Content posted April 4, 2021

Jewish Partisan Rescuers

Yeheskel Atlas* (1910-1942), Partisan Commander

Yeheskel Atlas was a partisan commander who helped numerous Jews escape the Derechin ghetto, which was liquidated on July 24, 1942.  Atlas assisted numerous Jews who escaped into the forest and formed family camps.


Tuvya Bielski (1906-1978), Partisan, Rescuer

Tuvya Bielski was responsible for a rescue operation which ended up saving the lives of more than 1,200 Jews. “I wanted to save people, not kill them…I noticed that Jews don’t listen to each other, but they listened to me, they respected me. I therefore had to save them,” Tuvya said. Though they participated in military engagements against the Germans, preservation of life remained the Bielski otriad’s (unit) primary mission.

In the forest they built themselves permanent hide-outs, two-thirds underground, the rest protruding, pyramid-style, wooden structures. In the fall of 1943, there were 700 fugitives, men, women, children and elderly people. The Bielski camp grew in numbers and in scope. A viable settlement was built, nicknamed the “Bielski Shtetl”, which contained not only dwellings but also workshops, a public kitchen and dining room, a clinic and two hospitals dug into the earth, a bakery, a flour mill, a bath house , school, stables, a cowshed, a slaughterhouse, a sausage producing plant, and more. Its number grew to 1200. Organization inside the camp was painstaking; the camp even supplied the surrounding partisan camps with bread and sausage, tool production and repair.

In July 1944, the Bielski camp marched out of the forests in a triumphant march to the city of Novogroudok.


Haika Grossman (1919-1996)

In August 1943, Haika Grossman was one of the principal founders of the Bialystock Underground partisan unit.  She tried to warn the 20,000 Jews not to report for deportations which meant certain death.  She fought as a partisan throughout the war.  Later, Grossan participated in and organized the Aliya Bet and Bricka organizations.


David Gur (Grosz), Hashomer Hatzair

David Gur was born in Hungary.  Gur joined the Hashomer Hatzair movement in Budapest, which had been declared illegal after the German occupation on March 19, 1944.  At that time, he went underground with Aryan documents.  Gur worked in the underground forging documents.  He distributed diplomatic protective passes and Aryan identification documents.  He also distributed Gestapo, SS, and Arrow Cross membership papers.  Soon, he took over supervision of this forging operation.  This workshop served as the center of clandestine activities for the Jewish youth movements, the Zionist Organization, unaffiliated Jews, and non-Jewish resistance groups. In late December 1944, Gur was arrested and the forgery shop closed.

Gur worked with Avraham Feigenbaum (Feigi) and Mickey Langer in the document factory.  They were arrested together.  Langer was killed during questioning.  Gur was liberated from prison and survived the war.


Vladka Meed (Feigele Peltel; b. 1922)

Vladka Meed was a Polish Jewish activist and a courier for the Jewish Fighting Organization.  She operated on the Aryan side of the wall, smuggling weapons into the ghetto and helping Jews escape.  She survived the war and wrote about her wartime experiences in On Both Sides of the Wall.


Mordechai Tenenbaum*, 1916-1943

Mordechai Tenenbaum was a major Zionist leader of the youth movement in Poland.  He was a partisan leader, Jewish Anti-Fascist Fighting Group.  Warned Jews of deportation and liquidation of the ghettos.  Leader and organizer of Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO/ZOB).  Trained ghetto fighters.  JFO sent him to Bialystock, Poland, to lead the resistance movement there.  Led uprising there.


Shalom Zorin (1902-1974), Partisan, Rescuer

Shalom Zorin maintained a Jewish family camp in Belarus with more than 800 Jews.