Resistance against the Nazis (Avigdor Price)

Resistance against the Nazis

By Avigdor Price

Translated by Sara Mages

At the beginning of 1941, an anti-Nazi resistance movement was planned. The idea was to organize a small core of activists from various youth movements. The main initiator was the member Alter Eisenberg. The purpose of the initiators was to prepare young people, who were ready to join, and form a fighting unit against the enemy of the Jewish people when time comes. Many obstacles stood in the initiators' way, and they had to overcome them with patience. Here are a few of the difficulties that stood on their way: 1) How to ensure the secrecy of recruiting young people outside the underground circle. 2) How to connect with large resistance movements out of town to get help and guidance or with possible weapon suppliers. 3) Where we will raise funds to purchase weapons, and where we will practice them.

 Secret meetings and obtaining weapons

After careful consideration, we prepared a list of possible young people to be accepted to the underground group. The list was limited because of the safety regulations that we had to take to secure the safety of the mission. The first organizers were: Alter Eisenberg, Avigdor Price, and the brothers Avraham and Chaim Borenstein. In the course of time, the group expanded and the following members were added: Ozer Byk, Malka Kraus, Matil Greenblat, Dora Bookit, Losia Herman, Sela Ostrovitz, Itze Ber Diament, Avraham Aharon Kraus, Yosef Kraus and others. The group was able to connect with the P.P.R [Polska Partia Robotnicza], the underground communist party, through Bewislitz, the Polish sawmill guard. He was a devoted communist before the war, and not anti-Sematic. He lived in a small house close to the Nida River not far from the bridge, an ideal location for secret meetings. On dark nights it was possible to reach his house with caution and without being caught by the Germans. I remember a tragic episode that occurred when we were in his attic. Suddenly we heard shots close by. After that, we saw through a crack in the wooden boards a German S.S. squad crossing the bridge and travelling to Koniecmosty. The guard came over immediately and told us that the Germans saw a woman escaping, shot her and killed her. It was a poor Jewish woman who carried small bags of potatoes – food for her children. She panicked when she saw the Germans, and started to run. The Germans saw her and killed her. We started to collect money between us to purchase weapons since no one from the outside was willing to supply them to us without payment. It was also difficult to obtain them with money. Our financial options were very limited. There weren't people with means to give us money for this purpose, and in addition, we feared that the group will be discovered. For that reason we purchased weapons from independent sources. We bought two rifles and a few pistols from the Poles. The weapons were divided and concealed between the members. A rifle or two were hidden by Matil Greenblat in his attic, a pistol was hidden by Alter Eisenberg, and a pistol by the writer of this lines.

On this occasion, I would like to give a typical case of hiding a pistol. Possession of weapons at home endangered the lives of everyone who lived in the apartment. Once, my father May the Lord avenge his blood, was looking for something in the apartment and found the pistol that he had no knowledge of. I anticipated a great scandal, but to my great surprise, my father May the Lord avenge his blood, asked me where I got it and for what purpose. He accepted my explanation quietly as if he himself was a rebel. The weapon was hidden in a safer place. The problem of weapon training was extremely difficult since we didn't have a suitable safe place and enough ammunition. Therefore, there was almost no live practice, only a demonstration to a few members on how to hold a weapon, how to load it, take it apart and put it back together. In addition, the Borenstein brothers tried to produce ignition bombs and activate explosives. The experiment was crowned with success and the explosion took place at the right time.

 Attempts to join the partisans

In late summer 1942, we guarded at night in shifts after the liquidation of the ghettos in the nearby cities. We learned that the Germans closed the roads at dawn to prevent an escape from the city. Therefore, the guard had to be on alert before dawn, and once he heard movements and sounds from the Germans, he had to wake the rest of the members who slept two or three in one place. The members had to leave immediately, before the city was surrounded by the Germans and their helpers, and reach the meeting point in a village near the city of Opatowiec, not far from the Wisla River. Indeed, the watch was conducted properly. On Shemini Atzert 5703 [3 October 1942], the day of the liquidation and deportation of Wislica Ghetto, most of the members were able to escape from the town with some of the weapons that they were able to hide on their bodies, and reach the meeting point. The escaped members gathered a day or two later. A contact from the P.P.R central office, who was at the melting point, had to organized the group into a partisan unit, equip it and put an experienced military commander as its leader.

Later, the group had to move east to an area of large forests which provide shelter and fighting options. When the unit was organized, we demanded that not only Jews will be added to it, but also experienced fighters. To our surprise we were told that only we, a dozen and a half members from Wislica, were members of the unit and we will be given a commander, an escaped prisoner, a professional officer. We were told that at the moment Polish soldiers were not added to partisan units in this area, and when we move east we will be able to connect with other groups. Now, he had to organize the members who didn't have a place to live, meaning, the Jews who escaped from the ghettos. We received as a commander a Russian officer who was hiding in the village under the protection of the P.P.R.

One night, the group was transferred by boats across the Wisla River to a Galician shrub area on the right bank. Before we left a number of young people from our town, who also managed to escape from the “Aktzia” , joined us. They were: Hershel Zuker and Nathan Papir. Our first day in the field between the shrubs passed with organizational activities under the Soviet officer command. The member Alter was nominated by him as the unit's “Political Commissar”. During the preparations, it became evident from the commander's statements that he was imbued with anti-Semitics ideas, and that he was a Ukrainian. His first order was to give him all of our money, watches, and valuable before going out into the distance. Our fears grew on the same day, that he will use any opportunity to leave the group under his command, when we were far from meting point and closer to Ukraine. A consultation took place between some members without the commander's knowledge. We decided to contact the meeting point across the river before we left the area. We found an excuse, and the member Alter crossed the river and informed about the commander's tendency. The next night, Alter arrived to our location together with a man from the central office. Much to our amazement, instead of replacing the commander he decided to disperse us and cut off contact with the group. His reasons were not clean and suggest anti-Semitism. We regretted very much that we weren't able to fulfill the idea that we thought of in the ghetto and devoted our souls to. It was not our fault, but the fault of the organizers and those related to them – Polish friends from the P.P.R. We had no other way out of the situation that we were in, but to return to the other side of the Wisla River. After a lot of consultations, and to the light of the general situation that we were in, we did not want, and it was not possible to continue as a large group, because the group leadership had to take responsibility for the physical existence of a handful of Jews, without the possibility of escaping from the clutches of the Nazis. It was decided that each one would decide his future, and will be responsible for his fate. People scattered in small groups and individually. Some reached camps, some hid in caves, forests or hiding places. Some left with Aryan identity papers that a few members obtained after a daring burglary to the municipal offices in Wislica.

Now, many years after that terrible period, I'm convinced that our action has an educational value. This is evidence that not all the Jews sat idle and didn't organize against the enemy. If our plan to fight the Nazis was not fulfilled, we can take comfort that the organization helped young Jews to flee from their homes and survive. Among the survivors are: Alter Eisenberg, Avigdor Price, Avraham Aharon Kraus of blessed memory, Dora Bookit, Hirshel Zuker, Malka Kraus, Nathan Papir and Sela Ostrovitz.


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
Emerita Yizkor Book Project Manager, Joyce Field
Contact person for this translation Morton H. Katz
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

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Updated 31 Dec 2010 by LA