Partisan Detachments of the Belarusian Forests – Jews Rescuers at the Time of the Holocaust
The forms and methods of assistance to Jewish refugees from the occupied territory and Jewish escapees from the ghetto of Minsk, Vitebsk, Nowogródek, Bilostok, Slonim, Kobryn, Nesvizh, Lenin and other settlements, by Soviet partisan detachments operating in the Belarusian forests during the World War II are analyzed. Attention is drawn to those detachments that accepted Jews and the quantity of Jewish partisans. Some ghetto Jews created «family camps» and tried to help their sworn brothers. The refugee camps from Nowogródek and Minsk ghettos of Tuvia Bielski and Shalom (Shlomo) Zorin were in the Naliboki Forest. There were craft and gunsmiths workshops, social institutions: schools, medical clinics, etc. In the summer of 1944, Bielski unit numbered 1.2 thousand. Zorin's unit, which eventually increased to 800 Jews, took an active part in the combats with the enemy, blew up the special trains, and carried out other combat tasks of the partisan brigade. In early July 1944, the unit joined the advanced detachments of the Red Army.
Assistance to Jews by Soviet partisan units showed that the commanders who accepted refugees and escapees did not remain indifferent to the fate of people doomed to total destruction. Usually, young men were left for combat and sabotage operations, and women with medical education helped the wounded. The rest of the women, the elderly and children were sent across the front line. About 1.5 thousand people found themselves in the rear. Local residents (Russians, Belorussians) who did not support the Nazi genocide policy, also, tried to help the needy in any way. The key role of partisan M. Kyselyov, physician K. Okolovych, Belarusian families of Volynets and pastor J. Nazaruk, connected with the partisans, in the rescue of Jews is noted. Despite the difficulties of rescuing, Belarus is proud of hundreds of saviors and recognized «Righteous» people who were able to muster sufficient strength, courage, material and other means, and, which was more important, the desire to support the Jews in difficult times of their existence and survival.