Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Books on the Jewish Partisans

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

  1. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    Hi all;
    Another interesting look into the Red Partisan phenomenon of WWII-"The Warriors: My life as a Jewish Soviet Partisan" by Harold Zissman.

    The late author was born Hersh "Grysha" Cuckierman in Poland. He and his family fled Eastward during the first Hitlerite incursions but found themselves engulfed in the horrors of Hitlerite ethnic insanity with the advent of Barbarossa. The book mostly focuses on 1942 and here is fascinating snapshot of an insurgency in it's infancy.
    Grysha's commander was a one armed peasant nomme de guerre of "Bullak" who initially welcomed the Jewish initiates and gave them training and armed them with weapons salvaged from a river bottom. It was this same Bullak who armed and trained the famous Dr Atlas group.
    In August of 1942 Bullak's guerrillas took the town of Derechin in now Belarus. They held it only for a couple of months-nothing remarkable until you consider that the Soviets did not start seriously supporting the rebels until the Fall of 1942. Did the taking of Derechin play a part in Stalin's decision to fully support Red Partisan movement? Almost certainly!
    With the coming of Soviet supplies and trainers that Fall of 1942 there came also a rise in Anti Semitism. Commander Bullak himself-who the author seems to have deeply admired-became a hard handed tyrant with his Jewish combatants and the author was concerned that he might be shot out of hand for some trivial offense. This is not surprising as it has been said from this and other sources that Great Russian Chauvenism was on the rise during this time frame (and that it came right from the top).
    Later in the book-Winter of 1944 time frame- the author recounts a Red Partisan drive towards the Lithuanian border that ended with the rout of the Partisan forces. This fits with the RKKA pattern of using their behind the lines troopers to cause as much mayhem as possible before an offensive. Operation Bagration would not have been the huge victory it was but for the efforts of Grysha and others like him.

    JeffinMNUSA

    Zissman Obituary; Zissman, Harold - Chicago Tribune

    Partisan wars; Soviet Partisans in WW2

    Jewish role in Partisans suppressed-Great Russian ethnic chauvinism; http://www.ukrainianstudies.uottawa.ca/pdf/P_Rudling_Danyliw07.pdf

    Forests of Eastern Europe; Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine: forest cover - Maps and Graphics at UNEP/GRID-Arendal

    Harold Zissman; The warriors: my life as a Jewish ... - Google Books


    What is so interesting about this battle is that it occurred in August of 1942.
    Welcome to the Deretchin Site
    The Jews of Bielorussia during World ... - Google Books
    Amazon.com: Jews of Bielorussia During Wwi (Harwood Academic Publishers) (9789057021930): CHOLAWSKY: Books
    Derechin, Belarus (Pages 4-12)
    Guestbook Archive 091108
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Dq...6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=battle of derechin&f=false
    http://books.google.com/books?id=4O...Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=partisans bryansk&f=false
    Correction; The Partisan conference was held in MAY of 1942. Grysha did not notice a difference until the Fall of that year and the change was not all that positive. The author also estimates that only 10% of the people in the family camps in the Derechin sector survived the war.
    PS. The author also makes comment about the Russian fondness for VODKA, and how he was detailed with "watching the store" while his comrades were risking the entire command by whooping it up in a war zone. It would have had to have been harrowing duty-standing on guard while your comrades in arms were incapacited and knowing that an Axis attack could end it all.
    PS. More on Derechin, Bulak and etc; http://www.aish.com/ho/p/48951191.html This account is somewhat at odds with book as Zissman was in a mixed unit manning a Maxim Machine Gun during the Derechin attack. WHat is interesting here is that the ghetto had just been wiped out and most of the attackers had lost family to the people they were fighting. So intense was the desire for revenge that the old and feeble were clamoring to come along with sticks.
     
  2. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    Read the book Fighting Back by Harold Werner
    My father was friends with him and also the Barbanel brothers who are in the book.

