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Books on the Jewish Partisans

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by JeffinMNUSA, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi all;
    I ordered a couple yesterday;
    Amazon.com: Surviving the Holocaust With the Russian Jewish Partisans: Jack Kagan, Dov Cohen, Martin, Sir Gilbert: Books
    http://www.librarything.com/work/1268591
    Will let you know what I can make of it all.
    For certain the situation in the forests was ugly beyond the worst Quintan Tarantino nightmares, that atrocity was a matter of policy for all the combatants involved, and that the "forest people" were all being played by the powers that existed at the time; http://books.google.com/books?id=hC...e95bYF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2 (Interesting that the author alledges that NKVD sent parachutists behind NAZI lines to inform on AK partisans).
    The big loser in the Partisan Wars was the Polish Home Army-the big winners the Soviets. The Red Partisans were also the most effective guerrilla movement of WWII and played a large-if as yet undetermined-role in the final defeat of the Third Reich in the East. I will be reading these accounts looking to see what the Jewish contribution might have been, and I suspect that it was significant. I am also guessing that the magnitude of Jewish contribution to the Red Partisan War was suppressed by the anti semitic agenda that Stalin initiated in the latter stages of WWII (once the real danger to his precious carcass had passed), which culminated in the "Doctor's Plot" of 1953-said by some to be the planned starts of a csarist level program and others to be the beginning a Hitlerian extermination.
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. The Partisans as a whole were disgracefully treated by Stalin once they had served their purpose-most often sent as cannon fodder to the front and their leaders to the GULAG because of their supposed "exposure to foreign ideologies". The Jewish Partisans? Big question mark there!
    PSS. There is now a democratic and free Poland, and the Red Empire is no more-the few surviving Armia Krajowa veterans must be pleased.
    PSSS. So why did the escaped Jews of the forests rally to the Red cause in such significant numbers? It was touched on in the recent movie but the fact is that the constitution of the USSR at the time forbade discrimination. There was also the fact that the Red Partisans were massively supported by flights from Moscow and that some of the Red Groups could actually afford to provide arms and training to unarmed initiates.
    AK on the other hand was on a shoestring from start to finish.
    The fact would seem to be that the scattered and hunted Jews of the forests rallied to the Reds for SURVIVAL.. The hard,cold facts also read that THE SOVIET PARTISANS were a determining factor in the outcome of the War in The East.

    Update; Done with both books and can recommend either or both. The most interesting things were the translated documents in the Kagen/Cohen works. I find the whole Bielski story compelling in the extreme and these accounts did add dimension. An interesting incident occurred in May of 1942 when survivor stories say a death lorry was ambushed by Red Partisans and three women went off into the woods. A German record on this incident told of how two of the ambushers were Red Army parachutists with radio equipment and modern weapons (Soviet Green Berets?-the occupying forces seem scared of them). The records also tell of combat missions against "White Poles" (AK I presume). ALSO; Kagen/Cohen tell of massive antisemitism in Poland before, during and after the period in question-to the point where escapees expected to be killed by Armed Poles if they came across them in the forests.
    A map of the Naliboki Forest (And yes the Stronghold the Soviets established here was one IMPRESSIVE piece of work!); http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&e...0&q=naliboki forest&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl
     
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  2. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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  3. fast1

    fast1 Member

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    thanks for the review, i might get them over the weekend, looking for something new to read.[​IMG]
     
