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Group portrait of Jewish resistance fighters and participants in the Christmas 1943 escape from Fort IX in front of the fortress ten months after the liberation.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 14859

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    Group portrait of Jewish resistance fighters and participants in the Christmas 1943 escape from Fort IX in front of the fortress ten months after the liberation.
    Group portrait of Jewish resistance fighters and participants in the Christmas 1943 escape from Fort IX in front of the fortress ten months after the liberation.

Pictured from left to right are: Pinia Krakinovski, Dr. Bliasberg, Meir Yellin, Zvi Kadushin, Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, Israel Gitlin, Wladyslaw Blum(?) and Berl Gempel.

    Overview

    Caption
    Group portrait of Jewish resistance fighters and participants in the Christmas 1943 escape from Fort IX in front of the fortress ten months after the liberation.

    Pictured from left to right are: Pinia Krakinovski, Dr. Bliasberg, Meir Yellin, Zvi Kadushin, Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, Israel Gitlin, Wladyslaw Blum(?) and Berl Gempel.
    Date
    May 1945
    Locale
    Kaunas, Lithuania
    Variant Locale
    Kauen
    Kovno
    Kowno
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eliezer Zilberis
    Event History
    A chain of nine tsarist fortifications constructed in the nineteenth century surrounds the city of Kaunas (Kovno). During the German occupation of the city in World War II several of these forts became the sites of mass murder perpetrated by German Einsatzkommandos and their Lithuanian collaborators against the Jews of Kovno and Jewish deportees from central and western Europe. In the summer of 1941 Jewish men and women from Kovno were captured by Lithuanian nationalists in random acts of violence and sent to Fort VII, where they were raped and/or murdered. In July alone over 3,000 were killed at this fort. At least 200 more were murdered at Fort V, and 500 at Fort IV, in this period. The anti-Jewish violence became more systematic after the German Einsatzkommando III led by SS Standartenf├╝hrer Karl Jaeger asserted control over the area toward the end of the summer. At this time Fort IX became the major site of the killing actions. An estimated 40,000, were shot to death in Fort IX between the fall of 1941 and the spring of 1944. In September 1943 the Germans launched an operation to exhume and burn the thousands of corpses buried in Fort IX. This effort was part of a larger program known as Aktion 1005, undertaken by the SD [German security police] to wipe out the evidence of Nazi mass murder throughout eastern Europe. Thirty-four prisoners from the Kovno ghetto, some of whom had been caught while trying to escape to the forests, were forced to take part in the operation, as were 26 Jewish POWs from the Red Army and four non-Jews. Though the 64 members of this Sonderkommando [special unit] were kept under strict guard, they carried out a successful escape from Fort IX on Christmas eve 1943, utilizing a tunnel beneath the fortress. Eleven of those who escaped wrote an account the following day detailing the activities of the Sonderkommando, which was later submitted as evidence at postwar trials. Despite the efforts made to conceal their crimes, the Germans continued to carry out mass shootings at Fort IX through the spring of 1944, including the police and children's actions of March 27-28, 1944. The final large scale killing action at the fort took place in May 1944, only two months before the liberation of the city, when a deportation transport of Jews from France was routed to Kovno for extermination.

    See https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005174.
    See Also "Kauen Main Camp" in Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos Volume 1 Part A.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Eliezer Zilberis

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    George Kadish (Hirsh Kadushin) taught science at a Hebrew high school in Kovno before the war. The first violent attacks against Kovno's Jews in June and July, 1941 moved Kadish, an avid amateur photographer, to document the community's ordeals. He secretly photographed over 1,000 images of ghetto life, sometimes even snapping pictures with a hidden camera through the buttonhole of his overcoat. In the x-ray department of the hospital where he was assigned to work, he bartered for film and developed his negatives. He then smuggled them out in a set of crutches. In late March, 1944 Kadish learned that the Gestapo, hearing of his photographic endeavor, was searching for him. Kadish fled the ghetto and went into hiding. He photographed the burning of the ghetto from the Aryan side. Following the liberation, he returned to the ghetto area. He photographed its remains, and dug up his prints and negatives that he had buried in milk cans beneath his house. Kadish moved to the United States and lived there until his death in August, 1997.
    Record last modified:
    2001-05-07 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1054871

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