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Shchuchin portion of Shchuchin Yizkor Book

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Chapter 3

Holocaust and Vengeance

Translated by Chaim Charutz

Donated by Gary Katz


Line 1 to line 12 is in Yiddish. The rest is in Hebrew.  Following is the translation:


Slaughter and Holocaust in Souls and Property.

Evidence from Moshe Schneider and Yaakov Mazovetsky (Shtutshin), Golda Butrimowitz (Ostrina) Yisrael and Schraga Zluchovsky (Belitsa)


Entrance of the Germans

The first unit of the German army entered Shtutshin on 26th June 1941, the fourth day since the start of the belligerent attack of the Nazis on the Soviet Union. This unit entered from the direction of Rozhanka. There, this unit shot eighty Jews under the pretext of "armed resistance".  In Shtutshin, the Germans made do with arresting a few tens of town dignitaries as hostages to ensure quiet behavior. These dignitaries were held for three days and released to their homes.

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The Germans set up a local council and police force from among the Polish population; the brothers Kotzut (construction workers); the Novick brothers (teachers); Yozhvaski and Naomchik (clerks); Piltzky and his sons (the Fire-Station Guards and the "Shabbess-Goys" for the Jewish population). They served their new masters willingly and wholeheartedly during the whole period of Nazi rule in Shtutshin. They were among the main rioters and murderers during all the slaughters of the Jews in the Ghetto.

The German Command, which established its government over the town and its environs, appointed fifteen to twenty military and civilian personnel. They located themselves on the area of the "Palatz" farm, owned by the Count Drutsky-Lobatzky, at the northern extremities of the city. After getting organized there, the Germans set out on their first "hunt" in the streets of the town, grabbed one of the sons of Moshe Boykelsky (whom the Poles pointed out as a "Communist"), and hanged him in the market square.


The "Yudenrat" and the Jewish Police

At the beginning of July 1941, the Germans appointed a "Yudenrat" with the following composition: Y. Portzky [Paretzki?] (Chairman, a refugee from Danzig who came to Shtutshin at the outbreak of war between Germany and Poland in September, 1939), Moshe Ilutovich and Yitschak Mendel Levin (from among the community leaders in Shtutshin. They later resigned from the Yudenrat.), Chaim Leib Lidsky, Yosef Listovsky, Zussel Levit, and Tsvi Marshinsky. Later, the following were appointed to the Yudenrat: Berl Sosnovitz, Mendel Portsky [Paretski?], Yudel Shavadsky and others. The Jewish Police was appointed with the following composition: Raphael Friedman (chief), Alter Rotman, Simcha Marshinsky, Aharon Kemenitsky and others.

The Yudenrat office was in the Puria house (Grodno Street), while the Police office was in the Rotman house (Vilna Street). The Yudenrat's function was to fulfill, with the aid of the Jewish Police, precisely and quickly, all the German demands regarding money, food, clothing and footwear, metals (gold and jewelry). They had also to enforce the order that every man and woman over the age of sixty would do work for the Germans, without pay, of course.

These institutions were also forced to take on the responsibility of enforcing "administrative" orders. These included wearing the yellow patch while walking in the street, not being on the streets except at the hours expressly allowed, not to come into contact with the non-Jewish population, not being seen at the market, and not going out of the boundaries of the town. Despite these restrictions, the Jews maintained contacts with the non-Jews (at first) and exchanged clothes and expensive goods for food. During this period, each family still lived in their home. They were also comforted by illusions/news that the Russian armies would return within the next few weeks…


The First Slaughter and the Closure of the Jews in the Ghetto

Illusions started evaporating when, one day in mid-August 1941, the Germans picked out forty Jews from those working near the "Palatz" (digging defense posts against air attacks). They executed them all and buried them on the spot. Among those killed were Herzl Medlinsky, Leib Levin, Yaakov Vitovsky, Asher Yantchuk and others.

