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Oral history interview with Jack Kagan

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.22 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0022

Jack Kagan, born in 1929 in Novogrudok, Poland (now Navahrudak, Belarus), describes the demographics of the Novogrudok area, including the languages spoken and poverty in the peasantry; his family and education; the relations between Jews and non-Jews; the role of Polish nationalists; Jewish political organizations; the religious attitude of his family; examples of Polish antisemitism; the Russian occupation of the Novogrudok area from 1939 to 1941; the Russian introduction of communists measures; his experiences with the pioneers; the Jews' welcome for Russians and the suppression of antisemitism; opportunities for Jews; the changes in his schooling; the German attack on Russia in June 1941 and the Russian retreat; the German bombing of Novogrudok; the German treatment of Russian POWs and witnessing a German killing a Russian POW; the German occupation of Novogrudok; the Polish collaboration with Germans; his belief that Germany could not win the war; Germans massacring the Jewish population on July 12, 1941; being an inmate in the Piereszeka Ghetto from December 1941 to August 1942; the work regime within the ghetto; narrowly escaping from the German round up in May 1942; the massacre in Piereszeka Ghetto on July 8, 1942; conditions in the ghetto and the rations; relations between ghetto inmates; receiving aid from outside ghetto; being in the Novogrudok labor camp from August 1942 to May 1943; the character of the German commandant; his reaction to Appells and escapes; his own escape from the camp in December 1942; an attempt to join a partisan group; returning to the camp and the amputation of his toes because of frostbite; surviving a massacre on July 5, 1943; an inmate's concealed radio; plans for a mass escape; hearing the news of the Piereszeka Ghetto liquidation in January 1943; the construction of an escape tunnel; escaping from the Novogrudok Camp in September 1943; being with partisans in the Naliboki Camp from 1943 to 1944; life with the partisans, including the supply problems and workshops; the German counter-measures; the attitude of peasants towards partisans and the partisan tactics towards them; the aid given by Russians; camp defenses; relations between his group and the Polish partisans; dissensions amongst the partisans; orders not to disband partisans on liberation; disbanding of his partisan family group in June 1944; the fate of Romanies in the area; the German use of air power; partisan discipline, ranks, and direction; partisan morale; the partisan revenge group; the formation of farmer's family groups; his partisan pension; and inmate morale in the labor camps.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Kagan, Jack
interview:  1986 June 29
5 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:49
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