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Memories of a Partisan

By Yakov Sigaltchik


... I was told that some units in the regiment were being organized in order to sabotage the railways (the regiments received explosives from the division of "Batia"). I approached the commissar and asked him to supply me with some explosives for our own sabotage operations. He received me politely (even with a smile on his face) and agreed that I should find three extra men for the job. We would be supplied with explosive materials and an exploding mechanism. Our destination was—In the direction of Gleboki. That same night the four of us left: Michael Itzchak Friedman, Kolka Doroschenko, "The Estonian" and I. We had with us 2.5 Kilos of T.N.T. (an explosive), the exploding mechanism and 50 meters of fuse. The next day, towards the evening, we arrived to the designated spot not far from the Parafianow-Krolevshtchizna railway line. At 10 p.m., when we reached the railway, we heard the rumbling of an approaching train. With our hearts beating fast we placed the explosives under the right track, tied the fuse and retreated. Minutes later we heard again the wheels of an forthcoming train. In the distance we could make out the diffused gleam of the engine headlights. When the train reached the exact position we wanted, I pulled the fuse and all four of us began to run. An incredible sound of explosion was heard in the air. We reached a village five kilometers from the railway, stopped and ate. We could not sleep form all the excitement and joy. Early in the morning we sent the farmer, in whose house we took refuge, to the sabotage area to check the results. Hours later the farmer returned saying the junction between the railroad and the main road to Porplishtcha is blocked and only military vehicles are allowed to pass. There was great panic all along the tracks. Two specialized engines with lights arrived and the Germans ordered many local farmers to help clean the debris. The effect, it seems, was tremendous. In the afternoon hours, the railway was fixed and traffic was renewed. Traffic had stopped for fourteen hours and the sabotage caused great damage to equipment and loss of German life.

On that night, October twelfth 1942, we crossed the railway line again five kilometers away from the explosion. We heard the voices of the railway guards calling each other. We slipped between them and took to the road from Dokshitz to Gleboki; Not far from the farm was a solitary farm belonging to a Pole by the name of Patzvitch - a loyal and trusted friend of Michael Itzchak Friedman. When we knocked on the door and asked to come in the entire household was shocked. Never before had they seen armed Jews. We openly discussed the purpose for our visit with the farmer and asked that he go tomorrow, at dawn, to Gleboki and give a letter to the Zeevlotzki family (relatives of M.Y. Friedman). His two brothers, Eliahu and Moshe, were in the Gleboki ghetto as well. The farmer agreed and added that the Gleboki Jews are leading their life in relative normalcy, going to employment without any German interference. He said he visits Gleboki every now and again and even meets with the Solovitchik and the Friedman families. The farmer fed us and took us to his son's house, which was about two hundred meters away. The next morning Michael wrote a letter to his relatives: "Do not prolong your stay in Gleboki one more hour. Do you not sense that the ground is burning under your feet? All of the towns around you are empty of Jews. The Germans concentrated all the "experts" in Gleboki. This is terrible deceit: you are doomed to death at any moment if you stay. Do not waste your time. Come to us, to the fighting partisans. We have weapons and many dead Germans to our credit. We are waiting for you"! At 3 p.m. Patzvitch returned with a letter from Eliahu Friedman and Molia Solovitchik written very briefly: We will arrive at midnight.

And so it was. At midnight exactly we heard their footsteps. Patzvitch let them in and we had a serious discussion. We told them of our sabotage operation at the railway. Rumors about a train derailed and about it's passengers killed and wounded had already reached the Jews in Gleboki. When we said it was our work, they did not believe us and were convinced only when we showed them the fuse and exploding mechanism. We suggested forming a group of 40 to 50 young men that would leave the ghetto and join us, and asked that they obtain weapons in any way possible. We promised to wait in a certain place from which we would lead them east. Among the present was Molia Solovitchik, an uncle of Michael Yitzchak. When he heard the details of our plan he recoiled: He is a husband and a father to two children and could not possibly take to the forest in the winter with them. The others agreed immediately to return to the ghetto and to organize the young people to leave.

They agreed to leave in two days. They asked that we wait in a designated spot near the town. During the conversation I found out that my cousin, levi Yitzchak Koton, is in Gleboki. I demanded from the two that were returning that they will take all the people from Dolginov who are hiding in Gleboki. They promised to do so. They left before dawn and the next day we started to walk to the meeting place. We set the rendez-vous about five kilometers away, in the Wolkolat-Danilvitz, Miadel junction. We met them at 10 p.m. - 14 men and 4 women. In the group, among others, were the brothers Lederman, Eliahu Friedman, Levi Yitzchak Koton, David Glazer, Menashe Kopilovitch, Beinish Kozinitch ,. Michel Finkelman, Yerachmielke (I cannot remember his last name), Motke from Kazian, Milchman from Gleboki, Yochleman from Hidutzishuk, Pesach Isakson from Radoschkovitz and others. Among the girls I remember two by the name of Sarah - one from Gleboki and the other from Swintzian, Chernitchka from Danilovitch and Tzipka Solovitchik from Gleboki. They brought with them three rifles - one with no handle and another without a sight. They only had two or three bullets for every gun. Nevertheless, the guys were great - brave and daring.