Yitzhak A. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4103) interviewed by Lawrence L. Langer and Dori Laub
Videotape testimony of Yitzhak A., who was born in Švenčionys, Poland (presently Lithuania) in 1926. He recalls a large and warm extended family; moving to Zamość, Lublin, and Warsaw as his father changed cantorial positions; German invasion in 1939; his bar mitzvah in November; he and his sister smuggling themselves to Švenčionys in the Soviet zone; attending Russian school; receiving letters from their parents; German invasion in June 1941; attempting to escape east; attacks by Lithuanians; returning home; hearing Stalin's radio call for partisan warfare; announcement of ghettoization; escaping to Glubokoye; learning of a mass shooting outside Švenčionys, including most of his family; his sister visiting; their return to Švenčionys; ghettoization; forced labor sorting abandoned Soviet weapons; smuggling some into the ghetto; forming an underground group; forced labor for Organisation Todt; the arrest of two of their members when a gun was inadvertently shot; the group's decision not to escape to prevent endangering the entire ghetto; arrival of 2,000 more Jews, facilitating their escape; and escaping to a forest with twenty-five others in March 1943.
Mr. A. recounts traveling to the Vilna ghetto with its ghetto police in an April transport; visiting his sister there; learning the entire transport had been killed at Ponary; meeting with the ghetto underground which invited his group to join their uprising; arrest; release; returning to the forest; seeking Soviet partisans; joining the Chapayev group of the Voroshilov Brigade led by Fëdor Markov, a former teacher from Švenčionys; blowing up trains, obtaining food, and helping captured partisans escape; battles with the Armia Krajowa in winter 1944; joining Soviet forces in June; fighting against Lithuanian collaborators; entering Švenčionys at liberation; reunion with his sister; escaping to Łódź; learning of the death camps; forging documents for Beriḥah for illegal immigration to Palestine; arrival there in December 1946; writing his memoirs; joining the Palmaḥ; a twenty-five year military career; retirement as a brigadier general; and becoming chair of Yad Vashem. Mr. A. discusses necessary conditions for partisan formation; wanting to live and revenge himself, not die a hero in a city uprising; the randomness of his survival; his sense of obligation to his lost world which motivates his research; and dilemmas of the Holocaust which others find difficult to understand.
- New Haven, Conn. : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 2001
- Interview Date
- April 18, 2001.
- 3 copies: Betacam SP master; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
- Cite As
- Yitzhak A. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4103). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.