Kopel K. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3772)
- Tel Aviv, Israel : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1995
- Interview Date
- March 30, April 7 and April 16, 1995.
- 2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
- Cite As
- Kopel K. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3772). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
Videotape testimony of Kopel K., who was born in Lakhva, Poland (presently Belarus) in 1926, the third of four children. He recounts his family's orthodoxy; briefly living in Sinkevichi; returning to Lakhva in 1930; his father's successful businesses in Chalanyets where they spent their summers; attending Hebrew school; joining Betar and other youth groups; antisemitic vandalism of their home; Soviet occupation in September 1939; attending a Soviet school; confiscation of the family businesses; his father's arrest and deportation in 1940; German occupation in July 1941; formation of a Judenrat (one brother became a secretary) and police (his other brother was a member); learning of mass killings in nearby towns from escapees; forced labor; frequent beatings; ghettoization in 1942; assignments repairing rail tracks in Luninets; his brother organizing a group to smuggle food; learning the ghetto would be liquidated; warning Itshak Rokhchin, an underground leader, who obtained permission from Dov Lopatin, head of the Jundenrat, to revolt; escaping during the uprising; hiding, then joining other escapees; walking to Sinkevichi to seek partisans; learning one brother had been killed by partisans; assistance from many non-Jews who had known his father; traveling to Baranovichi then Chalanyets; working in his father's former mills; his father's former employees treating him well; fleeing a German offensive with six others in March 1943; being wounded (three of his group were killed); hiding in the forest; witnessing Germans burning homes and barns in Chalanyets and other villages, many with residents inside; and his father's childhood friend caring for him.
Mr. K. recalls joining a partisan group led by a family friend (he tended the cattle); lying about his age to join another unit as a fighter; frequent attacks on German installations and supply lines; Soviet airdrops of supplies; fighting hostile Ukrainians with Soviet units; receiving a letter from his father in November 1944; enlisting in the Soviet army; executing draftees who refused to serve; fighting with a tank division in many locations; attending officer training school; continuing to fight until May 1945; completing officer training; rejoining his unit in Suprasl; attending synagogue in Białystok; informing on a former collaborator; planning to desert to emigrate to Palestine; entering a Deror kibbutz in Bytom with help from two soldiers in the Jewish Brigade; traveling to the Rothschild hospital displaced persons camp in Vienna, then Windsheim DP camp; forming a Betar kibbutz; traveling with four others to Paris; illegal emigration to Paelstine from Trets in February 1947; interdiction by the British; imprisonment on Cyprus; release in February 1948; joining the Irgun; his father's arrival in 1950; marriage in 1953; and the births of three sons. Mr. K. discusses not knowing how he managed to survive at such a young age; his goal of taking revenge and killing as many Germans as possible beginning at age sixteen; trips to Lakhva beginning in 1990 to visit his brothers' grave; organizing a monument at the mass grave; and planning a ceremony on the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising. He shows a ghetto map and photographs.