    The Jewish partisan unit to which Werner, who died in 1989, belonged--some 400 men and women led by a man named Chiel Grynszpan--operated in the woods of eastern Poland during WW II. Grynszpan's guerrillas performed acts of sabotage against the Germans (blowing up trains, convoys, bridges) and rescued Jews from the Wlodawa ghetto. When the Germans retreated, the Jewish partisans executed Polish civilians who had betrayed Jews in hiding to the Germans during the occupation. The most awesome aspect of this memoir is its stark depiction of the ferocious Polish anti-Semitism before and during the war. Nor did it abate after the war. Werner, who emigrated to the U.S., learned that two of his brothers had been clubbed to death by villagers when they returned to their homes. Told in simple, direct, unemotional language, the book is a valuable document that preserves a record of successful Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Photos.
    Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
     
  3. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    Gore;
    Thanks! The Werner book is on it's way from Amazon and I will review this account as soon as I finish it. The Grynszpan group is mentioned in the Levine account Fugitives of the Forest but I find all these individual accounts way beyond fascinating. There is a great mystery at the heart of the Partisan phenomenon, and I suspect a key into understanding just how it was that the RKKA stayed several steps ahead of the opposition in the intell dept.
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  4. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    Fugitives of the Forest i own and some other accounts of jewish partisans.let me know what you think of
    fighting back.
    there is a good video you can watch called the partisans of vilna
    also if interested in jewish soldiers try, in our own hands which tells the tale of the british raised
    jewish legion.
     
  5. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    Gore;
    A Levine review; http://www.ww2f.com/book-reviews/32...ght-1998-lyons-press-edition-2009-352-pp.html
    A review on the Kagan/Cohen accounts; http://www.ww2f.com/book-reviews/32...olocaust-russian-jewish-partisans-1998-a.html
    The Partisans of Vilna I have and it is excellent. What did you think of the Defiance movie? It is a heavily fictionalized account, but I love this flick as it does do some justice to this incredible history. The final scene is a pure Hollywood fantasy though.
    I am primarily interested in WWII in Eastern Europe (we only began hearing the truth about these titanic struggles after the end of the Cold War) but a book covering the Jewish Legion in the British Army sounds worth a read. Thanks!
    JEffinMNUSA
     
  6. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    In our Own Hands is a video documentary.
    here is the link Olinfilms.com - In Our Own Hands - The Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II

    i liked defiance and i also brought it down to florida and showed it to my dad.my dad also liked it.i liked how they showed them going to the ghetto and rescuing jews
    as well as other scenes like killing ******* collaborators,etc.
    it does take liberties from the truth but it does show jews kicking ass and that i like.we need more films like that to come out.
    a movie on one of the fighting partisan groups who were jewish would be great like a movie on fighting back or abba kovner and the partisans of vilna would make great action movies.

    i read the reviews and they were good.i have a bunch of books on partisans but am to lazy to go into my library and dig them up for titles.more and more have come out in the last 10 -15 years
     
  7. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    In Our Own Hands is on the way-thanks!
    There are many great and inspiring Partisan stories but I vote for Abba Kovner (or more precisely "the Abba, Vitka, Ruzka and Isser story") for the next Partizani movie. If the numbers claimed in the Rich Cohen account are half true The Avengers were the most effective asymetrical warriors of WWII-and maybe of all time. It is illuminating that the journalist Illya Ehrenberg sought out the Kovner Partisans when the Red Army moved into Lithuania-indicitive of their behind the lines value to Moscow. Jews kicking NAZI ass? Oh yeah...
    What I would like to learn more about is the INTELL VALUE of the various Partisan struggles and what role they played in the frustration and final destruction of Hitler's schemes. Zhukov himself mentions Partisans in a context that indicates that they were of great value to his operations and this was in his carefully screened Cold War biography. What part the 20 or 30 thousand purely Jewish fighters played is a matter of conjecture as Stalin became extremely anti Semitic from about 1942. It would be interesting to see the Isser Schmidt interview (he moved to Israel and did talk to the press at least once) to get a view on Soviet Special Operations during the era. The Polish/Jewish controversies? Well it was an ugly three way war. There were some Jewish Armia Krajowa fighters but for the most part the stark choice before escapees from the ghettos and death camps was "Red or Dead."
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  8. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    i would love to see someone do a movie on this subject.it would make an awesome war movie.
    The Avengers
     
  9. sunny971

    sunny971 Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,612
    Likes Received:
    244

    I think there is one... Defiant

    But I certainly would love to see more movies with this subject
     
  10. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    Fighting Back by Harold Werner - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