  4. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Fast1;
    "Fugitives of the Forest" is a global look at the stories of several different survivors of the Jewish Partisans, and a description of the unbelievably hideous world they struggled against. The forests themselves are almost the central characters in this account as they were the thing that made survival possible. The Kagan/Cohen book contains the related stories of two cousins from the town of Novogrodek (these Eastern names ARE hard to follow and it helps to sound them out) and their experiences before, during, and after the Holocaust. NOT FOR THE WEAK. BOTH books are beyond excellent-to the point where I am actually rereading them like a detective rereads the evidence. And I will probably reread them again.
    SOME OBSERVATIONS;
    1.These accounts reached the West from Jewish refugees and became known because they were translated into English. As such they represent only the small tip of a very large iceberg. I would like to hear some translations from former comblock partisans but few are available and I haven't the inclination to learn Russian or Polish just now (I did read the Obryn'ba "Red Partisan", but it seemed to me to have been run through "The Red Fantasy"mill.
    2. The REAL STORY of the Bielskis (FF) is ten times more amazing than that heavily fictionalized version that hit the movie theaters recently.
    3. Cohen's wry observation that once the Einsatzgruppens and their fellow travellers had eliminated the Jewish populations, that they started in on the Poles and Belarussians has been heard elsewhere-like in NAZI "racial doctrine". Fortunately the Red Army stopped the plan.
    4. NONE of the witnesses were very high in the hierarchy of the Red Partisan Movement and most were on the very periphery.
    5. The savagery Hitler unleashed in Eastern Poland/Belarus/Lithuania was of a nature as to make Ghenghis Khan puke. The Einsatts and their fellow travelers? Where did they find these monsters? Add starvation and disease? The net portrayal of the realities of that time and place adds new levels of meaning to the phrase "Hell on Earth."
    6. The Polish/ Jewish controversy? I do not believe that anyone who was not there has a right to criticize.
    7. The most telling incident? The Kagen account; when Jack went back to Novogrodek in the nineties to arrange for the erection of some monuments at the mass graves. There was one killing pit that could not be found. The Mayor volunteered that he knew where it might be as some Lithuanians had been arrested years before at a field digging through skulls for dental gold. The Mayor guessed that they might have been guards.

    JeffinMNUSA
     
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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  6. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Ron;
    Thanks. Fire Without Smoke, Library of Holocaust Testimonies, Florian Mayevski, Book - Barnes & Noble
    So did Florian go from the Polish Home Army (Armij Krajawa or AK) to The Red Partisans (Russian) or to the Polish Reds in the AL? He could not have taken communism too much to heart or he would not have immigrated. The Allan Levine book "Fugitives of the Forest" maps out the complexities of the situation-which differed vastly from locale to locale with the determining factor often being the unit commander. The AK were indeed NOT anti Semitic on the whole-though many of it's members were (as were many members in the Red units). The fact is that the AK and Reds were at odds over the future of Poland and that this became open warfare towards the end.
    I don't suppose he much talks about those terrible days and maybe you don't even want to ask him about this but....has Florian ever said anything about the hardcore Reds? Kenneth Slepyan says the real backbone of the movement was composed of escaped military men ( http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/ZIMOS/forum/docs/slepya.html ). Then there were the leaders, trainers, experts and paratroopers dispatched from Moscow to raise havoc in the enemy rear.
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    JeffinMSNUSA

    If I am able to get a response on this subject I will come back to this thread.

    Ron
     
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    JeffinMNUSA

    Through the good offices of Florian's stepson I am pleased to be able to report the following:

    Florian left the Polish Home Army because his position was unsafe due to internal feuding. In fact. a couple of members had planned to ambush and kill him. He joined a different group made up of two units: one, Russian Red Partisans and the other Polish Red Partisans. He confirms that the Russians were indeed hardline communists but the Poles much less so. He says most of the Poles in his unit, like him, were primarily wanting to fight the Germans and their political convictions were not a major factor.

    Florian says he confided to the Polish officer in charge that he was a Jew. The officer told him later that this claim had at first made him suspicious because he doubted that a hardened fighter like Florian could be Jewish. But the officer came to like and respect him. Later, when the Russian and Polish groups split up, the officer asked Florian to remain with the Russians to act as their local guide and interpreter. He had an excellent knowledge of the local terrain and was able to provide them with valuable intelligence about the area. At no point did the Russians ever learn that Florian was Jewish, but he liked the Russians, learned to speak their language and in his military career following the war spent many years working on the Polish/Russian border. His real commitment was to his country and anti-facism, never to communism.

    Florian confirms that anti-semitism amongst the Polish Home Army and both Russian and Polish communist groups was a very mixed bag. All groups contained both anti-semites and individuals who had protected Jews. In this respect, the complexion of the groups varied from place to place.

    If you need more than this might I suggest you get a copy of his excellent book.

