Idel Kagan (now Jack Kagan) is the son of Yankel and Dvore (Gurevitz) Kagan. He was born in Nowogrodek, Belorussia on May 22, 1922. Yankel's brother, Moshe Kagan, was married to Dvore's sister, Shoshke, and the two families lived together. Yankel and Moshe jointly ran a leather workshop founded by their father. Idel had one older sister, Nachama, and two cousins, Berl and Leizer. Idel attended the Hebrew language Tarbut school until 1940. When the Soviet Union occupied Nowogrodek in 1940, the school, synagogues and private Jewish businesses were closed down. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Nowogrodek was bombed and much of the city was destroyed, including the Kagan's house. The Germans entered the town on July 4 and immediately enacted anti-Jewish laws. On December 5, 1941 Nowogrodek's 6,500 Jews were forced to assemble in the courthouse. They stood there for two days before undergoing a selection. 5,100 Jews, including Moshe, Nechama and Leizer, were taken to the village of Skridlevo and shot by Einsatzgruppen units. The remaining Jews were confined to a ghetto. At first Idel was put to work at the military barracks in Skridlevo, and later he joined his father in the saddle-making workshop. The Germans moved more Jews into the ghetto from neighboring villages, before conducting a second round-up on August 2, 1942 which resulted in the murder of an additional 5,500 Jews, including members of the Kagan and Gurevitz families. The Germans made plans to enclose the remaining 1,000 Jews in an Arbeitslager encircled by two rows of barbed wire, a wooden fence and guard towers. Each Jew had to wear his identification number stitched on the back of his clothes. However, before the fence was completed, bands of Jewish youth, including Idel's cousin Berl, escaped to the nearby Bielski partisan units. Idel also began preparations for escape. On December 22, 1942, Idel tore off his yellow star and number and escaped from the camp into the bitter cold in the hope of joining the partisans. Unable to locate the partisans, Idel was forced to return to the labor camp. His feet were badly frostbitten. When gangrene began to set in he had to have his toes amputated. Idel lay hidden in a bunk unable to work for the next several months. In May 1943 the Germans held another selection. Idel's mother and sister were among those killed. Convinced that the Germans would not leave anyone alive, in June a group of young Jews began digging a tunnel out of the work camp. Idel began to train himself to walk again in preparation for the escape. In the meantime, in July 1943, Idel's father was transferred to another camp in Koldichev, where he died the following winter trying to escape. On September 26, 1943 Idel and about 120 other Jews escaped from the Nowogrodek labor camp through the tunnel. After several days, he reached the Bielski partisans' base camp, where he was reunited with his cousin Berl. Idel remained in the camp until the liberation of Nowogrodek on July 4, 1944. Twelve days later, the Bielski brothers led 1,230 Jews, including Idel and Berl, back to the town. Idel stayed there for a time dealing in the black market before leaving for the West. After reaching Germany, Idel moved into the Landsberg displaced persons camp, where he joined a kibbutz hachshara [Zionist collective] made up of former partisans. In June 1947 he immigrated to England.