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Biography Before the War

Yaakov Kaplan was born in 1922, in the townlet of Dolhinow, but his parents

moved to Krasne in his youth. The family owned an estate, which was used by

the Zionist youth movements to train their member in agriculture in

preparation for settlement in Palestine. As the son of Zionist parents, he

was educated in the "Tarbut" school system, and he hoped to continue his

higher education, but the German - Polish War destroyed his plans.With the

division of Poland between Germany and the USSR, overnight he found himself

under Russian rule, and with a high school education, he was appointed as a

supervisor of construction, a post he had almost until the German - Russian

War in 1941. In May, 1941, he was recruited into the Red Army, and stationed

with the Engineering Battalion #981, in the Armored Force of General

Lelushenko, located in the Daugavpils (Dvinsk) area of Latvia, where he was

given an accelerated military training course.Military Service

On June 26, 1941, immediately after Germany attacked the USSR, he engaged in

his first bloody battle against the German conqueror near Daugavpils, and

from this point there began the terrible, hasty, disorganized Russian retreat

that resulted in horrible losses of manpower and equipment. Every Russian

attempt to cease the retreat and half the enemy was quickly shattered, and at

a great price. They were forced to abandon Valeika - Luki, Ostshkov,

Turupetz, and Salizrov, one after another, and when they were in Satriya -

Russa, the Germans encircled them, leaving a few weak and hungry survivors.

Realizing that as a Jew, his situation was even more precarious, he succeeded

despite the danger, to sever his connection with h! is group, and to escape

encirclement. He reached the Belgoya area on the main highway from Moscow to

Leningrad.In September, 1941, all those who originated from the western

territories that had been annexed by the Russians in 1939, and whose loyalty

was suspect were transferred eastward, and there they were assigned to labor

- battalions. Yaakov belonged to Battalion 394, and so he was joined to

military operation 183. He was appointed head of the communications apparatus

on one of the factories that was evacuated from Kharkov, and was engaged in

the manufacture of was equipment.When Yaakov learned of the formation of a

military force of Polish expatriates, though still vague, and the murder of

Jews by Germans in the ar! eas vanquished by them, he decided to leave his job,

which was far from the front, and he and a group of other Jews traveled to

Tashkent, determined to enlist and fight against the Germans, the murderers

of their brothers. They saw no justification for avoidance of danger and

remaining in a secure place; their conscience demanded that they volunteer

and enlist for army service. They arrived at Jambol in Kazakhstan, where they

enlisted, and Yaakov was sent to Riazin for officers training school. In

December, 1943, he became an officer and was dispatched with a group, the

First Polish Parachutist Battalion, where they were subordinate to the

partisan movement headquarters - "The Ludova Army.", and in a short time he

was appointed Company Commander. In August, 1944, while still in Valamus,

Yaakov began dispatching to the rear of the German Front, crews of

parachutists that were trained under him, and they carried out very bold

s! abotage actions. With the front advancing, they came to Rowne, whence

Yaakov, with the approval of headquarters, sent crews of parachutists on very

dangerous missions, in which he personally participated. These crews

succeeded in eliminating German units, suddenly appearing at their rear in

surprise attacks, causing confusion and departing. Their purpose was to

arouse insecurity in the hearts of the Germans and to annihilate them. After

the liberation of Warsaw, Yaakov continued in the framework of the First Army

of the Polish People's Army, as a Company Commander - his participation on

the battle front, and especially in the Sandomierz area, ceased at the German

Border, because it was decided to transfer his company to bat! tle the national

Ukrainians, who collaborated with the Germans in the liquidation of the

ghettos. It was in their destruction, that Yaakov saw an act of revenge for

the spilling of his brothers' blood, and he completed his service in the

Polish Army as a Deputy Head of the "Officers' Training School." Courtesy of:

Simon Wiesenthal Center

Los Angeles, CA 90035