Born in 1913, Abramovicz fought the Nazis in the Nowogrodek Forest (today in Belarus) alongside his Jewish compatriots. Noted Tuvia Bielski after the war:
“Jakob Abramovicz was a dedicated and loyal soldier who performed extremely dangerous missions. He carried out his assignments with love and dauntlessly risked his life."
Abramovicz first heard about the Bielski brothers, who hid in the forest and conducted operations against the German army, while he was still in the Nowogrodek ghetto. He sought to join their ranks, and with his mother’s encouragement, he attempted to escape the ghetto and join up with the Jewish partisans. When his plan failed, he devised an alternative scheme.
Rumors traversing the ghetto had it that the partisans usually came to the Dworzec labor camp outside the town to bathe. Abramovicz and his younger brother Gabriel looked for a way to reach Dworzec where, they hoped, they would be able to link up with the group of fighters.
With the aid of a friend, the Abramovicz brothers managed to get out of the ghetto and into the camp, where they joined a group of loggers. Two weeks after they fled, the ghetto was liquidated and all its inhabitants were murdered.
Abramovicz met Bielski’s partisans in Dworzec, though they told him that Bielski’s orders were that no one could join the fighters without a gun. With the help of a friend from the labor camp, he managed to obtain a rifle in poor condition, fled the camp and hoped that the Bielskis would accept him despite his substandard weapon. His brother Gabriel stayed behind in Dworzec. The Germans murdered the camp inmates not long afterwards, including Gabriel.
Jakob Abramovicz roamed the forests, and after a prolonged search of the area, he managed to locate the family camp of Tuvia Bielski and join the group. “I opened my eyes one morning,” he later recalled, “and there I was, among Jews! Among partisans! I was already flouting the Germans! I was no longer afraid. Tuvia told me, ‘Jakob, polish your gun, brush the horse, and prepare yourself. Tomorrow at six you’re to report for a mission.’” The mission, which was depicted in the film Defiance, was to blow up railroad tracks.
Jakob Abramovicz lived in the forest for three years while fighting with the partisans. He commanded a mounted unit and was later transferred to a unit of saboteurs. He was wounded a number of times throughout the war.
At the family camp, Abramovicz was reunited with Yokheved Slucki, whom he had met in Nowogrodek before the war while studying Torah at her great-grandfather’s home. Slucki had managed to flee to the forest after her son and husband had been murdered by the Germans. They married after the war and immigrated to Eretz Israel. They had two daughters. In 2009, Jakob Abramovicz died at the age of 97.
Jakob Abramovicz’s partisan-era possessions and photographs that were donated to Yad Vashem provide information and concrete evidence of the unique activities of Tuvia Bielski’s family camp, a partisan camp that received international exposure in the wake of Defiance. Abramovicz’s boots still bear signs of the repairs made at the camp in the forest, crude seams and wooden nails intended to strengthen the heels and which attest to life in the forest.
After the war, Jakob Abramovicz built model pack horses with carts of timber and hay, illustrating how the partisans lived in the town and the forest. These models were also donated to the Artifacts Collection.
Abramovicz's granddaughter Idit Orani facilitated the transfer of his treasured mementos to Yad Vashem:
"We, the family, are delighted to have fulfilled my grandfather's wishes. Here they can be properly preserved and displayed for generations to come."
This article originally appeared in the "Yad Vashem Jerusalem Magazine," volume 82.