    Some observations;
    THE AUTHOR. Hershel Zimmerman/Harold Werner; the author's working class background and time spent doing doing heavy farm labor stood him in good stead when it came to the rigors of Partisan life. As with all the Partisan books one is struck by how incredibly HARDY all these people must have been ! (ie. Three days living in a snow cave?) And as with all these accounts; there was the constant movement, ever present threat, endless fighting, and psychological toll of having lost most or all of one's family.
    ESCAPED RUSSIAN POWS. Young Hershel first got the idea of taking up arms in the forest when he was hiding out as a farm worker and met some escaped Soviets while tending cattle. The Jewish escapees gravitated towards these groupings but the relationship was somewhat strained as some of the wilder Russians would rob and rape the desperate Jews. The situation changed for the better when the Jews became armed.
    A STORY FROM STEPAN. During Hershel's farm boy days his employer came to him with some news. It seems that the NAZIs had come to town and rounded up all the Ukrainian farmers, screaming at them that they were holding out and demanding more production. To prove his point the head NAZI shot a random farmer. Great way of making friends! The Polish Ukrainian population rallied to the guerrillas later in the war.
    THE RIGHTEOUS AMONG NATIONS. Werner and the other escapees were helped by many non Jews who risked their lives to give assistance to their hunted and savaged neighbors; and is with other accounts the author's undying affection for these righteous few comes shining through.
    THE NOT SO RIGHTEOUS AMONG NATIONS. More numerous than the former, Werner details how many local people participated in Jew hunts in the forest and betrayed the Jewish-and Russian POW-fugitives to NAZI for money or for the sake of their own bigotry. When the resistance came into being the hunters became the hunted.
    THE ARMIA LUDOWA (AL) which the Grynzpans joined with a certain amount of trepidation- was a Moscow dominated organization-small in comparrisson to the Armia Krajowa (AK) the London led organization that dominated most of Poland; and by the author's assessment was not nearly as powerfull and well developed as the Red Partisan movements further East. AL's base of support was the Ukrainian population of Central Poland who were no doubt terrified of becoming victims of the interethnic bloodbaths that were plagueing Eastern Europe at the time- ethnic wars some sources say were caused by the occupiers. The author does seem apologetic about being in the vanguard of Stalin's push into Eastern Europe and explains that the majority of Chiel's fighters were not the dedicated "bringers of Bolshevism" their detractors have charged, but simply people faced with the stark choice of "Red or dead". The author also notes the extensive communist intelligence network that had agents in every village and probably existed before the war. One survivor of the famous Warsaw ghetto uprising was spirited by AL agents from village to village until arriving at Chiel Grynzpan's group in the Parcew.
    VENGEANCE. The Jewish Partisans were the most motivated of the Partisan Warriors. AL leadership recognized this factor and used them for some of the more important missions. Werner also points out the fact that the Jewish fighters could not melt back into the civilian population as could their gentile comrades in arms and were "on for the duration."
    CHIEL GRYNZPAN and his group. Their survival is most remarkable given their position as the Westernmost of the Jewish forest guerrillas- and the fact that they were in Poland surrounded by a mostly anti semetic population. What is even more amazing is that the Grynzpan group fended off Axis and AK (whom the author views as little different from NAZI) attackers with antiquated firearms-until the Fall of 1943 when they were air dropped modern weapons more suited for close in warfare in the forests. As the front drew closer Chiel's group decided to stay behind in the Parzcew forest while the rest of the AL moved into Western Poland. It seems to have been a fortuitous decision as the AL seems to have been badly chewed up in the West.
    CHIEL HIMSELF is described of a soft spoken but weighty presence. Not a fiery Abba Kovner-but of a plodding, deliberate competence and a leader of great humanity. Chiel's achievment of keeping 800 Jews alive within a couple hours truck ride from the Third Reich speaks volumes. I see a young Robert Duvall type playing Chiel-whereas Johnny Depp would make a great Abba.
    THE FAKE PARTISAN INCIDENT. It has been said that the Hitlerites did all they could to stir up trouble between the various resistance movements and these fake Russian Partisans might have been on just such a mission. It is unfortunate that the Grynzpans could not bring themselves to leave any of these alive for questioning.
    THE 40. The most amazing story...At a time when the swamps around their hideout had dried out the Axis chose to attack the Grynzpan civilian camp-(presumably because the ground could support their vehicles). 40 old men and boys held the attacking forces off with antiquated arms-allowing many civilians to escape the mass murderers. Few of these heroes survived and there should be a monument on the spot, but I suppose that this would be politically impossible.
    THE VLASOVITES. There is a part in the book where a combined force of AL, Russian, and Grynzpan Partisans are surrounded during an Axis sweep and unable to break free of the encirclement. Some of the "Germans" call out from across the line to the Russians that they are Russian brothers fighting against Stalin and why don't you come and join us? The Russians go beserk and attack the line with such a ferocity as to break the cordon. This was a bitterly fought war to the death.
    SOBRIBOR. The death camp (Yes the concentration camps should have been bombed by the Allies!) was a short distance from the Grynzpan hideout and the group did do some reconaissance of the facility and deemed it unassailable with the means at hand. They did pick up some escapees from the famous rebellion most of whom fought with distinction.
    THE SS MAN. The Czech in the German uniform whom the Grynzpans captured in a raid comes off as quite a charactor. He convinced his captors that he hated NAZI and he and his girlfriend were allowed to join-after which they became invaluable members of the group. The Czech's unique contribution was jumping into the various actions with his SS uniform and sowing confusion amongst the enemy.
    THE FEFFERCORNS. There were two Feffercorns in the Grynzpan group...I grew up with some friends of that name and think that there might be a connection.
    KOLPAK (Kovpak). The famed Soviet Partisan commander passed through Chiel's territory in the Spring of 1944 with a huge and heavily armed multiethnic guerrilla force, that was not behaving much like a guerrilla force at all at this stage of the war. Kovpak honored Chiel with gifts of arms and medicine before moving on to the Carpathians. That Kovpak himself would pay tribute to these scant 400 warriors seems to suggest that they had really achieved something significant in the war against NAZI.
    THE TACTICS evolved over time from light (extremely light!) infantry hit and run raids; into "stand and fight" heavy arms slugfests in broad daylight. By the time of Bagration the Grynzpans found themselves turkey shooting retreating Axis armour with AntiTank rifles. A thundering finish for a group that started their war with a few bolt action rifles!