About a week later, a published order closed the Jews into a ghetto within a restricted area covering the following streets: Rozhanka Street and Railway Street; the market area to the Power-station; the two streets of the "Pliant"; Grodno Street and Vilna Street; and the market area to the non-Jewish "Mieshtchanes" houses. In this way were the Jews evacuated from the Market Square, where the best houses were. So, around them, a ring of antagonistic Christian and Pravoslavic population was created which enclosed them from all sides. (For this reason, the Germans did not bother surrounding the Ghetto with an artificial wall). (P85) [171] After all the Shtutshin Jews (about 2,500 souls) were concentrated in the Ghetto, another five hundred souls were added. These were Jews whom the Germans had deported from the surrounding estates and villages, as well as from the nearby town of Rozhanka and the further-away town of Belitza. All these were accepted by the Shtutshin inhabitants as brothers-in-trouble and were well received, despite the terrible overcrowding that already existed in the Ghetto and the shortage of foodstuffs that got worse day by day.


Destruction of the Intelligentsia and Religious Leaders

About two weeks after the closure of the Ghetto, the Germans ordered the local (Polish) Police to assemble, "for purposes of registration", all the Jewish intelligentsia (teachers, doctors, etc.), the Rabbi and those who had at any time worked in the religious field ("religious leaders"), all with their families. About ten families, totaling about fifty people, were gathered (including Rabbi Yechiel Michal Rabinowitz, the ritual slaughterer Leib Zarenstein, the teacher and slaughterer Yaakov Abramsky, the teachers Yosef Eliyahu Zhamodsky, Yitschak Tatchmowsky, and Yaakov Hachek, and the dentist Lisa Dvortsky-Sapir). The Germans led them out of the city to the outskirts of the village Topilishky (about 8 kms. from Shtutshin) and executed them by shooting them next to pits that previously had been prepared. Eyewitnesses from among the villagers who saw killing later reported that the Germans left the slain wallowing in their blood next to or in the pits and did not cover them with dirt until the next day. As a result of this, Yaakov Abramsky found himself, after recovering overnight from shock, not injured by the bullets. He returned the same night to the Ghetto and told what had happened. He also wrote about the happenings on that day in a diary that he kept about the rest of the events in the Ghetto until its final destruction (9th May 1942). Yaakov Abramsky and other people were then shot in the streets of the town, when they tried to escape from the lines of people marching to the vale of mass slaughter.


The Last Three Months

During the final three months (February - May 1942), the Germans increased the economic and psychological pressures in order to suppress the foundations of human sentiment and every spark of hope and to replace them with deep despair and loss of all hope - as preparation for "The Last Day". The Polish policemen, appointed over the Jews during their work outside the Ghetto (mainly at the Rozhanka railway station, where they set out every morning at dawn and returned late at night) scorned and ran wild uninhibitedly. Germans in various positions and their Polish (NOTE: Very few of the Belarussians, who were the majority of the non-Jewish population, willingly joined the collaborators with the Germans.) helpers broke in daily to the Yudenrat office and announced work-levies and property-levies, demanded gold and silver, and claimed furs and jewels. The Germans goaded the Yudenrat members and policemen with threats to fulfill all the demands and claims meticulously and quickly.

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Despite the bitterness that people felt against these two "Jewish" institutions, that were exploited by the Satanic authorities as an operational tool for plunder and suppression, a general Ghetto-wide awareness existed that they carried out these things impartially and did everything within their power to relieve or to hel[Page The Yudenrat organized a medical service within the Ghetto area and cared for medical first aid. It also supplied portions of hot soup to the ill and the weak from the public kitchen that it set up for this purpose. Those working at setting up and operating this kitchen were Yisrael Zluchovsky (one of those banished from Belitsa), Shalom Vitinsky, Rivka Friedman, and one of Stanitsky's daughters (Lesnik's wife). These four were a sort of feeding committee attached to the Yudenrat. They also took care of sending food parcels to the Shutshiners who had been enlisted in the "Todt" work camps in Lida. Ghetto inhabitants even told that Chaim Leib Lidsky, the Chairman of the Yudenrat during the last three months, registered his sons first in line for all hard labor assignments. He was also the first to bring the objects demanded by the Germans. He once endangered his own life when he did not fulfill the local police chief's orders to bring Shlomo Butrimovitz's two children (a girl aged six and a boy aged four) to the police. Butrimowitz and his wife, Tsvia, were shot after they had hidden their cow outside the town. Shlomo Butrimowitz had given his cow to a farmer in one of the nearby villages and used to go there at night to bring some milk for his children as well as for members of his family who were ill. One of the farmer's neighbors informed. This was how Shlomo Butrimowitz was caught and executed, together with his wife.