    Regards

    Ron
     
  9. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Ron;
    THANK YOU! And the book is on it's way right now (God I love Amazon!). There were many Red Partisan units that had a Jewish presence in them and Florian would probably not have been bothered had his comrades found out. Maybe he just figured it would cause unnecessary complications. Jewish fighters compromised a significant element in the Red Partisan Movement as a whole and the numbers I believe were estimated as high as 30,000. But they were generally discreet and scattered through the force mix in keeping with Soviet anti nationalist views.
    Now the Bielskis were basically an All Jewish Red Partisan unit. Why did Moscow at least not break up the Bielski offensive "Ordzhonikidze" unit? The Peasants on whom all Partisan units depended ("preyed" might be closer to the mark)-took huge offense at Jews that came calling, and it was not good public relations.
    So why did Moscow permit the Bielski forces to continue operations?
    The Dov Cohen account says that the NAZIs "found it insufferable" that there was an all Jewish unit out there confounding their propaganda stereotypes; to the point where they sent out special commando units (and possibly to a degree "Operation Herman" itself?) to hunt them down. Cohen also goes on to state that peasant tales of the Bielskis exaggerated their numbers into the thousands and their armaments into cannons. In short the Bielskis were mythologized into living legends with the locals, as well as into "the superman's worst nightmare" with the enemy. I am thinking that Moscow tolerated the Bielski units for their sheer PSYWAR value. And I would guess that more than a few jittery ubermenschen wasted ammunition firing at shadows in the night because someone imagined hordes of cannon toting, vengeance crazed, kosher bogeymen stalking their positions.... A good trade off for a few cranky farmers! And the fact that the Ordzhonikidze combat unit was quite competent was an added bonus.
    Thanks again for your efforts and please pass my highest respects to Florian Mayevski!
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    Jeff

    I've replied to your pm but while I await an answer from Florian I thought you might like to see a recent snap of Florian with his lovely wife Sylvia.
    They were both honoured guests at a party my wife & I threw to celebrate our Diamond Wedding.
    Regards
    Ron
     

    Attached Files:

  11. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Ron;
    Thanks! An extraordinary man...and his wife looks to be a fine person. Just an off the wall question here- but which actor would you think appropriate to play the young Moshe/Florian if there were to be a motion picture?
    Jeff
    MN
    USA
     
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    Jeff

    Dustin Hoffman would have been Ideal for the part when he was younger, and yes, Florian's wife is also a "one-off".

    Will be in touch

    Ron
     
  13. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    WEIRD! The exact mental image I had of the man! Well you would know. There really should be a movie and if someone could find a teenaged Dustin Hoffman type it would be perfect. I WOULD LIKE to see more Klezmir and East European music scored into movies about Eastern Europe-these are some rich musical traditions that Hollywood has yet to mine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8FAgkfueDU
    Jeff
    MN
    USA
    PS. Zhukov himself credited the Red Partisans as playing a vital role in the Axis defeat during Bagration and the route afterwards. Your uncle did Hitler way more damage than he perhaps knows.
    PSS. Please no "Young Guns in Hell" ("Little Big Man vs Der Fuhrer") type shootemups Hollywood! Florian's main contribution was mining railroad lines and in this he and his unit were worth a couple of squadrons of b-17s at least-a matter of "being at the right place and time with the right stuff." Perhaps a good way of illustrating this point would be to weave in scenes of frontline Axis soldiers running out of ammo while one of Florian's farmer/agents counts coffins being hauled from a train wreck.
     
  14. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Ron;
    The review as it stands; I think it is important to point out that this is the only partisan memoir where the author was an officer involved in the larger Red Partisan movement.

    Fire Without Smoke: Memoirs of a Polish Partisan : by Florian Mayevski with Spencer Bright, Valentine/Mitchell 2003, 164 PP

    This is an extraordinary story about an able and talented man, and someone in Hollywood should take notice. In late September of 1941 apprentice carpenter Moshe Aron Lajbcygier was urged to step forward by has mother and sister in a NAZI separation of skilled and unskilled Jews. "Maybe one of our family will survive," his sister spoke the words that were to haunt him for the rest of his days. The young teenager was taken to a slave labor camp from which he later escaped; but he heard nothing more about the fate of his family.

