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[pp. 148-149]

Revenge

by Ziska Podbersky

Translated by Eilat Gordin Levitan

Jan Stankovicz lived at the end of Karve Street. He was a carpenter and all his life was spent mingling with the Jews, just like the rest of the Christian neighbors. As soon as the Germans arrived they put him in charge. Immediately he changed his skin and united with the Germans in all their cruelty towards the Jews. He was the one who advised the Germans about the Satanic action near the house. When they took the martyrs to be killed, he stood with his rifle on top of the Church and shot whoever tried to escape. Such an evil man was clearly the first one who we wanted to get revenge on.

Those days we would sit with the rest of the Vishnevan partisans in the forest and talk about the day of the annihilation of the Vishnevo community and the last words of Riva Bashka while she was taken to be burned. She yelled, “Brothers, may each one of you who will survive remember to avenge our spilled blood.” We made a decision to fulfill her last request. We approached the head of the brigade and he responded positively. He sent a company of 200 people headed by the Vishnevan Jewish partisans with a large amount of weapons, as much as we could carry. We arrived one evening at the outskirts of the town and we sent scouts. Our aim was to first catch Stankovicz and Turinsky alive and bring them to the forest. We put groups of two or three people in different stations surrounding the town and started our action.

I, together with Noah Podbersky and a few other partisans, entered the house of Torinsky at Vilna St., the old house of Elie Yakov Zusman. We checked in all the rooms but couldn't find him, but realized that he must be nearby since the bed where he slept was still warm and his clothes and boots were on a chair by the bed. It was very clear that he just left the house. We looked everywhere in every corner, but couldn't find him. Finally we went to the basement and saw him. He stood with his underwear, hiding at the entrance. We didn't wait. We hit him with the edges of our rifles and he fell to the ground. We started beating him and started getting all the pain that was inside us and we yelled, “For the blood of our fathers and dears ones you spilled.” Finally when he lay there unconscious, we took him upstairs to the house of Fabish Lieberman where we all gathered. We gave him to the other partisans and returned to Karve St.

I must explain that before we came to town we cut all the telephone lines so the entire town was now in our hands. Now we went to the house of Stankovicz. At first we couldn't find him in his house or his neighbor's house, but finally we found him in the attic, hidden behind a haystack. We took him down and started beating him with our rifles. When he fell unconscious, bleeding from all the beatings, we took him to our central rallying point. The third we wanted was the pharmacist, Pobol, but with him we only beat him, and when he fainted we let go. From his house we took medicine and food and continued. We went through the entire town, which now only had Christians, living there. We took food, cows, flour, bread, potatoes, pigs, and we put it all in the wagons that we took from the yards and returned to the forest. We went to Boktova and there we rested for a day. In the evening we went to Bartinova, a village near the Berzino River in the thick forest where the rest of the partisans were located. There we had a field trial and they all received death sentences and were shot. After we left the area their families came and took their bodies.

But this was not enough. The houses of Vishnevo were still standing and the Christians who hated us and had helped the killing of our dear ones lived there in their houses (taken from the Jews). The need to get revenge burned inside us and didn't let us rest, so we decided to go back to town. This was a few months later. We announced our decision to our officer by the name of Podrin. We let him know that in Vishnevo there was not one Jew and that the Christians took their homes and were collaborating with the Nazis and that their living there endangered partisans. So we wanted to do something about it, and again he agreed with us. After some consultation we organized a brigade of 300 people, and late at night we came to town. First we burned the big synagogue where they now kept their carpentry. We ordered ten people to get out of their homes and to bring hay and all other sorts of kindling and to set fire to all four sides of the town. They did as they were ordered and after two hours the entire town was on fire while all the Christians were running away half-naked. The fire could be seen from afar in the darkness. The German camp in Vojgany could see very clearly what was happening but fearing us they chose to stay in the camp. Once all the houses of the town turned to dust, in some cases along with the residents, we left the place that once was called our hometown. Before we left we took a large amount of food and we turned to the forest.

The people from Vishnevo who took part in this action was Cheina R., B-M Rubin, Zuska Podversky, Noah Podversky, Kokin, Daliyahu Dudman, and Yosef Pushkin from Ravzevich who was second in command to Kodrin. I must say one more thing about fear of the Germans for the partisans: one of our aims was to scare the Polish and Belorussian collaborators who served the Germans and took part in all their missions. We talked to them, and told them that if they did not stop collaborating with the enemy we would take it out on their families. One of these men was in the police in Vishnevo and lived in Vojgany. Many times we warned him. When we saw that he was not listening and continued to endanger the partisans, we decided to do what we said we would do to him, so one summer night we came on horses to Vojgany. We put the horses some distance and came near his house, which was next door to the SS house. We threw a few grenades at the house, and the house was destroyed with all its occupants. In spite of the fact that the Germans saw everything, they didn't move. Only after we finished with the action and started riding our horses back to our camp did they start shooting, but we were already back in the forest.

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