    JeffinMNUSA
     
  11. Ardent Escaper

    Ardent Escaper Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hi gang,

    It's not exactly a book about the partisans, but if you want an interesting read about a Jew who fought back, you could probably do much worse than my book.

    It's about a German-Jewish boy whose widowed mother sends him to safety in England in 1934. He finishes his schooling there, but foolishly gets into trouble with the law in 1938/39, and is branded by the English as an undesirable alien. Staying just a half-step ahead of a police manhunt, he commits identity theft on Sept 3/39, and enlists in the RAF using the name of a dead schoolmate. The police get a couple of tips, and are closing in on him while he is training to be a bomber pilot, and then flying 22 combat missions against his own country. He is shot down and taken as a POW just a month before the police finally realize his false identity.

    As a POW in Germany and Poland for 3 years and 8 months, without any protection under the Geneva Convention (he was, after all, still a German citizen), he went on to become one of the most ardent escapers of WW2. During one of his more harrowing escapes, he went to his mother's home in Hannover looking to get food, money and civilian clothing, he discovered that she had committed suicide rather than submit to the inevitable trip to a concentration camp.

    After the war, when his exploits finally came out, he was awarded Britain's Military Cross (a high honour, and very rare for a pilot) for all of his escape activities. In total, he made 8 attempts, and was helpful to many other escapers, providing them with false documents and knowledge of German language and customs. He was a named executive in the "X" organization at Stalag Luft 3, and is mentioned in about 10 books concerning POW escapes. His award of the Military Cross made the front page of London newspapers in 1946.

    He was my father, and he never told me he was a Jew.

    Marc
     
  12. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    i will have to get your book.it is on my list of books to read
     
  13. Clementine

    Clementine Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    906
    Likes Received:
    252
    I am not at all knowledgeable on the subject of Jewish partisans but hope to change that. Gorehound I've got Werner's book on order and Marc, your book will be next.

    Gorehound, I started looking at the info on your site and started with the family photos. They are just stunning, a stunning reminder of the losses your family and so many families (and the world) endured. Thank you for sharing.
     
  14. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
    you are welcome clementine.
    read a book on abba kovner.
    watch the documentary the partisans of vilna which is on amazon
    learn about the warsaw ghetto uprising
    that will be a good start on the subject
     
  15. Clementine

    Clementine Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    906
    Likes Received:
    252
    Thank you. I will.
     