The same day, The Koppelman couple (one of Yossel's sons) also was executed for bringing a few potatoes and a loaf of bread into the Ghetto that he had bought from a villager in the area. The murderers also demanded the blood of the children and ordered the Yudenrat to bring Butrimowitz's two infants and Koppelman's three children (two daughters and a son). After Chaim Leib Lidsky refused to bring the children, the Polish police forced three Jewish policemen, (Simcha Marshinsky and two non-Shtutshiners) to do this. They also delayed fulfilling the order. The Polish police thus collected the five children by themselves, as well as the three policemen, and executed them all in the yard of the Polish police station.

The aforementioned Chaim Yossel Koppelman was shot a few days later, on Saturday, when he went out from his house for a moment and looked outside. [Note: In Chaim-Yossel's house (one of the Gabbais of "Chayai Adam" synagogue and a well-known and sought-after prayer leader), a minyan was held during the Ghetto period, under the leadership of Avraham Yakov Losh, who died of natural causes a short time after the destruction of the Ghetto.] Suddenly, Germans appeared before him [?]and shot him immediately. They turned around immediately and shot a second time at Itsche Yankel Schneider, who happened, by chance, to be in the same place.

The Germans entered the Ghetto area on that Saturday with the aim of finding mothers with many children and murdering them with all their children. They found Sarah Rabow, daughter of Monas Lidsky, and murdered her. When they did not find other mothers, they aimed their rifles at any Jewish soul that crossed their path. They progressed with slow steps along the Ghetto's Railway Street. From time to time, they turned to a house or a courtyard (as if checking the sanitary situation), took their victims out to the street and shot them.

On that Saturday, about twenty Jews were murdered - men, women and children. Amongst them were Bezalel Koppelman, the second son of Chaim Yossel, as well as Feigel Mekel and David Zluchovsky, who were in the same apartment. The bodies of those murdered were gathered on Saturday night by the Jewish Police and taken to the cemetery. However, because of the frost and the snow that fell the whole night, these martyrs were not buried until the next day.


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The Last Sabbath -- 22nd Iyar, 5702

For reasons of malice and hatred, the Germans set the Sabbath as the day of killing and extermination. Thus, the above-mentioned killing also took place on the Sabbath, as a sort of general "rehearsal" for the last Sabbath of total liquidation of the Ghetto inhabitants - the Sabbath of Parashat Bahar-Bechukati, 22nd Iyar 5702 (9 May  1942).

Two days previously, the Yudenrat was given orders to close all exits from the Ghetto completely and to oblige everyone to immediately hand over the remainder of their gold, silver and jewels. The following day, (Friday, 8 May), a group of villagers was seen outside the Ghetto, equipped with digging implements. S.D. men led them to the "new" Jewish Cemetery. For some reason, this news was not comprehended within the Ghetto and the people, who were sentenced to death, slept their last sleep without any special shock.

On Saturday, 9 May, during the early hours of the morning, the members of the Yudenrat and the Jewish Police numbered the houses and, under orders of the authorities, announced a gathering in the synagogue square for the purpose of a general population census (including children and the ill). When the whole community gathered, the German Shteibes-Leiter, Windisch appeared with his assistant, the Pole Vasiokevitch, from the Gebiets Komissariat in Lida; the local police commissioner Kotsut and the head of the local council Yazhevsky (both of them Poles); and a group of about twenty-five S.D. machine-gunners.After the lines of those assembled closed ranks in order (by family), the local police commander announced that the plan was to choose five hundred men (with their families), artisans and workers, who would be transferred to Lida. The others would be dispersed to their homes. When this group had been assembled (including some of the members of the Yudenrat and the Jewish Police), the people of the assembly were allowed to march to the Market Square, where they were ordered to lie on the ground with their faces downward, heavily guarded by the Polish police.