    The next phase of the young escapee's life was a furtive existence, running from farm to farm across the Polish countryside in search of work. He was no doubt a likable young man as so many of the rural folk were willing to assist him under the penalty of death. It was the youngster's good luck that he ran into a Polish family with connections to the underground that was willing to help him out. The Winter of the Stalingrad Battle the youth spent alone in the forest in an ingenious dugout of his own design and construction-reading books and following routines so as to not go mad, but also absorbing the sights and sounds of the forest and apparently learning some important lessons that were to prove extremely usefull.

    The Summer of the Kursk Battle found the young man under the gentile nomme de guerre of "Florian Mayevski" with command of a Polish Nationalist Armia Krajowa (AK) unit. In this incarnation "Florian" hunted down traitors, robbed German soldiers, and trained new AK recruits-but he longed to take more decisive action against the murderers of his family.

    The account is imprecise as to the exact time frame, but it was during 1944 that Florian and five of his Russian "boys"-their lives under threat from xenophobic elements in the Armia Krajowa- fled the AK with to join a Polish Armia Ludowa (AL) grouping. This pro Moscow group was commanded by one Major Gromov and 11 Soviet paratroopers; Major Gromov's mission was to interdict traffic on a 30-40 kilometer stretch of trackage on the Tomaszow Mazoweiki to Opoczine & Kilece rail line, that was guarded by the hated Vlasovites (Soviet defectors). To accomplish these missions they were air dropped the latest in modern mines and weaponry, and radioed the best of intell from Kiev. Mayevski was given a seat on the command staff of this Red Army special operations group, and his local knowledge and language skills proved invaluable. The Gromov group ran numerous sabotage missions against the Axis rail net, and Mayevski was given the credit that they were able to evade their enemies and accomplish their goals in this deadly dance of small unit movements through the Polish forests. In November the Gromov grouping's luck ran out when an airdrop was ambushed and Gromov himself critically wounded. They were done as an offensive force, and spent the rest of their war dodging retreating enemy formations as the front drew closer.

    Following the link up with the Red Army Mayevski volunteered to take part in the final assault on Berlin (hoping to slip away Westwards as he was not such a committed communist), but was instead remained with the Gromov group until he was transferred to the new Polish (Red) Army-where he fought "bandits" until well after official end of hostilities. He stayed with the Polish Army until retirement and finally left the East Block in the aftermath of the Arab/Israeli war of 1967 and the wave of anti semitism that followed. He currently resides in England.

    As a true life survival and revenge tale this one is hard to match. Where the author really shines is in his descriptions of his time on the run and his dealings with the rural folk who helped him survive. There is a real affection here and the author seems to be a "people person." I would like to have heard more about the revenge however; Mayevski's time spent striking the vital Axis rail jugular rates only one thin chapter. Marshall Zhukov himself stated that the Red Partisan efforts were essential to the stunning victories of Bagration and the ensuing rout; and Florian does not seem to realize that while his farmer/agents were counting coffins coming out of the train demolitions whole Axis divisions were being destroyed at the front because of the covert actions of the Gromov grouping and others like it . The AK vs. Reds war is "tippy toed" around ( The black book of communism: crimes ... - Google Books) and the Warsaw Uprising ( YouTube - Chłopcy silni jak stal - Powstanie Warszawskie ) barely mentioned-but these were all perhaps distant events in Florian's war and understandable cases of "soldierly myopia".

    Much of what happened in Eastern Europe during WWII remains "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma", but this memoir does manage to shed some light. Five stars-and if what is stated is not interesting enough what is between the lines is even more so. Highly recommended for all students of the Partisan wars!





    Jeff Grab
    Bayport Minnesota
    July 2009
    A link to some of my photo work; WWII in the Pacific; Louis Kemm's War pictures, photos, and videos, from military on webshots
     
  15. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    PS. I have a new one in transit; The Avengers by Rich Cohen - Trade Paperback - Random House - Reader's Guide
    The Cohen account so far-the author is notably weak on military matters (a Kalashnikov pistol during Great Patriotic War? There was only one prototype ever made!), but all in all here is another WOADLE (worthy of a David Lean epic) account. A quick observation; Abba Kovner ( http://history1900s.about.com/od/holocaust/a/kovner.htm ) would have been SHOT by the Red Partisan commander if he would have been anyone but Abba Kovner. Will be getting David a review sometime in the future.
    Another link to Jewish partisans in the Armij Kajowa http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=155013
     
