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Courtesy of:

Simon Wiesenthal Center

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Yaakov Kaplan


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



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

succeeded despite the danger, to sever his connection with his 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 sabotage 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 battle 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."