Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Leon Salomon - June 18, 1990

In the Woods

I think we're going to stop for a moment here. You're alone now in the woods near Kobylnik, describe for me a little bit the terrain around Kobylnik, what it was like.

Kobylnik is a very small town, like I mentioned before, it's 105 kilometers from Vilna. The Jewish population was only maybe a couple hundred at the most. It is considered White Russia on the west side. It belonged to Poland prior to the war. Mostly agriculture, no factories. It's a town three kilometers from the biggest lake in Poland called Narocz and it is also surrounded with a lot of woods. It's mostly a Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox people.

The geography of the place, the woods, is that an important factor in what happens next?

Yes. Say about 10 kilometers from there you had big woods and also were a lot of swamps, big swamps. The geography played a big role in the underground which has been formed in that particular area, yes. The brigade that I belonged to was called Markov. Markov is a guy who himself came from a town, ???. When the war broke out, he left the town, of course he was a party man and I'm not sure whether he organized right away an underground right there and then, or he was dropped from behind the line and he started organizing it. I know this, he started with seven people and in the beginning it was a rag-tag, you hardly could hurry, here and there. But towards the end of '42, it started to become more, more and more. And the reason being, the Germans when they used to take prisoners of war, I'm talking about Russian prisoners of war, most of them were shot, seldom they took in prisoners alive. I remember an incident in 1941 it was Old Vileyka. They had 10,000 prisoners, this was a known fact, they gathered into one place and from the turrets, from towers rather, excuse me, from four towers they machine gunned them; 10,000 at one time. And of course, word got around so those who had a chance to escape from prison, escaped, those who didn't, started fighting back, because they knew the fate was going to be, so actually the underground, or the partisans, started from the escaped prisoners of war and this is how it started to mushroom.

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