Nisan Avizohar-Klorman was born as Nisan Klorman in 1922 in Dąbrowica, Polish Volhynia (now Dubrovytsia, Ukraine). His father Efrayim taught Hebrew and Jewish subjects in a local Tarbut school and, later, in a Yavne school. Nisan finished seven grades of a general school (in Polish) and a year in a local yeshiva, before starting a Polish gymnasium in nearby Baranowicze in 1936. During his studies, in September 1939, eastern Poland was annexed to the Soviet Union, and the gymnasium became a general Soviet school. Nisan finished this school in June 1941, some days before the German attack on the Soviet Union.
Nisan succeeded in escaping from Volhynia eastward and reaching the Saratov Region (in the southern part of central Russia), where he settled on a sovkhoz, a large state-owned agricultural farm. In June 1942, he was mobilized for fortification work since the Germans were advancing into this part of Russia. At that time he was offered work at a military factory in Tatishchevo, 40 kilometers from Saratov, but he rejected it. In August 1942, Nisan was drafted into the Red Army. His first reaction was panic, asking himself "Why didn't I stay at the factory in Tatishchevo?" In the Red Army, he was registered as Natan (Nathan) Klarman. Considered an educated person (since he had completed ten years of school) Nisan-Nathan was assigned to artillery duty, with a specialty in military topography. He was assigned to an artillery platoon of the 18th Rifle Division as a topographer-calculator. In October 1942, the division was sent to the Volkhov Front, east of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia.
The goal of the Red Army on the Volkhov Front was to lift the German siege of Leningrad. As a topographer-calculator, Klorman and three comrades sat for days and nights in a special trench on a slope, watching the movements of the enemy, and transmitting the coordinates of potential targets to the Soviet artillerists. Once, when it was Klorman's turn to carry food to his post, a German shell hit the post. Although the "calculators" remained hungry, the fact that it was the thermos and not he that was hit saved Klorman's health, and, perhaps, even his life. The siege of Leningrad was finally lifted in January 1944, when the division continued to pursue the retreating German forces to Pskov, 300 kilometers south of Leningrad.
While serving on the Volkhov Front, Klorman began to read Soviet military newspapers, which reported, inter alia, Nazi atrocities against the civilian population, in particular, the Jews. These reports persuaded him that he was in the right place doing the right thing: fighting the Nazis. 1
In 1944, his division was transferred to Karelia, and in October 1944 was directed to Vologda, east of Leningrad, for rest and reinforcement. There Corporal Klorman learned that his native shtetl Dąbrowica had been liberated by Soviet troops. He wrote letters to the authorities of the town, as well as to former neighbors, only to receive the answer that not one of his family members had survived.
In January 1945 Klorman was transferred to Poland, to the area of Toruń. Being fluent both in Polish and German, he became a translator for the counter-espionage body Smersh. He took part in the capture of Danzig. Klorman witnessed rape and other outrages perpetrated by Soviet soldiers against the German civilian population. He said to himself that the Germans were getting what they deserved. He met Victory Day in Kolberg. Between May 1945 and May 1946 he took part in the Soviet operation on the Danish island of Bornholm. Klorman's superiors suspected him of wanting to defect from the Red Army and remain in Denmark, but he did not do so, returning to Poland together with his division in May 1946.
In the course of the war Klorman was awarded two medals: one — For the Defense of Leningrad and the other — For Courage. In October 1946 Klorman was released from the Red Army. He settled in Kiev in the hope of studying languages at Kiev University. In Kiev all of his documents were stolen and, thus, he lost the opportunity to study. He then faced the dilemma of where to live: in Poland — with its antisemitism or in the Soviet Union — with its insufferable bureaucracy. He chose to be "repatriated" to Poland in October 1947. In July 1948 Klorman immigrated to Israel, where he took part in the War of Independence.
- 1. Nisan Avizohar-Klorman, Zikhronot. Haifa, 1997, p. 45.