Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

The Kovpaks

The Kovpaks?

Yeah. Otriad is the group, its in Russian. The Kovpa...they were at, at that time when we joined them, they must have been already like three thousand people--Yeah! So they came and my father said, "Now that's, that's my redemption. I am going--whatever will happen, I don't care. I'll, I'll, I'll get killed but I'll kill somebody too, I'll kill some Germans too." So the four of us joined the partisan--it wasn't, it I, I, say it in one word we joined. We had to march a whole night, we had a herd of cattle that we were chasing, they needed food, the partisans. So we were chasing a herd of cattle to the uh, headquarters of the partisans where they stat...where they were stationed. And, and we had an encounter with Germans. They started--yeah we had a fight so they, they took away our cattle and we escaped. And we came into the, to the Kovpak group.

Your father had a gun now?

No, now we came into--my, my father, my father couldn't handle a gun he, he didn't have his uh, but we came in and right away they gave us uh, weapons. But my sister and I not. They--we were working in the um, in the domestic area, you know the--we cooked food, washed the partisan's clothes. They, they grew to five thousand people. Their object was not to capture territory, they were stationed in, in--they were marching--they, they had uh, um, commands of when to move or when to stay you know they had--all this was uh, organized very well. There were five battalions, each battalion had a hundred uh, had a thousand people. And each thousand people had a leader. And the leader got uh, commands from the headquarters of the part...of that, that group. "Tonight we're staying in the forest." We're staying. How long we don't know. Then when the Germans attacked us we had to move. So we were on the move we, we joined in November and November, December, January, February and March, this is when I, I got s...constantly on the move. Sometimes two days in one place. They also occupied simultaneously two, three villages in one area. And, and they, the, the inhabitants of the villages had nothing to say, because this was a regular army like...

This is five--so now we're talking five thousand people.

Right and they--so, so what was their job? They were doing all kind of uh, uh, diversified work. They were um, dynamiting bridges They were um, doing ambushes on, on uh, convoys of Germans that were traveling from city to city. And they were killing them and taking away their, their weapons. Or, they were, they were uh, they reached a little town where they had they, they, reached a little town where the head...they, they reached the headquarters where the Germans were stationed, they killed them and took away all their food and brought them into the forest.

And you were with them?

Yeah we were with them. Now...

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