  16. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi all;
    Some thoughts on "The Avengers" by Rich Cohen

    If the Cohen account is to be believed Abba Kovner's Jewish Brigade in Lithuania was one deadly group of asymetrical warriors. COhen credits the Brigade with 51 train demolitions, and the destruction of hundreds of trucks and dozens of bridges. The Partisans in the sector were given a medal for inflicting 100,000 Axis casualties; with an undetermined number being the work of the approximately 200 fighter strong Jewish Brigade. Is Cohen to be believed? It is interesting that famed Moscow journalist Ilya Ehrenberg sought Abba Kovner out shortly after the liberation of Vilna/Vilnius-apparently the Kovner group was believed to be something special by the Reds.
    So what made team Kovner such all star players in the Red Partisan movement? Well firstly they were all survivors of the Vilna Ghetto and veteran fighters of the desperate skirmishes there. Then there was the fiery leadership of the wild haired Abba Kovner and his two friends the wily Vitka Kempner and the magnificent Ruzka Korczak. Then there was their youth, Abba being something of an elder statesman at the age of 25.
    So they had all the necessary ingredients-youth, experience, skill, desperation, and a fiery determination. They only needed a good "coach"- and that "coach" came in the form of one shadowy Soviet operative by the name of Isser Schmidt. It was Isser that lead them on their first real mission, which was a wildly successful attack on an Axis munitions train. This certainly was done with the best intelligence and explosives technology Moscow could provide, and it was the highest of honors that Isser chose Ruzka, Abba, Vitka and two others of the group to provide security on this vital mission. Isser also performed the more gruesome duty of weeding out the questionable elements in the group, and it is chilling to hear Cohen describe the predawn executions in the Lithuanian Partisan camp as a daily occurance. It is startling to hear that this hardcore communist settled in Israel and his cryptic statement about loving Abba because of his naivete remains puzzling. The other prominant figure in the group's operations was the Red Commander Yurgis whom Abba suspected was Jewish. Jewish or not Yurgis was certainly very indulgent of his "star players", overlooking even the most capitol of offenses.
    As for their exploits leading up to the final liberation during Bagration? Well they do have that "ring of truth." It would take the opening of the Soviet archives to confirm or deny the stories the three partisans related to Rich Cohen over the course of years; but I see no reason to doubt.
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. Cohen also cites "the low grade insanity that carried Abba through the war." Yes it appears that Abba Kovner was "of an artistic temperment." His troopers complained about him writing poetry in the woods when he should have been planning battles. His hoping that the Jews of the Vilna ghetto would turn on their captors with hatchets (against guns?) defies what most of us know about human nature. And I could not help but notice that Abba was not given command of actual troops during the first Arab/Israeli war. Ruzka comes off as the hard core warrior of the trio-whether it be navigating through sewage in the Vilna ghetto underground, or insisting on carrying a 50 lb. railroad mine on her tiny frame on a 40 mile mission. This was one TOUGH little lady!
    PSS. And it is true that the Kovner group committed a mass poisoning of German POWs after the war was over. As a result of the publication of this book the German government brought, then dropped charges against the surviving Kovners.
     