In the meantime, a group of German motorcyclists appeared in the Synagogue Square, armed with sub-machine guns. They started shooting into the crowd. An order was given to move while the murderers surrounded the rows from all sides, shooting non-stop and directing those sentenced to the outskirts of the town towards the pits which had been previously prepared. There waited a firing squad of Lithuanians and Latvians, who had previously performed the same "execution" in the other towns of the Lida region. The people who were led to the pits were ordered to undress, to put their clothes aside, and to enter the pits. The murderers showered them with machine-gun fire and threw grenades into the pits. They, then, covered the dead with a layer of chloride and prepared the others for "execution". This carried on until 5 [Pagem.  Shtabes-Leiter Windisch, who had been with his escort the whole day at the place of execution, appeared before the Jews, who had been lying face down all that time in the Market Square, and declared the following: "Jews in Lida stole arms from Germans. We have therefore killed all the parasitic Jews in the whole region. If you behave according to the law and work efficiently, you will all stay alive…".  The following day, the Jews were given permission to gather the bodies left lying since the previous day along the route from the Synagogue Square to the Valley of Death and to bury them next to the common mass grave.

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Thus, the Hell of Doom in Shtutshin was filled with 2,060 holy bodies of men, women and children, the people of Shtutshin and Rozhanka (and surrounding villages) and Belitsa, who rose on the fire of abomination on that "Holy Sabbath" of the 9th May, 1942.


After the Great Killing

Those same five hundred Jews who remained alive, returned to the Ghetto and all settled down in one street of the "Pliant" (the Grodno side). The Yudenrat was reformed (Chaim Leib Lidsky, Yosef Listovsky and Tsvi Marshinsky). The public kitchen was reopened. The public bathhouse, which had been abandoned for a long time, was rehabilitated. A Minyan was organized in a permanent prayer house. Even an underground "Cheder" was organized for about thirty orphaned children, without father or mother, who had arrived with the remnants of the murders in Vasilishki, Zholudok, Radin and other towns. The mass executions had occurred in these places as well during the first half of May 1942.

The Jews received four carts with horses for taking out the accumulated rubbish from the Ghetto. These carts were also used for bringing food from the nearby villages, for the use of the public kitchen under the management of Yisrael Zlutchovsky (from Belitsa). The new German "Zondefuhrer", who was appointed over the town, was prepared, for bribes, to allow the Jews to work the gardens next to their houses or even to gather crops in the village fields belonging to Jews in Kolonna, who had all been butchered in Shtutshin. However, this situation lasted for a few months only. The Germans then realized that things had calmed down since the shock of "The Last Sabbath" and that it was possible to use this human dirt for hard labor. In September 1942, the Germans started organizing groups of people and sending them to the "Todt" Work Camps in Lida, Vileika, Krasna, Oshmana and Borisov. During the next six months, Shtutshin was almost completely emptied of the remnants of Jews.  (The last Jews still there were sent to Lida in the summer of 1943.)

Among the Shtutshin Jews who were concentrated in the Lida "Todt" work camp were (some of them with their families): Chaim Leib Lidsky, Yosef Listovsky, Tsvi Marshinsky, Nachum Stutsky, Nechemia Lidsky, Yosef Tsirolnik, Yaakov Kamenetsky, Moshe Tsvi and Aharon Kamenetsky, Yaakov Matsulsky, Tanchum and Moshe Schneider, Nechemiah Khazanovsky, Arye Zusilsky, Mikal Mordochovitz, Aharon Tzvi Mazovsky, Gad Vitovsky, Chaim Zonschein, Yekutiel Bloch, Rivka Yanchuk, Chaya Raplovitz, and others.

On September 17, 1943, the Germans collected all the Jews from this work camp, put them into sealed railway wagons, and sent them to the Maidanek death cam[Page The train made its way along the Lida-Mosty-Volkovisk track, a track that was well known to those from Shtutshin and its environs. Indeed, when the train approached the Mosty station at night and started slowing down, Moshe Schneider decided to breach the iron net, which sealed the only hatch in the wagon, and jump outside. He urged the other Shtutshiners with him in the wagon to do the same. He persuaded Meilach Vitovsky and Yerachmiel Lidsky to jump after him. These three later became partisan fighters. The first two survived, while Yerachmiel Lidsky was killed in the partisan war.

