Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Joining Partisans

Okay. How did you hook up with other partisans or did you...

Okay. So that was summer in 1943, right? That was summer in 1943.


Right, right. Uh, the Komarov um, it was called ??? the whole unit, because they had smaller units. They were com...comprised out of small groups of partisans. And the Komarov was the one that, that um, um, were, were in charge, that dealt with all of this. They, they were like the headquarters.

This was Russian.

Russian, yeah, all, all Russian. Uh, so they had to transfer some um, some radio, you know, to, to another, to another Otriad--to another group. And there was a, a, a man by the name of Misha. I don't remember his--he was gentile. He was uh, an ex-pilot, a Russian pilot. He was shot down somewhere in the, in this area. So he joined the partisans. So he took uh, a group of about ten, twelve people. There were two girls that were um, actually brought from Russia and they were uh, uh, came by parachute into the forest. They used to bring some people in by--and they let them out in there at night by parachute. These girls were um, they knew how to operate radios, you know, in the, in the, in the open. So they had, they had a lot of ammunition. They had a lot of bullets with them. They had also dynamite. They had, they had to transport it across a famous railway which runs between Luninets and, and uh, um, Baronovich. So they came and they knew, they knew that I am a former partisan, that I belonged to the big group of Kovpak, so they asked me, would I li...like to join the partisans again. And I said, "Yes," I grabbed the idea. So me, I didn't see uh, any hope in, in staying in the forest. I was, I was afraid that one day the, the Germans will kill us or whatever. Um, so I said, "Oh, yes." I grabbed the idea. So we all got ready. And I was wearing a radio on my shoulders. And I had bullets around my waist and I had a rifle. And we had to go through very uh, deep swamps. We had to carry the, the radio and the rifle up because we were up to the waist in swampy areas.

Where was it, just the Pinsk swamp?

That's the Pinsk swamps. So uh, and we had to go like about eighty kilometers. So we--it took us like about two days and two nights. And, and they needed girls' help because they used to get--catch a pig somewhere from the uh, or a calf from the um, local population. So we cooked dinner for them. So we were three girls and the rest of them were men, about ten, twelve.

Had you ever fired a rifle?

No, I didn't.

Now you're schlepping a rifle.

Now I'm schlepping the rifle. Uh, and as we were walking there telling me they're going to reach a group and not far from them there's a Jewish group, strictly Jewish, about 120. So I said, "Oh, that's a terrific idea. I'm going--and I..." and tell Misha this--the, the, the leader of the group, he saw, he saw my worth because I was very handy. I was helping. I was carrying. He said no, he's going to keep me, I'm going with him to his uh, group. I said, "No, you know what, Misha? I want to die among my own Jews. I, I don't trust you guys. And besides, I'm a girl. I'll have to sleep with the men. I don't want to sleep with a gentile guy." And I--it's, it's, it's not funny. It's painful. But that's--that was the, that was the life. So we came and we, we reached this Koganovich Otriad. And I said, "Goodbye, I am staying there." Near that--there were 120 Jews from two uh, small towns, from Lenin and from Pogots Zagorodskiy. Lenin and Pogots Zagorodskiy. This is around the Pinsk area. They survived from um, um, labor camp, a German labor camp. And um, they were mostly from that area. There were quite a few women. There were small children. There were old men. And they had--among them they had ten rifles and one rifle worked. The rest of them were not work--not workable. So with this rifle, they were able to go and secure themselves some food. They used to go up to a farmer and he saw a rifle, he used--he had to give it to them. But what they tried to appeal to the, to the rest of the um, of the um, of the partisan ??? so-called, the--you know, the--their headquarters, that they are also an Otriad, they should also be provided with some ammunition. But you know, they were all Jews and anti-Semitism still existed. And on, on top of it, there were also uh, next to a group of partisans, the Vlasovists. The Vlasovists are the equivalent to the Ukrainian Bulbasers. They are from the White Russia.


Fascists, yes. So uh, quite a lot of White Russians and even Ukrainians defected from the Russian army into the German. And these--there were 300 of them. The majority of them were the ones that had defected. And at one point they were in a fight with partisans and they saw that they are losing, so they surrendered. They surrendered their weapons, they surrendered everything what they had. So they organized a, a group of partisans from them--out of them. So they--now they're on the partisan side. Understand? But, they were terribly anti-Semitic. So they always used to do some things to, to, to damage their reputation. Anyway, we couldn't get any weapons. So the Jewish boy came on a, on a, a clever thought. They took--they cut down a tree and let--and they, and they chopped it up and they made like a um, triangle out of it, a long triangle. And they carried it on their shoulders for about ten kilometers. And they came to the railways, to the rails. They attached it to the rails. And the next day, one of the uh, um, one of the trains--it, it threw off a train from the railway. So now all of a sudden the Jews got a good reputation. They're fighters. They know what to do. So they supplied them with ammunition. They brought some dynamite. They brought some rifles. They brought some--after--aut...aut... automats, you know. And okay, so this--I stayed in that, in that group at--they wanted to show--not that they wanted to show, they, they were assigned uh, um, a job to dynamite some, some railway for about uh, area of two kilometers. They grabbed the idea. And they had already weapons and they had dynamite. So they organized a group like about--we were about fifteen or twenty uh, partisans. And they took me as a nurse in case something happens to them, I should be able to do the, you know, give the first help. And we had our guide that knew the area very well. He knew how to get to that railway and how to come back. So we, we reached the railway. It was a very damp night. It was very foggy. And, and we carried--each one had a piece of dynamite. It was like a piece of soap with a, a wick attached to it. And that's all it had--they had to attach it to the railway. And, and they had to light the wick. And that, that's how it blew up. So we came and it--there was already um, some other--they were always fixing the railway in there. And who were fixing it? The Germans. They had their, you know, their, their communications organizations that I talked previously that Todt...

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