Vilna During the Holocaust
Partisans in Vilna
Following the events in the ghetto of the 1st of September 1943, the Staff Command of the FPO reluctantly decided not to begin a fight to the death. Among their many concerns was further endangering the inhabitants of the ghetto. Instead they began to gradually send their members to fight in the forests. In the second week of September about 150 FPO members left the sealed ghetto with their weapons via underground passageways or rooftops to the Narocz forest about 120km to the east of Vilna. On the day of the liquidation of the ghetto, the 23rd of September, about 90 FPO members left the ghetto through the sewers to the Rudniki forest. Four of them were caught by the German guards and hanged in Rossa square in front of the Jews who were assembled there prior to their being deported to Estonia. They were the FPO Staff Command members Abraham Chwojnik, his girlfriend Asia Bick, Jacob Kaplan and another young man.
The way to the forest was full of danger. From the ghetto the underground members were taken to the cemetery and from there marched to the forests. They walked only at night. Nissan Reznik, a member of the FPO Staff Command, describes the journey:
During the day we hid among the trees and the shrubs, camouflaging ourselves and avoiding any unnecessary movement lest we should encounter the Lithuanians that were wandering around or passing through the forests. If they had discovered us they would have called the Germans.
We had to eat and we had only one way to obtain food; to steal it. We were armed. When the food supplies dwindled, a partisan scout would take an elite team to the farmers' houses, knock on the door and inform them that this was a burglary and it was best for them to give us the food so that we would not need to use our weapons. More than once I threatened non-Jewish farmers with my weapon and took eggs and vegetables, bread, milk, beef and pork – anything that we could take. I didn't eat pork but there were those who did and we brought it for them.Nissan Reznik, Nitsanim Me'afar – Sipuro Shel Chaver Hanoar Hatzioni Mi'mekimi Irgun Ha'FPO Ba'ghetto Vilna, p. 133