Another Shtutshiner on the same train, Chaya Stutski, was miraculously saved before she arrived in Maidanek. However, all the other Shtutshiners who were on the same train, reached Maidanek, and were killed there in the Gas Chambers.


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B. War and Revenge on the Destroyers of a People

Evidence from Moshe Schneider and Yaakov Mazovetsky (and other sources)

Thirteen War Remnants

Of the 2,500 Shtutshin Jews, who were in the town or other parts of the area during the Nazi conquest, only thirteen individuals were discovered alive at the end of WW2. Amongst them were Chaya Stutsky, who had been saved on her way to the Maidanek concentration camp; Reizel Medlinsky (and her daughter), who had been disguised as Christians in the Vilna region; Rachel Katscheisky, Tsvia Bloch and Leizerke Kossovsky (as a youth), who were hidden by Belarussian villagers; and Moshe Tsvi Kamenetsky and Yitschak Rubinstein, who had been in the supply corps of the Kalinin Jewish partisan unit. (This unit had been organized and run by the three famous brothers - Tuvia, Zussia, and Eshhol Bielsky from Novogorodok). Also among them were Moshe Schneider and Meilach Vitovsky (previously mentioned), the brothers Eliezer, Tsvi and Yeshaya Tscherniak, and Yaakov Mazovetsky, who were in Soviet Partisan fighting units.


Four Fighters who Died in Battle

Four partisan fighters from Shtutshin did not survive to the day of release from the Nazi yoke. They fell in the partisan war. These were the brothers Myrim and Yerachmiel Lidsky and the cousins Aharon and Mordechai Kamenetsky. Their story and fall were commemorated in brief in the Book of Jewish Partisans (published by Sifriat Hapoalim, 1958), in the Chapter, "Monument to Fighters" (section B). There, it was written:

Lidsky, Myreem: Born in Shtutshin in 1917. He arrived in the forest in August 1943. He was in the "Borba" unit, Lenin Brigade, Lipichanska Pushcha. He fell during the Hunt in June 1944.

Lidsky, Yerachmiel: Born in Shtutshin in 1919. He reached the forest in September 1943, when he jumped from a train carrying Jews to Maidanek. He joined the "Borba" unit, Lenin Brigade, Lipishanska Pushcha. He transferred to one of the units of General Kaposta. He went on a campaign to Grodno and returned to Pushcha Lipichanska. He was at "Rota" together with his brother Myreem and fell together with him.

Kamenetsky, Aharon: Born in 1909 in Shtutshin. He came to the forest to the "Borba" unit, "Lenin" brigade, Lipishanska Pushcha, at the beginning of August 1943. He fell on 4 September 1943 while on duty at the village of Perkop.

Kamenetzky Mordechai: Born in Shtutshin in 1918, He arrived at the "Borba" unit in August 1943. He fell in action in the village of Perkop when suddenly surrounded by a German escort-patrol (4/9/1943), on the eve of the autumn hunt.

In the above book (in the chapter "One Witness in the Lipichansk Forests"), the circumstances in which the four Shtutshin partisans fell, were also described. “…The German forces continued their pressure on the Pushcha. The Lenin Brigade divided into two units, which from place to place in an attempt to mislead the enemy. The Germans cut off one platoon that was involved in preparing supplies and various service jobs. They pushed them between the Neiman and the Shchara, took them prisoner, and held them at the Vlasobest headquarters in Zhetel until the last day before the liberation. Before the Germans retreated, they set the prisoners' quarters alight. Amongst them were… also the brothers Myreem and Yerachmiel Lidsky from Shtutshin.”