  16. gorehound

    gorehound Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    11
  17. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    Documents and testimonials from around the world centering around the Bielski Partisans; "We Stood Shoulder To Shoulder" ( 'We Stood Shoulder to Shoulder' by Jack Kagan (only $32.00) :: American Poems ).
    Some interesting things to emerge from this collaboration;
    1. That the Zorin and Bielski groups were the only all Jewish units in Belarus.
    2. The Bielskis seem to have been poorly equipped from "The Big Land" (ie the non occuppied USSR).
    3. During Operation Herman the searching Germans were heard to exclaim "Where are the Jews!?" leaving one to suspect that the Bielski civilian camp was indeed a target of the sweep.
    4. Tuvia's account of General Platon/Chernychev's visit to the Bielski workshops is illuminating as to what a mighty economic contribution the Bielski civilians were giving to the Red Partisan movement in Belarus. It would seem common sense that the non Jewish artisans probably tended to stay in the German occuppied towns while the Jewish artisans took to the forest to survive.
    5. There is an interesting account from the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus (HOORAY!!! It's high time the former Reds looked into this history!) about a Kiselev who led 200 civilians on a Winter march which passed through the frontlines to safety in late 1942.
    6. It seems that Gordon, one of Tuvia's officers, had known Chernychev before the war. What part this played in the Bielskis being accepted into the Red fold is unknown. Gordon perished in the final days of the Partisan War when German stragglers attacked the camp.
    7. It is said that the Baronovichi/Lida railway was out of service for 1 1/2 months during the 1943 "Rail War".
    8. The main Bielski camp (as opposed to the 100 man Ordzhonikidze unit which was under the direct control of the Reds) did indeed run offensive missions into the Novodrudek district and seems to have racked up an impressive toll on enemy equipment and personnel.
    9. The testimony of one E. Solymyanski details anti Semitism in the Partisan Movement and the author alleges that "dozens, maybe hundreds" of Jewish Partisans were killed by their comrades in arms. It is also telling that during the final victory celebration in Minsk all the participating nationalities were honored except one.
    In all a fascinating read and I look forward to hearing more from the Belarussians and Mr Jack Kagan on the subject.
    10. Then there was the account from the Bielski group doctor who remarked at what an incredibly physically resilient group of individuals-even the elderly-these refugees came to be.
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  18. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    I read this one on Ebook-my first-and it is an interesting read; http://www.military-history.us/2013/09/book-review-heroism-in-the-forest-the-jewish-partisans-of-belarus/
    The stories are mostly from Israeli sources and there are some great yarns (ie. Like the kids who were interviewing for the Partisans and it came out that they had killed a German officer with his own gun to escape. The Partisan chief hears this, realizes he is looking at warriors and accepts the kids into his group saying something to the effect that "just the kind of guys we are looking for! You are one of us now!"). It is interesting that the author figures that the movement was not such a huge threat to the Axis-I am certain that Georgi Zhukov would take issue with this! As with many of the Partisan stories the Soviet Paratroopers-precursers of the Spetznaz-make their mysterious appearances (in one case stopping a massacre of Jewish Partisans by bigoted Red Partisans). Yes the raggedy Partisan warriors were not much of a direct threat to Axis rule-but the information sent to Moscow from the forests of the occupied zones most certainly was (Ie Bagration). And the attacks on the enemy rear put a huge strain on enemy logistics throughout that most hideous of wars. As with other accounts I think that the survivors underestimate their achievments-but it might have to wait for the opening of the NKVD archives for a more exact accounting to be made. As it stands we can only judge the effectiveness of the Red Partisan Movement from anecdotal sources, some of which were the comments of their enemies-Von Kube speculated that NAZI policies were by Darwinian process creating bands of "super survivors" in the forests, while the Von Melinthin in tones of sputtering rage advocated the merciless extermination of all such fighters-which is pretty much what the Wehrmacht did to all Partisan warriors that fell into their hands-after some gruesome torture sessions in most cases. On the Russki side the fact that they poured so much in the way of resources into the Partisan wars speaks volumes. Then there was that interesting quote from Marshall Zhukov's biography commenting that once the RKKA pushed out of the USSR proper their job was made more difficult by the fact that they had no Red Partisans in the enemy's rear (but not impossible as the Wehrmacht had already been smashed to pieces by late 1944). The controversy rages on; http://holocaustcontroversies.yuku.com/reply/36715/The-Nazi-struggle-against-Soviet-partisans#.UtacNyj-L8s And it is a healthy development that there is now in Minsk an official museum with active research going on on the subject of the Jewish Partisans of Belarus; http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/holocaust/0218_Belarus_partisans.html I guess I wait on this one; http://www.amazon.com/The-Black-Book-Red-Pages/dp/1885563264
    JeffinMNUSA
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page