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About a letter from his father that Kolpanitskii received in 1944.

Kopl's father Yitzhak was the owner of a sawmill and a flourmill in the town of Łachwa. When the Soviets annexed this territory to the Soviet Union in September 1939, he was declared a capitalist, his mills were nationalized, and Yitzhak was deported to the Urals. Paradoxically, the Soviet deportation saved his life; Yitzhak survived World War II, whereas his wife Pesia, two sons Moyshe and Elhonon, and daughter Ida perished in Łachwa.

In October 1944, Kopl Kolpanitskii, then a partisan in the Kovpak brigade (which was at that point in the Soviet rear), received a letter from his father. The letter was sent to the recently liberated town of Łachwa, where Yitzhak assumed his family was living. Jewish survivors who had returned to the town forwarded the letter to the Kovpak brigade. In his memoir Kopl wrote:

"Impatiently, I opened the letter… My father began with, 'My dear wife, my dear children!' I broke down. The innocent letter to a family that no longer existed opened the floodgates. I had not cried for two years… Now everything poured out. I could no longer hold back the sea of tears that had collected over two years. I wailed and groaned, and my friends cried with me. I don't remember ever, not even as a child, crying so much. All the attempts of my comrades and of the officers to calm me failed.

Someone suggested that they give me some vodka… Before I could reply, a glass of vodka appeared. My friends literally forced me to drink. They made me finish it to the last drop. My head began to spin…

After calming down from the shock of receiving the letter, I sat down to read it. Reading it, I realized that Father sent it to people who no longer existed. He was certain that none of his family had survived, so addressing Mother and the children was done hesitantly. The letter was only a few lines long… He did not have the emotional strength to ask questions because he feared the answers….

Slowly, I became conscious of the fact that I was not alone – there was the father and a son…. Thousands of kilometers separated us, and the war was not ended. The Germans are still fighting, and as long as they do, my revenge is not complete, I thought to myself."[1]

 

[1] Kopel Kolpanitzky, Sentenced to Life: The Story of a Survivor of the Lahwah Ghetto. London: Valentine Mitchell, 2007, pp. 145-6.