  17. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi all;
    I just took this day to finish "No Time to Mourn The True Story of a Jewish Partisan Fighter" by Leon Kahn; No Time To Mourn: The True Story of a Jewish Partisan Fighter .: Knowledge Base
    And what a wondrous read about a most horrendous situation. The book is a slender piece of work but quite well written. Some interesting items about the Red Partisans; Kahn reiterates the observation that the Red Partisans became a much more efficient force after 1942 with the massive influx of air dropped arms, expertise and guidance from Moscow. Kahn worked in a railroad demolitions unit which were small and equipped with the latest in railroad mining technology. Kahn also recruited railroad employees who planted mines on railcars as well as poisoning Wehrmacht foodtuffs. Kahn's demolition unit was also were given some English railroad mines that must have come from lend/lease. ALSO dropped by airplane into the Partisan camp were perfect counterfeits of Reichmarks which the Partisans put to good use. The parent unit was of mixed nationalities and there didn't seem to be many ethnic tensions in the camp. The author has nothing good to say about the Nationalist guerrillas-who after all, killed his father and sister before his eyes. The Frontline Red Army Soldiers LOVED the Partizani and gave them the most rousing of welcomes when they linked up. The Establishment of Red rule in this part of the world was quite a bloody process, and the author had first hand knowledge of mass executions of Armij Krajowa, collaborator and it seems Lithuanian fighters. The author seemed bothered that the Red Army shot an entire contingent of Ukrainian prisoners in Wehrmact uniforms-but not bothered much by the shootings of Nationalist Poles, Lithuanians and especially not the executions of Axis collaborators-many of which he carried out himself.
    In all a great read!
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. SOme related films; http://www.jewishpartisans.org/t_switch.php?pageName=student+films
    PSS. Kahn relates the story of a group of 40 insurgent doctors and other medical types who were at one time forced to fight. He claims that they wiped out an enemy battalion-something I can almost believe from the medicals I have known (Who are the toughest and smartest players in the world? A. American DELTA soldiers. B. Russian SPETZNAZ C. Emergency Room medical teams...the answer is "C").
     
  18. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Taking Risks-A Jewish Youth In The Soviet Partisans And His Unlikely Life In California; By Joseph Pell and Fred Rosenbaum
    Taking Risks, Joseph Pell, Book - Barnes & Noble
    From the Publisher
    On the Night the SS Rounded Up the Jews of his Ukrainian ghetto, eighteen-year-old Yosel Epelbaum crawled on his hands and knees to a nearby forest. There he joined a diverse band of pro-Soviet partisans, led by a kind of warlord in the wilderness, who created a "forest republic" behind Nazi lines. With his courageous comrades, Epelbaum disrupted the German war effort for almost a year and a half and saved hundreds of civilians at the same time.
    After the liberation, the young survivor became caught up in Europe's robust black market. With little money or formal education, and knowing no English, he immigrated to San Francisco in 1947 and within a year opened an ice cream shop in the city's outlying, foggy Sunset District. Only a decade later Joe Pell was well on his way to becoming one of the leading real estate developers in Northern California.
    Taking Risks, related in a taut and vivid style, is his story-one of loss and torment but also daring, ingenuity, and uncommon resilience.

    If this is an interesting and well written account about an extraordinary man-the heart of the account is the slim chapter about the author's time in the Red Partisans. The author was very young and far from the centers of Red Power but his insider's observations of the the guerrilla war in Volhynia province are quite illuminating. The communist movement in this once Polish now Ukrainian province was small-between 14,000 and 10,000 combatants by the author's estimation. They were in constant warfare with the larger UPA-a Ukrainian independance movement that was committing mass murder on the Polish civilians in Volhynia. The author asserts that the Reds even sent forces to fight side by side with Polish AK against "the Banderists" in the UPA. Epplebaum/Pell's otriad was situated close to the vital Kovel to Kiev railroad line and seems to have enjoyed considerable success in it's sabotage efforts against Axis transport-to the point that the railroads in Volhynia were totally shut down for a period of time. The author accounts the Otriad's transition from hit and run warfare to conventional warfare during the battle for Rovno as a total debacle for the guerrillas-though it is a fact that the Red Army was able to sieze the city of Rovno (Rivne) in February of 1944. Perhaps the guerrillas were deliberately sacrificed by Moscow? The battle is barely mentioned anywhere on the net; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monument_to_the_Liberation_of_Ukraine-Rivne.JPG Whatever...Pell abandoned the Red cause after the battle and became a black marketeer.
    Of all the Jewish partisan stories of survival against incredible odds I found this one to be the most thought provoking. How does one prevail against a stacked deck? "Luck" some will say... But what is luck but that inner voice that tells one which course to take? "Instinct" if you will... Pell's instinct served him well years later in the rough and tumble world of big business. After surviving the Ghetto and Red Partisan war mere business must have seemed like child's play.
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. Some other interesting things from this read;
    A. As in other accounts the Partisans were a rabble until 1942 when expertise and supply flights came from "The Mainland." Official policy forbade discrimination and the formations were composed of ethnic mixes from all over the USSR.
    B. The author makes comment about how the usual social hierarchies were overthrown in the partisan bands and that those who could did. The hard partisan life favored those closer to the land.
    C. The author comments on the large numbers of Jews in the Partisan bands in relation to their percentage of the population. This is not surprising as the bands constituted the best hope for survival for the savaged and hunted Jewish populations of Eastern Europe. I forget which NAZI it was that postulated that the genocides were by Darwinistic process creating armed bands of Jewish super survivors but there may be an element of truth here. For certain the Jewish survivors had the most reason to seek revenge on the killers of their families.
    D. I was unaware that official US policy in 1946 strictly limited immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe-a clear case of cultural bigotry.
    E. Some computer translated Partisan stories from Russia; http://translate.googleusercontent....t=tmpg&usg=ALkJrhiYPDWOR13CAlDx2Y8rm-3sOlmD-Q
    F. More on the value of guerrillas as intell sources; http://translate.googleusercontent....t=tmpg&usg=ALkJrhgNTp84tXl-SWIPeDrq9pUscfUF_A
    G. The Volhynian "ethnic cleansings" http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=17547
    H. It is curious that the author does not mention the Kovpak raid that passed through Volhynia in Spring of '43 or the Vershagora raid that launched from the province 1/44; http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/pages/S/O/SovietpartisansinUkraine1941hD75.htm Red secrecy? Or another case of battlefield myopia?
     
