The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Life and Fall of Wlodowa

The Memorial Book of Wlodawa

Again in the forest
Eisik Rothenberg

When we were deep in the forest three gazelles jumped in front of us "this is a good sign" I said "We will succeed" and we rushed on.

In the forest it was dangerous to walk during the day but we did not have any choice.

This was the only possibility to gain distance from the area of the camp. While running I felt at my neck as if the chain was still there... the feeling haunted us quite a long time, even when we had already been sure of our liberation.

Tuvia agreed that the signs were good but implored "Do me a favour, slow down your rushing, I cannot run after you, I feel as if I'm going to fall." I reduced my speed.

We arrived at the edge of the village Lubman which bordered with the forest, where the forester lived. Tuvia entered and I remained outside. The forester gave him a slice of bread and even for me he brought bread and milk. Then the forester explained to us the way where to go. According to him we knew that there were no Germans in this region, and therefore we passed and there we found a farmer with his carriage. He told us to mount and brought us to a hut not far from the village Podgosi. There we descended and he explained to us where the place of the partisans was.

When the farmer was till explaining a carriage with 2 horses approached. In the carriage sat Jewish partisans. They brought us to the partisans and we found there a few of those who had escaped together with me from Sobibor.

At the headquarter

At he headquarters of the partisans which was known as "Jechiel's group", no one wanted to believe that we had just now escaped and had been rescued under such circumstances. Jechiel himself interrogated us and looked doubtful at our story of the chain and of Selinger the supervisor of the camp. He could not believe that there were still Jews at all in this region. He suspected us to be spies, sent by the Germans. I don't know how this would have ended if there had not been some men who had escaped with me and could testify that I had been in Sobibor. After the tiring interrogation and the testimony of the escaped from Sobibor they still did not believe us entirely. So, first of all they separated us. I was sent to one group and Tuvia to another. I don't know whether we were watched over or not, at any rate, I neither saw nor felt anything. On the contrary, I felt equal to everyone else in all matters.

In the Tabor

After a week this group which had already contained 100 people went to the woods of Mokoshi. During this time Jechiel became convinced of my loyalty and I received a gun. I went along with the group, but on the way I had to join together with Tuvia the people of the "TABOR" (camp) and the group continued. The "TABOR" was run by Nachman from Krassiwka. 50 people lived there: men, women and children and even elders. This was a group of unarmed people that was under the supervision of Jechiel, if someone did wrong in any way in his group, Jechiel did not kill him, God forbid, but sent him to the "TABOR". If a lost Jew was brought from the forest and they did not trust him he was sent to the "TABOR". There were a few who possessed weapons and so we could defend ourselves in case of small attacks. "TABOR" or we slept under the trees. The armed men stood on guard. During the night they left for the villages to bring the rations which the village - heads or leader of the villager promised to supply: a cow or a young bull.

The problem of bread was more difficult, as we had to pass from house to house gathering slices of bread, but finally the village head also took upon himself the responsibility for this. For a few weeks, the "TABOR" wandered from place to place. If we learnt that the Germans intended to surround us - we moved on.

One day Jechiel and some partisans came riding to ask after us and they left. Suddenly, a moment after they had just disappeared, the "AKA"-men (the Polish army organization)-men attacked up "Rance dogury" that is "hands up". We, the armed were so surprised of the suddenness of this that we handed them over our guns.

Some of us who were not in their field of vision, escaped deep into the forest.

At the same time, more or less, the Russians parachooted Jews and Poles in uniforms and started to organize special partisan divisions and since then there began the formation of a regular army.

They also parachooted arms into the forest and a military movement was felt. From day to day we felt that the ground under our feet stabilized more and more.


There were rumors that the Sowjet Army was approaching. We guessed this also from the tenseness of the Germans: They tried with force to cross the forest and were pushed back. The partisans were already quite strong of defeating them.

Now each day brought news. Everyone felt that liberation's day was near. When August 24, 1944 arrived we heard that the Sowjet army was already in Wlodowa. After the Russian advance partisans were sent to different woods. The group of Jechiel was located in Lublin. I was then 19 years old and weak so I was told that I could go where I would like. Though I did know that in Wlodowa there was not a single Jew, I went there. I trembled nervously upon seeing the streets where every stone had been familiar to me.

Now I did not recognize anything, everything was destroyed and ruined. The Germans had cleared the town from Jews, had executed the "Judenrein Aktzia" precisely and among this devastation I stood alone, the sole survivor of my whole family, my head bowed towards the earth which had absorbed the blood of my relatives. I fell down on the ruins of our house and from my eyes tears flowed.

"KEFER AVOIT" In Sobibor

Sobibor had fulfilled its duty and was smitten. The Germans made it equal to the ground. There was no sign of the extermination houses, of the cruel bloodshed and other murders. There remained only the pierced barbed wire fences and the barracks where the murderers had lived and feated.

Mourning and with a bowed head, we stood a little group of Jews from Wlodowa and the surroundings, at this horrible place to offer the last honour to our relatives and our dearests. Sobibor, had formerly been a naive name unknown to the world. And now - a cursed word, a name of a place, that had drunk the blood of 750,000 old men, women and children. May this name always be cursed forever. And may these people be curse who participated in these murders. I could not remain in the surroundings of Wlodowa. The deadly silence destroyed the remainder of the energy I still possessed. The Poles who did not stop searching among the ruins to find among the burned Jews legal booty, devoured with me their hostile eyes that I had dared to survive. I left this place forever.

On Passover's Eve I arrived at Atlit and this was the happiest day of my life.

During the day we did regular work in the

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.