was accomplished so silently that
nobody noticed what happened. The farmer led us to the forest of
Kaplinitzki where Jechiel was waiting with his whole group.

This successful experiment icreased our courage and we started enlarging
our visits taking out Jews from Wlodowa, Sosnowitz, Kaplinitzki, Wirok
and other places.

One day we made an assembly and decided to take all the Jews from
Adampol as we had learned that the last action was going to take place.
It was determined that five men with arms should enter the camp hiding
the arms and organizing the Jews to be prepared to leave the camp for
the forest.

As I had already been several times in the camp it was decided not to
send me. The following were sent: Jurek P. (living today in America)
from the village Salaszi and four young men whose names I don't
remember. Unfortunately the head of the camp Selinger learnt about the
presence of the partisans in the camp and about their intention to lead
the Jews out of the camp. He phoned the Gestapo in Wlodowa and on the
same day some hundreds of them enclosed the camp and drove out all the
Jews to the fields and fired at them. the five partisans went the 
first and when they were in the fields they shouted loudly all the Jews
started escaping and dispersing in all directions.

The Germans opened fire killing all the Hews. Only two partisans
survived. One from Wlodowa and Jurek P. both wounded in the arm. Also
Jeshajahu from Worek survived, he grasped the gun of the hands of an
SS-man and escaped. He was slightly injured on his leg.

On the same day 600 Jews were massacred from Wlodowa and the
surroundings. All were buried in a common grave next to Adampol. In June
1943 we fought against the Germans behind the village Saheike. Our
commander was then Jechiel Grinspan, who then conducted the battle with
exceptional fighting spirit and strategic talents. In the same battle we
lost two fighters. One was Jeshajahu Lichtenstein the son of the Rabbi
of Wlodowa.

Thus we lived and found in the woods of Wlodowa and Parzew. In every
place we were ambushed by Germans and Poles filled with hate for the
Jews. We fought against them day after day. The victims and the
difficult condtions and the nature did not let us relax. We fought with
much devotion and many of us fell in the battlefield.

There did not exist much hope in us that we would survive this
devastation. There existed in us a great force to rise up to fight and
to suffer in the battle.

If with my modest memories I enlightened to a certain degree the chapter
of the Jewish heroism in the period of its destruction I would know that
I fulfilled my duty.

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