  19. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    The Defiant by Shalom Yoran
    A synopsis;
    Shalom Yoran - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    THe above synopisis fails to cover the most significant part of this account-which would have to be the time the author spent in in an epic trek through NAZI held territory with the "Gvardia Mission" in 1944. The Gvardia was led by one "Major Sergey" and 150 hardened Soviet paratroopers. The author was taken along as he was multilingual and a proven warrior. The expedition covered 20 miles per night and found itself clashing with Polish nationalist Armia Krajowa forces as well as the Axis. By June the Gvardias found themselves surrounded in a swamp by Lithuanian, Belarussian, Lativan and Vlasovite anti Partisan forces some 60 miles shy of their forward unit in the Rudnitskaya forest. How they escaped the ring was ingenius-the 10 Internationals in the group donned NAZI uniforms and everybody else removed their Red Stars and they posed as a German led Vlasovite unit. They then just walked through the lines and even wangled some free meals along the way.
    Once ensconced in the relative safety of the Rudnitskaya-near the Abba Kovner camp- they broke down into teams of six and got down to the business of railroad demolitions. The target was the Lida/Vilna double track and the author personally participated in two successfull demolitions.
    About the time the RKKA reached Vilna the Gvardias were ordered further West into occuppied Poland. Here the going was much easier as there had been no Partisans and the Germans were in full retreat. For four weeks the trekkers ambushed, attacked, blew up trains, and otherwise caused mayhem (and no doubt sent in valuable reports on enemy dispositions to Moscow) in the Axis rear and the Axis forces seemed content to merely avoid them. By the time they reached their destination in the Byelovetsky forests the RKKA was not far behind. By the time of the joyous linkup the Gvardia Mission was over; but the author's war went on.
    JEffinMNUSA
    PS. Further observations; this author comes off as the wiliest of the Jewish Partisans, a real Odysseus. He starts his Partisan career off posing as a Soviet officer with a fake pistol bluffing local farmers into providing them with food. By the time of the suicide mission to burn down the factory he uses bluff and guile like a magician and completes the mission with almost no losses to his men. It is small wonder that the Markov group used him as a procurer of supplies given his obvious talents.
    PSS. The author's encounters with the NKVD while in the Polish Red Army are quite chilling; from the major who demands he turn over the unreliable elements in his company to the NKVD Army man who boasted he would kill his mother if ordered to do so.
    PSSS. The author's oath to his doomed mother is heart wrenching-she asks that he swear to survive and avenge. The fact that he spent a good part of the war soldiering on despite starvation, disease and a hernia is testament to the power of this oath. The author's moment of truth came when he was starving, exhausted and stuck in the swamp and close to using his Pepishaw on himself. His brother and the oath bring him around and he pushes onwards.
    PSSS. Anti semitism was a fact of life even in the Red Partisans and the author recounts numerous instances of unfair treatment in the Markov group. The Gvardias were much more professional and anti semitism rare.
    PSSSS. The ten men of the international element in Gvardia were an interesting bunch-described as "Spaniards, Germans and French." Who were they? Were there Spanish Civil War veterans amongst them? How was it that they all spoke German?
    PSSS. The author's view of the AK was that of them as "Jew killers." The Gvardias even come across a couple survivors of an AK massacre of a Jewish refugee group whom they cannot bring along. Second hand accounts the author heard seemed to confirm the fact that some elements of AK were committing ethnic cleansing.
    PSSS. The author suspects he was very nearly "dissappeared" by Polish Police when he went home on leave to his former home in newly liberated Poland. A group of Jewish refugees that he stayed with was said to have been taken off in the night by persons unknown and never seen again.
    PSSSS. Life with the Markov group was hazardous for the Jewish partisans and would be partisans. The were routinely robbed and sometimes even murdered and generally treated with contempt and often used as cannon fodder. Arms were rare and often confiscated from them on the whim of the different commanders; and always there was the terror of an Axis sweep of the forest. The author does document the rising power of the Partisan movement in his area-as was happening across Eastern Europe-and how they came to liberate towns and outgun the police forces. Still in all, the Markovs come off as a bigoted "Keystone Kops" operation; and it is small wonder that most of the surviving Jewish population emigrated after the war.
     