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On the same day, the Germans attacked the Partisan Border Guards of the Lipichaner Puschcha near Perkop. Two partisans, Aharon and Mordechai Kamentsky from Shtutshin, were killed.  The four of them had previously been in the "Todt" work cam[Page Three of them had fled from there to the partisans about a month before the Jews were sent to Maidanek, while the fourth (Yerachmiel Lidsky) joined the partisan group (where his brother was), after he had jumped off the death train.


Three Daring Brothers

The story of the three fighting partisan brothers, Eliezer, Tsvi and Yeshayahu Tscherniak was not well known as they remained in Shtutshin. There are those who tell that the three of them had already left the Shtutshin Ghetto in the winter of 1942 (before the Great Killing), while they were still youths, to find a hiding place amongst the villagers in the area. On their way, Soviet Partisans picked them u[Page They found themselves in the unit known by the name of Suvorov. This unit operated within the framework of the famous "Povieda" brigade, commanded by General Bulak. The fighters of this unit are well remembered for their bravery and their daring actions during the Soviet Partisan war against the Nazi Invaders. The three Tscherniak brothers were among the partisan fighters who were awarded medals by the Soviet Government at the end of WW2 for their acts of bravery during the partisan war.

The story of Meilach Vitovsky (who later emigrated to the USA) is intertwined with the above-mentioned story of Moshe Schneider (with whom he escaped from the train of death). We, therefore, hereunder present the story of Yaakov Mazovetsky as dictated by them* (both of them are in Israel).


The Artillery-man and his Gun

Moshe Schneider and the two youths, Meilach Vitovsky and Yerachmiel Lidsky, had jumped from the Death Train near the Mosty Railway Station, as previously told. They found themselves not far from the edge of the forests that had belonged to the estate of the Count of Zholudok. However, they aimed neither for Zholudok nor for Shtutshin, where no Jews remained, but for the village of Rakovich on the banks of the Nieman River. They knew that the region of partisans started there and amongst them was the brother of Yerachmiel Lidsky, Myreem. They covered the distance to Rakovich (some tens of kilometers) in four nights. During daylight hours, they hid in the forests. The trip was full of continual dangers. Two villagers who came across them compassionately gave them some food and pointed them in the right direction. Indeed, when they arrived at the village, they came across a squad of Jewish Partisans, who received the newcomers with tears of joy. They brought them to their Russian commander and recommended that he receive them into the ranks of the fighters.

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Yerachmiel Lidsky joined his elder brother and was posted with the machine-gun section of the "Borba" unit. Both of them were killed, as previously mentioned, during that the Germans organized to find concentrations of partisans in the Pushcha Lipichanska in June 1944. This was a few weeks before the Red Army took control of this area. Moshe Schneider and Meilach Vitovsky were attached to the sapper squad of the same unit. Among its functions were to blow up the railway track and to make surprise-attacks on German military installations. Meilach Vitovsky remained in this unit all the time and was amongst its outstanding soldiers, who used to volunteer for dangerous sabotage operations within enemy territory. Moshe Schneider was transferred after a few weeks to the command unit and was appointed the head gunner on the only gun in the unit. He was the one who found the gun and prepared it for action.

Since June 1941, when the Red Army retreated from a Blitz attack by the Germans, a large Russian tank with an impressive gun remained stuck in the area. During the two years that had passed, the tank became covered with dirt and rust; and no one paid any attention to it. Moshe Schneider, however, who had been an artillery-sergeant when he had previously served in the Polish Army, decided to check the matter out more closely. Indeed, he discovered that the tank's gun was still in good condition, and that there still remained a stock of shells inside. Moshe Schneider, together with another two Jewish partisans, worked for a week to extract the gun from the tank, clean the rust, and build special cart for the gun and the shells. When the gun was brought, polished and shining, to the headquarters courtyard within the forest, the serious faces of the Russian commanders lit u[Page They praised Moshe Schneider's action openly. Until then, the unit had not had even one gun.

