Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Joins the Partisans

You met, you met the partisans in the forest--same forest?


Uh, this--this is not the uh, Pinsk group.


We're still in, in...

No, this was, this was beginning, this was--when we were uh, still in Karasin in this forest, that was the beginning of the creation of the partisan movement. Without us knowing it We learned, very soon later, very soon after we learned that a part...and how did, how did the partisan movement start from the prisoners of war. They started escaping the uh, camps. The prisoners of war, the Russians. And because--see how stupid he was? If he would have treated them right, I don't know if there would have been a, a partisan movement. Its true. They had to escape. They, they were treated horrible in the camps, they didn't have any food and forget about food, they were dying like flies. So they started escaping the prisoners uh, the, the, the camps. And they came into the forest and this is when they saw that they had to start fighting the Germans from the back. So they sent a u...they sent a man, who was a, a general in World War I. He was fighting, he was in partisans. He was an old guy already, Kovpak was his name. They sent him from Russia. He--they, they, they sent him down with a parachute into the, into the area, into our area and he started organizing the partisans.



Alright, um, when how did they make contact with you?

Okay. So uh, my father was always afraid, was always afraid that we'll ge...we'll--I mean it was a fatalistic outlook. We'll be killed anyway, no matter, it's a, it's a matter of time. It's a fatalistic--because it was true. So, at that time the young people that escaped from the ghettos, young guys and, and, and middle-aged men mostly, their, their objective was to, to get weapons. To get a hand on any kind of weapon, a pistol, a hunting rifle, any rifle, anything. Just--not so much as to fight the Germans as to protect yourself. What if they catch you alive? And a case like this happened and that's what pushed us into the partisans. There was a group of uh, they were nine uh, uh, nine men and two girls. They already um, um secured themselves with rifles, not all of them uh, had rifles. But--so, so they were able to go to, to, to, the farmers and ask for food, it was--don't forget it was November already there were no food in the fields. How do you, how do you survive on no food? So they had to go and find--show him a stick of a rifle so he gave 'em something to eat. Then they had to confiscate some uh, some other uh, uh, object. And for the objects to buy uh, uh, weapons. Most of the farmers there had weapons but you had to uh, obtain them. Money, we didn't have. So some of them went to their places where they lived and they uh, um they um, had some clothing that they hid. So they took the clothing and brought it to the farmer in exchange for a rifle or they got, got some money and for money they bought salt and for salt they could get a rifle. There were all kind of dealings.

So a black market system...

Black market in the forest. So this, this group was like a uh, uh, they were already like um, um, fighters. So they came into--with a women and they took away her sewing machine and that angered her to death. She--we, w...marched all the way to the German headquarters and said, "Save us! Look what's going on. The Jews are killing us. Look they're, they're stealing they're, they're robbing and now they have weapons and they are killing us too." So they sent out a group of Ukrainians and a couple of German and they ch...started chasing that group you know, the, the farmers have helped them, telling them where they are. So they found them, nine of them are sleeping in the barn and the two girls and uh and the--and uh and one boy slept in, in the house. They, they caught them. You uh, had no idea what kind of death they made for--they did for them. They, they, they cut-off their ears, they cut-off their tongues, they, they, they, cut-out their eyes and they, they bound them not completely dead to the uh, the tail of the horse and dragged them through the village. And showing, "see, this is what will happen to you if you assist the partisans, if you'll save a Jew." So my father said, "Now, how are--how we going to escape?" This sort of thing. So we decided I am gonna go back to my city and see we had hid some, some clothing with a, with a gentleman. And uh, I--one of the uh, one of the farmers from that Karasin village agreed to take me. I should change my clothes and he'll take me there at night and I'll go in and get my clothes and for clothes go by som...something.

In Dombrowice?

Yeah. But in that, in the, in that week uh, a uh, group of scouts from the uh, Kovpak group, the Kovpak Otriad it was called, they were already organized. They were stationed already--about like twenty kilometers further, so they came out and they were mobilizing people, they were mobilizing Jews and they were mobilizing even local uh, uh, people. To go and join the partisans...

What's the name of the group?

The Kovpaks.

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