  20. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi;
    I finished Frank "Skinny Frank" Blaichman's "Rather Die Fighting" and here is another incredible story from an unbelievably savage time and place.
    http://www.jewishpartisans.org/pdfs/study_guide_3A.pdf
    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Rather-Die-Fighting/Frank-Blaichman/e/9781559709170

    Some observations;
    1. The Guerrilla War against the Axis forces in Poland was not nearly as well advanced as the guerrilla wars elsewhere. This is painfully obvious from the author's furtive, running existence almost unto the time of liberation.
    2. The Guerillas of Poland were divided into the Communist (Armia Ludowa or AL) and Nationalist (Armia Krajowa or AK) camps. Skinny Frank was aligned with the AL-there seems to have been little choice for Jewish escapees wishing to fight NAZI.
    3. If you can call killing eachother "clashes" then yes-AK and AL often "clashed". In this nationalist/Pro soviet aspect the situation was similiar to the guerrilla war in Jugoslavia.
    4. There were uneasy truces between the two factions but Skinny Frank makes it clear that these were temporary affairs.
    5. The author makes no mention of the Warsaw Uprising (as with other AL accounts).
    6. The author makes no mention of the divisive element of Axis reprisals[/I. AK was leery of Axis reprisals and often held back because of fears of what NAZI would unleash on the locals. AL pursued it's attacks on the Axis comm and transport with no regard for how the NAZI might respond.
    7. The author-like many other partisan accounts-calls all troops in German uniform "Germans." There is an illuminating incident where the authors fighters capture some "Germans" who turn out to be a group of Soviet Muslims fighting for the Axis. They were all shot on Soviet orders. It is a fact that most of the anti partisan forces were Axis Allies.
    8. The author was a small unit commander and as such this account is much more a factual, blow by blow telling of the exploits of his unit. Of particular interest are the deployments for convoy ambush, retreats under fire, attacks on trains and etc.
    9. The final harrowing days before the liberation are similar to other accounts-with Skinny Frank's unit hiding in the forests while the retreating Axis forces (fleeing Bagration) swarmed the roads-some members of Skinny Frank's unit felt that Wehrmacht soldiers were spotting them clear as day, but saying nothing; strange things happen in War. The rousing welcome given the partisans by the Red Army also matches other accounts-and is perhaps an indication of the status these behind the lines fighters had achieved.
    10. Most reviews focus on "showing Jews fighting back" and this is fine ( http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/new_york_minute/'we_had_no_homes_return_' ). I would also like to hear about just what impact the Partisan Movements in General-and the Jewish Partisan efforts in Particular- had on the outcome of WWII in the East/The Great Patriotic War.
    11. The author also comments on how memorable the songs of the era were; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be5qH5Gap5o
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. Bagration and the Red Partisans; http://books.google.com/books?id=6U...onepage&q=marshal zhukov on partisans&f=false
     

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