The gunner and his gun got a special reputation within the unit because they assured covering fire to the gunner and sapper units during attack-actions as well as in times of retreat. Moshe Schneider efficiently and determinedly carried out this function as the command frequently noted in the order of the day, especially after the unit's successful attacks on German garrisons in the towns of Roda-Yaborska, Zhetel, Nakrishki and Zholudok in the winter of 1944. Also, during the aforementioned hunt that the Germans organized against partisan concentrations in June 1944, the gunner and his gun performed a very important function. The partisans were constantly on retreat into the forests. Constant and continuous cover fire over a period of a few weeks was required. Moreover, during the retreat, the gunner and his gun remained on the firing line while the fighters were retreating from the area. Moshe Schneider was thus forced to retreat last and alone--he, his gun, his shells, and his horse and cart (since he was the only one who serviced these.) This was noted for praise in the last order of the unit command during the dispersion of the partisans (July 1944). Despite the fact that the command, for its own part, and the gunner, for his part, well knew all the time that for leaving arms or ammunition in the hands of the enemy, there was one sentence -- death by shooting…

In Moshe Cahanowitz's book, The Jewish Contribution to the Soviet Russian Partisan Movement, (published in Rome, 1948), the following was written about these two operations:

  "During the attacks on the German garrisons in the towns…the artillery fire of "Borba" unit assisted greatly in the assault on the German concrete-positions and firing-posts." Furthermore…"The partisans of the Lipichaner Pushcha, during the Great Hunt (June-July, 1944), soon before the liberation of the area, were forced to eat their horses, as they would be sentenced to death by starvation if the Russian Liberation Army had not arrived in time."

Moshe Schneider was among the Jewish partisans who came to Palestine illegally (via Trieste, Italy) just before the outbreak of the War of Independence and actively participated in this war within the Israeli Defense Forces.


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Fighter of the Jewish War

Yaakov (Yashke) Mazovetsky was under fear of death for a few weeks. His fellow soldier, a Russian partisan who was in charge together with him of a large machine-gun, told the command after a battle with the Germans, that Yashke had abandoned the machine-gun and left the Russian alone with the gun. Yashke fled from his unit, the "Iskra", and hid among the partisans of the Jewish "Kalinin" partisan unit, under the command of the aforementioned Bielsky brothers. He stayed there until his sentence was decided in his own unit. The Russian commanders of the "Iskra" unit remembered in his favor the fact that he was one of the founders of the unit and one of its first fighters. They therefore cancelled the charge (also because of lack of evidence), and allowed him to return to the "Iskra" unit.

Yaakov Mazovetsky was one of the first Jews to escape from the "Todt" labor camp in Lida (in December 1942) with the clear intent of organizing partisans within the forests, fighting the Germans, and avenging the spilled Jewish blood. Even while in the work camp, he managed to get hold of a short hunting rifle. He held discussions with many young men to persuade them to flee with him to the forests. He finally formed a group of seven young men with whom he set out into the unknown. Amongst them was one from the town of Voronova, who knew the region and led them at night to the nearby Samislova Forest. The youngsters decided to stay in this forest and start operations. However, their first job was to get hold of any food and tools that they could in order to erect a living-shed within the forest. They therefore set out at night to one of the villages in the area, surrounded a house at the edge of the village, woke up the inhabitants and, using the hunting rifle as a threat (although it did not work in effect), forced them to give them what they demanded. Afterwards, they demanded a horse and cart to take their "loot" to the forest, but when the villager went out of the house to show them where the horse was, his son slipped out behind him and aroused all the villagers. Because these partisan beginners had no previous experience, they had not checked the village outskirts for escape routes. They therefore found themselves, on their first operation, surrounded by rifle crossfire on all sides. One of them was killed on the spot, two were captured and delivered to the Germans, and four scattered in the area, each in his own way. One of these was Yashke, who was now on his own.

