Moishe Yudevitsh and Rivke Kaplan
BUNKERS AND PARTISANS[i]
…It happened February 28 1943. At 5 a.m. Pruzhany's population received the order to abandon the city, 2500 people each day. At 8 in the morning arrived to the Ghetto from near villages 500 sleds, on which were loaded some 600 families, who could take as luggage about 10 to 15 kg.. Under the severe surveillance of the SS, were driven until Lineve and there, by force, groups 100 people ascended on boxcars, in address to Brisk. This took place during 4 continuous days.
Our family was evacuated ... January 31 1943. My mother-in-law took our dear daughter TZESHINKE. The exit was accompanied by blows and by mortal fear. Rivke and I hid in a previously prepared place. It was a well under the floor in the stable. We lived in the house of MOISHE GALPERN, next to his beer manufacture in Kobrin St. My father-in-law, CHAIM KAPLAN, covered us with earth, and we stood in darkness with tears in the eyes and a hardened heart, disconnected of the world and without our daughter, without our family. Were listened from upside wild screams and humiliations of damned GESTAPO, that came and pushed all Jews toward the carts.
...We left the well February 17 1943, and we went to the village where we had well-known peasants. One of them hid us until March 10 and we went later both to the forest. In that time, in the forests of Russian occupied zones, were thousands patriots' that didn't want to be dominated by Germans. They organized armed groups in the forests, that produced terrorist acts against Germans. They threw bombs under boxcars and cars, cut phone lines, assaulted German commands, etc. These heroes were called partisans, their quantity increased day by day, and they filled with fear to Germans at 1000 km of battle front.
Among partisans were Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and others. We arrived March 12 to this group of avenging partisans, and they accepted us. I participated together with others in terrorism acts. RIVKE cured sick and wounded persons. We always saw death in front of our eyes, because we were surrounded of enemies, and frequently they looked for our signs in the forest, to attack us. I was outstanding in doing my duty, and I was even leaders' representative. I was responsible for 200 men, and more than once and for all, I retaliated of my daughter's and my father's murderers. We were in the forests that extended from Zafrud until Tevli in the area of Prilutshine Shadurshtshine. Of there we frequently arrived to railroads, we placed mines under the trains that then exploded. We were the only two people of Pruzhany. In the forests of Ruzhinoi were other 50 Pruzhany partisans.
July 20 1944 we were liberated by red army that expelled Germans from Russia.
We entered Kobrin with our command. They didn't left me in the army, but they named me Director of a Byelorussian High School where I work until today.
I was in Pruzhany 4 or 5 times. The whole city is razed by fire. Only were the following streets: Brisker, Shereshev, Pacevitz, Potshove, Zabrod, Derechin, Phataposke, a part of Kobrin. All the other streets and back streets were burnt July 20 1944... .I began to put order in myself because we arrived of the forest with what we had put above us
All the time we didn't know what happened with our family, neither when nazis annihilated them. But in the spring of 1945, some survivors came to Pruzhany. They told us that all those of Pruzhany were transferred to Auschwitz. There German selected at about 200 to work, and the rest, or 7500, were sent to the gas cameras and incinerated in the ovens of Auschwitz.
... We received these days packages of groceries of Palestine
Rivke Kaplan Yudevitsh
...Both walked misplaced, and wandered in the forests, looking for partisans. We feared a lot of finding German and fall alive in their hands. In the afternoon we went to bed on the snow to sleep a little bit, and at night we walked hungry with icy feet inside boots. We already began to lose the hope but there was not way to return. Our situation was terrible, but with our last forces, we proved to continue walking. Then Moishe said: " Oh! How happy would I be if my sisters in Argentina found out that I live, that want to fight, to retaliate!". We always remembers this words.
Our life now is empty. The fresh wound will never be treated. I still feel humid tears of our very dear daughter TZESHINKE. The heart get destroyed of pain when I remember farewell scene. We were the last ones, but we were together. All looked at us as abnormal, without hope and without words. In these moments wraps me a tremendous anger, a savagery against the murderers, against the injustice. I break furniture, I burn things, I don't want the bandits to benefit of the fruit of our arduous work.
Moishe doesn't decide to come off of our dear creature. But I pull up and tell him: we should live to retaliate!.
I can say with pride (but with pain) that we reached it. More of a sanguinary Nazi fell for Moishe's hands. You don't imagine the authority that he was awarded for his heroism and his understanding toward everybody. This is a small comfort in our immense misfortune.
[i] Extracted from a letter sent to MALKE GLEMBOTZKY, written after the liberation in Kobrin, January 1 1946.