Yaakov Mazovetsky spent a few days alone in a cave that he had found hidden within the forest. However, when hunger started worrying him heavily, he decided to go out, no matter what. One night, he knocked on the window of a lone house ("kutar") and told the "Osadnik", who came out to him, all that had happened to him. The "Osadnik" himself had been a forest dweller in the years 1939-1941. As a Polish Officer, he had hidden from the Soviet Police who had searched for him in order to exile him to Siberia. He became emotional from Yashke's story, brought him into his house and fed him well. He later led him to a shack within the next forest. There, Yashke stayed during the day and at night, he used to come to his savior's house to warm up and receive provisions. The "Osadnik" did not encourage Yashke's desire to leave the shack and join the Russian partisans who were wandering around in the region. At the time, these were still solitary disorganized bands of officers and soldiers from the Red Army who had remained stuck in the region after the retreat of the army in June-July 1941 or had escaped from German captivity. The Pole told him that these partisans would not take Jews into their rank and that there were those among them who killed, with their own hands, lone Jews searching for shelter in the forest. Yashke nevertheless insisted on being a partisan fighter. He went out from the shack one nighy to wander in the "Cutorim" area, which covered a few square kilometers. He chanced on his way near a house in which Russian partisans were drinking alcohol. His strange appearance aroused mixed emotions among the Russians but one of them ordered him to tell the whole truth about what had happened to him until then. They later tested him on a "drinking binge" and light weapons orientation. They even tested him in his knowledge of Russian, Polish, and German. After he had passed the tests (they needed someone who knew the three languages), they decided to accept him into their grou[Page This group included nine officers with battle experience in the Red Army; all of them properly dressed in uniform and well armed. Yashke succeeded in becoming friendly with the group's leader (named Volka), who brought him closer and taught him how to use a sub-machine gun. Later, he also gave him such a weapon and taught him all the secrets of the grou[Page This was a rare occurrence since, according to the rules of the partisans, everyone had to find his own weapon.

In the course of time, the number of partisans in the group grew to fifteen. Commander Volka then decided to stop the looting and "festivities" in which they had been partaking up to now and start organizing as a fighting unit against the Germans and their collaborators. The first action was executed as a sudden attack in the middle of the night on the Polish Police Station in the town of Granyoni. The partisans penetrated the Police building, killed a number, and took a lot of loot in arms and ammunition. This loot afterwards served as a basis for the unit known as "Iskra", which operated within the framework of the Kirov Brigade, and imposed terror and fear on the Germans in the whole Lida region. The Brigade accepted a number of Jewish young men, several of them ex-soldiers with battle experience and the spiritual strength to fight and to avenge. After they proved their strength of spirit and battle fitness in a few serious actions, Yaakov Mazovetsky initiated, with the agreement of the Russian Command of "Iskra", the sending of a delegation Jewish Partisans to the Jews who were still confined in Lida, to persuade them to join the Partisans. Yashke was one of the members of the delegation that penetrated the quarantine-places of the Lida Jews (winter 1943). They met there with groups of young men and told them about the living conditions in the partisan units. They read before them the official proclamation of the partisan command calling them to join the ranks of fighters against the common Nazi enemy. Only a few answered this call, most staying behind the quarantine walls waiting for a miracle to happen, but which did not happen…

In The Book of Jewish Partisans (in the chapter: "On the Outskirts of the Forest -In the Volozhin region"), it was written: "… One of the first members of the "Iskra" unit was Yashke Mazovetsky from Shtutshin. He was one of the first ten who set up the nucleus of the unit; and the commanders held this to his credit… Mazovetsky was an outstanding machine-gunner. He participated in many military actions and was also popular with the Russian partisans. Mazovetsky was active in saving Jews from the Lida Ghetto; and he came a number of times to the ghetto for this purpose…"

Yaakov Mazovetsky, a graduate of the Ort Technical School in Vilna, excelled among the partisans in repairing and perfecting weapons and the manufacture of ammunition for exploding railway tracks and other sabotage actions. He himself participated in these actions. He was among those fighters who, at the end of the partisan-war, had 6-10 explosion actions on railway tracks and attacks on trains containing German soldiers and arms, registered in their personal files (on the basis of these files, the Soviet government awarded special medals). ([Page 94) As a certified technician, Yashke fought the partisan war, but as a graduate of the Shomer-Hatsair movement, he fought the Jewish war. He and all the other partisans from Shtutshin previously mentioned, contributed their modest part to the victory over the Nazis and partly avenged the spilt blood of the martyred community of Shtutshin.


The rest of the page is in Yiddish

Pages 95-105 [181-19] are all in Yiddish.

The Necrology begins on page 99

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